All around the world, from Peru, to Alaska, to Bhutan, there are tons of famous hiking trails just waiting to be discovered. Hiking trails combine the perfect amount of adventure, spirituality, exercise and breathtaking scenery. People go on these trails for several reasons, personal achievement, self-discovery, change of lifestyle, among many others.
It is common to hear that those who come back from such experiences change their whole perspective on things. People who are dealing with a life crisis, a personal loss, a change of career, or someone who is just trying to find themselves, go on these long journeys, leaving behind comfort and security and embark on the adventure of a lifetime.
They do not have to necessarily last very long, you can do a part of any trail on a week or even a weekend during a vacation. The most important part of taking the chance to go on a hiking trail is the pure adventure and to immerse yourself in that environment for as long as you have got available to you.
The hiking trails have no competitive atmosphere; it is not about who gets to end faster, but rather who enjoys the journey more thoroughly, let’s say. It is about appreciation, gratefulness, positivity, finding yourself or learning new things, discovering a piece of the world by yourself. It is about dealing with exhaustion, or hunger, or thirst, and overcoming it. The trails are an empowerment to anyone who is brave enough to try it for himself or herself. Below, check a selection of some of the best trails out there is this wide, wide world.
Tour du Mont Blanc: starting with a fairly known one, the Tour du Mont Blanc goes through three countries: France, Italy and Switzerland and it is 105 miles long. The trail usually takes 10 days, but if you have time, it is advisable to slow down and even do some side trips (you can hike the Mont Blanc itself, for example). Here you do not need to worry about shelter and food, no need to carry a tent around.
There are plenty of villages around with several options of food and a place to sleep, from luxurious hotels to simpler hotels, you are sure to find something that works just right for you. The trail is constantly changing and it is advisable to hike there during the summer when the huts are open and no snow might fall in the way and cause you some troubles.
Laugavegurinn / Fimmvörõuháls Pass: This stunning trail is set in Iceland and has about 50 miles, which would take about 4-5 days to complete. This hike offers the pure wilderness that Iceland has to offer. A country is already known for its incredible landscapes and abundance of intact nature. The trail was closed in 2010 with the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano and has changed its path ever since.
Here you will be sure to see plenty of waterfalls, volcanic rocks, hot springs, the volcano, of course, Thor’s Wood, and all the places that inspired J.R.R Tolkien to write Lord of the Rings. The people there often believe in elves and mythical creatures, and after going through all of these magical places, you might be inspired to believe the same.
This trail is best to be done during the summer when the huts are open, from June to mid-September. And it is an Icelandic tradition to hike the Laugavegurinn / Fimmvörõuháls Pass during the summer solstice, so you will have company for sure!
West Highland Way: here you will experience the best that the Scottish Highlands have to offer, all of its beautiful landscapes and outstanding nature. The trail is 96 miles long, with villages and stop points where the hikers can find a warm bed to sleep at night.
The West Highland Way, or in Scottish-Gaelic Slighe a Gàidhealtachd an Iar ends in Fort William, where you can find The Jacobite train, also known as the Hogwarts Express. So here you can get the beautiful nature and scenery of a hike and end it with a very touristic note. The trail is best done during the summer, although Scottish weather can be tricky even then.
Great Himalaya Trail: this trail is for those who are really seeking adventure. Set in Nepal, the trail is over a thousand miles long and it can take 4 to 6 months to complete, if everything goes according to the plan and the weather is favorable. The trail takes in several of Nepal’s 8,000 meter peaks, including Mount Everest of course.
This is a tricky trail and a hard one, make sure you are physically prepared for it. Along the way you will find guest huts, monasteries and tea houses. The culture is all around with the Sherpa people, who have lived around the place for centuries. If you are ready for this adventure, the weather is always crazy up there, but it is best for trekkers to work during summer months, starting in April.
The Pacific Crest Trail: this trails goes through California, Oregon and Washington in the United States. It is 2,650 miles long. This is also not a trail for beginners, especially because there are large sections without civilization around so you need to be extra prepared to endure those times.
The reward is a breathtaking trail, going through seven national parks and the beautiful wilderness of the country. If you are prepared to take on this challenge, you should start in April and finish by October. The trick to succeed is to avoid the spring snow in the Sierra and the fall snow in the Cascades, other than that, you are good to go.
Knivskjellodden Trail: this short, 12 miles trail in the north of Norway is epic for its seclusion. It is a fairly short trail, but following these steps you go to the northernmost site of mainland Europe. Here you can enjoy the feeling of being on the verge of the world and the quietness of the Nordic landscape. The trail can only be done during the summer as in wintertime everything will be covered in snow with zero visibility.
Camino de Santiago: one of the most famous trails in the world, the Camino de Santiago in Spain is a 500-mile long trail and it should take about 30 to 40 days to complete. This trail is highly linked with religious matters, but nowadays lots of trekkers go on this journey not for a religious purpose, but for finding themselves, searching for a revelation or a bit of piece and quiet.
It is definitely a spiritual experience and the hundreds of books and stories written by trekkers who conquered this trail are out there to prove it. Become immersed in culture, nature and in yourself in this incredible trail in the north of Spain. The best months to go on this hike are May and September, try to avoid the high summer months as Spain get really hot, it is not advisable to go on a long trail in such high temperatures.
Santa Cruz Trek: this highly elevated trail in Peru is a little longer than 30 miles and goes along the Cordillera Blanca, exploring more than the Inca trail and in very high altitudes. This trail should take about four days and you will have the best way of experiencing the high altitudes and staying far from the crowd along the Macchu Picchu and Inca Trail. The quietness of the mountains and peeks will lift your spirit, literally. The best time to go is from April to September.
Overland Track: just over 50 miles long, this trail in Tasmania, Australia is an incredible pick. Almost half of the Island in the south of Australia is protected, which makes Tasmania an ecological laboratory, home to a vast wildlife, several species as well as abundant landscapes.
The trail is carefully managed by Tasmania Parks and can be done is 6 days. It might seem to slow for some, but it is for the reason of savoring the trail in due time. A system of huts will have you packing lighter since a tent will not be necessary. Tasmania Parks and Wildlife requires reservations to be made, and you can enjoy from this trail from October 1 until May 31.
MacLehose Trail, New Territories: this trail is 62 miles long and set in Hong Kong. Aside from it being one of the most densely populated areas in the world, in the New Territories you can find peace and quiet. And explore the best of the nature around Hong Kong.
The beauty of this trail is that it is such a modern, never-stopping city and yet you can find an escape to explore the wonderful mountains around. The best time to go is actually during the winter, from November until March, during summer the humidity is too high.
Copper Canyon / Tararecua Canyon: this is for the ones who enjoy a challenge through the desert. It is about 40 miles long and goes through several canyons and steep, tricky passages. At the bottom of the Tararecua Canyon, you will find hot springs, which are great for recovering your body after the difficult hike.
If you like to get immersed in indigenous culture, you will pass through a village of Tarahumara people who have lived there for centuries and still live according to some ancient traditions. The best months to go on this adventure are from March to April and from October to November.
Kungsleden Trail: this trail is located in the extreme north of Sweden and is 270 miles long. This trail will take you into Europe’s largest wilderness areas and allow you to see the beauty of the country’s nature and various landscapes. The trail should take about 4 weeks to be completed. Camping is permitted along the whole of the trail and there are 21 rustic huts along the way with basic amenities for sleeping and cooking as well as camping sites. The best time to enjoy the north of Sweden is during the summer months.
Te Araora Trail: the name Te Aroara, maori for “The Long Pathway” is not in vain. The trail located in New Zealand is 1,894 miles long, it traverses the whole country, from north to south. It takes about 120 days to finish this one and you get to see most of what the country has to offer, you will see both islands, incredible scenery and nature, what the country is well known for. The best months to explore the trail are October to April.
Final thoughts? Our planet is huge and full of wonderful places just waiting to be discovered and explored. It does not matter where you go, as you can see there are plenty of options, but that you enjoy the journey. The adventure of going on a hiking trail is all about trying something new, pushing your limits, leaving your comfort zone.
On the side, you get to see some of the most amazing places on this earth, unfiltered, without tourists, peacefully. You can take your time and enjoy the journey, take everything in, contemplate how beautiful our world is. No wonder people come back from these hikes changed forever.
The freshness of isolating yourself, whether that be in the north of Sweden or in Mexico, will bring you new perspectives, knowledge, culture (and maybe sore feet). Take up a challenge, start small. Find a small trail that suits you best and start slow, move at your own pace.
Research and prepare for the conditions you will be facing, ask for help if that is needed. This planet is too beautiful to let it go by without exploring. Take the opportunity to go to one of these almost untouched places and enjoy the beauty of loneliness in the wilderness. Pack smart, light, make sure you know everything there is to know about the trail of your choice, and start your adventure!