If running a marathon or competing in an obstacle course doesn’t quite fulfill your appetite for adventure, perhaps a hike through awe-inspiring mountains in a new part of the world will. (Just try to read this story without falling into a wanderlust spell!) From the majestic Swiss Alps to the temperamental peaks of the Pacific Northwest Trail to the rocky mazes that lead to Petra, Jordan, your next epic journey on foot awaits. These incredible hikes across the globe will not only help you embrace different cultures, but you’ll also bask in the wonderment of nature. Happy exploring!
The World’s 10 Majestic Hiking Trails
1. Tour du Mont Blanc
Location: France, Italy and Switzerland
Like photos ripped out of a storybook, the scenes at this spectacular 104-mile hike feature snow-capped mountaintops, mossy ridges and crystal blue lakes. The terrain includes dirt trails, ancient cobblestone streets and steep mountainsides towering 10,000 feet. While traipsing through France, you’ll pass the Church of Notre Dame de la Gorge, a beautiful Baroque-style chapel. In Italy, you’ll see the Aosta Valley, which has the highest peaks in the Alps, including the tallest and most majestic one: Mont Blanc.
2. Pacific Northwest Trail
Location: Continental Divide at Glacier National Park to the Pacific Coat at Washington’s Olympic Peninsula
The Pacific Northwest Trail stretches 1,200 miles and crosses the most breathtaking mountains. Whether it’s the Rocky Mountains or the Wilderness Coast, you’ll trek through three national parks and seven national forests. As one of the most challenging hikes in the world, it takes most people 60 to 70 days to finish, though it’s not uncommon to complete it in 80. The weather runs a gamut, too — ranging from very dry, hot temperatures to cold fronts with freezing temperatures, snow and rain. Plan your gear accordingly!
3. Inca Trail
Location: Cusco, Peru
The four-day Inca Trail hike starts in Cusco, Peru, where you’ll tour the Andean peaks. Then, you’ll work your way to one of the New Seven Wonders of the World: Machu Picchu. Also known as the “Lost City of the Incas,” Machu Picchu is a 15th century citadel, where you’ll find perfectly sculpted stone temples, palaces and plazas. During your adventure, you’ll also get to see the unique site of Phuyupatamarca, or “The Town in the Clouds,” which is covered in mist that rises from the forest.
4. Kalalau Trail
Location: Kauai, Hawaii
Once you’re done catching some R&R on the beautiful Hawaiian beaches, consider hitting the Kalalau Trail that spans the Na Pali (Cliffs) Coast. The 11-mile hike begins at Ke’e Beach and traverses green-studded overhangs, with turquoise waters below. You’ll tackle significant inclines and declines along the route, but be extra careful at mile 7 where it gets super challenging and treacherous (aka even more fun!). That’s the spot of the infamous “Crawler’s Ledge” — an incredibly uneven and narrow ledge along the cliff.
5. Appalachian Trail
Location: Katahdin, Maine to Springer Mountain, Georgia
The Appalachian Trail is one of the most famous long-distance hikes in the United States. The trail runs 2,190 miles through 14 states. Thousands of thru-hikers (long-distance hikers) attempt to do it each year, but only a handful complete it. On average, it takes them about five to seven months to reach the end. Some sites you’ll see as you walk include Bear Mountain in New York, Killington Peak in Vermont and the Berkshires in Massachusetts. Down south, you’ll also wander through the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee and Springer Mountain in Georgia.
6. Mount Kilimanjaro
Location: Moshi, Tanzania
Nestled in the northern border of Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the most sought-after summits in the world. It reaches 19,341 feet in height and gets its name from the Swahili word meaning “Mountain of Greatness.” Kilimanjaro is actually a volcano with three main peaks: Mawenzi, Shira and Kibo, which is dormant, but you can still smell the sulfur emitting from the crater. Along the trail, you’ll hit Uhuru Peak, the highest part of Kibo, where you’ll see some majestic ice glaciers.
7. Israel National Trail
Location: Dan to Eilat, Israel
The Israel National Trail spans the country from north to south, starting at Dan to the Gulf of Aqaba in Eilat. The entire trail is approximately 620 miles and passes through noteworthy biblical sites, including the Sea of Galilee and the River Jordan. There is also a “Jesus Trail,” which runs from Nazareth to Capernaum, along the Sea of Galilee and it includes a climb to the Mount of Beatitudes. What makes this path especially unique? The “trail angels” — Israelis who open their homes to hikers for food and housing.
8. Everest Base Camp Trek
Location: Kathmandu, Nepal
Ask any experienced hiker or mountaineer what adventure ranks at the top of their bucket list and you’re almost guaranteed to hear “climbing Mount Everest.” At 29,035 feet, it’s the Earth’s highest mountain. This particular trek starts and finishes in Kathmandu, Nepal and usually lasts about 14 days. Besides the stunning views of the Himalayas, you’ll visit different Buddhist and Hindu sites along the way.
9. A Trek to Petra
Location: Dana to Petra, Jordan
You might not think of Jordan as a go-to spot for amazing hikes across the world, but this 50-miler is one of the most famous. You can probably thank Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade for that, as several scenes from the movie were shot in Petra. The trail starts in the ancient city of Dana, and the terrain features rocky mazes, red-hued cliffs, dusty ridges and desert springs. Throughout your hike, you’ll see the ruins of Neolithic villages and Petra’s famous monastery, Al Deir.
10. Seoraksan National Park
Location: Seoraksan, South Korea
Once you’ve gotten the chance to visit the metropolitan cities of Seoul and Busan, perhaps you’ll want to take a trip to the countryside in the Gangwon Province. There, you’ll find one of Korea’s natural gems, Seoraksan National Park. It’s home to more than 2,000 animal species and 1,400 plant species, making it one of the most rare national parks in the world. The park also spans four cities and counties: Sokcho, Inje, Goseon and Yangyang. It gets its name from the Korean words “Seol,” which means snow, and “Ak,” big mountain.
Along the trail, you’ll hit hot springs, waterfalls and cascading valleys of ombre leaves and flowers, including awe-inspiring views of Jujeongol Valley, which leads to the revered Seongguksa Temple. You’ll also get to see Daesung Falls, one of Korea’s three largest waterfalls, and climb up Daecheongbong, the highest peak (1,708 meters) in the park and third highest in Korea.