Lace up Your Hiking Boots and Set Out on 15 of the Best Hiking Trails in the World
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You can always identify keen hikers and outdoors enthusiasts by what they have on their bucket lists. Instead of aspiring to visit the world’s most beautiful cities, ticking off the most luscious beaches or dreaming of combing through the most prominent museums, hikers set their sights on the best hikes in the world.
Whether it is to explore a new country or culture, complete some kind of personal pilgrimage or simply set a challenge for yourself, completing a bucket list hike is always a rewarding experience.
There are countless trails around the globe that traverse mountains, forests, deserts and even active volcanoes. You can find trails that are suitable for single day hikes, week-long excursions and expeditions that take half a year. It’s all up to your comfort level as well as how much time you have to spare. Not everyone has the knowledge, skill and grit to complete a 2,000-mile journey.
Still, many of the longer trails are accessible to less intense hikers who just want to get a taste of a section of the trail. You can hop on and off at various access points and just hike for the day, or even spend a night or two on the trail to gain some experience.
Of course, this isn’t an option for some of the trails in more remote locations. It’s all or nothing on trails like these! So it’s best to know what you’re getting into.
Of all of these options, these 15 stand out as the best hiking trails in the world. Make sure these are all on your hiking bucket list!
The Appalachian Trail, USA
The Appalachian Trail is undoubtedly one of the best long hikes in the world. It is a continuously marked footpath that stretches for a whopping 2,180 miles. Walking this track is no mean feat and can take up to seven months to complete. If you complete it successfully, you’ll end up walking through 14 states.
It stretches all the way from Springer Mountain in Georgia up to Mount Katahdin in Maine.
You need to plan for a hike of this length carefully — it’s no beginner’s stroll. Even so, approximately three million people hike at least a section of the trail each year. However, only about one in four thru-hikers (those attempting to walk the entire trail) end up completing their mission.
There are about 250 huts located along the length of the track, so you can feasibly walk the entire Appalachian Trail without carrying a tent.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
The Inca Trail, Peru
The Inca Trail is one of the best hiking vacations available, as you not only get to complete a multi-day trek but you arrive at magnificent ruins at the end of it. Walking all the way to Machu Picchu is a great way to appreciate the mystery of how the Incas constructed a city so high in the mountains.
The citadel was built in the 15th century, and the sophistication of the construction is as impressive as the panoramic views surrounding it.
The Inca Trail is 26 miles long and takes four days to complete. There are grueling inclines — including what feels like never-ending stairs — but the mountain scenery and jungle do a great job of distracting you from your aching legs. On the final morning, you’ll arrive at a viewpoint looking out over Machu Picchu just as dawn breaks.
Trekking the Inca Trail is tightly controlled, with a limited number of permits available. These often sell out months in advance, so this trip will require a little forward planning. It’s worth noting as well that the busiest months at Machu Picchu are June, July and August, so avoid this time if you don’t like crowds.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Torres del Paine “W” Circuit, Chile
There are multiple hiking options in the spectacular Torres del Paine National Park in Chile, but the most popular is the “W” circuit. This track is named after its shape — it zig zags its way through the park, past glaciers, lakes and volcanic peaks.
Torres del Paine is located in Patagonia, right at the southern tip of Chile. Nearly at the bottom of the world, the landscapes here are vast and untouched. This trek will give you the chance to disconnect properly and dive deep into unspoiled nature.
Depending on your exact route, this track is between 37-50 miles long and can take four to six days to complete. The W circuit takes you past all of the highlights of the Torres del Paine, including the rocky spires that the park is named after.