What separates the good hikes from the incredible hikes? Is it the most breathtaking views? The most difficult terrain? The most unique wildlife on display? The most insight into a region’s history and culture? Though it may be difficult to pinpoint what, exactly, makes for an outstanding hiking experience, one thing’s for sure — the trails on the list are some of the most beloved on the planet. Click through to check them out, and tell us about your favorite trails in the comments section!
1. Torres Del Paine, Chile
Explore the wonders of South America’s Patagonia region on this stellar hike, which winds through glaciers, vibrantly colored mountain lakes, waterfalls, caves and massive granite walls on this trail. Be on the lookout for guanacos, a relative of the llama, as well as several rare species of birds.
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2. Kerry Way, Ireland
Next stop, the beauty of the Emerald Isle! This famous 133 mile trail takes most hikers about 9 days, and ends up exactly where you started. Check out some incredible views of the coast and MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, the highest peaks in Ireland, secluded lakes and valleys, and wild moorlands. There are several villages along the route, so stop off at a quaint inn, grab a pint, and rest those legs.
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3. Inca Trail, Peru
The Inca Trail is one of the most famous hikes in the world — and for good reason! At the end of your 4 or so day hike, you’ll be rewarded with a visit to Macchu Picchu. Be sure to book your trip months in advance, because, in order to maintain this important trail, the government has strict limitations on the number of visitors allowed each day. You’ll pass small villages, other Inca ruins, a lake, and, of course, breathtaking views of the Andes before you reach your final destination.
4. Kalalau Trail, Hawaii
Navigating through the muddy, steep hills on this trail through the tropical heat may be difficult, but your reward is the outstanding views of the Pacific Ocean and the lush jungle. The 22 mile trail takes hikers anywhere from 3 to 5 days to complete — with nights spent camping on the beach, to boot! Keep your eye on the trail, but be sure to stop and look for whales in dolphins in the crystal blue water.
5. Mount Hua Shan Trail, China
Acrophobics and anyone turned off by ledges, move along — this isn’t the hike for you. For those who dare to venture on this pathway, expect to hold onto the chains as you inch along the wooden platform. Mount Hua is one of China’s most popular — and religiously significant — mountains. Luckily, the surging popularity of the trek has led the government to close off some of the more dangerous, and, at times, deadly, routes and install safer routes. Eh, I don’t know about you, but I’ll still take a pass on this one!
Image Credits:Left, chensiyuan via Wikimedia Commons, Right, Ondřej Žváček via Wikimedia Commons
6. Zion Narrows, Utah
You’ll spend much of this 16 mile hike wading and swimming through the waters of the Virgin River — with sandstone walls towering overhead.
7. Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
It can take up to three weeks to finish this impressive trek through Nepal’s Annapurna mountains. With elevations peaking at nearly 18,000 feet, this trail certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. Along the way, you’ll see sites holy to both Buddhists and Hindus, rice paddies, the world’s deepest gorge, subtropical forests, and countless waterfalls.