Amazing hikes must all check off a few boxes to earn that label. A sweeping vista or two is essential, some unique flora and fauna is almost par for the course, and mesmerizing geological features
Amazing hikes must all check off a few boxes to earn that label. A sweeping vista or two is essential, some unique flora and fauna is almost par for the course, and mesmerizing geological features like waterfalls or ice fields certainly don’t hurt. Add in a bit of isolation and you have a recipe for success. But whether it’s ancient temples, one-of-a-kind mountain peaks, a strong sense of history, or just truly epic landscapes, each bucket-list hike in this roundup has that extra something special it takes to stand above the rest.
This list looks at 10 trails from around the world you should definitely attempt once the world goes back to normal:
Pennine Way, United Kingdom
Stretching 268 miles from the Derbyshire Peak District to the Scottish Borders, the Pennine Way is the United Kingdom’s most famous long distance path. The entire walk takes around three weeks, passing over wild moorland east of Manchester and through the picture postcard Yorkshire Dales, before crossing the ancient border of Hadrian’s Wall and on toward Scotland. One for outdoor fanatics, camping enthusiasts and anyone who can handle the vagaries of great British weather.
Camino de Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Rather than following a single path, the Camino, also known as the Way of St. James, is actually a series of different pilgrimage routes, all ending at the shrine of the apostle St. James in the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela. The most popular modern route follows a line across northern Spain from the French Pyrenees. While some choose to stay at monasteries along the way, plenty of operators offer hotel stays and luggage transfers.
Appalachian Trail, United States
Extending for 2,200 miles, the Appalachian Trail is billed as the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. It runs from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, passing through some of the most remote country in the United States. That means it’s an undertaking, either for those with endless vacation allowance, or walkers looking to do a small chunk of a classic route. Well-marked paths and campsites mean it can be tackled alone.
The Basho Wayfarer, Japan
Japan boasts numerous ancient trails, connecting temples and cities. This self-guided trip follows a route taken by the poet Matsuo Basho over 300 years ago. The six-day trek starts in Sendai and works its way through the northern Tohoku region, passing through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hiraizumi and along the ancient Dewa Kaido path, with its beech and cherry forests, before heading into the mountains of Natagiri-toge and finishing at the temple of Yamadera.
Refugio Frey and Cerro Catedral, Argentina
The area around Bariloche in Argentina’s Lake District is home to several stunning walks.
But for those with limited time, it’s hard to beat the one-day trek to Refugio Frey and Cerro Catedral. A bus to Villa Catedral drops at the start of a wide, well-marked path, which winds its way into the Andes, passing through woods before emerging above the tree line into a world of spectacular, soaring peaks. Intrepid visitors can stay at Refugio Frey, either in the hut or camping in its grounds.
Mount Toubkal, Morocco
North Africa’s highest peak at 4,167 meters (13,671 feet), a hike to the top of Mount Toubkal isn’t for the faint-hearted. The path upwards rises from the village of Imlil, passing over a dry river bed before rising sharply through the shrine at Sidi Chamharouch and on towards a large mountain hut.
After overnighting here, hikers strap on crampons and set off up the snowfield to the summit, where the Atlas Mountains open out and the views are relentless.
Great Wall of China, Jinshanling section
Walking the Great Wall at the tourist hotspot of Badaling can be a stressful experience, with crowds and hawkers making it almost unbearable. Jinshanling, situated 87 miles northeast of Beijing, offers the perfect chance to explore a steep, winding and relatively unscathed section of this true Chinese icon. The route through to the wall at Simatai is closed, but the back and forth trip along this section makes for a strenuous workout, with truly amazing views.
Dragon’s Back, Hong Kong
Hong Kong may be known for its towering skyscrapers and narrow streets, but the mainland and islands are dotted with myriad hiking trails, the most famous of which is the Dragon’s Back.
Easily reached by bus from downtown Hong Kong, the path begins in a shady tree tunnel on the Shek O Road, before scaling Shek O Peak, with vistas over white sandy beaches, lush hills and tropical islands. The route ends at the beach at Big Wave Bay, its warm waters perfect for a post-hike dip.
The Dingle Way, Ireland
Stretching 111 miles, The Dingle Way is a circular path that offers the best way to get under the skin of wild County Kerry in Ireland’s south west. Starting in the town of Tralee, the clockwise path follows narrow roads, known as boreens, taking in the wide sweep of sand at Inch Strand, passing along the clifftops outside Dingle town and heading around the edge of Mount Brandon, the highest peak on the Dingle Peninsula.
Tergo La Trek, Bhutan
The relative inaccessibility of Bhutan and need for tourist passes means its trails are unspoiled and ripe for exploration. Tergo-La Trek, in the Haa Valley, is one of the country’s lesser known routes.
This guided trek rises from 3,500 meters to 4,135 meters, passing through peaceful forest paths and up wild mountain tracks, with views of Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world. Yak herders’ camps and distant villages add to the sense of being in another world.
Have you tried any of these hiking trails before? Share your experiences in the comments below.