There are lots of different styles of riding, from stunt jumping to going fast down big mountains. Your suggested style, just riding along trails, is usually classed as cross county (XC).
For sporty XC riding you can get some fine dual suspension XC bikes, but it may be better to stick to a front suspension/hard-tail design.
One of the prime advantages of hardtails of dual suspension is that you can turn the bike into a useful touring or commuting bike with little trouble. You just need to bolt on a luggage rack and fenders. This is very difficult to do with a suspension bike. Make sure the bike has threaded eyelets to permit fixing a rack, these useful features are sometimes missing.
For $800-1k, every company makes a good model, so you are better to find yourself a good bike shop and choose from their range of models. A good bike shop will ensure that the bike fits you properly, in height and length, and will allow you to swap out -some- components if you want to change them.