You may be wondering which hiking locations are most popular if you're looking for an adventure with unparalleled scenic beauty along the way.
Many experienced hikers are constantly on the lookout for new and more exciting trails. After completing many long and arduous hikes, you may consider yourself a veteran. It may be on your bucket list to find the most beautiful and difficult hikes possible so you can wear your badge of honor with pride. Since many locations offer an excellent hike, you may want to do your research thoroughly to find the one that’s best suited for your individual capability.
There are many excellent hiking locations in Peru, Tanzania, Nepal, and many other countries that promise one of the best hikes you will ever take in your life. If you are looking to connect with nature and challenge yourself, these locations offer the most interesting experiences with unique hurdles you will need to overcome.
How experienced you are as a hiker ultimately determines if you're ready to traverse the most treacherous of plains, which is what you're probably craving for at this point. Your life has pushed you in this direction, and your passion for new and exciting experiences has made it impossible for you to deny a challenge. The road less traveled leads to the most growth, and it's not always about showcasing your experiences to others. You may have hiking buddies you would like to discover new locations with or enjoy a beautiful and private experience with yourself. Whatever your reasons, you will get to know everything you need from this article to prepare yourself for what’s next to come.
Our extensive research has made it possible for you to plan and prepare for your upcoming trip and provides details that you cannot find elsewhere. We have scoured the Internet to find the best locations that challenge you to reach new heights as a seasoned hiker. This is a serious hiking article compiled in a digestible form to make it easy for you to pursue an adventure that you're probably looking for.
Why You Should Consider Hiking
There is freedom in being able to grab a pair of hiking boots and leave the confines of your dwelling to begin journeying through nature and arriving at a sense of peace that comes with living in the present moment.
Our environment dictates our thinking, and most people are living in a concrete jungle, stuck in the same repeating thoughts that are regurgitating similar experiences throughout their lives.
One of the best ways to step out of our heads and begin living in the present is by seeking new experiences that take us out of our comfort zone and into our bodies.
Exercising is one way to achieve this, but it can get one-dimensional if you limit yourself to the gym, which is where hiking comes into play and offers exciting experiences that will likely bring you back to your center.
Hiking appeals not just to seasoned hikers but also to the everyday man and woman because there is a strong desire to connect with the environment while enjoying the solitude and the serenity of long and still landscapes.
These are some things that entice and motivate hikers to pack their bags, put on their boots, and confront challenging treks and hiking trails that will lead them into thrilling experiences.
Some of the most incredible locations can only be reached by foot and require us to prepare thoroughly if we are to complete these multiple-day journeys.
The best thing about hiking is that most people with an average fitness level can complete even the most grueling of treks.
People quickly realize that they enforce mental limitations on themselves, and they are capable of much more than they had previously thought.
This jarring realization begins to instill a greater sense of self-confidence, where they learn to overcome their internal resistance and push past their limiting boundaries.
There are famous and exciting trails around the globe that offer some of the most diverse terrains and serve as access to discover historical treasures.
You can expect to climb mountains, discover ancient ruins, descend into deep canyons, and walk along windswept coasts.
For your inspiration, we have compiled the most popular hiking locations in the world so you can plan your next adventure and begin developing your newfound passion for hiking.
1. The Inca Trail, Peru
The Inca Trail in Peru is a 26-mile hike that promises one of the best experiences of your life, especially as you make your way to Machu Picchu, where you can bask in the glory of the sunrise, which is unlike anything you have probably experienced before.
This trail was taken several centuries ago by the early Incas and, to this day, has conserved the unique stonework that gives you feelings of discovering ancient ruins.
As you go through this trail, you will encounter two tunnels that lead to the ruin of Winay Wayna, which is a sight to behold.
You will also encounter several waterfalls, adding a bit of diversity to the environment and saturating your senses with pristine feelings of connection with nature and ancient man-made structures.
The weather conditions can change, and the hike is fairly difficult, typically completed in four days.
You should expect the climate to be hot and steamy with frequent downpours and occasionally cold.
This is a famous destination for many tourists and hikers who can reach out to hiking companies in the area and choose the most appropriate one.
2. The Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
The Annapurna Circuit in Nepal is an extremely challenging hike for seasoned hikers because it is a 108-mile excursion at a high incline that takes you through the highest peaks in the world.
You begin the hike in a dense and humid jungle and slowly begin to make the difficult ascension, where you reach a height of 5394 meters to Thorung Pass.
This part of the hike delivers some of the best views you are likely to encounter anywhere else, with a dizzying view of mountains that go up to 6096 meters.
For many hikers, Poon Hill is a popular destination because it gives you an excellent view of the sunrise from the top, where you are also able to witness 8 of the 14 tallest mountain peaks on the planet.
The accommodation is far from luxurious, and the food is fairly basic, which isn't much of a problem for hikers because they are more interested in the company of fellow travelers who have made their way from many locations.
You may also take a shorter trail called the Annapurna Panorama Trek, which is a shorter 3-5 day trek that begins at Pokhara and leads to Ghorepani.
From here, you can visit Poon Hill for the sunrise view if you wake up early, and this part of the trek has better accommodation and food.
3. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
One of the greatest sites in Africa is Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, whose hike is so popular that it brings people from across the world to complete it.
Roughly 30000 people decide to take on this hike every year and choose the easy or difficult route based on their hiking experience.
The landscapes are spectacular and push people to wake up early and reach the summit so they can bask in the views from the top.
A level of acclimatization needs to occur when seeking to complete the hike; it can take about 5 or 6 days, depending on your experience.
4. Mount Everest Base Camp, Nepal
The Mount Everest Base Camp brings thousands of people from across the globe each year to take on the snowy plains and reach Everest’s Base Camp, which is 65-kilometers long.
There is a lot of up and down involved in this hike, which takes you up a mountain edge, down a river, and up another mountain edge until you eventually begin to reach the base camp.
The expected time of completion for this hike is 12-14 days, depending on your experience and level of fitness, as there is a lot of acclimatization that occurs.
Since the air is really thin at the top, it feels like you’re exerting twice as hard to cover the distance, making this hike one of the most difficult ones in the world.
Despite the mountain peaks reaching 5500 meters, most of the walking takes place in lower altitudes, between 3500-4500 meters.
You should know that it is not possible to see Mount Everest from the Base Camp, but you will see it at various intervals on the trail when there aren’t huge mountains blocking the view.
The weather conditions make it difficult to complete the hike year-round due to the extreme temperatures and blizzards that frequent this location.
The best time to complete this trek is between March and May and September to December since the temperatures aren't freezing, and the skies aren't overcast.
There are many tourist attractions along the hike, such as the Namche Bazaar, Everest View Hotel, and Tengboche Monastery.
The accommodation isn’t luxurious but comfortable enough for hikers to feel rested enough for travel.
It is not difficult to complete the hike alone because the path is well-trodden, but you may choose to go with a group if it suits you better.
5. The W Circuit in Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile
Home to one of the greatest national parks in the world, Chile offers hikers an opportunity to visit the W Circuit. It has some of the most diverse landscape features, including rock formations and ice-cold lakes that are sure to take your breath away.
Many hikers prefer this remote location because it offers them a chance to connect with solitude and connect with the serenity and stillness within themselves.
The trail has seen many improvements in recent years, which has made it more accessible for hikers who do not wish to carry their own gear.
You can expect to complete the hike within 4 to 6 days, and the best season for this hike is between December and February.
Reservations are necessary because people from across the world want to visit during the main season, but you can easily find free camping at CONCACAF, which is within the national park.
The weather conditions can change dramatically, so you should expect rain, snow, sunshine, and wind.
Get your best hiking attire sorted for this once-in-a-lifetime trip that will tick all of your boxes.
6. The Samaria Gorge, Greece
The Samaria Gorge can be found in Greece on Crete and boasts one of the best hikes around.
The hike originates in a forest and goes down a thin valley until you reach the famous Libyan Sea.
It is 16-kilometers long and drops down more than 1500 meters, which is sure to challenge your lower body as you recruit more of your hip muscles to get used to the descent.
Initially, the hike is at its steepest and eventually starts descending into a series of switchbacks before arriving at the stream that leads to this spectacular gorge.
Once you reach the gorge, the trail becomes fairly flat, and you are able to complete the hike easily for the remaining distance of 13 kilometers.
Finally, you’ll arrive at a small town called Agia Roumelli, where you will encounter a sandy beach next to the sea.
You can go for a refreshing swim and enjoy your last moments while waiting for a boat to take you back to your starting point.
7. Milford Track in New Zealand
The Milford Track is located in New Zealand and offers tourists and hikers an opportunity to enjoy the country's best scenery.
The trek lasts more than five days, during which you will pass several waterfalls, with Sutherland Falls being the highest in the country.
You will also see many lakes, beautiful meadows, mountains, and glaciers that will make your hike exciting.
What separates this hike from many others is the fact that there are excellent options for accommodation that include private lodges and alpine huts, which need to be booked in advance to have any chance of getting them.
The weather conditions are likely to change, but you should expect heavy rainfall and sudden downpours, making it important for you to pack your weatherproof essentials.
8. West Coast Trail, Canada
The West Coast Trail is arguably Canada’s most amazing maritime hike that spans 75-kilometers in length and delivers scenic views that are likely to elicit strong feelings of joy.
The trail can be completed within 6-8 days and delivers an exhilarating wilderness experience the likes of which you've probably never encountered before.
The trail is sandwiched between dense rain forests and the ocean, which is so spectacular that hikers are often awestruck as they’re traversing through the trail.
Consider this trail to be an epic adventure that takes you through fast-flowing rivers, ascending several ladders with a heavy backpack, and powering through muddy terrains that need a degree of mental fortitude.
Like all long hikes, it is important for you to be well prepared to plan for changing weather conditions and book your trails in advance to avoid being left out.
If you wish to take a shorter route, you may begin at the Nitinaht Village trailhead, which is not as long as the main route but still delivers a thrilling West Coast Trail experience.
9. Half Dome, United States
The Half Dome can be found in Yosemite National Park in the United States and invited hikers from across the globe to complete this one-day hike that spans 23-kilometers in length.
The incline reaches heights of about 1500 meters, and the hike itself shouldn’t take more than 12 hours if you are in decent shape.
You will feel a great sense of accomplishment once you reach the peak, where you will also be rewarded with excellent views of the surrounding areas.
Imagine having access to a 360-degree view from the top, looking over the mountains in the area, and storing that picturesque image in your memory bank.
Not only is the scenery attractive, but the Vernal and Nevada Falls are also present along the route, which is a treat for any hiker who's been wanting to visit this location for a long time.
Since there are difficult paths along the trail, such as a vertical climb along smooth granite walls, many cables, and wooden slats are installed to prevent people from falling off.
You can also expect the park service to show hikers a video of the terrain to decide if they are willing to take on this difficult endeavor.
Hiking permits are typically needed and granted using a lottery system, which allows only 300 hikers per day to make the climb.
Without using this system for entry, the limit is 50 hikers per day.
10. Angels Landing, USA
Angels landing is an excellent hiking choice for hardcore hikers because it delivers towering heights and narrow ledges, making it one of the most difficult treks to complete.
Despite the hike being only 5 miles long with a steepness of 1500 meters, you will have to overcome many mental barriers in your head to complete it.
The hike's endpoint is the steepest and involves climbing up a narrow spine of rock, making it a difficult task for even the most seasoned of hikers.
You will eventually encounter a spot called the Step of Faith, which is found in a very narrow part of the trail that has a giant step and drop-offs on either side.
Since this is a very famous location, you should expect it to be bustling during the summer and on weekends.
If you wish to avoid a crowd, you may want to undertake this hike in spring or fall, when the temperature is milder.
Why is Hiking so Popular
Hiking has gained popularity in recent years due to the feelings of relaxation it offers and the benefits of exercise.
People typically have some sort of resistance to exercise, but hiking is an excellent substitute for the gym because it yields many rewards along the way.
People can enjoy the scenery along beautiful trails, reach stunning mountain peaks, and inhale the crisp fresh air of the great wilderness.
The reward is immediate, and you are not really thinking of hiking as an exercise while traversing through beautiful landscapes.
It delivers better results than just walking on a treadmill because there is a sense of connection to nature and different levels of steepness on uneven surfaces.
Let’s explore some of the benefits of hiking.
Weight Loss And Muscle Development
There are many physical benefits to hiking because it is primarily an outdoor activity requiring a lot of physical exertion.
Although there is similar equipment at the gym that offers the same rewards as a challenging hike, there is an element of adventure and entertainment that cannot be manufactured in the gym.
You can expect to burn anywhere between 300-400 calories per hour on a hike, which means it’s a great way to shed some excess pounds.
If you carry a heavy backpack, you will likely burn up to 700 calories per hour, making it an excellent activity for individuals looking to take their fitness more seriously.
Combining this with a healthy diet, you will notice big improvements in your physique and engage many muscles in your upper and lower body, leading to improved general fitness.
As you begin losing fat, your muscles will become more defined, and you are likely to put on some lean muscle on your legs that will improve your self-confidence.
It must be noted that hiking isn’t the same as weight lifting; it’s more about general fitness than muscle development.
Improved Mental Health
Hiking is an excellent way for people to reduce their stress levels and improve their mood.
Living surrounded by walls can take a toll on our mental health because it can feel like we're always in prison.
Connecting with the great outdoors is an excellent way to feel more at peace within ourselves and has been linked to reduced depression, according to a study by researchers at Stanford University.
Researchers have known people who take long walks in nature to be more creative, and many poets and artists have drawn inspiration from the outside environment to create some of the greatest masterpieces in history.
If you go for a hike on a nearby trail, you will notice that nature’s music is constantly filling your ears in the form of flowing rivers and chirping birds.
This can increase feelings of happiness and bring you more in touch with your adventurous and exploratory side.
Hiking is unique for these reasons and ranks in the top 5 most popular outdoor activities in the United States.
Why is Hiking a Fun Activity
Hiking can be enjoyable for any age group because it is a low demanding exercise with many rewards along the way.
Hiking is exploratory. You are likely to enjoy exploring new and exciting trails in your location because they let you enjoy the novelty of new experiences. There is no rush to get to the endpoint, and you can enjoy your hike at a comfortable pace while discovering a new waterfall or finding an interesting rock formation that captures your attention. It's like finding a hidden passion or developing a new hobby that is sure to lift your mood and keep you captivated.
Hiking makes you independent. Many people can benefit from the solitude offered by hiking because it has the potential to be an excellent solo activity. How glorious is the feeling of going out on your own and discovering new places in your region? Meditating in a hidden cave or under a long waterfall is something that not many people think about, but it is a very appealing idea if you think about it. We are so interconnected in today's world that sometimes it's crucial that we unplug from our lives, grab our backpacks and disappear for a full day. You learn to appreciate time with yourself and develop a sense of independence that will help you cope with many aspects of your life.
Hiking is a fun and exciting group activity. You may want to invite a bunch of friends to join you on a hiking trail in your location and spend time camping in the wilderness to bond and have a great time. A sense of kinship is important for everyone because we are social by nature and enjoy the company of others to feel like we belong somewhere.
Hiking has gained popularity in recent years, and there are so many locations across the globe that promise beautiful and exciting hikes for beginners and seasoned hikers alike.
You can expect to find enthusiastic hikers in every country of the world, and the popularity of hiking is surging in most places, making it a huge trend that’s been gaining traction in recent years.
Most people need to find an activity that lets them switch off the society-oriented parts of their minds to connect with their deeper selves and enjoy moments of peace and tranquility in the great outdoors.
Tourism has exploded in places like Pakistan, the USA, Chile, Norway, and many others, with long and exciting trails offering amazing experiences and sceneries.
About THE AUTHOR
I’m a hiker, backpacker, and general outdoor enthusiast. I started hiking out of college while working for the National Forest Service, and have been hiking ever since. I’ve been solo hiking and leading hiking groups for two decades and have completed hundreds of small hikes and some majorones such as the Appalachian Train and the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked on four continents. I’d love to share some of my insight with you.Read More About Peter Brooks