Whether you’re a diehard trekker or just someone looking for an adventure on the trail, there are plenty of options to consider both around the globe and (with any luck) in your own backyard. But we’ll leave the local trails for you to discover. In this post, we’ve assembled some of the best hiking trails in the world. Think you can take on them all?
The John Muir Trail is one of the most renowned hiking trails in the world. Passing through the Yellowstone Valley, the Ansel Adams and John Muir Wildernesses, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks, and ending at Mt. Whitney, the trail traverses 200-plus miles through some of the finest mountain scenery in the United States.
But rare for a trail winding through such high elevations, the region is famous for having a sunnier and milder climate than any other major mountain range in the world. The hike can take between 2-3 weeks, so it is certainly a commitment. But as it encompasses some of the crown jewels of the US National Parks System, the John Muir Trail should be on every hiker’s bucket list.
Located in Southwestern Utah, Zion National Park is another icon in the US National Park System. With the famed red cliffs that form the wall of the Zion Canyon, and the breathtaking Narrows, Virgin River, Emerald Pools and Angels Landing, there are plenty of incredible hiking options to exploit in the park.
One of the most iconic trails in Zion is that of the Narrows, where you hike upriver through a narrow canyon gorge. The hike can be customized to suit your ability level, but the most popular version is a strenuous 12-14 hour day that ends at the Temple of Sinawava.
Running the length of the country – 864km from Kirk Yetholm to Cape Wrath – the Scottish National Trail really is aptly named. Conceived by the well-known outdoors writer and broadcaster Cameron McNeish, the trail offers a great deal of variety. Through gently rolling hills and countryside, past rivers, lochs and castles, to the incomparable beauty and roughness of the Highlands, the trail follows well-established footpaths for the greater part, but the further north one gets the more difficult the going becomes.
The sheer distance involved makes the Scottish National Trail a daunting prospect. But if you don’t have the time to manage the whole thing, pick a smaller stretch, or choose another of Scotland’s plentiful hiking trails. We recommend the West Highland Way!
A classic for a reason, the Inca Trail is practically unavoidable for anyone visiting Peru; or South America for that matter! The standard route begins about 88km from Cusco and takes the average trekker about four or five days to complete. 2-3 days up to Machu Picchu and 1-2 days back down. Trekkers will pass through subtropical jungle, cloud forest, and alpine terrain; and experience Inca ruins, tunnels and roads.
As the most famous trek in South America, and among the top five in the world; the Incan Trail should not be missed – just be sure not to visit in February! The trail closes down every year during that time for maintenance.
Italy’s main claim to hiking fame – the Dolomites are a part of the southern Alpine range and incorporate some incredible distinctive landscapes. In fact, the Dolomites are so unique that they were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 2009. When it comes to hiking in the Dolomites, there are plenty of options available; including a mule road dating back to the First World War.
For the serious hiker, however, the Alte Vie delle Dolomiti, or the Dolomites High Routes, are the way to go. Choose from ten multi-day routes that take you to high altitudes through some of the most beautiful scenery the mountain range has to offer.
While there are multiple routes you can take in Jordan, the 5-7 day trek through the Dana Nature Reserve to the “Rose City” of Petra is our choice. Hikers who take this route can expect to average about 18km a day over rugged trails. But these ancient tracks (old trading and pilgrimage routes) will take you through beautiful valleys and canyons away from the bulk of tourists visiting Petra.
Not quite sold? National Geographic rated the Dana to Petra trail as one of the 15 best hiking trails in the world. Let the adventure begin!
We return to South America once again with the Fitz Roy Trek. If you’ve ever dreamed of an adventure in Patagonia, Fitz Roy just may be the trip to do! It’s located at the northern tip of Argentina’s Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, a part of Hielo Sur: largest icecap outside of a polar region.
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980, Fitz Roy offers easier hiking than neighbouring Torres del Paine, with no less stunning views! Hiking Fitz Roy also comes with no risk of altitude sickness, and the water is so clean you won’t need to filter it. It’s hard to beat that!
Mountains of the Moon
When we think of trekking in Africa, most of us instantly turn our minds to Mt. Kilimanjaro. But in Uganda’s Mountains of the Moon, you’ll find another worthy trek that’s far shorter on crowds. The Mountains of the Moon, an ancient moniker for the Rwenzori range (so called for the snow-capped peaks, as white as the moon) flank the source of the Nile. It is this geographical position that ties the mountain range so tightly to the history of the exploration of Africa.
While hiking the Mountains of the Moon trek must be done with a tour company and guide, it is still a far-sight cheaper than Kilimanjaro. With multiple peaks (6 peaks soar significantly over 4000m), the duration of a trip will vary depending on how many you’d like to climb. But with incredibly unique and spectacular scenery, this high-altitude trek right on the equator should be at the top of the list for any hiker planning a trip to East Africa.
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