Hikers brave the harshest climates, the highest peaks and most forbidding terrains to experience the Earth like no others possible could. Whether they are traversing canyons, climbing mountains or crossing moors, hikers know what it is to have adventure.
Below are 30 fantastic hiking trails that will challenge, beguile and enthuse even the most novice hikers!
1. The Narrows, USA
Carved throughout millennia by the Virgin River, The Narrows in Zion National Park provide breathtaking scenery throughout it’s 26km (16 miles). More than half of this hike takes place in the river, including some areas in which you may need to swim, but it can be completed in just one day and you can dry off at one of the twelve camping grounds throughout the park.
How to get there: This hike through the Virgin River actually starts at The Chamberlain Ranch found about 20 miles from Zion National Park’s East Entrance. For detailed directions and maps, download Zion Adventure’s brochure.
2. Pays Dogon, Mali
Without a doubt, Pays Dogon is one of Africa’s most scenic places which is why so many hikers choose to hike through the breathtaking landscape, which can take up to ten days. Known as ‘the land of the Dogon people’ hikers visit ancient cliff dwellings and Dogon villages as they traverse the peeks.
How to get there: To get anywhere in Dogon Country, it is essential that you hire a driver or a car, which you will then have to drive to the one of the hiking start villages Kani-Kombolé, Djiguibombo, Endé, Dourou or Sanga. For a better idea of Dogon Country, check out this interactive map.
3. The Haute Route, France & Switzerland
Starting in Chamonix, France and ending in Zermatt, Switzerland visitors to The Haute Route will experience the very best areas of The Alps available to hikers. Although there are varying routes between summer and winter, either hike will take around two weeks to complete and is only for the fitter hikers among us.
How to get there: Book a hotel in or near Chamonix, France and ensure you are booked on a trip with a guide who will lead the hike. Your guide, and possibly your hotel as well, will provide you with all the extra information you will need.
4. GR20, France
Remaining in France, the GR20 trail in Corsica is a legendary hike spanning 168km (104 miles). Built in 1972, this trek will direct you through Calenzana, Balagne and ends in Conca, north of Porto Vecchio. On your way you can expect rickety bridges, mountains, ice, rivers, forests, bogs and an experience like no other.
How to get there: Calenzana is situated near Calvi, which is easy to travel to from the Saint Catherine airport or local ferries. To travel from Calvi to Calenzana simply take a bus!
5. Inca Trail, Peru
At 33km (20 miles) this trail may seem tame in comparison to those listed above, but you can’t blame to ancient Incas for not meeting our modern day hiking demands. On this trek you will walk through The Sacred Valley of Machu Picchu an ancient wonder of the world like no other on Earth.
How to get there: Access to the Inca Trail is strictly controlled so it is essential that you book with a tour guide months in advance. When the time comes for you to travel to Peru, fly to Cuzco and then catch a train to either Aguas Calientes, the prime access point to Machu Picchu where many choose to stay overnight or go straight to Ollantaytambo in The Sacred Valley. Your tour guide will most likely be in contact with your throughout your travels and ensure you find the actual trail.
6. Everest Base Camp, Nepal
The first of our intense mountain climbs, Nepal’s Everest Base Camp reaches dizzying heights of 5,545m (18,193ft) at Kala Pattar and takes three weeks to complete. Accompanied by Sherpa people of the Solu Khumbu you will be expected to traverse valleys and mountains in order to bask in the unique and beautiful scenery.
How to get there: If you are planning to begin your trek from Nepal, fly from Kathmandu to Lukla Airport which is close to Sagarmatha National Park. If you have booked a guide, they will most likely accompany you from the airport.
7. Indian Himalayas, India
Far less popular than The Alps or Everest, The Indian Himalayas’ trail in Himachal Pradesh is a hike for true adventurers. This remote trek will see you travel for 24 days from Spiti to Ladakh, teetering on cliff edges and reaching dizzying heights.
How to get there: There are 12 districts in Himachal Pradesh, and you are aiming for Spiti in Lahaul and Spiti. To get there most people enter through Manali, which you can reach via plane from Delhi or train, towards Rohtang Pass using the eastbound rounds that lead to Kaza. There are bus services that start in Manali, or you can drive which will take about eight to ten hours.
8. Overland Track, Australia
Situated in Tasmania, The Overland Track is 80km (50 miles) long and takes about six days to complete. Whilst trekking between Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair – Australia’s deepest natural freshwater lake – you will see mountains, lakes, moors, forests, waterfalls and Mt Ossa.
How to get there: By the far the easiest to get to so far, all you need to do is get to the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre where buses will transport you to the start of the track. Both Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair are within up to four hours travelling distance from many main towns like Davenport, Burnie and Launceston.
9. Routeburn Track, New Zealand
On New Zealand’s South Island there is the far less demanding Routeburn Track, which stretches over 32km (20 miles) and takes just three days to complete. Found at foot of The Southern Alps, the most difficult element of this hike will be getting a spot on the team as numbers are extremely limited.
How to get there: Many hikers choose to depart from Queenstown and begin the walk from the Routeburn Shelter. Queenstown is accessible via plane, bus and car.
10. Baltoro Glacier & K2, Pakistan
You may have heard of the world’s second-highest mountain K2 previously, but did you know you can actually hike along it’s icy foundations and climb it’s peak? This 15 day hike will take you through and over Paiju (6,610m, 21,686ft), Uli Biaho (6,417m, 21,053ft), Great Trango Tower (6,286m, 20,623ft) and finally K2 (8,611m, 28,251ft).
How to get there: As with most things in Pakistan, you must begin in Islamabad. It is recommended that hikers stay in Envoy, Shalimar or Royal Inn but of course the ultimate choice is up to you.
You will then fly or drive to Skardu, where you will be driven in a Jeep to Askolie, the last village on route, where your trek will finally begin.
11. Tongariro Northern Circuit, New Zealand
Also known as ‘The New Zealand Great Walk‘, this trek takes place on the northern island of New Zealand and will take you four days to complete the 49km (31 miles) circuit around Mount Ngauruhoe.
How to get there: Many people choose to begin from the village of Whakapapa where the Department of Conservation asks that you leave your vehicle and instead take a $15 shuttle. There is an air field at the base of Whakapapa, which you can fly into from Aukland.
12. Fitz Roy Trek, Argentina
Mount Fitz Roy can be concurred using various routes, with the average hike measuring around 64km (40 miles). Each route ensures glorious views of Patagonia that cannot be experienced unless you take this trip on Fitz!
How to get there: There are numerous treks that you can partake in here, so before you set off make sure you’ve decided on a route. You will need to travel to El Chalten, the gateway to Mt. Fitz Roy, which is reachable by bus from either El Calafate or San Carlos de Bariloche.
You can reach either of these places by plane, however El Calafate is by far the easiest of the two.
13. Cinque Terre, Italy
At just 12km (7.5 miles), this trek is more like taking a walk along the stunning Western Italian Coast. You will traverse this beautiful scenery and travel through five Italian towns, so if you’re looking to experience some extraordinary culture, this is the hike for you.
How to get there: You can reach Cinque Terre via plane, train or car but you will have to walk or catch a train to the first village Corniglia to begin your trek.
14. Santa Cruz Trek, Peru
Out shined only by the Inca Trail, The Santa Cruz Trek is one of Peru’s most popular walks. Over four days you can expect to see rivers, lakes and mountains that would otherwise go unseen by human eyes.
How to get there: It is best to hire a guide for this trek as travelling independently can limit your experience. As this trek begins in Huaraz, which is situated in Cordillera Blanca’s Huascarán National Park, you will need to take a coach from Lima (Movil Tours, Ormeño, Cruz del Sur and CIAL are the most frequently used companies).
15. Torres del Paine Circuit, Chile
Ten days, 83km (52 miles) and immense scenery: that’s what you can expect from Chile’s number one hiking destination. Traverse the Torres del Paine mountain range and experience the real wonder of the South American continent.
How to get there: Having flown into El Calafate, you must take a six hour bus journey to the town of Puerto Natales to catch another two hour bus to the Torres Del Paine National Park. There will be many guides available to take you on this hike at the National Park, or you can book in advance.
16. Desert Trek to Petra, Jordan
High up on bucket lists around the globe, The Kingdom of Petra is a destination most of us would like to see. But the real question is: how are you planning to get there? Do you take the boring, air-conditioned coach or the awesome 7 day, 80km (50 miles) hike across the desert? Tough decision.
How to get there: First of all you must fly to Amman, Jordan where you will catch a bus to Madaba where you will meet your tour group. You will be escorted via coach to Dana where your hike will begin.
17. Kungsleden, Sweden
Otherwise known as ‘The King’s Trail‘, this hike spans an incredible 434km (270 miles) of untouched European country, and in the winter it becomes a ski trail.
How to get there: To begin this hike you must first reach Abisko, which is about 25 hours from Malmo and 13 hours from Stockholm. There are also daily trains from both Lulea and Gallivare, which are both reachable by air.
18. West Coast Trail, Canada
Situated on Vancouver Island, this 75km (47 miles) long trail along the southwestern coast was originally carved in 1907 to help locals save shipwreck survivors. Now it’s primary use is allowing hikers to experience the real, coastal wilderness of Canada.
How to get there: You can begin The West Cost Trail from many starting points, easiest of which is Pacheena Bay Trailhead, which can be reached by plane and ferry.
19. Sarek National Park, Sweden
Famous for it’s 1,220 square kilometres (760 square miles) of untouched terrain, Sweden’s Sarek National Park is the perfect place to go hiking and exploring at your own pace and using your own route.
How to get there: Situated in the extreme north of Sweden, Sarek National Park actually shares a border with Kungsleden and can be reached using a similar route.
20. Muliwai Trail, Hawaii
Regarded as the most rigorous hike in Hawaii, the 28km (18 miles) Muliwai trail will see you pass through the Waipi’o and Waimanu Valleys, as well as a black sand beach.
How to get there: To begin this trek you will need to reach the city of Honoka’a which is relatively close to Hilo International Airport. From the airport you can catch a bus or rent a car to reach Honoka’a, which will take just over one hour.
21. Croagh Patrick, Ireland
At just 4km (3 miles), this Irish hike is an easy walk for beginners who want to see the beauty of the world that can only be experienced through hiking, but don’t want to die in the process. Croagh Patrick should take you about four and a half hours, and offers incredible views of beautiful Ireland.
How to get there: Croagh Patrick can be found in County Mayo’s Westport, which is very easy to travel to by catching a train from Dublin.
22. Grindelwald, Switzerland
Although it’s largely considered as a tourist destination, Grindelwald actually offers prime hiking for beginners! There are around 290 km (180 miles) of trails that you can pick and choose from, some lasting a day and others a week, so this is the perfect destination for some light adventure.
How to get there: Many travellers simply catch a train or drive from Interlaken which accessible through numerous main Swiss cities including Zurich and Geneva, although in summer you can even hike there.
23. Appalachian Trail, USA
Spanning 3540km (2,200 miles) and 14 states, the Appalachian hike will truly test your trekking skills like no other American trail. If you’re looking to up your game significantly then this is the trek for you. The great part though, is that you can brave the entire length of the trail or choose chunks to explore more easily.
How to get there: The majority of visitors arrive via car as there are numerous, cast parking lots. If you wish to trek from North to South you’ll want to head for Baxter State Park.
24. Zillertal Alps, Austria
As you may imagine, the Austrian Alps offer numerous hiking trails for everyone and at varying levels of expertise. Arguably the most popular of the Austrian Alp walks is the Berliner Höhenweg, which should take you about seven days to complete.
How to get there: If you are planning to traverse the Berliner Höhenweg, you will need to get to Innsburg which is easy to get to via train, plane or car.
25. North Drakensberg Traverse, South Africa
Regarded by many enthusiastic hikers, explorers and survivalists as one of the best hiking trails on Earth, this 64km (40 miles) walk sits between The Kingdom of Lesotho and South Africa, offering unique views of the African landscape.
How to get there: Most people begin their trek at The Sentinel and work their way south because this is the easiest place to get to. You can travel by car along the N3 highway, fly into Durban Airport and catch the Baz Bus.
26. Cape Wrath Trail, Scotland
Perhaps the hardest trek the United Kingdom has to offer, the hiking trail across Cape Wrath will take even an experienced hiker twenty days to complete as it spans 321km (200 miles).
How to get there: Beginning at Fort William, this trail is quite easy to get to using coach services or trains available from numerous cities including Glasgow and Edinburgh.
27. Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia
How to get there: Located in the Semien (North) Gondar Zone of the Amhara Region, The Semien Mountains are accessible via air or their a vast number of bus routes from all over Ethiopia, including Addis Ababa or Bahir Dar.
28. Polar Route, Greenland
Otherwise referred to as The Arctic Circle Trail, this 160km (100 miles) long hike will take you from Kangerlussuaq to one of the most remote places of Earth Sisimiut via the world’s second largest glacier.
How to get there: As you may imagine, The Polar Route is a little tricky to reach. However, Kangerlussuaq Airport can be reached by planes scheduled by Air Greenland, which usually depart from New York.
29. Kalalau Trail, Hawaii
Although it is only 35km (22 miles) long, this trail along the Na Pali Coast in Kaua’i has been known to be as dangerous as it is spectacular. So, book with care!
How to get there: The island of Kaua’i can be reached via plane and the starting point Ke’e Beach is easily reached on foot, using public transport or by taxi.
30. Cordillera Apolobamba, Bolivia
Rarely braved and barely conquered, the Cordillera Apolobamba is 104km (65 miles) long and takes around five days to complete. Situated close to the Peruvian border, this Bolivian masterpiece offers spectacular views and a unique experience.
How to get there: Bolivia’s capital city La Paz is accessible through many airports, from here you can arrange transport to Pelechuco which is situated right in the centre of the Cordillera Apolobamba mountain range.
Featured photo credit: Galen Crout via unsplash.com