I love me a good epic hike. My first multi day hike was in New Zealand. I packed up a rental car with a couple of friends, and made our way to the tip of the North Island to spend three days hiking along beaches and headlands. It was a life changing experience. Wild camping on the beach, bathing in the sea, it was everything you want from an epic hike and more.
I fell in love with hiking in New Zealand, and now I can’t wait to explore the rest of the world on foot. Of course, our multi day hiking days are on hold while our little guy grows up a bit. So in an effort to live vicariously through other peoples adventures, we asked the world of travel bloggers to share some of their favourite hiking adventures with us.
Epic South American Hikes
Cotopaxi – Ecuador
Sam – Indefinite Adventure
While we love being in the outdoors and surrounded by nature, my husband and I are not really big hikers. We don’t like camping, so as a rule, we only do day hikes (preferably half a day at most!). That said, when in Ecuador a year and a half ago, we ended up hiking up a Cotopaxi, the country’s second highest volcano in the snow, a scene we did not expect to find ourselves in on the equator! The hike we did was lead by a local Ecuadorian guide in part of a small group, for which we were very grateful, as trying to find our way in the black and white landscape would have been almost impossible. After a couple of hours of ascent to the refuge point at 4800 metres above sea level, even though we were not at the top (climbing to the peak of Cotopaxi is possible, but requires a pre-dawn start and several kilos of specialised equipment, which we were not really up for) we felt pretty proud of ourselves. Also, we felt cold, tired and hungry, but we were still glad we’d done it!
Villarrica Volcano, Chile
Michael – Time Travel Turtle
Hiking up Villarrica Volcano is not something you tackle lightly. Firstly, it’s an active volcano and the smoke billowing from the top is an ominous sign. But, more importantly, it’s a steep climb at points that really tests your endurance. Villarrica Volcano is near the Chilean town of Pucon. You can only take on the hike with a guide because much of the slope is covered in ice and snow and it’s far too dangerous to go alone. You need proper boots and some basic equipment (like an icepick) to hike the whole way to the summit. It takes about 4 or 5 hours to go the whole way and it’s slow-going at points, where you really need to dig in with the pick and tread carefully to avoid slipping down. The views from the top are worth it though!
Rio Tranquilo – Exploradores Glacier Hike – Chile
Jonathan Howe – http://twomonkeystravelgroup.com/
We’ve been on a few hikes before; in Asia, England, Scotland, our 30km DIY hike to Machu Picchu and some long, rainy sections of the Carretera Austral when hitch hiking wasn’t working! But by far the most outstanding in terms of the challenge and the reward, is our recent 1 day trek to the Exploradores Glacier in Chilean Patagonia. Starting from just outside the sleepy lakeside town of Rio Tranquilo, the hike starts alongside a river of bright turquoise glacial melt water, so pure you can fill your drinking bottles from it. After a short, narrow forest section we emerged into a wasteland of huge rocks and boulders, left behind by the retreating glacier, which take more than an hour to climb through to reach the beginning of the glacier itself. When you first set foot on the glacier itself, it’s covered by a thin layer of sand and gravel, so you don’t even realise you’re walking on ice, until you come across a sweeping wall of blue ice, carved out by a river of melt water, even cleaner and purer than the last. From here, it’s crampons on as the gravel fades to pure, solid ice stretching down from the mountains above – with nothing but ice in all directions it begins to feel like you’re on another planet. The constantly melting glaciers provide enchanting ice caves to explore – A beautiful, but sad reminder that one day, they will disappear completely.
Jewel of the Cordilleras – Peru
Kiara – Gallop around the Globe
This infamous lake is known as the “jewel of the Cordilleras”, partly due to its magical turquoise waters, and partly as a result of the sheer effort it takes to reach it.
The Laguna 69 day-hike is both challenging (due primarily to the altitude; the 700 metre climb begins at 3900 metres) and beautifully rewarding. You’ll walk through lush green valleys populated with colourful, interestingly-textured flora, tiny stone round houses, and the odd grazing cow. You’ll cross glistening streams, climb narrow tracks overgrown with vegetation, and marvel at snow-capped mountain peaks and imposing waterfalls.
This was the first trek I completed at over 4000 metres above sea level, and for that reason it is also one of the most difficult hikes I’ve ever completed, but don’t let this discourage you. The day-hike to Laguna 69 is completely and utterly worth every breathless, oxygen-starved minute.
Cola Canyon, Peru
Flora – Flora The Explorer
Colca Canyon is one of Peru’s most famed sights. The second deepest canyon in the world, at a depth which doubles that of the USA’s Grand Canyon, it plays host to a number of endangered condors, provides an access path to reach the source of the Amazon River, and for the many travellers in South America who love hiking, it’s a must-see on their itineraries.
It’s also usually hiked in less than 24 hours, meaning our first afternoon at Colca Canyon was spent walking steadily downhill (in my case, I shuffled down the steepest parts, clung to various rock faces, and repeatedly tensed my entire lower body in anticipation of falling). We slept in the tiny oasis at the very base of the canyon, complete with a swimming pool and palm trees, then woke early for the second day of the hike – a three hour ascent to the top of the canyon’s opposite side. At a pretty high altitude t’s not a hike for the weak, but the views are spectacular and you’re well deserving of the best pizzas in Peru in the tiny village of Cabanaconde when you’re reach the top!
Epic North American Hikes
Yosemite National Park
Steve – Qi Ranger
Yosemite National Park is one of my favorite parks in the United States. The high mountains, the smell of the pines, and the roaring waterfalls excite my senses and energize my body. While I’ve stayed all over the park, I really enjoy the hikes and atmosphere of the Valley, so on my wife’s first full day in the park, I decided to take her on a number of hikes offering some great views to some great valley sights.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Chris – Amateur Traveler
Bryce Canyon is known for its rock spires called hoodoos. You can enjoy these from the rim drive but for the best experience hike down the Navajo trail to “Wall Street” where you are walking in the shadow of these rock spires. You wind down from the rim so keep in mind that the hike back is uphill as you figure out how far you will venture.
Zion National Park
Carole – Travels with Carole
At the end of the road in Zion National Park in Utah, at the Temple of Sinawava, many people stop to frolic in the shallow river. Others continue on to hike Riverside Walk–an easy paved path that leads deeper into the canyon and features nearly 2,000-foot-high canyon walls on both sides. A path beyond the end of this trail leads to the famous Narrows of the Virgin River, a gorge that is 16 miles long and up to 2,000 feet deep and sometimes only 20-30 feet wide. Hiking the Narrows is a major adventure. Flash floods are a concern, so fall is the best time to experience it.
Chris – Amateur Traveler
One of the best hikes in Zion will get you wet. For a memorable hike, hike up the slot canyon along and through the Virgin River up to the “Narrows”. You can hike to and from the Narrows in half a day. Local outfitters will rent you waterproof boots, neoprene socks, a dry bag for your camera and a walking stick. Always check the weather forecast at the ranger station before venturing into this or any slot canyon because the walls on either side of you will climb 1,000 feet. It is not the place to be in a flash flood.
Pinnacles National Park
Angel & Michelle – Anywhere at Home
Michelle and I did a 12 mile hike at the Pinnacle National Park, which became a National Park in 2013. The Pinnacle National Park usually gets overlooked, because it is pretty close to other famous parks like Yosemite and Kings Canyon. The 12 mile loop took us through both talus caves, the rocky spires of the High Peaks, and a variety of beautiful landscapes.
The Pinnacles also offers a variety of wildlife. From tarantulas, and bats to California condors. It’s best to start hiking early morning, around 4:00 am, since you don’t want to get caught at noon at the high peaks – it gets extremely hot. Michelle even had heat exhaustion. So, we suggest hikers bring PLENTY of water, especially during the summer.
Kauai’s Kalalau Trail – Hawaii
Katherine Belarmino – Travel the World
Hawaii is one of the world’s most beautiful destinations when it comes to enjoying nature, and one of the best ways to experience Hawaii’s natural beauty is by hiking one of its many trails. One of the Hawaiian island’s most incredible hikes is Kauai’s Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast. This 11 mile trail provides the only land access to Kauai’s picturesque Na Pali Coast. Hikers of all levels can enjoy this epic hike. Day hikers can cover the first two miles of the Kalalau Trail to Hanakapi’ai Beach then make the decision to either return the way they came or hike another two miles inland to Hanakapi’ai Falls. More hardcore trekkers can obtain permits to traverse the entire 11 miles and camp overnight on a small secluded beach before making their way back to the trailhead near Ke’e Beach.
Pukaskwa Coastal Trail – Canada
Dave & Deb – The Planet D
We love doing epic hikes. We’ve managed to go for a hike on all 7 continents around the world. We’ve conquered some of the most famous treks like Everest Base Camp, Kilimanjaro, and the picturesque Tongariro Crossing of New Zealand, but the most epic hikes we’ve ever done have been right in our own backyard of Ontario, Canada. The Pukaskwa Coastal Trail north of Lake Superior is one of those remote wilderness hikes that people can brag about when finishing. This 65km route is a challenging trek over rocky terrain, along secluded sandy beaches, and through the boreal forest of the Canadian Shield. You need to carry all food and gear in and out on your backs as you scramble up sea cliffs and make epic river crossings. We came face to face with a moose and her calf on the trail and witnessed fresh bear tracks in the mud. It’s beautiful, exciting, and as remote as it gets. Canada is filled with pristine hiking trails where unlike other treks around the world, you are lucky if you see one or two hikers during your entire 6-day trek. We ran into exactly 3 other groups of people hiking this trail and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Epic European Hikes
Devil’s Kitchen – Wales
Carly – Adventure Mummy
This hike takes around 8 hours when walked at a moderate pace with plenty of rest stops. Starting in Ogwen, the hike takes you around a beautiful part of the Snowdonia range including Glyder Fawr, Glyder Fach and Tryfan, involving steady hiking and scrambling, including scree slopes and scaling big boulders. You get to summit 3 peaks on this hike and if the weather is good you will be rewards with views across Snowdonia. Tryfan itself is an amazing mountain, and a good alternative to climbing Snowdon (Wales Highest Mountain) it involves a little bit of nerve as you may find yourself scaling boulders with sheer drops.
The West Highland Way – Scotland
Gemma and Craig – Two Scots Abroad
Lochs, beers and deer! The West Coast of Scotland has lots to offer your eyes and taste buds (deer not for consumption hopefully). Last April my friends and I started on the Monday in Milgavie, just outside of Glasgow and trekked for 96 miles over six days through farms, over hills and next to lochs. We finished in Fort William on the Saturday with a sense of accomplishment and pride. My aim was to see as much of Scotland as I could before we left for our 18 month career break to travel The Americas and this was a great option for doing so. My favourite spot was Kingshouse, Glencoe. The mountains feel like they are patiently watching and waiting for you to turn your back, this is when they will swallow you whole. It was a magical experience, even if it did create a new Achilles’ injury. Lesson learnt – break in your boots!
Gemmi Pass – Swiss Alps
Carol – Wandering Carol
The Gemmi Pass is a high alpine trail in the Swiss Alps, connecting the spa town of Leukerbad in the canton of Valais with the town of Kandersteg in the canton of Bern. Not only is it incredibly scenic with dramatic peaks and icy crags, the Gemmi Pass has attracted a Who’s Who list of historical celebrities. Picasso hiked it in 1933. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle hiked it – and therefore, by association, so did Sherlock Holmes, who crossed it en route to meet Moriarty in Meiringen. Mark Twain tramped the Gemmi Pass as did Jules Verne back in 1873. Sadly, though I took the cable car up to the trailhead the day before the cable car closed for the season, the list of hikers does not include me. Between a husband who was afraid I’d disappear into a crevasse as I bounded around the snow searching for the trail, and a lack of preplanning, the Gemmi remains on my dream list of incredible hikes.
Gran Canaria – Spain
Micheal – Easy Hiker
It is not enough that large parts of our lives go by in a blur of routines and banalities: cruelly, so do many of our holidays and day trips, things we do with the specific purpose of breaking up that monotony. Beaches, castles, forests, restaurant meals: few of them are memorable enough for our brains to file them away carefully in a designated folder, while most of them wind up in our memory’s equivalent of Grandma’s store room cupboard – or the recycle bin.
But there are exceptions. Like the hike we took on Gran Canaria in October 2013 to which I came dressed up like a tourist for a day on the beach – only for the bus to take us up into the damp, fog and cold of the mountainside. And when we climbed on to the rim of the Cruz de Tejada caldera, literally breaking through the clouds, for a sun-drenched and utterly glorious view of the Canary Islands’ most spectacular natural phenomenon, the “cloudfall”. Now, this will be etched into my hard disk for as long as my brain’s storage system keeps whizzing on.
The Camino De Santiago – France and Spain
Epic African Hikes
Dean – The Road to Anywhere
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is by far the most challenging and most rewarding hike that I have done. It is essentially difficult due to the fast ascent to 5895 metres in only 5 days, but the scenery along the way is breathtaking, and the sense of accomplishment makes it all worth it. I never thought that I would enjoy getting up at midnight to climb to the summit of a mountain in sub zero temperatures, but in this case I certainly did, and I would do it all again.
Epic Asian (and Middle Eastern) Hikes
The Annapurna Circuit – Nepal
Jade – Journey Count
The Annapurna Circuit is one of the world’s greatest treks, combining all those things that make a hike truly special. It is a multi-day hike which is easily tailored to your time frame, lasting anything from 10 days to 4 weeks and the fun really is in taking your time. Being a circuit, you never have to tread the same ground twice and the route takes you right around the edge of the Annapurna range. Everyday you will have a new view of these incredible mountains, from far away glimpses through shrouds of cloud to up close and personal sunrise moments. Your relationship with the Himalayas on this trek becomes intimate as you begin to recognize each mountain by sight and name. Over time the Annapurna Circuit has become increasingly popular but because it is hike-able year round, it is easy to pick a quiet season and lavish in the amenities such an established hike allows. The towns no more than a few hours hike apart, link the route and offer you lodges with simple rooms, delicious food and unbeatable views. And it is these views that bring the Annapurna Circuit into its own because there aren’t too many places in the world where you can be walking at 4,000 meters with mountains double that size to gaze upon.
Everest Base Camp – Nepal
Mt. Palgongsan – South Korea
Neysha – Travelsuras
Growing up next to one of the most beautiful rain forests in the world in Puerto Rico (not that I’m biased, or anything), hiking was something I had a firm grip on. Then I moved to South Korea and I realized just how wrong I was. Climbing Mt. Palgongsan towards Gatbawi Buddha in Daegu is no easy feat. I call it ‘the never ending stares challenge’ for a reason. The top, though? It’s absolutely breath taking, and worth the thousands of stairs it takes to get there. You’ll see lanterns, hikers who have come a long way to complete their bows, and smoky clouds of incense that spread through the air as chanting echoes across the mountains.
Mount Fuji – Japan
Brian and Noelle – WanderingOn
Hiking Mount Fuji was on our bucket list for quite some time. When the opportunity arose to hike Fujisan, we grabbed it. Most people hike as far as camp 8.5, spend the night and make the final ascent in the dark in time for sunrise. We did things a little differently.
Starting around 2pm, we reached the summit in time for sunset. We had the summit to ourselves, with nobody else around and the sky put on a show like we’d never seen.
There are a few huts on the peak and even though we were told you couldn’t stay there, we knocked on the door. Sure enough, we could stay the night on the summit and wake up the next morning in time for sunrise. Yet again, the sky blew up and treated us to a spectacular display.
If you ever have the chance to hike Mount Fuji– go for it. It’s an amazing experience- sunset, sunrise or both- it’s definitely worth it!
Hsipaw – Myanmar
Sarah Morlock – everymileblog.com
A three day trek around the northern Shan State of Myanmar is one of the most culturally educational hikes available in Southeast Asia. Hsipaw, the starting point for the trek, and its surrounding hills offer a glimpse into the simpler life of Burmese minority villages. Trekkers spend their days following a tribal guide through wildflower dotted hills and farms producing everything from sponge gourd to snake beans. Nights are enjoyed in village homes, learning how to eat, sleep, and drink like the locals. Personally, I learned more in three days about tribal living and minority conflict in Myanmar than I had in months of reading leading up to our trip. With gorgeous views, friendly locals, and a plethora of unique plant life, what’s not to love?
Mitzpe Ramon – Isreal
Adam – Travels of Adam
Mitzpe Ramon is a unique town, sitting on the edge of a 40km crater, or makhtesh. The crater is an abnormal geological formation—unique to the Middle East, and even more specifically, this part of Israel. There are only a handful of makhteshim. A makhtesh is a crater formed by steep walls surrounding a deep valley, and this one—Makhtesh Ramon— was surprisingly colorful on the inside. Leaving from my hostel around 9am, two other backpackers and I opted for a medium difficulty hike, a one-way trail to the bottom of the Makhtesh. Following the trail markers, we walked down the limestone cliffs, which at the bottom, turned to sandstone hills and colorful rock formations. Geothermal activity left remnants of rock shards and what looked like volcanic rocks near the end of the trail. We even stumbled on some green plants and shrubs along the 3-hour hike. In the end, we ended up standing along a highway, hitchhiking our way back to town—picked up by a pepper farmer.
Epic Hikes in Oceania
The Tongariro Crossing – New Zealand
Hugo – Breathe With Us
Tongariro alpine crossing is probably the best one day hike in New Zealand. The trail of 19 km goes throughout stunning scenery on Tongariro National Park, including active volcanoes, craters, steam vents and lakes. It resembles a lunar-like landscape!
[Editors note] – The Tongariro crossing is one of our favourite day hikes as well! Our top tip is to allow yourself several days in the near by town of Taupo as weather conditions can change quickly on the crossing, and you may have to wait a few days until they allow hikers.
Coogee to Bondi – Australia
Jade – OurOyster
One of the most loved and popular day walks in Sydney is the famous coastal walk from Coogee beach to Bondi beach. The walk takes you past dramatic coast lines and beautiful beaches, all within the city of Sydney.
The walk takes about two hours, but in reality it will probably take all day due to all the pretty spots and beaches to stop in.
The Cape to Cape Track – Australia
Johanna Castro – Zig a zag
The Cape to Cape. which runs through the iconic Margaret River region of South West Australia. is considered one of Western Australia’s top hiking trails and has been named one of Australia’s to 6 walking hotspots for 2015.
It’s a varied expeditionary hike through forests, over boardwalks, across sandy beaches and around rocky headlands that stretches 136 kms between two historic lighthouses; Cape Leeuwin in the south to Cape Naturaliste in the north.
Because we live fairly close to Margaret River we walked the track over a series of weekends, staying in self catering accommodation or camping along the way. Some people choose to do the walk in 5 – 7 days consecutively carrying food and camping gear with them.
The coastline is spectacular having been carved by violent storms over thousands of years, and consists of rocky bays, long stretches of deserted beach, limestone platforms and craggy little islands a short way offshore. I loved walking with the wind broadside, air as pure as pure can be gazing down on the huge surf and sea the colour of emeralds.
It’s the longest coastal walk in Australia and its diversity, especially in springtime when there are masses of wildflowers, is spectacular. We found ourselves completely alone in secluded coves, and scrambling up over deserted sand dunes before heading into karri forests with giant trees towering above us.
At some points the well maintained track passes through small coastal settlements where you can buy snacks or a drink. A good degree of fitness is required to complete all 136kms of this trail at once, but you can always opt to walk a section at a time and plot your course accordingly driving a back-up car to your destination point.
If you’d like to read more about Margaret River and South West Australia you might also like: Top 10 Things to do in Margaret River
Do you know of an epic hike which wasn’t included in this list? Please let me know all about it in the comments!