It’s pretty near impossible to definitively list the top hiking trails in the world. Every world-famous hiking trail is so diverse - it means choosing between sparkling lapis-lazuli Mexican cenotes and mist-wreathed Swiss mountain passes. It can’t be done.
That being said, we’ve compiled a list of eight hiking trails we absolutely adore. These stunning vistas will have you digging out your rucksack, dusting off your hiking boots and booking a flight as soon as it is safe!
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
The Inca Trail is one of the most-loved hiking trails in South America. Carrying travellers through dense jungles, cloud forests, ancient ruins and soaring mountain ranges, the Inca Trail ends at Machu Picchu. Due to erosion concerns, numbers are limited and it sells out quickly every year - so if you want to trek it, get in quick!
This one is for the long-term hikers. The Appalachian Trail (referred to locally as the ‘AT’) takes between five and seven months to trek, crossing through Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and, finally, Maine! The AT is 3,500 kms long and is sometimes referred to as the longest hiking-only trail in the world.
Everest Base Camp
A very popular trek for those who can stand the cold. Base Camp will get you up close and personal with Mt Everest - with a bit less danger! There are actually two Base Camps at Mt Everest: South Base Camp in Nepal and North Base Camp in Tibet. South Base Camp in Nepal is the popular, more accessible choice, reaching an ascent of 5364m over about a week of trekking.
Pacific Crest Trail
Seen the movie Wild? This is the one! In 6-7 months you can traverse 4270kms of the west coast of North America. Spanning from the arid Mojave Desert to the wet wonder of British Columbia, the PCT is high on many hiker's bucket lists. The PCT is known for its pristine mountainous terrain, crossing through seven different national parks and 25 national forests.
Yosemite Grand Traverse
You can expect to spend just under a week crossing through the highlights of Yosemite National Park. This week-long trip ticks all the boxes: high-altitude lakes, waterfalls, rivers, swimming holes, meadows and mountains spanning around 100kms of trail. You can also nab a guided hike for Yosemite Grand Traverse if you’re after a truly educational experience in the American wilderness.
Bay of Fires
Tasmania’s pristine Bay of Fires walk takes you through four days of snow-white beaches, lichen-wreathed boulders and misty turquoise seas. Beach-side hiking is not uncommon, and it’s not as difficult as it might sound. In nearly 40 kms of trekking, there are no developments at the Bay of Fires beside a single lighthouse. At the end of your hike, you’ll be cosied up with a glass of red and a plate of world-famous Tasmanian seafood.
Mountains of the Moon
Known colloquially as the Rwenzori Mountains, this Ugandan trail features the highest mountain range in Africa. In just under a week, you’ll traverse hidden African permafrost peaks, tropical rainforest, glaciers and alpine valleys dotted with ancient ferns and the occasional elephant. This is a muddy yet incredibly rewarding hike, and certainly one of the hiking world’s best-kept secrets.
Trek to Petra
This trek based in Jordan takes you through stunning sandstone gorges and rocky ridges right through to the ancient ruins of Petra in just over a week. Rated by National Geographic as one of the best hikes in the world, Trek to Petra is a lesson in archaeological history spanning four different biospheres, innumerable wadi, 10,000-year-old ruins and camel caravans.
Keen to hike your heart out?