Hiking Lover’s Pilgrimage: 10 Trails Worth Traveling For

Go Global By Stefan Zechner December 7, 2016

Hiking opens the door to stunning scenery, diverse cultures, and a serious sense of accomplishment. There are millions of miles to explore, but these 10 treks showcase some of the most famous hiking trails in the world.

Camino de Santiago, Spain

The Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 485 miles
Best Time to Go: May – October
Stretching from the French Pyrenees to the believed burial site of St. James in Galicia, Spain, this network of trails has been a popular pilgrimage since the middle ages. You’ll need four to six weeks to complete the whole Camino, but only 10 days to go from Pamplona to the finish line, and only six or seven from Sarria.

Thanks to the albergues (pilgrim hostels), campsites, and restaurants along the route, you won’t need to rough it if you don’t want to. Whether you’re in search of a spiritual journey or Europe’s most verdant countryside, you won’t be disappointed.

Kungsleden, Sweden

Kunglsleden hiking trail in Sweden

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 270 miles
Best Time to Go: August – September
Scandinavia is known for its mountainous landscapes and long hours of summer sunlight. Get a taste of both—and maybe even some reindeer—along “The King’s Trail,” Sweden’s longest and most famous hiking path.

There are plenty of mountain huts and cabins along the Kungsleden where you can cook meals with fellow trekkers and share views of Mount Kebnekaise, the country’s highest peak. Most hikers embark on a three to five-day journey along the path’s northernmost 65 miles, but longer trails are available if you really want to go the distance.

MacLehose Trail, Hong Kong

Scenic overlook of the MacLehose Trail, Hong Kong

Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
Distance: 62 miles
Best Time to Go: November – March
Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated cities on Earth, but the rural, neighboring New Territories region offers a lot more breathing room. The MacLehose trail runs from the eastern coast of the New Territories up the high, rugged peaks of the central mountains to the reservoir-filled valleys of the west.

It takes five to seven days to traverse the whole thing, but even a day trip offers views of the New Territories’ beautiful beaches and tropical mountains.

Trek to Petra, Jordan

Hiker on the trek to Petra, Jordan

Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
Distance: 50 miles
Best Time to Go: October – April
The Trek to Petra follows an ancient caravan route that winds through some of mankind’s earliest settlements. Starting in the Dana Nature Reserve, there’s a new landscape every few kilometers of this six-day excursion.

You’ll cross deep gorges, epic mountain plateaus, peaceful countryside, and wind-sculpted sandstone canyons to enter Petra. Once you’ve finished the route, explore the temples, tombs, and archaeological wonders of the “Lost City”.

The Long Range Traverse, Canada

View from the Long Traverse in Canada

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 25 miles
Best Time to Go: June – September
This unmarked trail over the rugged peaks and weathered valleys of Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park is remarkably untouched. That’s because the Canada parks service works to keep it that way. Only twelve people can begin the hike each day, meaning you’ll need to book permits ahead of time. There’s also a mandatory park orientation, so brush up on your map and compass skills before making the trip.

It might seem like a lot of work for a three- to six-day hike, but the trail pays off with dramatic landscape, sparkling fjords, and impressive wildlife, like moose and caribou.

Tongariro Northern Circuit, New Zealand

New Zealand's scenic Northern Circuit

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 31 miles
Best Time to Go: November – April
New Zealand is the land of geological diversity, and its Northern Circuit is no exception. Along your three to four-day hike through Tongariro National Park you’ll find everything from brilliant blue lakes to molten lava flows as you encircle the active volcano, Mount Ngauruhoe.

Most of the track is exposed herb and wildflower fields, but the two sections of forest you’ll cross round out this survey of New Zealand’s natural splendor.

Tour du Mont Blanc, Switzerland, Italy and France

The view of Mont Blanck

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 105 miles
Best Time to Go: June – September
Gargantuan glaciers and spotless snowfields inspired the name of these “White Mountain” trails. You’ll cross three international borders and see the highest peak in Western Europe from every angle over the course of this seven to eleven-day trek.

Along the way, you can walk through gorgeous, lupine-laden countryside by day and explore charming hamlets by night. Because of its well-marked trails, ample accommodation and friendly Alpine culture, it’s perfect for a solo adventure.

Appalachian National Scenic Trail, U.S.

The Appalachian Trail near Mt. Katahdin

Difficulty: Moderate – Advanced
Distance: 2,180 miles
Best Time to Go: March – October
This expansive trail spans 14 states, 8 national forests and several national parks, making it the longest hiking-only footpath in the world.

Only “thru-hikers” complete the months-long sojourn from Springer Mountain, Georgia all the way to Katahdin, Maine, but a shorter hike anywhere along the 2,180 miles of trail offers the chance to appreciate the vast wilderness of the Appalachian Mountains.

W Trek, Chile

The Mountains of National Park Torres Del Paine

Difficulty: Moderate – Advanced
Distance: 50 miles
Best Time to Go: October – April
Named for its shape, this Patagonian trail introduces visitors to the breathtaking Torres del Paine National Park. Though usually completed in four or five days, Patagonia’s fickle weather—which can include snow, rain, sun and high winds all in the same day—means you might need to budget additional time.

Moving from east to west, you’ll watch the sunrise over the majestic rock towers on your final morning, the perfect culmination to a trail well-traveled.

The Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda

Elephant along the Mountains of the Moon trail

Difficulty: Advanced
Distance: 38 miles
Best Time to Go: December – March
Known affectionately as the Mountains of the Moon, the Rwenzori mountains along the Uganda-Congo border are one of Africa’s best kept secrets. Their diverse landscape includes tropical rainforests, bamboo groves and 16,000-foot glacial peaks.

You’ll need crampons for the more demanding and remote twelve-day ascent to Margherita Peak, but summiting Africa’s third-highest mountain and spotting wild elephants in the same trip makes it all worthwhile.

All this hiking making you thirsty? Check out the best destinations for beer lovers to find a post-trek trip with plenty of libations.