Are you ready to tie up those hiking boots? We’re not talking about a mere saunter in your local park; we’re talking about legendary hikes that showcase our planet’s splendors. Many humans cherish the thrill of walking through breathtaking landscapes, and today, we’ve rounded up the world’s top trails just for you. For those seeking inspiration, here are our most iconic hikes to consider for your next adventure trip.
20. Paria River Canyon, USA
The classic 38-mile route from White House Trailhead to Lees Ferry offers a diverse landscape, requiring hikers to wade through shallow river sections and avoid potential hazards. A four or five-day commitment, this challenging trek requires permits, which are best secured well in advance. The American Southwest offers an almost otherworldly hiking experience through its red rock slot canyons, and the Paria River Canyon, with its intricate passages, sandy beaches, and towering walls, is a highlight of the best.
19. Maria Island, Tasmania, Australia
Just 150 miles south of mainland Australia lies Tasmania, a haven of history and natural wonder. Once home to British penal colonies, many of these areas have since transformed into protected parks. Maria Island National Park stands out as Australia’s top gem. Now recognized as a World Heritage site, this island offers an unparalleled 36-mile trek filled with unique Australian peculiarities.
18. Whale Trail, South Africa
Apart from the majestic marine life, the trail crosses a World Heritage Site teeming with local flora and vibrant orange cliffs overlooking breathtaking beaches. The 33-mile Whale Trail along the southern tip of Africa becomes a whale-watching wonderland from June to November.
17. MacLehose Trail, Hong Kong
Despite its reputation as a bustling metropolis, Hong Kong’s neighboring New Territories provide a refreshing escape. The MacLehose Trail weaves from the region’s eastern coastline through the towering central mountains and into the reservoir-rich western valleys. A comprehensive trek can span five to seven days, but a day’s adventure rewards with breathtaking beaches and lush mountain vistas.
16. Kalalau Trail, Hawaii, USA
The path to Hanakapiai Falls is for the seasoned hiker. Early risers can relish the rigorous trek to the coast, where Pacific waves and pristine beaches reward their efforts. Truly, a must-do for every hiker’s list. Along Hawaii’s Napali Coast, the 22-mile Kalalau Trail offers a tropical paradise beyond comparison.
15. Ratikon High Trail, Austria
These limestone peaks define the boundary between the Eastern and Western Alps, offering breathtaking views and easily accessible trails. Boasting peaks that reach up to 9,724 feet, the region is reminiscent of classic alpine movie scenes. Picture verdant pastures, melodious cowbells, and panoramic vistas. Set along the borders of Switzerland, Austria, and Liechtenstein, the Ratikon mountain range is a favorite among hikers. Consider the guide-led Ratikon High Trail Circuit. Starting from Austria’s Lunersee and journeying into Switzerland, it’s a must-try route.
14. Tour du Mont Blanc, Paris
Mont Blanc’s slopes attract a diverse group of climbers from across Europe. The Tour du Mont Blanc circuit, wrapping around the 15,781-foot peak, is a testament to its allure. More than just a hike, this seven-day, 112-mile loop is a deep dive into mountaineering, with Chamonix serving as the preferred starting and ending point.
13. The Long Range Traverse, Canada
Experience unadulterated beauty in Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park. A park orientation is compulsory. The effort invested in this three to six-day trek is rewarded with vistas of rugged terrains, shimmering fjords, and glimpses of majestic moose and caribou. Owing to Canada’s efforts to retain its pristine nature, only twelve hikers can embark daily, necessitating advance permit booking.
12. Waitukubuli National Trail, Dominica
Interspersed with the lush landscape are remnants of the Kalinago communities, French settlements, and clandestine Maroon escape routes. Dominica’s crown jewel, Boiling Lake, sits nestled within the Morne Trois Pitons National Park. Venture into the Caribbean’s raw beauty with the 114-mile Waitukubuli National Trail. Dominica’s ambitious 14-segment path traverses from coastal settlements to rainforests, blending history and nature.
11. Kungsleden, Sweden
Deep in Sweden’s Lapland province lies the Kungsleden or The King’s Trail, renowned for its untouched Arctic beauty and round-the-clock summer daylight. The entire 270-mile trail takes around thirty days, but you can opt for shorter segments, like the most popular 65-mile stretch from Abisko to Nikkaluokta. The path offers a mix of Arctic landscapes – flower-laden birch forests, dramatic mountain vistas, and sprawling glacial valleys.
10. Coast-to-Coast Path, UK
Of the many trails England offers, the Coast-to-Coast Path truly captures the essence of the English countryside. This trail is unique in its variety, passing through three national parks: the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dells, and the North York Moors. Imagine a fusion of rustic villages, historic castles, and pastoral landscapes. This 182-mile trail stretches from St. Bees on the Irish Sea to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea.
9. Tongariro Northern Circuit, New Zealand
New Zealand’s unparalleled geological diversity shines in the Northern Circuit. Over a span of three to four days in Tongariro National Park, traverse blue lakes, witness molten lava flows, and circle the lively Mount Ngauruhoe. Amidst expansive wildflower meadows, two forested stretches offer a refreshing glimpse of New Zealand’s ecological richness.
8. Dientes Circuit Trek, Chile
The name Patagonia often conjures up images of the iconic Three Towers of Paine in the Torres del Paine National Park. However, situated 560 miles southeast is a hidden treasure: The Dientes Circuit Trek or ‘Teeth of Navarino.’ Positioned as the world’s southernmost trek, this remote circuit offers an unparalleled hiking experience. Starting from the secluded Puerto Williams, this trail only sees a handful of adventurers each year. The Dientes provide a rare, isolated trekking experience, making it a unique choice for hikers. Due to the trail’s remote location, it’s advisable for most hikers to employ a guiding outfitter for the best experience.
7. Wales Coast Path, UK
Embrace the full splendor of a country’s coast with the Wales Coast Path, an 870-mile marvel. With over 600 medieval castles dotting the coastline, the region holds a rich past and awesome history. Although the castles are reminiscent of an era of war and occupation, their beauty is undisputed. Despite the architecture, there is plenty of wildlife, including opportunities for spotting whales and dolphins along the coast.
6. Trek to Petra, Jordan
A historical journey as the Trek to Petra traces an age-old caravan pathway, passing by ancient human settlements. Originating in the Dana Nature Reserve, the scenery morphs with every few kilometers of this six-day journey. Concluding in Petra, a city steeped in archaeological wonders, you can marvel at the intricacies of temples and tombs of this “Lost City.”
5. Gotemba Trail, Japan
Mt. Fuji isn’t just a mountain; it’s Japan’s icon, and it’s magnificent. With four primary routes varying in challenge, most hikers spend two days scaling this 12,380-foot stratovolcano, breaking the journey overnight at designated huts. Even with its popularity, Mt. Fuji remains accessible to many. The hike is not very technical, making it approachable for most ranges of hikers.
4. Camino de Santiago, Spain
The Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage with roots in the 9th century, has witnessed a resurgence. From being nearly forgotten, it’s now one of Europe’s top hikes. The journey takes pilgrims through historic towns, serene valleys, bustling cities, and past pristine waterways. While many choose to navigate the Camino independently, there are also guide providers that offer assistance, accommodation bookings, and luggage transport.
3. The Great Ocean Walk, Australia
124 miles from Melbourne lies Australia’s quintessential coastal walk – The Great Ocean Walk. Stretching 68 miles from Apollo Bay, it’s a scenic trail alongside the famous Great Ocean Road, weaving through national parks and culminating at the renowned Twelve Apostles limestone stacks. The trek can be completed independently in about eight days. For those preferring a hassle-free trip, many tour operators provide all-inclusive packages.
2. Mount Meru, Tanzania
Often overlooked and overshadowed by its taller neighbor, Kilimanjaro, 14,980-foot Mount Meru offers a memorable (and less busy) African adventure. The summit presents a sweeping view of Africa’s iconic national parks, from the Serengeti to Kilimanjaro. Per Tanzania rules, a licensed guide and entourage are mandatory. Typically a 4-day climb, it’s nestled in Tanzania’s Arusha National Park, renowned for its rich wildlife.
1. Appalachian Scenic Trail, US
Traversing fourteen states and covering eight national forests and multiple parks, the Appalachian Trail is the globe’s lengthiest hiking-exclusive path. While a few adventurous “thru-hikers” conquer the entire trail from Georgia’s Springer Mountain to Maine’s Katahdin, even a brief journey on any part of the 2,180-mile stretch introduces hikers to the magnificence of the Appalachian Mountain range.
Josh is the owner and lead writer at Daily Wisely. His career has taken him from finance to blogging, and now shares his insights with readers of Daily Wisely.
Josh's work and authoritative advice have appeared in major publications like Nasdaq, Forbes, The Sun, Yahoo! Finance, CBS News, Fortune, The Street, MSN Money, and Go Banking Rates. Josh has over 15 years of experience on Wall Street, and currently shares his financial expertise in investing, wealth management, markets, taxes, real estate, and personal finance on his other website, Top Dollar Investor.
Josh graduated from Cornell University with a degree from the Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management at the SC Johnson College of Business.