Hiking is one of those things not everyone enjoys. Some would complain about “all that walking”, or “the insects”, maybe the “sweating all day”, or “the lack of a toilet”, perhaps would be “having to carry a backpack”… but when you do love it, it’s all those things, they are worth it. The feeling of freedom, walking through a forest, enjoying the sounds of nature (mostly) in peace, getting away from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, time just seems to slow down. And when you finally reach your destination, it’s one of the most rewarding feelings in the world!
With that in mind, and because the world is full of incredible hiking routes, I’ve asked a few fellow bloggers and avid hikers to share with you their best hiking experiences and tips from around the planet for all kinds of levels of expertise.
Without further ado, here is our pick of what we think are some of the best hikes in the world.
Valbone to Thethi Hike
by Jeanne from Learning to Breathe Abroad
Hiking over the Albanian Alps from Valbone to Thethi has to be one of the most breathtaking hikes in the world. The hike follows an old mule trail that traverses the craggy mountains from the Valbone Valley to the Thethi Valley. Also known as the Accursed Mountains, these majestic mountains dotted with patches of glacial ice and pine forests create the most stunning scenery imaginable.
The hike takes between 5 – 8 hours depending on your level of fitness. It can be tough in places but beginners and kids as young as 10 years old should be able to manage it. Donkeys are available to carry backpacks should you require.
The official start is at the village of Rragami, but unless you have a 4×4 you’ll need to walk the first 20minutes up the dry riverbed. From Rragomi to the top of the pass is an altitude difference of 764m, with the elevation of the Valbone Pass being 1600m. The total distance of the hike is 16km.
There are two rustic restaurants, each about 3/4 of the way up. One is on the Valbone side and the other on the Thethi side. Here you can sit back and catch your breath while having a beer, raki or cool drink. They also serve food. Don’t forget to fill up your water bottles at the natural springs.
Guides are available, but the route is clearly marked and lots of people manage to navigate their way without any assistance. In summer months, the route can be fairly busy so there will always be someone to assist should you take a wrong turn.
The best months to do the Valbone to Thethi hike are May, June and September. The weather is at its most moderate during these months. July and August are also doable but temperatures can soar to 38°C. From October through April, there is snow, so hiking is not possible.
Ötschergräben and Erlaufstausee in the Mostviertel
Those who think that visiting Vienna is all about the food and the culture have probably never visited the Voralpen. About 1 to 1 1/2 hours from Vienna you’ll find the Mostviertel (grape “Must District”) stunning hiking trails around the Ötscher for all levels.
No wonder it is known as the Grand Canyon of Austria, the path takes you along the most stunning gorges and waterfalls. And if the weather is nice, don’t forget to bring your swimsuit along because it is possible to swim in the crystal-clear waters of the river.
Towards the end, you will find a little hut, take a sit and enjoy some of the region’s finest grape must (with or without alcohol) while taking in the views.
Hike to Laguna de los Tres
by Claudia from My Adventures Across The World
The hike to Laguna De Los Tres easily qualifies as one of the best in the world. It goes all the way to a lagoon from where you get stunning views of Mount Fitz Roy. This is located in Patagonia, a very vast region that spans across several provinces of Chile and Argentina. In fact, it is in Argentina and right on the border with Chile. The best access point to hike to Laguna de los Tres is El Chalten, a tiny place that in recent years has become a hub for people who like hiking.
The trail can be accessed directly from El Chalten (in which case you have to walk there and back on the same trail), or from Hosteria El Pilar, 12 km north of El Chalten (in which case you just follow the trail all the way to the lagoon and then to town).
Whichever starting point you pick, the overall walking distance is of about 24 km, most of them on good terrain. The hike is moderate, except for one km on very difficult terrain – that’s the bit of the trail that shortly after Campamento Poincenot goes all the way to Laguna de los Tres. It’s a 40% incline, difficult to climb and just as hard to go down.
It takes about 1 hour to walk up that 1 km, and just about the same amount of time to walk back down. Once up, you will be rewarded with impressive views of Laguna de los Tres and Mount Fitzroy.
Access to the trail is free, and since it is very well marked and easy to follow you won’t need a guide. Make sure to carry enough water and food for the duration of the hike (calculate between 6 and 8 hours, depending on how often you stop and how long you stay at the lagoon). I also recommend spending a few days in El Chalten waiting for the best weather to walk up – if you walk during a cloudy day you may end up not seeing Mount Fitz Roy as it will be covered in clouds.
Finally, I recommend taking a short detour at km 5 of the trail to visit Chorrillo del Salto, a gorgeous waterfall perfect for a break. There is no marked trail to get there, but it’s nevertheless easy to find.
Kings Canyon Rim Walk (Northern Territory)
by Jessica Pascoe
Australia’s Northern Territory is a wild frontier offering a huge selection of hiking opportunities. If you’re looking to choose just one, and you’re looking for a challenging hike with spectacular views, I highly recommend the iconic 6km Kings Canyon Rim Walk.
Kings Canyon, located in the Watarrka National Park around 3 hours’ drive from Uluru, takes its name from Kings Creek, which was named by the explorer Ernest Giles in 1872.
The hike starts with a steep ascent of around 1000 steps; you should only attempt this walk if you are fit and healthy. I was genuinely shocked at how difficult this ascent was despite exercising regularly. Be especially careful hiking in the hotter months from October to April. On days where the temperature is forecast to reach 36 degrees or above, you must start the hike before 9 am or else you’ll find it closed.
The walk takes between 3-4 hours so plan your time accordingly. There is limited shade so take plenty of water, sun cream and wear a broad-brimmed hat. Once you reach the top, you’ll be presented with 360-degree views of some of the most incredible scenery in Central Australia.
Traverse the Canyon rim, through Priscilla’s Crack (featured in the classic Aussie movie Priscilla Queen of the Desert) to the first lookout before gazing at the series of sandstone domes that make up the ‘Lost City.’ Either follow the path to Cotterill’s Lookout or continue down the staircase to Garden of Eden where you’ll cross a secured bridge over a sacred watering hole surrounded by surprisingly lush scenery. Once you return from the watering hole, you’ll climb back up the stairs to the south side of the Canyon where you can continue to explore the beauty of the desert as you meander back to the car park.
9 day Cape to Cape track (Western Australia)
by Suzi from Keeping Up With Little Joneses
Without a doubt my favourite trail in the world is the 123 Km Cape to Cape track in Western Australia. Running the length of Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge from Cape Naturaliste lighthouse in the north to Cape Leeuwin in the south, this trail waders across cliff tops, through forests and along pristine stretches of pure white sand beach along the Indian Ocean.
We walked the top half in three and a half days sleeping at the well maintained but basic little campsites along the way and hope to return this year to finish the second half. If you’re not into overnight hiking, not to worry, with several access points along the traverse, you can easily choose to do day hikes and short walks instead.
Spring is our favourite season on the Cape to Cape. With wildflowers blooming and the annual humpback whale migration underway, you’re likely to encounter the best of Western Australia’s natural wonders. You will pass the stunning scenery and billion year old rocks of Sugarloaf Rock, ephemeral waterfalls, kangaroos, emus and dolphins, and share the shallow warm waters of Hamelin Bay with huge stingrays over a metre across. Don’t be surprised if one of these rays swims up to your toes while refreshing your feet in the ocean; the rays are quite friendly.
And after enjoying all that breathtaking scenery, you can relax at one of the local world famous wineries, cheese factories, or – our favourite – the Margaret River Chocolate Factory.
Cordillera de los Frailes
by Kat from Crunchy Kat Explores
Bolivia is often left off the typical backpackers route in South America. And if people do decide to stop there? It’s maybe just a quick stop to see the world’s largest salt flats, Salar de Uyuni, or to bike down the thrilling Death Road.
The thing is, Bolivia is full of hidden gems. One of them? The Cordillera de los Frailes.
Located right outside the city of Sucre, this mountainous region of the Bolivian Andes is a hikers’ paradise. This three-day trek starts in Chataquila with a downhill hike on the Inca Trail. Yuppp, Machu Picchu might have the most famous Inca Trail, but it exists in Bolivia too (and you’ll probably have this one to yourself!).
On the first day, you’ll take in views of multi-coloured mountains, walk past gorgeous waterfalls, and traverse the spectacular Crater de Maragua. The first night you’ll stay in the heart of the crater in the small village of Irupampa.
The second day has you climbing up and out of it allowing you to take in picturesque views of the crater. You’ll pass through valleys and walk through small communities, home to the Quechua speaking Jalq’a people, the indigenous people in this area (if going with a guide, they’ll probably bring coca leaves along to share). Oh, and what else is on the agenda for the day? Dinosaur footprints! You’ll arrive in the small village of Niñu Mayu, where a large sloping section of rock exposes three distinct sets of footprints!
Your day (and three-day trek) will end in the village of Potolo, famous for their textiles.
Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland
by Breanna from Messy Buns and Mom Jeans
Newfoundland, Canada, is known for wildlife, scenic tours, mountains, and WONDERFUL hikes. In fact, on that island, there are over 300 hiking trails! How do you choose the best one? Well, you have to try them! One of the best hikes around, hands down, has to be Gros Morne Mountain hike.
Gros Morne is approximately a 6 to 8-hour hike. It is 807 meters high, and a combination of many different types of terrain. You can also see wildlife, like caribou and arctic hare. Your first 4 Km is a lovely hike to the base of the mountain from the road, which brings you up about 320 metres high. It’s a gradual climb up, so it’s much more friendly to less avid hikers.
Once at the base, you go from trodden dirt trails to climbing upward in a gully full of boulders and rocks. As you hit this point, you quickly go up 500 metres in elevation. Once at the top, you have an amazing view of fiords’ arms and ten-mile pond. As well as seeing vegetation, trees, and more mountains. On the way down, stop and have a swim in the pond, and you’ll see a place for overnight camping under the stars.
If you ever have the chance to hike Gros Morne Mountain, you will surely not be disappointed! It is captivating if you love the outdoors. This mountain is steeped in rich history and beauty. I’m fortunate enough to live incredibly close to this mountain and to hike it once a year. The view never gets old!
Lynn Canyon to Rice Lake in North Vancouver
The hikes around Lynn Canyon can be as easy or as hard as you want them to be, all it takes is a little extra time.
Starting from the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre you can either follow the Baden Powell trail south towards Deep Cove and Quarry Rock (more advanced option) or towards north for a (mostly) leisurely walk among the trees to Lower Seymour and Rice Lake. Oh, and don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled as you may be able to spot some wildlife on your way.
Both of these options are reachable by public transport from Vancouver and perfect for the off season too!
Whistler to Green Lake in British Columbia
Whistler is famous for being the host of the winter Olympics back in 2010. The place lives off of winter sports enthusiasts, but it has another side that not everyone knows about. During the ski off season, Whistler is a haven for those who live for the outdoors. Countless hikes will take you through wild forests to pristine lakes.
One of the best hikes is the one connecting the Olympic village with Green Lake. With about 8 Km it may take you a couple of hours to complete, but it will be worth it. And in Green Lake, during the warmer months, you can take a quick trip on a water plane!
Tiger Leaping Gorge Hike
by Ming from Flyerism
Located at north Lijiang, Tiger Leaping Gorge is the deepest gorge in China. The Tiger Leaping Gorge trail passes through the rugged but scenic countryside where the native Naxi people reside, verdant terrace, and valleys of surrounding mountains (eg. Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain) with snow-capped peaks.
It’s a popular hiking trail but it’s not overcrowded like other major attractions in China. In fact, Tiger Leaping Gorge has one of the best hiking trails in the world. As a hiking enthusiast, I’ve hiked numerous trails all over the world but Tiger Leaping Gorge managed to amaze me in so many ways! Here I’ve attached a picture that I took but it doesn’t do full justice to the beauty of the gorge.
Most people would suggest you do a 2 to 3 days strenuous hike. However, it’s entirely possible to do it in one day from Lijiang, even if you are not particularly fit! The gorge is divided into three sections: upper gorge, middle gorge, and lower gorge. The easiest way is to visit upper Gorge, the narrowest gorge of all three. There is a viewing platform to enjoy the great view of the river below and mountain cliffs. Beware though, this platform can be quite congested with cars and buses during peak season!
If you’d like to find out more about this hike, you can check my one day Tiger Leaping Gorge hiking itinerary here.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
by Constance from The Adventures of Panda Bear
Croatia, in general, is full of beautiful sceneries and quaint towns, but what really puts the country at the top of the list of best hikes are the hiking trails at Plitvice Lakes National Park. The colours and beauty at Plitvice Lakes are unreal and there are so many hiking trails to choose from!
Also known as the first national park in Croatia, Plitvice Lakes National Park is renowned for its colourful lakes and flowing waterfalls. There is literally no bad hike inside the park! The most popular area of the park to visit is the Lower Lakes, which is where most tourists tend to see. But also be sure to check out the Upper Lakes for a different set of colours and vibe.
Even though it was super packed, we loved hiking through the Lower Lakes because of its gorgeous blue and green tones within the lakes. The colors here are brighter since the lakes are smaller, even then there are still quite a few beautiful and large waterfalls here to see.
The Upper Lakes is less trafficked and has a more serene vibe, the lakes in this higher elevation are also much larger. This also means that the colors you see in this area are are deeper, richer blues.
Trail C is the best to see both the Upper and Lower Lakes, but make sure you have all day to take this trail. The trail is boardwalk planked or gravelled in most areas and takes between 4 and 6 hours. From the Main Entrance (or Entrance 1), the trail covers 8 km (5 miles) and takes you from the Lower Lakes, on a boat ride across Lake Kozjak and then the Upper Lakes with a tram ride back to the main entrance. This trail is the best way to see most of the Plitvice Lakes!
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Nyiragongo Volcano Trek
by Kesi from Kesi To and Fro
The Nyiragongo volcano trek at Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the best hikes in the world because it has the largest lava lake on the planet.
This overnight trek takes around 5 hours to climb up. There are huts to sleep in at the summit. Climbing up the volcano you get to see the city of Goma, and there’s a sense of accomplishment of observing a country that many people don’t have the chance to visit.
The lava lake is unreal, and could easily be observed for hours. Who needs a television when you can watch lava swirl, crackle, and pop! I recommend hiring a chef for the trek because, by the time you are at the top, it’d be too tiring to cook for yourself. The chef makes a hearty, tasty meal, plus you get tea, which you can take with you to sip on while watching the lava.
You will need to have a visa to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo. But the Virunga National Park’s website can arrange transportation, visas, accommodation, and trekking permits for you. It’s not needed to hire a travel agent since everything can be booked online. Also, make sure your travel insurance covers you while in the country.
Le Calanques National Park Marseille – Cassis
by Elisa from France Bucket List
If you like hiking and walking you cannot miss Les Calanques de Marseille – Cassis. The Calanques National Park is a coastal park located in the South of France, between the city of Marseille and the picturesque town of Cassis. The National Park includes a terrestrial part, made of limestone cliffs and pudding, many creeks and islets and its corresponding marine part. This is our favorite National Park in France because along the same hike we can enjoy the mountains and the sea.
The Calanques National Park is well known for its wild beauty and secluded beaches with turquoise waters. Day hikes along the Calanques are long and with important height differences. Hikers can start from Marseille or from Cassis, a pretty coastal town very popular amongst visitors, especially on Sundays. People can also go to the Calanques for swimming, diving or climbing. Boat or catamaran trips to the Calanques with lunch included are also very popular.
The Calanques are a great idea for a day trip from Marseille or for a weekend getaway from Paris. Indeed, Marseille can be reached by train from Paris in only 3 hours and from there, one just needs to take a local bus to the starting point of the hikes.
Hiking around Füssen and the Hohenschwangau Region
A mere 2 hours by train from Munich you’ll find Füssen. A quaint little town at the base of the Bavarian Alps. Füssen is also known for being the gate to the famous Neuschwanstein Castle. But don’t be fooled, the area has so much more to offer than just castles (yes, there’s more than one!!). Many incredible hiking trails start or pass through Füssen, making it the perfect start to your adventure.
You can find more information in this comprehensive resource guide on hiking in Bavaria.
West Highland Way (Scotland)
by Kathi from Watch Me See
The Scottish Highlands are a hiker’s paradise. Beautiful trails through lush green valleys, along mumbling streams, over rocky mountain passes and up the high peaks of the Munros – those are Scottish mountains over 3,000 feet. The West Highland Way offers all that and more. It is a 96-mile long-distance trail that leads from the Lowlands outside Glasgow into the heart of the Highlands in Fort William. Along the way, hikers pass some of Scotland’s most iconic natural sites and landscape: the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, Scotland’s largest freshwater loch, the vast wilderness of Rannoch Moor, the iconic peaks of Glencoe and the Mamores and the foot of Britain’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis. The walk is challenging but suitable for hikers of all levels of experiences. Complete beginners can stick to the waymarked path, make use of local luggage transfer services and rest their tired legs in B&Bs and hotels along the way. Budget-wary hikers can rough it on the many campsites along the route, while experience mountaineers can take detours to hike some of the Munros and ridges along the way.
The average duration of the hike is 8-9 days, although quicker hikers might also manage in 5-6 days. If you are short on time and want to take it easy, many sections of the West Highland Way can easily be done as day hikes and multiple points of the walk are well connected to the public transport network.
My personal favourite section of the West Highland Way hike is the 13-mile walk from Bridge of Orchy to the Kingshouse Hotel at the entrance of Glencoe. On this day, happy hikers cross the widespread moorland of Rannoch Moor, considered one of the wildest places in Europe. At times, the trail is miles away from the nearest road and the vast empty landscape means that hikers are completely at the mercy of nature. Rain, wind or sunshine – nothing on the moor could protect you from the elements, but if you are lucky and the weather is fine, the views of the mountains in the distance are magnificent! Nothing beats a day out in the wilderness!
Ben Nevis (Scotland)
by Claire from Epic Road Rides
Ben Nevis is Britain’s highest mountain and a must-do if you love to hike and are visiting the UK. “The Ben” also features on the well-known Three Peaks Challenge which takes in the highest peaks in Scotland, Wales and England – so if you fancy hiking Ben Nevis, why not do all three?!
There are a few ways to the summit of Ben Nevis. The most common route, and the only one that’s suitable if you’re not an expert, is the path from Achintee just outside Fort William. This well-trodden path doesn’t require too much specialist kit, just decent outdoor clothing, a map and compass. BUT don’t try walking it outside the months of June to October, or when the weather is anything other than fine and clear.
Ben Nevis is one of those mountains where the weather can seem okay at the bottom – but then you find it’s blowing a gale and snowing at the top. We know that from experience. As non-expert hikers, we (stupidly) decided to walk up in February. It was sunny when we left town, but nearing the top, we were in thick snow with zero visibility. Luckily we know how to use a compass because, if you accidentally lose your way up here, you can get yourself in serious danger very quickly.
Don’t attempt this walk in winter unless you have winter skills and mountaineering training. But, if you attempt it at the right time of year in good weather, you’ll enjoy it. It’s an arduous but rewarding climb, with fantastic views on the way up and a real sense of achievement when you reach the top.
The Cotswolds (England)
by Laura from Travelers Universe
The Cotswolds is not only one of the best day trips from London, but also home to some of the most scenic walking routes I’ve ever had the pleasure to explore. Of course, the area is huge, and the longest trail, the Cotswold Way, would take up to 10 days to complete. But to make things really manageable, you can base yourself in one of the villages and find the best hiking trails nearby.
Hiking in the Cotswold is a glorious experience and there’s a hiking route for any level. If you’re after something more challenging, the Windrush Way is a circular route that links the Cotswold Way with the Oxfordshire Way. If you want to reach the highest point in the Cotswolds, with breathtaking views as far as Wales, take the Cleeve Hill Ring. And if you’re in the mood for some quaint village-hopping, follow the Diamond Way.
My absolute favorite route is from Bourton-on-the-Water to the Upper Slaughter. The hike is super chill and relaxing and suitable for most people. The rolling hills are painted in fifty shades of green and yellow and dotted with hundreds of adorable fluffy sheep. Plus you can stop midway to have ice cream, sip a cup of tea or browse the gift shop by the water mill in Lower Slaughter.
My second favourite hike is the circular route near Bibury, a village that is considered by many to be the most beautiful in England. From idyllic woodlands and whimsical dry stone walls covered in lichen to lush pastures and meandering streams, there’s enough beauty to keep you busy for at least half a day. This is a hilly hike, so it’s a bit more difficult. But it’s incredibly dreamy and if you do it in spring, you’ll be spoiled with the sight of carpets of flowering bluebells.
Samaria Gorge Hike in Crete
by Mal from Raw Mal Roams
Samaria Gorge is situated in western Crete, one of the Greek islands. It’s one of the longest gorges in Europe at 16 kilometres in length and is part of the Gorge National Park in the White Mountains.
The hike is pretty epic especially by the ‘gate’ of the gorge. On your way, you go past an abandoned Samaria village and some interesting Greek churches. There are several endemic species of plants and flowers with the National Park. You may also find kri-kri which is a Cretan goat that only inhabits this area.
The hike starts in Xyloskalo (where you can park your car) at the altitude of 1,250 meters and goes all the way down to a coastal village of Agia Roumeli. From here take a ferry to Sougia and a public bus back to Xyloskalo. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Chania to Xyloskalo where the hike begins and then from Sougia on the way back. There are also reasonably priced tours that will take care of all the logistics for you.
The hike takes around 5-7 hours despite being only 16 km long. It may be particularly challenging to hike it in the squelching heat. However, it is possible to hike only part of the gorge starting from Aglia Roumeli and back the same way.
Don’t forget your swimming costume. Aglia Roumeli offers a refreshing deep in the crystal clear water!
Mount Asahi, Hokkaido
by Emma from World Best Hikes
Hokkaido looks a world apart from most of Japan – barely a rice paddy, temple or skyscraper in sight, immense stretches of forest, and the real possibility of coming across a bear. There’s a lot of great hiking on the island, especially on its numerous volcanoes. And the highest mountain, Asahidake (or Mount Asahi), is no exception.
This active volcano is in Daisetsuzan National Park, in central Hokkaido. On one side, noisy fumaroles spew out clouds of smelly gas from a massive rent. On the other, there’s an enormous caldera with a yellow sulfur river running through. It’s stark and rugged and beautiful.
Most people climb Asahidake as a day hike from the hot spring resort of Asahidake Onsen, as a 6 km return day hike from the top of a cable car. While Hokkaido isn’t as crowded as most of Japan, you won’t be alone on this route – especially in August and also September when the fall colors start. Note that the path is steep and can be very cold and windy, even in summer.
Another option is a 13 km loop hike. This also starts from the top of the cable car, going around Asahidake to a hot spring where you can soak you feet. You then climb up to the caldera rim where the view is spectacular. The path follows the rim before heading up Asahidake, then down the other side back to the cable car.
The best thing is that even though Hokkaido may not look like your image of Japan, it is still very much Japanese… meaning that after a day of hiking you can soak your sore muscles in a lovely Japanese hot bath.
Taman Negara national Park
by Darja from DeeGees Travel
Trekking can be tough. Trekking in the jungle is a whole different story due to high humidity and the diversity of obstacles along the way. But boy, is it worth the effort!
Taman Negara National Park in the heart of Malaysia is a fantastic place to disconnect from civilization and reconnect with nature. The national park is home to one of the world’s oldest rainforests and therefore hosts an immense variety of flora and fauna. With every step you make you see a new variety of plants you hadn’t seen before. It is absolutely mind-blowing!
There are various routes you can take to explore the national park, all accompanied by a local guide. It’s a wild forest, the park’s rangers are hence very strict about not letting anyone going independently and getting lost or killed by some beast in the jungle. Understandably.
Depending on your physical condition, adventurous spirit and time availability you can choose the trek which is right for you. Your options range from an hour night jungle exploration, a day tour to the main sights in close proximity or trekking into the jungle overnight. If you have a chance, you should not miss the latter. Spending at least two full days in the middle of the rainforest, climbing over obstacles, washing up in a river and sleeping in a cave are the kind of memories which will last a lifetime. Yes, it is physically challenging but undeniably worthwhile.
Altai Tavan Bogd National Park
by Patricia from Ze Wandering Frogs
Hiking in the Altai mountains of Mongolia was one of the preferred experiences from our two months there. The Altai Tavan Bogd National Park is located in western Mongolia, bordering China and Russia, and can be reached from the city of Olgii (Ulgii). Trekking through the park takes about eight days along the length of the park. The trail passes along vast lakes like Khoton Lake, the broad valleys, over the snow-covered 10,348-feet (3,154-meter) Takalbai Pass, and across freezing glacial rivers of the deepest blue hues. We passed numerous herds of sheep and horses. Yurts can be found along the way where you can sometimes stay in the summer. An excellent opportunity to see the nomadic way of life of shepherds, many of Khazak heritage and traditions in this part of Mongolia. Outside the warmer months, the yurts are gone, and tent camping is the only option.
After reaching the Shiveet Khairkhan Ranger Station, the trail leads to Potanin Glacier base camp. The views of the 9-mile (14-km) Potanin Glacier from the base camp are simply stunning when the weather is clear. From that base camp, many outdoor enthusiasts head to the 13,287 feet (4,050 m) Malchin Peak, one of the five peaks of Altai Tavan Bogd National Park. Due to a severe snowstorm during the night, we had to skip the ascension. Instead, we enjoyed staying in a nearby yurt watching yacks, sheep, and surprisingly, camels, wander around the area.
The remote location makes for minimal visitors, allowing for the perfect experience in the incredible landscape of the Altai.
by Kaspars from Make Adventure Happen
The Annapurna Circuit trek is one of the best-known hikes in Nepal as well as one of the best hikes in the world.
Hence, if you’ve been thinking of hiking in Nepal, chances are you have heard of this trek. The trek, as its name suggests, goes almost all the way around the Annapurna massif, and it takes around 2 weeks to finish.
It’s not a very difficult trek, as you don’t have to have any special skills or expensive mountaineering equipment. You don’t even need to carry a tent or food, since there are simple hotels every now and then, that by far most travellers use. And in every hotel/guest house they also have a restaurant. But it’s a pretty long trek and you have to have enough willpower to continue walking as you reach higher and higher altitudes. There is a lot of going up and down on most of the days.
And then at the very end of the trek, in order to finish it, you have to cross the Thorung La Pass, a mountain pass sitting at 17,769 ft / 5,416 m above sea level. Rarely anyone nowadays does the whole trek, as new roads are being built in the Himalayas and you have to walk on them in some parts. Most do a shorter part of the trek. For them, it takes between 10 to 12 days to finish the Annapurna Circuit. If you want to do the whole trek, it will take you around 17 days.
You can learn more about the Annapurna Circuit Trek here.
Hooker Valley Track (South Island)
by Jennifer from Backyard Travel Family
If the mountains have always filled you with adventure and excitement, yet rock climbing and avoiding avalanches isn’t quite your thing, then the Hooker Valley Track in the beautiful Mt Cook National Park is for you. Located in the Southern Alps, under the majestic Mt Cook (New Zealand’s tallest peak), you will find a flat easy walk with views remnant of a challenging hike.
This three-hour walk will be one of the highlights of your New Zealand vacation and one you can bring the whole family on. With three epic swing bridges, beautiful wooden boardwalks and riverside scenery, you will not be bored on this hike. This return journey will lead you to the beautiful Hooker Lake, where only the brave swim with the local icebergs. As you look up above, think about those who have gone before you, as this is Sir Edmund Hillary country. (the first man to climb Mt Everest) He trained for Everest, as well as made his first ever summit in the Mt Cook National Park.
The Hooker Valley Track can be found in the middle of the South Island, just a 4-hour drive from Christchurch or Queenstown. Or stay in the local towns of Mt Cook Village, Twizel or Tekapo. Perhaps one of the most stunning things about this region is the Tekapo Dark Sky reserve, which means there is no light pollution in this area. Many head along the Hooker Valley Track late in the day to capture the Milky Way sparkling above the Southern Alps. Can you think of a more perfect way to end the day?
by Linn from Brainy Backpackers
Colca Canyon in Peru is an incredible hiking experience. It is the second deepest canyon in the world with a depth of 3270 meters. For this reason, you should take precautions for altitude sickness. But not only is it famous for its depth. It is also famous for spotting the great Peruvian Condor, one of the largest bird species in the world with more than a three meters wingspan. Many day trips take tourists to the famous spot Cruz del Condor where you are quite likely to see the majestic creature hunt in the morning. If you go for a guided hike to the canyon, the bus will most likely stop here either on the way to the hike or the return.
It is easy to book a guided two- or three-day hiking tour from Arequipa which includes the bus there and back as well as accommodation in the canyon. However, if you prefer doing the hike yourself, there is no problem as the hiking trails are clearly marked.
No matter how many days you choose for the hike, the first day(s) will be walking down to and along the bottom of the canyon. There are several small villages to have lunch and buy water once at the bottom. The last day will be a steep ascent straight to the top of the canyon, you will start long before sunrise. We walked through the low sitting clouds and up towards the morning sun. An absolutely magical experience.
The Inca Trail
by Rhonda from Travel? Yes Please!
The Inca Trail hike is a rewarding, fascinating journey through the Peruvian Andes. The ancient trail, built by the Inca themselves, starts in the Sacred Valley, climbs up into the mountains, then descends to Machu Picchu, the famous Inca citadel.
The 4-day trek traverses about 44 km of high altitude terrain, reaching a peak of 4200m above the sea at Dead Woman’s Pass. While winding its way up and down the mountains, the trail offers views of rivers, cloud forests, and snow-capped peaks. Most intriguing is the number of pre-Columbian ruins that still stand alongside the trail.
Due to the trail’s popularity and historic and cultural significance, hikers must complete the trek with a licensed guide or tour operator. There are also only 500 permits allotted each day, so it’s necessary to book the trek 6 months (or more) in advance. Trekking agencies supply tents, food, and cooking equipment, and employ guides, porters, and cooks to make the trek as comfortable as possible.
The best time to do the trek is between May and September when conditions are driest. Before embarking on the trek, plan to spend 2-3 days in Cusco to allow your body to acclimate to the high altitude.
by Hannah from Hannah’s Happy Adventures
The Salkantay trek is one of the many trekking options available to visit Machu Picchu. In comparison with the more popular Inca trail, you do not require a permit and the trails are less crowded and arguably more beautiful. During this hike, you will pass through mountains, a rainforest and beautiful blue glacier lakes. It is, however, a significantly harder hike than the Inca trail. You need to be relatively fit; but the determination to succeed is definitely more important.
Typically, the trek is sold as a five-day package; a four-day trek followed by one-day visiting Machu Picchu.
Day 1 is designed to test your endurance. If you cannot make it to the first lake by the end of the day, then you should take a donkey for day two – the hardest day.
Day 2 consists of a four-hour hour hike up and over the Salkantay pass. It reaches the highest altitude of the trek at over 4600m. You will see simply breath-taking views of the Salkantay Mountain.
Day 3 consists of a short hike followed by an optional visit to the hot springs.
Day 4 consists of a three-hour hike up, three-hour hike down and a three-hour flat hike. I personally found this day to be the toughest day, mainly because of my very sore muscles!
Who should I book with? It’s possible to book the Salkantay trek with local operators in Cusco’s streets upon arrival.
If you would like to book in advance, then I recommend booking with Salkantay Trekking. This is the company I used for my trek. They provide excellent food and accommodation including, an igloo under the stars. Nevertheless, whomever you book with, do not pay more than 500 USD for the trek.
Strazyska Vallery Hike in Zakopane
by Karolina from Lazy Travel Blog
One of the best hiking locations in the world is the Strazyska Valley where the beauty of nature is well worth the effort of conquering its many trails.
The trail begins at Plana Kalatowki which is at the edge of the small town of Zakopane in Poland. Just 2 to 3 hours from Krakow, this charming town is the best home base for exploring the Strazyska Valley and the other trails around it.
The hike usually lasts 4 hours and is quite easy to follow with gentle slopes that pass gurgling brooks, pine trees, and mountains. One of the biggest attractions of this height is the magnificent slope of the Giewont Mountain, which can be an extra climb for those looking for a challenge. As the Strazyska Valley hike is fairly easy, it is also available during the winter season. Coated with frost, it becomes a winter wonderland, complete with a frozen waterfall that seems to defy gravity.
After reaching the end of the Strazyska Valley hike, one can opt to go for a meal in one of the small shelters lining the valley. Another option is to head to Sciezka and Reglami to find sweeping views of Zakopane. You can also make your way to the Kalatowiki Valley, where you can dine at the Mountain Hotel Kalatowki restaurant while appreciating the wonderful natural sights around you.
Azenhas do Mar to Cabo da Roca
by Nesrine from Kev MRC
Portugal is well known for its nice weather and its wonderful coasts, full of incredible beaches and pretty little villages. On the Atlantic coast, there are a lot of hiking trails, each more beautiful than the next. But one stands out from the others and is just located 40min from Lisbon.
This trail goes from Cabo da Roca to Azenhas do Mar and takes around 3.30 hours. The trail runs along the Atlantic coast, dotted with the most beautiful viewpoints. If you love hiking next to the sea while enjoying amazing seascapes, then this hike is definitely for you.
Here are the 6 main spots you shouldn’t miss on the trail :
- Cabo da Roca: this place is well known for its amazing rock formations and its iconic lighthouse. Oh, and it’s also the Westernmost point of mainland Europe!
- Praia da Ursa: this beach is really unique because of its huge rock formations overlooking the sea.
- A Praia da Adraga: on this beach, you will find natural caves and tunnels making this place very special.
- Praia Grande: this is the biggest beach of the Cascais coast. You can rest and have some refreshments at one of the cafes on the beachfront.
- Praia das Maças: the surfers’ beach. The perfect place to sit down and relax for a bit, while watching the surfers riding the waves.
- Azenhas do Mar: the end point of our hike! This cute little village is perched high up on the cliff, and it’s truly a wonderful sight; the perfect reward to a long walk.
Want to see even more incredible places in Portugal? Click here to find out more than 30 of them!
The Fishermen’s Trail
by Alya from Stingy Nomads
The Fishermen’s Trail is a 4-day trekking route in the Vicentina Natural park, Alentejo region, southern Portugal. The scenery on the route is amazing; rugged cliffs, turquose blue sea, pristine beaches, an abundance of wildlife and colorful patches of wildflowers – an ideal holiday route.
The Fishermen’s Trail is not a wild trek, every night hikers stay in hotels/hostels, there is no need to carry heavy camping gear and food with though there are several campsites along the way. The total distance of the trek is 76 km. It’s not a very challenging route; daily walking distances are between 16 km and 22 km but walking on sand with a backpack is quite tiring. Spring is definitely the best time to hike this route; the weather is great, it’s warm but not too hot yet, it’s not too busy and there are thousands of wildflowers all over the area. The trek starts in a small beach town of Porto Covo and finishes in Odeceixe It’s easy to get to the starting point by bus from Lisbon, there are many daily buses departing from Sete Rios bus station, the journey takes 2 hours and costs 15€. From Odeceixe it’s possible to continue walking on another trail, the Historical Way, for 5 more days to Cabo de S.Vicente – the southwesternmost point of Portugal and of mainland Europe.
2 day Amathole Mountain Hike
by Lieve from Elundini Backpackers
Explore the beautiful Amathole Mountains, in the heart of the Eastern Cape in South Africa. On this moderate to sometimes difficult 2-day hike, you’ll pass sparkling waterfalls, descend down through indigenous forests and climb up again to enjoy spectacular views.
At the end of the day, sleep in traditional African huts in a tiny, rural Xhosa village and enjoy a hot shower. Meet this indigenous Xhosa tribe, learn about their culture and get introduced to the tongue-twisting Xhosa language and enjoy the great local food.
The next day you’ll hike via a circular route back to the starting point of the hike. A sense of fulfilment is guaranteed! Make sure you are in shape because this is a tough one. Both days you’ll hike between 5 and 7 hours.
As this is an off the beaten track hike with no signage, you’ll need to book a local tour guide.
Barranco del Infierno in Tenerife
by Elena from Flight to Somewhere
The island of Tenerife (part of the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago off the coast of Africa) is the perfect destination for hikers, and Barranco del Infierno trail is among the must-do hikes here. The name of this trail could be translated as Hell’s Gorge and it’s a linear trail with stunning views over the rugged mountains and towards the sea. At the end of the trail, you will find a beautiful waterfall. The total length of the hike in both directions is 6.5 km and you should plan to spend at least 3.5 hours there (more if you constantly stop to take photos, as we did).
Barranco del Infierno is a protected area located very close to the main tourist resort of Playa de las Americas/Costa Adeje, so you don’t need to spend ages travelling just to get to the starting point of the hike if that’s where you are staying.
Only a limited number of people are allowed to enter Barranco del Infierno per day, so you will not be faced with overcrowding whilst on the trail. This does mean that you have to pay an entrance fee and it is recommended to book in advance to avoid turning up at the entrance only to discover that all slots for that day are already gone.
The trail is very easy to follow and there is no danger of getting lost. Difficulty-wise, I would rate Barranco del Infierno as moderate due to the large number of steps to climb up and down – my legs were really feeling the strain towards the end of the hike. Thankfully, there’s a nice restaurant right by the entrance to the trail, so you can rest there before heading back to your hotel.
by Aaron Teoh
The Kungsleden, or King’s Trail, in Sweden is a long distance hiking trail within the Arctic Circle. The entire trail is 440 km long, but most do just the northernmost 110 km, which takes about a week at a leisurely pace.
The Arctic tundra, sprawling valleys flanked by snow-capped peaks and glaciers along the way will definitely leave a lasting impression. If the landscape is not enough, here is also where you can experience the midnight sun in the middle of summer, or witness the northern lights as soon as the sun sets. Both are spectacular phenomena in their own right but set against this unique landscape, absolutely awe-inspiring. There are also possible side trips that will take you to glacier valleys or up the highest peak in Sweden, Kebnekaise.
Cabins along the trail ensure you’ll get a comfortable night’s rest even here in the Arctic wilderness. For a true outdoor experience, right to access in Sweden allows you to legally camp almost anywhere along the trail. While the trail is in what is sometimes known as Western Europe’s last great wilderness, getting to the start and end of the trail (for the northernmost section) is relatively convenient, with buses and trains connecting to the nearest city, Kiruna.
Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon, USA
by James from Parks Collecting
One of the best hikes in the world is the hike down to the bottom of Grand Canyon in the United States. There are a couple of trails, but the most iconic and popular is the Bright Angel Trail. The trail descends from the South Rim down a series of four major switchbacks to the Colorado River nine miles below.
The trail begins near Bright Angel Lodge in the South Rim village. There are two tunnels near the start that make good turn around points for people who want just a little taste of being below the rim of the canyon or those with kids.
After that, the first of the switchbacks begins. Key places to rest and/or turn back are 1.5 Resthouse and 3-mile Resthouse. The full hike to the bottom and back should not be attempted in one day. There is a campground and Phantom Ranch cabins or dorms to stay in at the bottom of the canyon.
However, if you can’t get a reservation, then a hike halfway down to Indian Garden is a great option. This is 4.5 miles into the hike and there are trees, water and picnic tables there. Indian Garden is also the start of a spur trail another two miles to Plateau Point, where there are views of the river below (This should only be attempted in one day by those who are very fit and get a very early start).
The Bright Angel Trail has a total elevation change of 4,370 feet, so should not be underestimated. However, being below the rim, surrounded by the towering walls of the immense Grand Canyon is a truly awe-inspiring experience that is well worth the effort.
Pipiwai Trail on Maui (Hawaii)
by Erin from Never Ending Voyage
The Pipiwai Trail is a fairly easy but rewarding hike that’s suitable for all fitness levels. It’s one of the best Road to Hana stops on this popular road trip in Maui, Hawaii.
It’s a four mile out and back hike through lush rainforest that took us two hours. You should also allow time to visit the nearby Seven Sacred Pools which are accessible on an easy half-mile trail from the visitor centre.
The first section of the trail is uphill, and it’s uneven and muddy in places, but experienced hikers will find it easy. About halfway into the outward section, you reach an extensive bamboo forest which is the highlight of the trail. You’ll also pass a massive banyan tree and several waterfalls.
The most impressive waterfall is at the end of the trail. Waimoku Falls drops 400 feet down a dramatic sheer cliff face and is surrounded by jungle. From here you turn around and enjoy the bamboo forest again on the way back.
The Pipiwai Trail is located in Haleakalā National Park and entrance costs $25, but it’s valid for three days and can also be used at the Summit area of the park.
While you can hike the Pipiwai Trail on a day trip from anywhere in Maui, I highly recommend spending at least a night in nearby Hana. It’s a lovely small town where you’ll get a taste of Old Hawaii, and you’ll be able to arrive at the trail before everyone else. We started hiking at 8 am and had the first half of the trail entirely to ourselves, whereas in the afternoon it can be very crowded.
Mount Bierstadt (Colorado)
by Tayler from Traveling Tayler
After moving to Denver, Colorado in the summer of 2014 I was quickly introduced to the obsession that is hiking “14ers.” A fourteener (14er) is a mountain peak with an elevation of at least 14,000 feet. Colorado is home to 53 of the 96 located within the United States.
With that amount of variety available, it’s common for avid hikers to get in as many 14ers as they can during the short summer window. Now, not all 14ers are created equal and there are ones known to be more beginner friendly. Those are Grays Peak, Torreys Peak, Quandary Peak, Mount Bierstadt, and Mount Elbert.
Over a September weekend in 2017, my group of friends and I decided to tackle Mount Bierstadt as we were all pretty inexperienced. Because of its reputation as one of the easier 14ers and close proximity to Denver, Mount Bierstadt is a very popular hike during the June – September season. The hike is 7 miles (11 km) round trip and gains around 2,800 feet (763m) in elevation from the trailhead to the peak.
Knowing we would want to be off the mountain before any potential afternoon storms, our group met around 4 am to drive to the trail pass. We started hiking right around sunrise and after a slow trek up with a lot of breaks we finally made it to the summit around lunch time.
On our way up we stopped to take in the breathtaking and seemingly untouched mountainside. The views at the top and the camaraderie felt among the group made our early morning, lack of oxygen and sore bodies completely worth it and ready for our next one.
Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)
by Ladona from Walking the Parks
What we love most about hiking Sky Pond Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, is the trail’s ability to share a treasure with so many different skill levels. Novice hikers to backcountry explorers will find a section of this trail enjoyable. The trail begins at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead. There is very limited parking so take advantage of the hiker’s park and shuttle bus system.
If you are a light hiker or travelling with small ones, hiking the first leg of the trail to Alberta Falls is perfect for you. This 1.6-mile leg of the trail is fairly busy because it is wide, easy and family friendly. And your reward is a beautiful 30′, high energy waterfall. You’ll find plenty of spots along the waterfall to take a snack break and enjoy this beautiful site.
The second leg, another 1.2 miles, is a moderately difficult hike to The Loch. You’ll find the crowd has thinned substantially making this a relaxing hike. The Loch is a subalpine lake at 10,200 feet surrounded by stunning mountains. We found a lot of active wildlife around the lake.
And now for a challenging leg, the trail continues another 1.2 miles to Timberline falls. First, the quick elevation gain makes it quite the workout. And then the trail actually climbs up Timberline falls. This requires climbing up using all 4 hands and feet! It’s not too bad when it’s fairly dry but after rainfall water will be running down or in the early summer it might still be snowy and icy.
Another mile of moderate hiking and you will arrive at an amazing alpine lake, Sky Pond. The view of the blue alpine lake against the granite walls is a photographers dream.
I hope this compilation full of resources was useful to you and that you found some inspiration for your next adventure. I know there are plenty more amazing hikes out there but that would take years and all the fun out of discovering new trails yourself.
However, if you feel something is missing in this list and want to contribute, feel free to drop me a line at [email protected] or leave a comment below and I’ll get back at you as soon as possible.