Length: 37+ miles (60+ km)
Time: 5 – 6 days
Best time to go: October to March
If isolation is your thing then you should head off to Torres del Paine W Circuit. It is arguably the most popular hiking trail in Patagonia. This hiking trail offers stunning natural vistas found nowhere else in the world. You will get to see spectacularly shaped rock formations, towering granite spires, snow-capped mountains, picturesque waterfalls, rivers, and beautiful aquamarine lakes along the way. Most of the trail follows a rocky and uneven terrain. So, your legs need to be in good shape for this hike.
The Grey Glacier, Frances Glacier, Lake Pehoe, Lake Nordenskjold, the Torres, Ascencio Valley and the French Valley are some of the highlights of Torres del Paine W Circuit. The views offered on this trail are unbeatable no matter the time of day. You can find numerous viewpoints on the trail where you can peacefully sit down and enjoy the dramatic views of the mountains above the bowl-shaped valleys. You should expect a moderate level of difficulty while hiking on this trail. October to early March is the best time to go hiking on the Torres del Paine W Circuit.
2. Half Dome Hike
Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash
Location: California, USA
Length: 25km / 1,600m ascent
Time: 10–14 hours round trip
Best time to go: Late May – Early October
Half Dome Hike is a trip of a lifetime! The trail lies in Yosemite National Park and is perfect for those hikers who are searching for something challenging. Half Dome Hike follows a 25-km trail that sees an elevation gain of 4,800 feet. This hike is not for the faint of heart. You will begin the hike with a steep ascent up the Mist Trail and then head up to the top of Nevada Fall. Moving on, you’ll have to follow a long, flat section through Yosemite Valley before reaching the base of the dome. The final stretch will weaken your knees so be ready for that. Also, only a maximum of 300 hikers is allowed on the trail each day.
Hiking through the Yosemite National Park is a visually stunning experience featuring waterfalls and granite walls. This hike is super demanding but the views of Vernal and Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap, & Half Dome will make it worth the effort. The main trail is very well-marked. Most hikers take around 10 to 12 hours to complete the Half Dome Hike. The National Park Service recommends you to bring all necessary hiking equipment such as boots, gloves, and plenty of water. If you haven’t reached the top of the Half Dome by 3:30 PM then start heading back as there’s no way you’ll return back in time before nightfall. Half Dome becomes incredibly dangerous to climb during rain and thunderstorms.
3. Inca Trail
Photo by John Salzarulo on Unsplash
Distance: 26 miles (43 km)
Time: 4 – 5 days
Best time to go: May to September
Believe the hype! Inca Trail, which leads you to the top entrance of Machu Picchu, is one of the best hikes in the world. The scenery shifts dramatically along the way. The hike starts from the ancient Incan capital of Cusco and then goes on for 43 km with high elevation again along the way. The diverse landscape of the Inca Trail Hike allows you to traverse through beautiful hills, valleys, forests, and Incan villages. You will also pass through numerous ancient settlements situated in bucolic river valleys on your way to Machu Picchu.
Some of the highlights of the hike include: the valley of Llulluchapampa, Runkuracay, Sayacmarca, Phuyupatamarca, and Huiñay Huayna. But the most popular attraction remains the iconic site of Machu Picchu. Aside from Machu Picchu, the immense cultural and historical wealth is quite impressive. Don’t forget to watch the sunset behind the dramatic Andean peaks while you’re there. The Inca Trail is open all year round. You don’t need a specific season to hike this trail. But many hikers consider the months between May and September as the peak hiking season.
4. Overland Track
Photo by Tim Lippis on Unsplash
Location: Tasmania, Australia
Distance: 40 miles
Time: 5 – 6 days
Best time to go: November to April
The Overland Track is a top highlight for all visitors to Australia. Featuring a unique blend of natural and cultural attractions, the Overland Track is full of many eye-catching surprises. Hiking on this trail is a great way to experience the alpine country while exploring one of the world’s most pristine natural environments. The main highlight of this hike is the Tasmania Wilderness World Heritage Area. It’s a remote hike which takes you through varying landscapes in a time period of 4 to 6 days. Hikers get to walk through the heart of Cradle Mountain and enjoy breathtaking sceneries along the way.
Ronny Creek is the most likely starting point of the Overland Track hike. On this hike, you’ll spend most of your time passing through dense forests and valleys surrounded by majestic mountain peaks. Some hikers even choose to do side trips to the summits of Cradle Mountain and Mt. Ossa- Tasmania’s tallest peak. The history of the entire area is also worth discovering. The only downside of this trail is that you have to make a booking in order to hike the track. The trail is open from October 1 to May 31. And unless you’ve made a booking, you won’t get to hike here till the next season.
5. Tre Cime di Lavaredo Circuit
Photo by Sniff Outdoors on Unsplash
Location: Cortina D’Ampezzo, Dolomites, Italy
Length: 9.8km / 380m ascent
Time: 3-4.5 hours loop
Best time to go: May – October (October best to avoid crowds)
Tre Cime di Lavaredo Circuit is another epic hiking trail that takes you to the Dolomites in Italy. The entirety of Tre Cime di Lavaredo Circuit is absolutely stunning. The hike along the Tre Cime di Lavaredo offers amazing views of the towering Dolomite peaks. The Tre Cime di Lavaredo follows a 9.8-km trail that circumnavigates three colossal pinnacles on a relatively flat terrain. Your hike begins from a place called ‘Rifugio Auronzo’ and then makes its way towards ‘Rifugio Lavaredo’. The spikes of Tre Cime will loom over you as you start hiking up from Rigugio Lavaredo.
From the top, you’ll get to soak in the breathtaking views of the valley in front of Tre Cime along with the mountains of the Dolomites. Once you’re done enjoying the views, take a path downhill and carefully descend to the valley below. You can even see blossoming wildflowers if you decide to hike here during the summer months. As far as hiking goes, this is a relatively easy hike. You don’t have to be extremely fit and geared up to do this hike. If you’re looking for a place to take your family on a vacation, this is a great one to consider. Also, the hiking trails are well-marked and easy to follow.
6. Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Photo by Daniel Chen on Unsplash
Location: New Zealand
Length: 12 miles (19 km)
Time: 1 day
Best time to go: November to April
Want to hike across a volcanic alpine landscape? Then consider hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand. It’s labeled as one of the world’s greatest one-day hike. The scenery is amazing, trails are safe and the surroundings are pristine. Most hikers tend to complete the hike in about 6 to 8 hours. But if you are a slow walker then it may take longer. On this hike, you’ll see glacial valleys, ancient lava flows, alpine vegetation, and vivid crater lakes. You’ll even get to hike through volcanic terrain with ever-changing views.
Your hike will start from Mangatepopo in the morning. You’ll slowly see the surrounding landscape and scenery change. The alpine volcanic scenery is the most charming thing about this whole hike. Remember the higher you get the better the views become. So, don’t forget to stop for a few breaks along the way and take in the sights. After reaching the highest point of the hike, you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view of the entire Tongariro National Park. The volcanic activity of this region is monitored all the time. So, look for warning signs before and during the hike. That is if you don’t want to witness an active volcano erupting right in front of your eyes.
7. Kjeragbolten Hike
Photo by Miriam Eh on Unsplash
Location: Rogaland, Norway
Length: 12 km (7.5 miles)
Elevation Gain: 570 meters
Time: 6 to 8 hours
Best time to go: June to September
Known for being among the best hikes in the world, the Kjeragbolten Hike is a must-do for any adventure enthusiast. This hike will take you to southern Norway where you’ll have the opportunity to stand on a boulder 3,000 feet above the ground. It may sound too extreme but that’s exactly what makes this hike so different from all the others listed here. The Kjeragbolten Hike begins from the town of Stavanger. From there, you’ll follow an uphill route and climb up a steep granite wall. There are chains attached to the trail for support. So, try to use the chains while climbing up.
Overall, the hike is very challenging but the incredible views will keep your mind off the grueling trail. Once you reach the top, you’ll see a boulder high off the ground wedged between two cliffs. This hike can be dangerous during the winter months. So, you should do this hike only during the summer months. The granite wall has many slippery sections. And it will require a high level of physical fitness to make it to the top once it starts raining. Most hikers complete the hike in about 8 hours. But if you hike at a fast pace, you can complete it within 6 hours or so. No technical climbing skills are necessary.
8. Tiger’s Nest Monastery Hike
Photo by Pulak Bhagawati on Unsplash
Length: 4 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 1,700 feet
Highest Elevation: 10,232 feet
Time: 5 to 7 hours
Best time to go: October – December
The Tiger’s Nest Monastery Hike is a bucket-list epic hike due to its stunning beauty and location. You will not only get to visit one of the most iconic places in Bhutan but also get the chance to learn about Buddhist culture and tradition. The environment is pristine and the Buddhist culture is fascinating. This hike is meant to take you to the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery which is precariously perched high up on a cliff. It’s a great place to start your adventure if you have never been to Bhutan. Despite the daily visits by foreign tourists, the main hiking route is comparatively open and free without any congestion.
This hike will entirely be an uphill adventure. Make sure to warm up your legs before the steep hike. You’ll get to enjoy the views over the valley once you are at the halfway point of the hike. Continuing on, you’ll see Buddhist prayer flags hanging everywhere you look. The trail will level a bit at Takstang Cafeteria where you can rest for a while before reaching the final section. The hike, in general, is pretty doable by anyone with average fitness capabilities. Meaning you can take your whole family on this hike. October to December is the best time to do this epic hike in Bhutan. Hiking poles will make the descent a lot easier.
9. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Photo by Ben Sp on Unsplash
Length: Depends on the route.
Time: 5 – 9 days
Best time to Go: June to October
Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa. And climbing it is probably on every hiker’s bucket list. The hike to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro is not that technical as many would expect it to be. You don’t need to have expert climbing skills for this hike. Just a sense of adventure and strong legs is enough. Altogether, there are 6 different routes up the mountain. The longer route will take at least 9 days to complete while the short one will take 5 days at most. Dramatic landscapes don’t even begin to describe what you’ll see while hiking here. Though the summit is the end goal, it’s the journey that’s going to be remarkable.
The hiking trail is uneven and steep but the views are breathtaking. As you climb higher the views over the plains of Africa become more amazing. Lemosho route and the Northern Circuits are the most popular hiking trails to reach the summit. You’ll get the best scenery and enough time to acclimatize on these trails. The most challenging thing about this hike is altitude. By the end, you’ll reach an elevation of 19,341ft which is pretty high. So, you can fall sick as a result of altitude sickness. It’s best to take it slow during the hike and properly acclimatize without rushing in.
10. Laugavegur Trail
Photo by Philip Lindberg on Unsplash
Length: 34 miles (55 km)
Time: 2 – 4 days
Best time to go: June to September
The Laugavegur trail offers one of the most epic hikes on the planet. It is also the most visited hiking trail in Iceland. Many outdoor enthusiasts love this trail for its other-worldly landscapes and sceneries. The trail is about 55 km long and it will let you experience the Icelandic wilderness far from cities and pollution. The Laugavegur trail is famous for its crystal ice caves, relaxing hot springs, lovely green meadows, and picture-perfect rhyolite mountains. Your hike starts from Landmannalaugar and ends at Thor’s valley. There are several huts along the trail where hikers can rest and spend the night.
Along the way, you will discover the spectacular Icelandic Highlands and pass through rough fields of solid lava and snow patches. There’s no danger of predatory wild animals and the trails are well-marked. So, this is a perfect adventure for solo hikers. If you want, you can even bathe in a natural hot spring at Landmannalaugar. You should also try climbing through ice caves for fun. The hike can be moderately challenging and will require a high level of fitness. Permits are not needed for the Laugavegur trail.
These epic hikes remind us that we’ve plenty of breathtaking places to explore in our lifetime. You don’t have to visit these places right away. But you surely need to add them to your bucket list. And hopefully, this will give you some inspiration for your next hiking trip.
For more ideas, see our list of 7 best hikes in the US, UK, and Canada.