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What makes a hike great? For some, it’s a route with incomparable views. For others, it’s a trail so exciting that you’ll book a plane ticket to experience it, or one so tough that you earn bragging rights by conquering it. Backpacking trips, walking tours, hut-to-hut hikes — there are myriad ways to hit the trail.
To inspire your next excursion, we’ve curated a list of the best hiking trails in the world — must-do journeys for outdoor enthusiasts. Some can be completed in a few hours, if you hustle, but many are longer and perhaps best suited for intermediate and expert hikers. They’re also geographically diverse, bringing adventurers to some of the most spectacular corners of the planet. Use this list as inspiration, then dig into trip details once you’ve decided what hike you’ll tackle next, including permit requirements and training needs.
Related: The Ultimate Hiking Trip Packing List
West Coast Trail, Canada
This iconic coastal trail on Vancouver Island’s west coast offers stunning ocean views and rugged, challenging terrain. Backpacking this beauty over multiple days is a good plan, and you can ponder its history as you go — it was initially established as a life-saving path in 1907, to aid in the rescue of survivors shipwrecked along the island’s treacherous coast.
Tour du Mont Blanc, France, Italy, and Switzerland
This trail circles Mont Blanc — the highest peak in the Alps — and passes through three countries (France, Italy, and Switzerland), offering ample opportunity to taste regional cuisine. If you like cheese as much as you like walking, this 7 to 10 day multicultural circuit is for you.
Laugavegur Trail, Iceland
A journey through these rhyolite mountains (ultra-colorful landforms) will bring you to steaming hot springs, glacial rivers, and swaths of black sand. Laugavegur Trail traverses 34 miles of Iceland’s southern highlands, an it’s incredible in its otherworldliness.
Overland Track, Australia
On this trail, you’ll hike through Tasmania’s pristine wilderness, complete with craggy peaks, glacial lakes, and ancient rainforests. Be prepared for challenging terrain (think stairs and scrambles), rapidly changing weather conditions, and potential encounters with wildlife, from possums and currawongs (a large black bird with a musical call) to spotted marsupials called quolls. The trail is about 45 miles long, give or take a few (depending on where you begin and end).
Kumano Kodo, Japan
One of only two pilgrimage routes in the world designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site (the other is the Camino de Santiago in Spain), this series of ancient trails takes you on a tour of the mountains and forests of the Kii Peninsula, with stops at time-honored shrines and temples along the way. To do the entire route usually takes three days.
Camino de Santiago, Spain
Camino de Santiago is a collection of ancient pilgrimage routes that converge at the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in northwest Spain, the burial site of St. James. Some pilgrims carry a scallop shell during the journey, as its lines symbolize their own trek, and those of other pilgrims around the world. This is another long-distance adventure — to do the approximately 500-mile route in full may take 30 days or more.
Lebanon Mountain Trail, Lebanon
The only long-distance trail in Lebanon, Lebanon Mountain Trail takes hikers through 76 high-altitude towns and villages and across remarkable mountains. It is 293 miles long, stretching from north Lebanon toward its southern border.
Pacific Crest Trail, USA
The Pacific Crest Trail is one of the world’s most famous thru-hikes. It starts at the US-Mexico border in California, and ends at the US-Canada border in Washington. That means the trail brings hikers through California, Oregon, and Washington — it takes five to six months to complete it. Highlights along the way include Crater Lake, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the Cascade Range.
Mount Kilimanjaro Trek, Tanzania
This 7-day trek takes hikers to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa. You’ll cross through five different ecological zones and climates, ranging from lush rainforests to arctic ice fields. The summit is as mentally demanding as it is rewarding.
Trek to Petra, Jordan
Hikers journey through ancient history and mesmerizing desert landscapes on this trek, all before landing at the awe-inspiring Treasury, also known as Al-Khazneh. This magnificent temple carved into a sandstone cliff dates back to the 1st century AD.
Great Himalaya Trail, Nepal
This trail network follows the Himalayan range and showcases stunning mountain landscapes, as well as the diverse cultures of the region’s remote villages. It stretches over 2,800 miles across the country, traversing subtropical forests, lush valleys, alpine meadows, and rugged mountain passes.
Simien Mountains Trek, Ethiopia
The Simien Mountains Trek takes you right through Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Expect drama, including high-altitude plateaus, deep valleys, and incredible (and copious) wildlife, such as gelada baboons and Ethiopian wolves.
Appalachian Trail, USA
One of the longest hiking-only footpaths in the world, the Appalachian Trail begins in Maine and passes through 14 states. At the trail’s southern terminus in Georgia, you will find a spooky celebration: a tree strung up with the boots of hikers who have completed the nearly 2,200-mile trek.
Lycian Way, Turkey
This long-distance trail follows the coast of Turkey’s Lycia region, offering stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea, rugged mountains, and ancient ruins. You can complete the route in roughly three weeks, or opt to do shorter segments. Along the way, swim in crystal-clear waters and visit charming towns.
The Narrows, USA
This slot canyon hike in Zion National Park is unusual in that you spend most of your time trekking through the waters of the Virgin River. You can attack the Narrows from the bottom up or from the top down. The former is the popular choice, since it takes 4 to 8 hours or so. If you hike it from the top down, expect a 10- to 13-hour journey.
Trolltunga Hike, Norway
One of the best ways to see the Norwegian fjords is via this challenging and scenic trek that leads to the eponymous Trolltunga (which translates to the “troll’s tongue”), a picturesque, jutting rock formation high above sea level.
Half Dome, USA
If you’re prone to height-induced vertigo, you may want to think twice before hiking Half Dome in California’s Yosemite National Park. To conquer the wildly steep slope here, hikers keep a tight grip on the granite trail’s cable system. This adventure is considered one of the best hikes in America, and it’s a bit of a white whale for some hikers — you need a permit to climb the dome, and they’re distributed by lottery.
Kalalau Trail, USA
Located on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, this 22-mile coastal hike also requires a permit. If you can secure one, you’ll traverse five valleys on your way to Kalalau Beach. One of the most challenging treks in the state, Kalalau Trail’s steep and narrow paths give way to stunning ocean and cliff views.
Fitz Roy Trek, Argentina
Situated within Los Glacieres National Park on the shared border of Argentina and Chile, this challenging 15-mile trail does not actually lead to the summit of Mount Fitz Roy. Instead, it brings you to an unbelievable view of the glacier-covered mountain, as well as the turquoise-colored Laguna de los Tres at its base.
Inca Trail, Peru
The historic Andes mountains trek to Machu Picchu usually takes around four days, culminating at the renowned Incan citadel ruins. Although the classic Inca Trail is the most popular, numerous tour operators now offer additional routes and trip durations. The Salkantay trek, for example, provides a more scenic experience, bringing you past glaciers, natural springs, and through the jungle.
Angels Landing Trail, USA
The hike to Angel’s Landing consists of two parts: a series of unrelenting switchbacks, then a stomach-in-your-throat cable climb. The final hair-raising stretch offers a remarkable payoff, as the views of the sandstone cliffs and valley below are literally breathtaking — you’ll be scared to breathe lest you make one wrong move near the landing’s edge. This is without a doubt one of the best hikes in Zion National Park.
Ben Nevis Summit Trail, Scotland
One of three treks that make up the National Three Peaks Challenge (climbing the three highest peaks of Scotland, England, and Wales, often within 24 hours), the Ben Nevis Summit Trail will take you to the top of the U.K.’s highest peak. Whether you take the Mountain Track (affectionately known as the Tourist Track) or the Carn Mor Dearg Arête (usually reserved for more experienced summiteers), a gorgeous panorama of the Scottish Highlands awaits.
Milford Track, New Zealand
Located in South Island’s Fiordland National Park, Milford Track is about 33 miles long, and it treats hikers to beautiful views of snow-capped mountain peaks, pristine rainforests, and even the highest waterfall in New Zealand. Well-maintained trails, conveniently placed huts, and a limit on the number of hikers per day make this a pretty comfortable long-distance trek.
Puez-Odle Altopiano, Italy
Here’s a cheat: Take a cable car to elevation, and then start out on the Puez-Odle Altopiano, a hike along the ridges of Italy’s Dolomite mountains. Prepare for panoramic views of the surrounding rocky peaks, plus lush green valleys filled with wildflowers. Go in the summer months if you’re especially keen on seeing colorful blooms.
Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim, USA
If you’re not content to passively view the Grand Canyon from one side, why not cross it on foot? Doing so lets you experience the unique geological formations and diverse ecosystem of the Grand Canyon up close. It’s possible to complete the 24-mile trek in one day, but when there’s an option to stay overnight in the belly of one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders, you take it.