Seven of the Most Beautiful Hiking Trails In The World
If you’ve grown tired of beating the same ole’ trails in your own neck of the woods and are looking for an epic adventure you’ll remember for a lifetime, then buckle up, because below we’ve put together seven of the most beautiful and renown hiking trails in the world. Perfect for any outdoor enthusiast and adventurers of all levels – from the easy-going weekend warrior to the more hardened, long-distance or challenge seeking fanatic. Pack your bags, it’s time for a new adventure.
1) The W Route and the Mount Fitz Roy Trail, Patagonia
Sometimes called ‘The End of the Earth’, Patagonia can, at times, feel very terminal and dramatically bleak. This wild, rugged, windswept landscape, however, is encrusted with some of the most delightful geological and natural jewels in planet earth’s mighty crown. Most notable are the Torres del Paine, Cerro Torre, the Fitzroy Massif, the Perito Moreno Glacier and the largely unspoiled wilderness of Lago San Martin.
There are over 1,242 miles (2,000km) of paths in Patagonia, so you’re unlikely to run out of hiking options. That said, if you’re in a hurry and have to narrow it down to one make it either the W route in Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia or the Monte Fitz Roy Trail in Argentina. Or else do BOTH…there’s no point in going all that way just for one trail! Knock down another while you’re there.
The W Route is a 5-day hike around the incredible, minaret-like fangs of Torres del Paine and is replete with lagoons, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and, of course, epic glaciers. The Mt. Fitz Roy Trail is a three-nighter boasting unparalleled panoramas of glaciers, towering granite spires, lakes and Patagonian forest, with Mount Fitz Roy itself standing state at the northern head of Parque Nacional Los Glaciers.
2) Everest Base Camp Trek with Gokyo Lakes Extension, Nepal
This one feels fairly self-explanatory, but not so many know that the Everest Region boasts dozens more attractions than just the Big One herself. From quaint, stone-built tea-houses, Buddhist-inspired rock art and glorious alpine lakes to herds of roaming yak, the ever-accommodating Sherpa people and 6000m+ peaks everywhere you look, the Solokhumbu (the region’s main valley) is an attraction even without the 8848m behemoth at its far end. The scenery on Base Camp trek is, in fact, truly epic from start to finish. Pumori, Cho Oyu, Lhotse, Nuptse, Island Peak, Ama Dablam and Makalu all provide the backdrop to foregrounds of jagged, sweeping glaciers and stupendously pretty alpine lakes and meadows.
If the trekking experience isn’t enough (it will be, we’re sure!), you can add a spiritual dimension with visits to the region’s gompas – some of the highest monasteries in the world! The Everest Base Camp trek is best combined with a return journey via Gokyo, where you’ll find the some of the most beautiful lakes and indescribable views of Everest et al from Gokyo Ri.
3. Alta Via 1-8, The Italian Dolomites
Ahh. The Italian Dolomites. If you love the mountains, there frankly isn’t a better place than the Italian Dolomites. With 18 peaks over 9,500 feet (3,000 meters), thousands of miles of hiking trails, good food, challenging climbs and a chain of friendly mountain huts, the Italian Dolomites are an outdoor enthusiast and adventurer’s paradise.
The Dolomites are criss-crossed by 8 challenging, outrageously scenic long-distance trails known as the ‘Alta Via’ (‘high ways’). Each of these has its own merits, taking in lofty peaks such as Marmolada, the Civetta, Antelao and the world-famous Tre Cime di Lavaredo. The via ferrata routes offer a climbing-hiking hybrid and a truly thrilling add-on to the already exhilarating walking trails.
4) GR20, Corsica
For those who require a little less pampering than the rest, the GR20 in Corsica offers a hiking experience unlike any other. Whether you choose to use the mountain huts in route or not, with 111 miles (180km) of trail to cover, you will need to be largely self-sufficient, and prepared for a true test of your endurance and navigation skills. Beyond the challenge, the scenery is outstanding, with lofty mountains, waterfalls, alpine wild flowers and wildlife and also views of the sea from every pass, cliff and peak. If wild and adventurous is your thing, the GR20 won’t disappoint.
5) The Great Western Loop, U.S.A
The United States boasts a plethora of challenging, wonderfully scenic and enticing long-distance trails – so many that choosing a favorite is just about as difficult as walking them! To simplify things and ease the decision, we’ve chosen an as-yet largely unknown gem that incorporates sections of a number of other trails and takes in the best of the west like no other.
The GWL sweeps through dozens of hiking areas along its massive, highlight-heavy course, linking together the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Grand Enchantment Trail and Arizona Trail, and passing through a total of twelve national parks and 75 wilderness areas! At 6,875 miles long, the GWL is a biggie and requires a fair bit of planning, but as far as once-in-a-lifetime hikes go they don’t come much better!
6) Tongariro Circuit, New Zealand
You might have to endure a day-long flight to get there, but the trekking in New Zealand is so good that by the end of your trip you’d probably be willing to spend a week in one of Ryanair’s uniquely ‘leg-free’ economy seats just to get back there. The variety, particularly on New Zealand’s South Island, is astonishing. From coastal walks to high altitude traverses to gobsmacking scenic valley walks, the kiwis truly have it all.
On the North Island, the 43-km Tongariro Circuit is the standout, bringing you into the heart of Lord of the Rings’ Mordor-Country and alongside the real life ‘Mount Doom’, otherwise known as ‘Ngauruhoe’, not to mention a number of beautiful coves, beaches, volcanoes, desert landscapes and snowy peaks.
Running a close second is New Zealand’s answer to the Appalachian Trail, the Te Araroa hike from Cape Reinga to Bluff. This trail takes around four months in total and involves a crossing between the North and South Islands. Along the way you’ll encounter snow-capped peaks, huge dunes and sandy beaches, subtropical rainforests, alpine lakes, and a host of unique native flora and fauna.
7) Karakorum K2 Base Camp Trek
Pakistan’s Karakorum range has for many years lain in the shadow of the more popular hiking regions in the Nepal Himalaya. However, the relative lack of visitors, we’re sure, is purely down to infrastructure. Though the logistics of hiking in the Karakorum can be trickier than in Nepal and elsewhere, the additional paperwork, planning and effort required to get there is absolutely worth it. The Karakorum include giants such as Gasherbrum I & II, Broad Peak, Masherbrum, Narga Parbat, the Trango Towers, the Ogre, the outrageously shaped Laila Peak and, of course, the mighty K2 herself.
The most attractive, challenging and comprehensive trek as regards scenery is the one from Askole to Concordia and the K2 Basecamp and Broad Peak Basecamp along the Baltoro Glacier which, at 38 miles (62km) long, is the largest glacier outside of the polar regions. After using the two or three days you’ll need to take in all the scenery at the basecamps, you can extend your trek with a very challenging, technical crossing of the 18,323 foot (5585m) Gondogoro La Pass, from where the views of the Gasherbrums, Broad Peak, Laila Peak, K2 and Masherbrum are incomparable.
In total, the entire trek takes around 20-25 days from Islamabad.