Regardless if you are young or old, whether you are a novice or an expert, there are countless options for the best hiking trails in the world. There are many promising destinations where you can enjoy a fun and exciting physical activity while you revel in the beauty of lush greenery, diverse flora and fauna, and a sea of clouds, among other things that make a hike scenic.
Looking for the best hikes in the world? Read on and we’ll make things easy for you! Get your hiking backpack ready, prepare your gear, and jet off to the destinations well briefly talk about in this article.
1. Mount Kilimanjaro
Distance: 30 to 45 miles depending on the route
Best Time to Go: January to March, June to October
An inactive volcano, Mount Kilimanjaro stands at a height of 5,895 meters or 19,340 feet above sea level. It is the highest peak in Africa and the highest freestanding mountain in the world. Despite this, the ascent is relatively easy. Nonetheless, that does not mean that this is for everyone. This is recommended only for experienced hikers.
For those who are interested to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, there are six main routes. Choose depending on the number of days that you can spare and your skills in hiking. The easiest is the Rongai Route, which starts on the side of Kenya instead of Tanzania. If you want the most beautiful trail, which also happens to be the most expensive, go for the Lemosho Route. For experts, on the other hand, the most challenging is the Umbwe Route.
The hike will take approximately five to seven days, depending on which route you will take. For accommodations, huts are available only at the Marangu Route. Elsewhere, you will have to sleep in backpacking tents and sleeping bags.
It is estimated that up to 30,000 people attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in a year. However, up to half of these people were unable to finish the hike because of altitude sickness. The mountain can be quite physically demanding, which is why training for a hike is a must before you go.
2. Appalachian Trail
Location: the Eastern United States, Maine to Georgia
Distance: 2,192 miles
Best Time to Go: Mid-March to Early April
It is impossible to talk about the best hiking trails in the U.S. without a mention of the Appalachian Trail. Known as A.T. for short, the entire trail will take approximately seven months to complete. However, the trail is accessible from various points, so you can plan accordingly depending on the number of days that you have.
Covering 14 states, you can choose to do a day or multi-day hike as you prefer. For novices, one of the best hikes is at the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. This can be a three-day hike, which can be longer if you have more days to spare. It is known for being scenic and convenient since there are connecting trails.
The Presidential Range is another highlight of the A.T., a traverse that is approximately 23 miles and has an elevation gain of about 9,000 feet. It is physically strenuous, so this is not for those who aren’t used to hiking. The weather can make conditions worse. A good compass and map are also a must since the trail is above the tree line to prevent you from getting lost in the wilderness.
The White Mountains, located in New Hampshire, is another great destination for experienced hikers. It is home to eight alpine-style huts, so there is no need to set-up a tent if you need accommodation for a multi-day hike.
Every year, thousands of people attempt to go thru-hiking in A.T., but sadly, recent statistical data shows that only one in four hikers finish the journey.
3. Inca Trail
Distance: 26 miles
Best Time to Go: June, July, August
When it comes to the best hiking trails in South America, the Inca Trail is perhaps the most iconic, made popular by the world-renowned Machu Pichu. The breathtaking trail takes roughly four days to complete.
One thing that makes the Inca trail interesting is the scenery. The Andean landscapes that will unfold before your eyes are unlike nothing you’ve ever seen! From cloud forest to sub-tropical jungle, the hike is sure to be a visual feast, making the experience more memorable.
Hiking the Inca trail takes a lot of physical effort, so this is not recommended for those who have no prior hiking experience. The elevation can reach up to 13,000 feet at the Dead Woman’s Pass. It’s going to be extremely cold, so make sure to wear multiple layers of clothing to stay warm while you are on the top.
Prioritize your safety by hiring a licensed tour guide during your hike. Often, there are two guides – one will be in the front to lead the group and the other will be at the back to make sure that everyone in the group follows the main guide. Different tour operators will also have different itineraries, so choose one that fits your schedule and preferences.
4. Mont Blanc
Location: France, Italy, Switzerland
Distance: 110 miles
Best Time to Go: Mid-June to mid-September
Tour du Mont Blanc is often recommended when it comes to the best hiking trails in Europe. Covering three countries, the entire hike can take up to eleven days depending on the route that you will take and your skills as a hiker.
Wildlife, meadows, glaciers, rivers, and lakes are abundant regardless of the route you take. 18th-century churches and charming small villages are also present. Best of all, because you will be crossing borders during the hike, you will experience a smorgasbord of cultures.
While the mountain is considered one of the tallest and deadliest in Europe, they are perfect even if you are on your own. It has well-marked trails and there are plenty of accommodations available. It also isn’t a steep trek. Instead, it is a long and leisurely walk that everyone can do. This is the perfect place to enjoy a cross country hike or practice Nordic walking techniques for beginners.
As a bonus, mountain hiking at Mont Blanc is also perfect if you want to go skiing. The hike ends in starts in Chamonix, which is one of the best ski resorts in France.
Distance: 17.4 miles
Best Time to Go: Mid-June to early September
One of the best hikes in the world, Trolltunga attracts many people because of its unmatched scenery. It is one of the most beautiful cliffs in Norway, which you will most probably recognize as it is a common subject amongst photographers.
Trolltunga translates to Troll’s Tongue in English. This is a reference to the long and pointy rock that extends from the cliff, which looks like a tongue.
If you are planning to hike Trolltunga, take note that it is an extremely challenging route. If you are looking for hiking for beginners, this isn’t one of those places. Take note as well that there is no cellular coverage in the area. Despite the challenges, however, this is a rewarding hike, especially once you reach the end.
The start of the walk is the most challenging. There will be steep ascents, which can easily discourage most people. After this, however, the trek becomes easier. Nonetheless, it can still be rough for most people.
6. Torres del Paine Circuit
Location: Argentina and Chile
Distance: 70 miles
Best Time to Go: November to early March
When talking about the best hiking trails in the world, it is also impossible to not mention Torres del Paine Circuit. If you plan to visit, you need to book in advance. Year after year, the number of hikers visiting the trail is increasing, so you need to secure your spot. Plus, camp rangers require proof of accommodation for all visitors.
The trail has a variety of starting points. However, regardless of which one you choose, you will all go in the same direction.
The O Circuit is perfect for hikers with an adventurous spirit. If you want a less strenuous hike but will allow you to discover the Torres del Paine, the W Trek is a good alternative.
You will have several choices when it comes to campsites. Among others, one of the most beautiful is Dickson, which is surrounded by tall mountains and glaciers. Here, you are free to set-up your backpacking tents anywhere you want. Other options include Italiano, Paine Grande Camping, Paso, and Los Perros, among others.
At some portions of the park, there are places where you can grab food. However, everything here is expensive! From a chocolate bar to a slice of pizza, the prices are crazy high. With this, we recommend that you prepare backpacking food and snacks to avoid going hungry or spending a lot.
7. Pacific Crest Trail
Location: California, Oregon, and Washington
Distance: 2,650 miles
Best Time to Go: Mid-April to early July
This National Scenic Trail is another destination worthy of being included on our list of the best hikes in the world. It is the second-longest trail in the United States and stretches from Mexico to Canada. From deserts to glaciers to volcanic peaks, the trail offers scenery that is hard to match,
The trail is also a popular choice for thru-hiking, which will take approximately four to six months to complete. On average, thru-hikers will be walking 10 to 20 miles in a day. This will depend on the conditions of the terrains. At one point, you will be walking fast when you are in the desert. Meanwhile, when in the snow, you will go slower.
If you are planning a hike, one of the most important decisions is where to start. For most of the hikers, especially those who will do thru-hiking, the starting point is in Campo, California, and they hike to the north of Canada.
To prepare hikers, the Pacific Crest Trail Association lists the 10 Essential Systems that you need to prepare before the walk. The list includes hiking sunglasses, emergency shelter, and first aid kits.
8. Great Wall of China
Distance: 3,728 miles
Best Time to Go: April to May, September to November
The Great Wall of China is a fortification system built to protect Chinese empires and states. It is the longest wall in the world and is considered one of the greatest architectural marvels, which makes it deserving of being named as one of the best hikes in the world.
Norway’s Stephen Robert Loken hiked The Great Wall of China for 601 days. His hike started at Gansu province and ended at Liaoning Province. Luckily, for most of us, many trails are available, so you don’t need to be an expert to go on a hike.
Depending on your skills and the number of days available, there is an ideal hike for everyone. One of the most popular routes is Jinshanling to Jinshanling East, which takes around three to five hours to complete. The maximum altitude of this route is 2,001 feet. If you only have two to three hours to spare, a great choice is the Mutianyu route, which has an altitude of up to 2,067 feet.
For convenience, the most popular section of the wall is Badaling. Nearly all tour packages will start here, so expect that it is going to be crowded. If you want a route that is wild and secluded, a good option is Jiankou. However, take note that the route is extremely dangerous when it is snowing or raining. Make sure to pack your best rain jackets for the ultimate protection and the best hiking boots for a comfortable trek.
9. Half Dome
Distance: 17 miles
Best Time to Go: Early June to October
Yosemite National Park is known for its stunning vistas and the sight of giant sequoia trees. It is also popular for hiking because of the Half Dome. The latter is a granite dome that is located in the park’s eastern end. It looks like a dome that is cut in half, which is obviously where it got its name.
Hiking the Half Dome is not for the faint of heart. A round-trip hike covers 17 miles, which can take around 10 to 14 hours to complete. While it isn’t a multi-day hike, it is a challenging trail, and to an extent, deadly. In the past 15 years, there have been 12 deaths and 290 accidents at the Half Dome.
One thing that makes the hike challenging is the heart-thumping and nerve-wracking cable ascent. To climb the cable, however, you need a permit. The permit is often awarded through a lottery. The permit system was also instituted to control the crowd.
The hike to the Half Dome starts at the Mist Trail. It is best to start at sunrise before the trail gets crowded. It is also the most scenic trail, which gives you a preview of the beautiful sight that lies ahead. Glacier Point is another route that you should take, which requires less climbing.
10. Kalalau Trail
Distance: 11 miles
Best Time to Go: May to October
Wrapping up our list of the best hiking trails in the world is Kalalau in Hawaii. It is considered to be the state’s finest coastal hiking trail. From sea caves to waterfalls, there are plenty of things to see during your hike.
The easiest route at the Kalalau Trail is from Ke’e to Hanakapi-ai, which covers only two miles. It has amazing coastal views. However, while the beach is beautiful, swimming is not recommended since the water is dangerous. Another popular route is from Hanakoa to Kalalau, which covers five miles.
If you plan to stay for the night, take note that camping is allowed only in specific areas of the trail. Sleeping in a tent is allowed only in Kalalau and Hanakoa. You also need to secure a permit before camping. Take note that water is unavailable in the campgrounds. Make sure to fill your hydration packs with enough supply of water. Backpacking water filters will also come in handy.
Crossing streams is one of the most challenging parts of the hike. Be extra cautious, especially after heavy rain. There is often a rope that you can hold as you cross. Nonetheless, the rule of thumb is to not cross a stream if you are not confident that you will be able to complete it safely. Also, you have to avoid walking on boulders, especially if they are wet.
Globo Surf Overview
With the best hiking trails in the world mentioned above, you can uncover nature’s beauty! From towering fjords to diverse plant life, these hiking destinations offer a one-of-a-kind experience for everyone. Break-in your hiking boots now and get ready to explore some of the most scenic trails you will ever see!
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- The 25 Best Hikes in the World Right Now, OutsideOnline.com
- The 10 Best Hikes in the World Will Leave You Breathless in The Best Way, MyDomaine.com