Throughout our many adventures around the globe, we have had the privilege of participating in some of the best hikes in the world. We’ve been lucky to have hiked, trekked, and visited 120 countries on all seven continents. Multi-day hikes can be life-changing and whenever we strap on a pair of hiking boots, we feel disconnected from the hustle and bustle of life and at one with Mother Nature. If you are planning to add a bit of adventure to your travels, make sure to include one of these hikes. We’re listing everything from multi-day treks to short day hikes around the planet to suit anyone’s needs.
The Best Hiking Trails in the World
From the windswept vistas of the Andes to the lush green corridors of the Himalayas, from the scorched deserts of Africa to the icy realms of Antarctica, trekking routes challenge our physical limits, captivate our senses, and offer a gateway to cultures and landscapes often untouched by the modern world.
Welcome to a voyage across the best treks in the world – where every step is a story, every breath is an experience, and every destination is a revelation. Are you ready to traverse the globe? Let’s begin, one trail at a time.
1. Mount Everest Base Camp Trek – Nepal
Nothing has ever compared to trekking to the base camp of the highest mountain in the world. In our opinion, it is the best trek in the world.
The trek to base camp takes 12-day round trip through the Himalayan mountain range.
What makes this trek difficult is the number of days spent at a sustained high altitude. Once you land in Lukla and climb for a day, the rest of the trip is over 4000 meters.
But it if you take it slow and steady, this is a trip that is worth every heaving breath. The trek is awe-inspiring as you walk through high passes, surrounded by the highest peaks on earth.
- Duration: 12 Days
- Highlights Include – Villages, scenes of highest mountains, Sherpa Memorials, tea houses, base camp
- Best Time to Trek – Feb – May (we trekked Feb and there were few crowds) and Nov – Dec
- Suggested Tour Company – Simrik Real Nepal
- Read our complete guide to Everest Base Camp
2. Mount Kilimanjaro – Tanzania
Reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro was one of the greatest achievements we’ve ever accomplished.
We took the Machame Route aka the Whiskey Route to Uhuru Peak in Tanzania. What makes this trek so unique is how many ecosystems the trail passes through.
It begins in a tropical rainforest of Tanzania and then moves through farmland, forests, moorlands, a mountain desert, and a freezing summit climbing zone.
Seeing massive cacti line the route made for spectacular scenery.
- Duration: 7 Days
- Highlights Include – changing scenery, moorlands
- Best Time to Trek – It’s possible to climb Kilimanjaro any time of year, but the two main seasons are Jan – March and June – Oct. We climbed the first week of March and it was great conditions.
- Suggested Tour Company – Kessey Brothers
3. Laya Trek – Bhutan
Trekking in Bhutan was a dream come true. Surrounded by the Himalayas in a country that few people travel to was one of the most memorable experiences we’ve ever had.
The Trek to Laya is one of the more popular routes in Bhutan, but that doesn’t mean it is busy. There is a $250 daily tourism fee to enter the country, keeping crowds to a minimum.
The trek runs along the Tibetan border crossing rivers, high passes and through villages. It ends at the village of Laya.
write a paragraph about the Laugavegur Trek in Iceland and include the Duration Highlights Include Best Time to Trek in point form at the bottom
- Duration: 4 Days
- Highlights Include – Villages, scenes of highest mountains, Sherpa
- Best Time to Trek – April – June and Sept – Nov. We trekked in Sept and it was wet, but the Highland festival was going on and it’s amazing.
- Suggested Tour Company – Simrik Real Nepal , or Gray Langur to coincide with festival.
Read More About our Trek to Laya here
4. Inca Trail – Peru
While the Inca Trail is so overly popular it turns people off, it would be criminal not to include it. Many people say it is the best trek in the world. This multi day hiking trail through the takes you to the ancient ruins of Machu Pichu and seeing this lost city is worth the trek.
This trek follows the ancient trade routes of the Incas from Cusco to the lost city of Machu Picchu. Read more about it at All You Need to Know to Be Prepared for a Machu Picchu Hike.
What more could you ask for in an adventure? There are several other treks around the Sacred Valley, so if you can’t book a slot on this heavily backlogged trail, check out some other hikes as well.
- Duration: 3 Days
- Highlights Include – Inca Ruins, Machu Picchu, views of the Andes.
- Best Time to Trek – April to October is high season, March is a good time to avoid the crowds.
- Suggested Tour Company – Get Your Guide
5. Torres del Paine National Park – Chile
Patagonia in South America is one of the premier destinations on earth for avid trekkers. And Torres del Pain is one of the top hiking routes in the area. This multiday hike requires trekkers to carry tents, food and camping equipment.
Here you’ll see monstrous glaciers, situated between snowy peaks and teal blue lagoon reflecting mountains. Read more:
- Duration: 5 Days
- Highlights Include – glaciers and icebergs, wildlife and
- Best Time to Trek – June – August
Read about the entire experience here.
6. Jyrgalan Valley – Kyrzgkstan
This hike to the Boz Uchuch Lakes in Kyrgzgkstan’s Jyrgalan Valley region is one of the premier treks in the country.
It takes trekkers over to Boz Uchuk Pass to the Glacier lakes. We did this trek on horseback, but it is also very popular for hikers.
- Duration: 4 Days
- Highlights Include – wild horses roaming the valleys, high mountain passes, stunning views.
- Best Time to Trek – June – August
- Suggested Tour Company – Book at The Alakol Guesthouse in Jyrgalan
7. Great Ocean Walk – Australia
Most people have heard of the Great Ocean Road in Victoria Australia. It is a beautiful drive that ends at the picturesque Twelve Apostles. But if you really want to see the extraordinary coast, the Great Ocean Walk is the thing to do.
This multi-day hike takes trekkers along on a 56 km trek on the rugged Victoria coast.
After each day of hiking along beaches, through forests and wooden walkways, we were picked up and taken back to our luxury lodge where we were fed gourmet meals and soaked our feet in hot soapy baths.
The next morning we were dropped off at the point where we ended the day before to continue our walk to the twelve apostles.
- Great Ocean Walk Location – Victoria Australia
- Duration: 4 Days
- Highlights Include -luxury accommodation, 5-star food, secluded beaches, kangaroos and wildlife, Twelve Apostles.
- Best Time to Trek – Any time of year – we hiked in January and it was fantastic
- Suggested Tour Company – Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk
8. el Camino de Santiago – Spain
The Route of Saint James also known as the el Camino de Santiago is a rite of passage for serious trekkers and has been a Pilgrimage since the 9th century.
There are eight different starting points that can take you from France, Spain or Portugal to Santiago de Compostela where the trek ends.
We’ve done many hikes throughout the Pyrenees, but we have yet to put them together to trek the Camino de Santiago. But it is high on our list! Soon, very soon!
- Duration: 1 week to 35 days Days
- Highlights Include – Striking views of the Pyrenees through historic villages, monasteries and vineyards
- Best Time to Trek – April – October. July & August are high season, May and September are recommended.
- GetYourGuide offers a 7-day hike along a stretch of the French Way.
9. Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim
The Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim hike is one of the most iconic and challenging treks in the United States. Traversing from the North to the South Rim (or vice versa), this hike offers an intimate journey into the heart of one of the world’s most renowned natural wonders.
As hikers descend into the Grand Canyon, they are treated to a dramatic tapestry of rock layers, each telling a story millions of years in the making. The journey takes adventurers past roaring waterfalls, ancient rock formations, and the emerald waters of the Colorado River. Covering a distance of about 24 miles, the trek is not just a test of endurance but also a deeply transformative experience, offering unparalleled perspectives of the canyon’s vastness and grandeur.
The trailhead is located at Yaki Point which you can reach by shuttle bus. The Rim to Rim hike is typically done as an overnight backpacking trip, with hikers camping at either the Bright Angel Campground or the Cottonwood Campground. Hikers must obtain a backcountry permit from the park before starting the hike which you can obtain from the National Parks Service website.
- Duration: Typically 2-3 days for a comfortable pace, though some experienced hikers complete it in a single, long day.
- Highlights Include: Breathtaking panoramic views from both rims, the vibrant hues of rock strata, the majestic Roaring Springs and Ribbon Falls, and the serene beauty of the Colorado River at Phantom Ranch.
- Best Time to Trek: Mid-May to mid-June and mid-September to mid-October, when temperatures are milder and water sources are more likely to be available.
10. Mount Kinabalu – Malaysian Borneo
It’s one of the premiere climbs in South East Asia and Mount Kinabalu is a great introduction to trekking. We have it on our greatest treks on earth list because it was the very first trek we ever did in 2003!
Just visiting Borneo is an adventure to itself let along climbing Malaysia’s highest peak.
- Duration: 2 Days
- Highlights Include – amazing summit view.
- Best Time to Trek –
- Suggested Tour Company – We booked our trek at the park headquarters.
11. John Muir Trail – United States
The John Muir Trail is one of the most popular hikes in America. It runs 221-miles through California’s Sierra Nevada.
The overland track takes you through lush valleys, creaks, and alpine meadows vistas. There are six mountain passes with one reaching 14,000 feet.
Most of the trail is steadily over 10,000 feet making it quite the accomplishment. For full details read: How to Hike the John Muir Trail
12. Routeburn Track – New Zealand
The hardest part of the Routeburn on New Zealand’s South Island is getting a slot on the trail. It’s a popular trek. There are campsites and lodges on the hike that must be booked in advance.
Luckily we were traveling with the Flying Kiwi and everyone who wanted to do the Routeburn had it set up in advance. The bus dropped everyone off on the Te Anau side and met up a couple of days later in Queenstown.
Located in Fiordland National Park on the South Island of New Zealand The Routeburn Track is New Zealand’s most renowned trek.
The highest point takes you up 1,255 metres above sea level for beautiful views.
- Routeburn Track Location: New Zealand South Island
- Duration: 2 Days
- Highlights Include – mountain peaks, waterfalls and beautiful lakes.
- Best Time to Trek – Any time of year.
Another great day trek in New Zealand is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Tongariro Alpine Crossing Location is on the North Island, so if you make it up there, do it! It is beautiful. Read all About it here: The Tongariro Alpine Crossing: New Zealand’s Best 1 Day Hike
13. Angels Landing Zion National Park
This is one of the favorite hikes in Zion National Park in Utah and is iconic for many reasons. If you’re looking for about a dozen trails rolled into one then Angels Landing is one of the best hikes for you.
For the first part, you get to visit what is called Refrigerator Canyon, aptly called so due to the cool night temperatures you experience there. After there you will go up a bunch of switchbacks called Walter’s Wiggles, which is a rather cute name for a set of switchbacks that require a lot more than cute wiggles to get past.
You end up at Scout’s Lookout to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Angels Landing – this is where you stop and turn around if you’re not a major thrill seeker. Read more: 15 Best Hikes In Arches National Park In 2023
If you’re into an adventure, you can keep going to the top of Angels Landing where you’ll climb a narrow ridge with the assistance of chains. As of April 1, 2022 everyone needs a permit to hike the Angels Landing trail. You must book it in advance here.
- Length of Hike: 5.5 Miles
- Difficulty: Difficult
- Shuttle Stop: Zion #6
14. Adam’s Peak – Sri Lanka
Adam’s Peak is a spiritual pilgrimage in Sri Lanka that lasts a mere 24 hours. It is believed that Adam first stepped foot on Earth when he was cast down from heaven. Read about our on Adam’s Peak here
Sri Lanka’s holiest place attracts pilgrims each year to climb its 5200 steps. Starting in the middle of the night, it is the perfect time to make it to the top for sunrise.
- Duration: 2 Days
- Highlights Include – an amazing cultural experience, glorious sunrise, shops and temples along the route.
- Best Time to Trek – any time of year, but the pilgrimage is from December to May
- Suggested Tour Company – No company is needed.
15. Sapa – Vietnam
Getting off the beaten path of Sapa in Vietnam feels like you are walking through a National Geographic spread. Rice terraces filled with water drop down steep mountains.
Choose a tourist company that will take you deep into the mountains along the Chinese border that books a homestay with families living in the mountains of Sapa.
- Duration: 4 Days
- Highlights Include – tea terraces, small villages, cultural experiences
- Best Time to Trek – year-round
16. Pukaskwa National Park – Canada
Not many people have heard of the Pukaskwa Coastal Trail in Ontario, Canada. It is often overshadowed by the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island or The East Coast Trail, but this trail along Lake Superior is a tough one.
The trip can be an out and back, or you can take a boat out to North Swallow to 60 km up the trail. The trek back along the rolling coast. You must carry all food and drink in and out with you so if you don’t have experience, be sure to hire a guide. Read more about our Pukaskwa Hike
- Duration: 6 Days
- Highlights Include – Wild remote trails, wildlife, Lake Superior Shore
- Best Time to Trek – It is open May – Sept but for drier weather we suggest, June – August
- Suggested Tour Company – Naturally Superior Adventures
West Coast Trail
The West Coast Trail in Canada offers an unforgettable wilderness adventure along the rugged and pristine coastline of Vancouver Island. This iconic trek typically spans about 75 kilometers, making it a challenging yet rewarding journey.
Along the way, hikers are treated to a plethora of natural wonders, including lush rainforests, dramatic sea cliffs, and pristine beaches. The highlights of this trek are as diverse as they are breathtaking, from encountering diverse wildlife such as whales, sea lions, and bald eagles to exploring historic shipwrecks and indigenous cultural sites.
Hikers can also expect to traverse suspension bridges, wade through creeks, and conquer rugged terrain, all while experiencing the raw beauty of the Pacific Northwest. The best time to trek the West Coast Trail is typically during the summer months,
- West Coast Trail Location : Vancouver Island
- Duration: 6-8 Days
- Highlights Include – lush rainforests, dramatic sea cliffs, and pristine beaches
- Best Time to Trek – from May to September, when weather conditions are most favorable, but it’s advisable to check trail conditions and availability in advance.
17. Mount Fuji – Japan
Japan’s highest mountain is an exciting trek. Otherwise known as Fuji-san, it is an active volcano that is regarded as one of Japan’s three sacred peaks and iconic sites.
Standing at 3,776 meters ( 12,388 feet) high, it is a steep slope to climb, but even beginners can do it. 300,000 people (including some inexperienced hikers I know) climb Mount Fuji every year, so don’t worry if you’re not a frequent hiker.
Sadly, so many people are climbing Mount Fuji that it is in danger of losing its UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. Read the complete guide here.
- Duration: 2 Days
- Highlights Include – beautiful sunrise above the clouds of Japan, warm mountain huts.
- Best Time to Trek – Open to hikers from July 1 to early September, the best time to climb is from the end of July to late August
18. Gunung Batur – Bali
Another great day hike is up the active volcano on the paradise island of Bali.
This trek was our very first volcano hike and it was spectacular. Trekking around a crater’s edge is the adventure of a lifetime and seeing steam spew from an active volcano gives a rush like you’ve never experienced.
Be sure to stay on top of warnings and hire a reputable tour company, after what happened in New Zealand, we don’t recommend hiking active volcanoes.
- Duration: 1 Day
- Highlights Include – witness an active volcano
- Best Time to Trek – Any time of year
19. Cinque Terre – Italy
The Five Villages Hike (Cinque Terre) on the coast of Italy is a beautiful trek along the Italian Riviera.
If you’ve never trekked before and are looking to get your feet wet, this is a short 1 day hike taking you through beautiful scenery. You can even indulge in delicious food and wine along the way. Read more: Hiking in Cinque Terre – Complete Guide to Italy’s 5 Villages
- Duration: 1 Day
- Highlights Include – picturesque villages, beaches, wine, olives, lemons and Italian hospitality
- Best Time to Trek – You can hike anytime of year. Summer is the hottest, but we suggest shoulder season Spring/Fall to avoid the high tourist season.
- Where to Stay: Where to stay in Cinque Terre, Italy: The Best Towns And Villages
20. Annapurna Circuit
Immediately after trekking to Everest Base Camp, we made our way to Pokhora to take on the Annapurna Circuit trek because we just didn’t have enough of viewing snow capped mountain peaks.
Little did we know we’d be trekked out by this point and we never did get around to hiking into the Himalayas once again. We always regret being so lazy, but we did do some trekking in to the surrounding mountains.
Annapurna is more widely trekked than the Everest Base Camp Trek and has been the top trekking route in Nepal for decades. Read more: Top 13 Best Treks in Nepal to Help you Choose The Right Trek for you
- Duration: 16 – 20 Days
- Highlights Include – Villages, scenes of the highest mountains, Sherpa Memorials, tea houses, base camp
- Best Time to Trek – Nov – Dec, and Feb to April
- Suggested Tour Company – Simrik Real Nepal
21. Sunshine Coast Trail – Canada
This hut to hut trail spans 180 km along the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. The huts are free to stay in and it’s Canada’s longest hut to hut trail.
Sarah Point where you can take a water taxi with the great people of Terracentric Adventures in Lund. Located at the northern tip of Desolation Sound and continues to Salterly Bay.
You don’t have to do the entire route, you can choose shorter day hikes like we did but if you do the entire route, you’ll have the privilege of seeing some of Canada’s most beautiful scenery for a solid two weeks.
- Duration: 2 weeks
- Highlights Include – Tin Hat Mountain, inland lakes, Powell River,
- Best Time to Trek –
- Suggested Tour Company – Terracentric Adventures and multi-day hikes.
If you are on the West Coast of Canada, an iconic Canadian Trek is the West Coast Trail.
22. Headhunter’s Trial and Pinnacles – Borneo
Hiking along the headhunter’s trail of Borneo is like something out of a movie.
We had to take a small twin-engine airplane to Gunung Mulu National Park. We then secured our hiking permits to the Pinnacles were to set off by boat, and river crossings before reaching base camp.
The next day it was a rugged steep climb up to the most interesting view we have ever seen in our lives.
Pinnacles, a stone forest jutting 45 metres out of the earth, in razor-sharp Read all about our trek at the Pinnacles of Borneo
- Duration: 3 Days
- Highlights Include – Pinnacles, Gunung Mulu National Park, Bat Cave
- Best Time to Trek – the dry season is the suggested time to trek, but we went in January during the rainy season (When they say to avoid) and it was spectacular.
- Suggested Tour Company – Park Headquarters
23. Trolltunga Hike – Norway
Tucked away in the heart of Norway’s rugged landscape is the iconic Trolltunga or “Troll’s Tongue,” a spectacular cliff jutting out about 700 meters above Lake Ringedalsvatnet. This hike is not for the faint-hearted but promises awe-inspiring views that encapsulate the raw beauty of Norwegian nature. Read all about Chee’s Trollunga Hike here.
The trek itself covers approximately 28 kilometers (round trip) and demands a good level of fitness, as you navigate steep ascents, rocky terrains, and the ever-changing whims of mountain weather. Along the way, you’re treated to panoramic vistas of glaciers, fjords, and alpine lakes. But the crowning glory is standing at the edge of Trolltunga, where one can truly grasp the majesty of the Norwegian highlands, an experience that remains etched in memory long after the journey ends.
- Duration: Approximately 10-12 hours round trip.
- Highlights Include: Panoramic views of Lake Ringedalsvatnet, the dramatic cliff of Trolltunga, surrounding glaciers, fjords, and alpine scenery.
- Best Time to Trek: Mid-June to early September, when the trail is mostly free of snow and conditions are safer for hikers.
24. Snowman Trek – Bhutan
It was during our Laya trek, that we passed the entrance to the Snowman Trek in Bhutan. We haven’t done this trek, but our friend Beth at Wanderlust and Lipstick has done it a couple of times! The Snowman trek is considered the hardest trek in the world as it spends 25 days at sustained high altitudes.
We didn’t have the time, nor the money to take part in a 25-day trek in Bhutan, but it is on many people’s bucket lists. Our guide Sangay told us all about it as he leads the Snowman Trek every year!
- Duration: 25 Days
- Highlights Include – World’s highest mountain passes, views of the Himalayas.
- Best Time to Trek – June – October
25. Laugavegur Trek in Iceland
The Laugavegur Trek in Iceland is among the most celebrated hiking routes in the world, offering a magnificent array of geological wonders and breathtaking landscapes. Spanning approximately 55 kilometers, this trek weaves its way through an incredible tapestry of rhyolite mountains, hot springs, glaciers, geothermal valleys, and vast lava fields. How Much Does An Iceland Trip Cost: Detailed Budget Breakdown
Hikers will encounter vivid hues of red, yellow, and blue in the mountains, the steaming vents of Landmannalaugar, the pristine waters of Lake Álftavatn, and the expansive views from Emstrur. The ever-changing terrain and the spectrum of colors offered by the Laugavegur Trek present a unique adventure that appeals to trekkers globally.
- Duration: Approximately 4-6 days
- Highlights Include Rhyolite mountains, hot springs, Landmannalaugar geothermal area, Lake Álftavatn, lava fields, and vast landscapes.
- Best Time to Trek: Mid-June to September.
26. Kungsleden Trek
The Kungsleden Trek, often dubbed the “King’s Trail,” stands as one of Sweden’s most iconic long-distance hiking paths. Nestled in the heart of Swedish Lapland, this trail spans roughly 440 kilometers, meandering through pristine wilderness, dense birch forests, glacial valleys, and alpine tundras. As trekkers journey along the trail, they’re greeted with awe-inspiring sights such as the dramatic peaks of the Sarek National Park and the serene vistas of Lake Alesjaure. Traditional wooden huts scattered throughout the trail offer hikers an authentic Swedish experience, providing shelter and moments of camaraderie in the heart of nature.
- Duration: Approximately 3-5 weeks for the entire trail, though many choose to hike shorter sections.
- Highlights Include: Swedish Lapland wilderness, birch forests, Sarek National Park, alpine tundras, and Lake Alesjaure.
- Best Time to Trek: Late June to September.
27. Haute Route
The Haute Route, a revered trek spanning from Chamonix in France to Zermatt in Switzerland, presents one of the most exquisite high-altitude trails in the Alps. Traversing approximately 180 kilometers, this iconic route offers an immersive experience through the heart of Europe, showcasing a captivating panorama of glaciers, verdant valleys, and some of the highest peaks in the region, including the majestic Matterhorn.
As hikers journey through this alpine wonderland, they will cross multiple mountain passes, navigate through charming Swiss villages, and have the opportunity to rest in mountain huts that dot the landscape, providing both shelter and unparalleled views.
Another great multiday hike in the Area is the Tour du Mont Blanc through France, Italy and Switzerland.
- Duration: Approximately 10-14 days.
- Highlights Include: Panoramic views of iconic peaks like the Matterhorn, traversing through high mountain passes, charming Alpine villages, and the mesmerizing landscapes of the European Alps.
- Best Time to Trek: Mid-July to Mid-September.
28. Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail, often simply referred to as the AT, is a legendary long-distance hiking trail that stretches over 2,190 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, crossing 14 U.S. states. Renowned as one of the longest continuously marked footpaths in the world, the AT offers a diverse range of experiences, from the dense forests of the Smoky Mountains to the panoramic views atop New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
Trekkers will encounter a rich tapestry of biodiversity, numerous historical landmarks, and a myriad of terrains as they navigate this iconic path. The camaraderie among hikers and the sense of accomplishment upon completing sections, or the entire trail, are hallmarks of the AT experience.
- Appalachian Trail Location: East Cost of the United States spanning from Georgia to Maine
- Duration: Typically 5-7 months for a thru-hike.
- Highlights Include: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Shenandoah National Park, the White Mountains, and the breathtaking vistas from peaks such as Clingmans Dome and McAfee Knob.
- Best Time to Trek: For northbound hikers, starting in late April to early May is ideal. For southbound hikers, starting in June to mid-July is recommended.
Pacific Crest Trail
If you want to tackle another epic hike in America, you may want to consider the Pacific Crest Trail. Stretching over 2,650 miles, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a long-distance hiking marvel that spans the length of the West Coast of the United States, from the Mexican border in the south to the Canadian border in the north.
The trail traverses through a mesmerizing tapestry of landscapes, including arid deserts, dense forests, and alpine mountain ranges. Along the way, hikers experience the breathtaking beauty of iconic locations like the Sierra Nevada, Mount Rainier, and the Mojave Desert. The PCT is not just a physical journey but also a transformative experience, offering moments of solitude, introspection, and a profound connection with nature. It is a trail that challenges and rewards in equal measure, with every mile presenting a new vista or a unique experience. 24 Best Hikes in the USA to Add to Your Bucket list
- Pacific Crest Trail Location:
- Duration: Typically 4 to 6 months for a complete thru-hike.
- Highlights Include: The otherworldly landscapes of the Mojave Desert, the majestic peaks of the Sierra Nevada (including Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous U.S.), the volcanic wonders of the Cascade Range, and the lush forests of the Pacific Northwest.
- Best Time to Trek: For northbound thru-hikers, late April to early May is a typical starting window, aiming to finish by late September to avoid snow in the Northern Cascades. However, conditions vary annually, and hikers should be prepared for a range of weather and trail conditions.
30. Half Dome – Yosemite National Park
The Half Dome hike in Yosemite National Park is an emblematic trek that epitomizes the rugged beauty of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Beginning in Yosemite Valley, the trail meanders through verdant forests, past mist-kissed waterfalls, and up granite sub-domes before reaching the trail’s pièce de résistance: the ascent up the iconic Half Dome itself via cable routes.
Those who conquer this challenging ascent are rewarded with panoramic vistas of the vast Yosemite wilderness, including the valley, High Sierra peaks, and the serpentine Merced River. The sheer granite face of Half Dome, juxtaposed against a backdrop of deep blue sky or swirling clouds, is a sight to behold, making the strenuous journey worthwhile. Read more: The Half Dome Hike in Yosemite: Your Complete Guide
- Duration: 10 to 14 hours round trip, covering approximately 14-16 miles depending on the route taken.
- Highlights Include: Vernal and Nevada Falls, panoramic views from Sub Dome, the exhilarating cable ascent, and the unmatched 360-degree views from atop Half Dome.
- Best Time to Trek: Late May to early October, when the cables are up and the trail is free of snow. Note that a permit is required, and it’s best to check conditions and restrictions before planning the hike.
The best hikes in the world are not just mere walks through nature; they are profound journeys that transform us, that speak to our souls, and reconnect us to the earth’s ancient rhythms. They challenge our physical limits, but more importantly, they expand our horizons. On these trails, every step becomes an intimate conversation with nature, where the soft whisper of the wind or the distant roar of a waterfall becomes a language we learn to understand.
In a world increasingly dominated by technology and rapid urbanization, these treks are sanctuaries of authenticity, unspoiled by the march of time. They are a testament to nature’s unparalleled beauty and power, waiting to be explored, revered, and, above all, respected. So what are you waiting for? Get outside and start hiking these great trails today!
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