When it comes to quality hiking, there are good trails, great trails, and then there are these legendary, classic trails that are not only visually stimulating, but are also culturally mesmerizing, insanely scenic, and geographically intoxicating. These are trails that travel deeper into the culture and history of the region, with each trail emanating a rich story of its own. Here is a run-down of the planet’s most iconic, classic trails that need to feature on your hiking wish list.
1. Everest Base Camp, Khumbu, Nepal
Distance: 40-70 miles
Scaling the world’s highest mountain might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but hey, hiking up to the soaring Everest’s base camp is still an adventurous feat of the highest sort! Stretching over a distance of more than 40 miles, cut your way across breath-taking scenery of the world’s highest pinnacles, stay in villages brimming with smiling Sherpas, and get entranced by the Buddhist culture, as you trudge towards the high-octane Everest Base Camp.
2. The Snowman Trek, Bhutan
Distance: 200 miles
Sprawling across a distance of over 200 miles, Snowman is easily one of the most challenging trails on the planet. There is definitely something extraordinarily remarkable about trekking into one of the remotest valleys, of one of world’s remotest kingdoms! Starting from Paro, the trek leads to the remote Lunana district via idyllic villages like Lingshi, Laya, and Thanza. Feel like a modern-day Heinrich Harrier, as you traverse the pristine landscape of Bhutan, passing by quaint villages, Buddhist monasteries, and rare wildlife, along the way.
3. The Jordan Trail
Distance: 373 miles
Interweaving across the entire country, the Jordan Trail offers over 300 miles of terrific trails through the diverse landscapes and terrains of Jordan. From the rolling hills in the north to the rugged wadis and sandstone rocks of the Petra Mountains; to the dramatic deserts, ancient stairways, ancient canyons, and Bedouin camps, to the rose-hued façade of Petra, soak in the otherworldliness and unapologetic ruggedness of Jordan’s landscape.
4. GR 20, Corsica, France
Distance: 112 miles
If you are a hiking lover looking for a challenge and some adventure in Europe, the GR 20 in Corsica is as good as it gets. The most magnificent of Europe’s Grande Randonnées, the GR 20 trail runs diagonally from north to south Corsica. The best part about this hike is that the landscapes it covers, are ridiculously diverse! Bursting with snow-capped peaks, glacial lakes, granite moonscapes, torrents, or even forests, the GR 20 is the ultimate hiking passage in Europe.
5. Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru
Distance: 20-55 miles
A highly advanced network of trails built by the Incas centuries ago, today offer avid hikers some of the best hiking trails on the planet! Amongst those is the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, which connects the fascinating archaeological sites of Runcuracay, Sayacmarca, Phuyupatamarca, and Winay Wayma, before ultimately arriving at the famous Machu Picchu ruins, where one can capture a legendary sunrise. Explore this godly region of South America like never before, as you meander through subtropical jungles, cloud forests, lush peaks, and mesmerising ancient ruins.
6. Grand Canyon Hike, Arizona
Distance: 44 miles
Hiking across the Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA is the best way to admire one of the greatest natural geological wonders of the planet! Trek from the north rim to the south rim, switching from canyon cliff paths to low river hikes, as you savour almost two billion years’ worth of geology and natural architecture.
7. Kungsleden, Sweden
Distance: 270 miles
Towards the extreme north of Sweden, in the region known as Swedish Lapland, runs Kungsleden, the “King of Trails”, one of the world’s most amazing hiking trails! Running for about 270 miles, Kungsleden stretches between Abisko and Hemanvan, crisscrossing through rippling mountain streams, lush mountain moors, Sweden’s most beautiful birch forests, massive glaciers, numerous national parks, and of course, Lapland’s wild mountain landscape.
Also read: The beautiful castles of Sweden and Norway.
8. Te Araroa Trail, New Zealand
Distance: 1, 894 miles
Te Araroa, or “The Long Pathway” has a reason as to why it is called so. Spanning across almost 1,894 miles, Te Araroa traverses the entire country of New Zealand, from Cape Regina at the tip of North Island, to Bluff, located on the lowermost tip of the South Island. The trail navigates through historic volcanoes, shimmering blue glacial lakes, rural farmlands, a handful of national parks, lush rainforests, and beaches teeming with penguins and seals, proving to be a dream come true for hiking enthusiasts.
Also read: Romance your way around New Zealand!
9. Appalachian Trail, United States
Distance: 2,200 miles
The Appalachian Trail is one of the world’s most classic hiking trails that pretty much sums up the wilderness and untouched natural beauty of the United States. Running between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine, the iconic Appalachian Trail (AT) cuts through 8 National Forests, 14 states, and 2 National Parks. If you’re feeling adventurous enough, you could try walking the entire 2,200 miles over several months, or, you could simply enjoy day-trips to various parts of the trail.
10. Wales Coastal Path, United Kingdom
Distance: 870 miles
Apart from being an epic hiking trail, do you know what is special about the Wales Coast Path? Well, it is the world’s only footpath to cover an entire country’s coastline! Spread across 870 miles, this legendary, dramatic coast path snakes it way around quaint, idiosyncratic villages, virgin beaches, charming estuaries, medieval castles, coastal cliffs, and some exceptional seaside views, beckoning adventure all along the coast.