Get out your bucket list, of the best 10 treks in the world. Everest to the Narrows, a hidden gem of the desert to moss-covered forests, the greatest adventures of your lifetime await if you can handle the challenge. From 7 months of self-torture and epic reward to a 3-day weekend of challenge and amazement: the World’s Top 10 Hiking Expeditions. From 10° below to a boiling 110°, we’ll take you to the extremes with the world’s most epic and picturesque hiking destinations. One trail we didn’t include was Havasupai, in Arizona, USA. If you are interested in this trail we have a complete guide on the trail here.
#1 Appalachian Trail
You can’t see America’s treasures by the freeway. Even if you take the side roads. 2,180 miles, the Appalachian trail will take you from central Maine to northern Georgia. You read right. 2,180 miles – and 14 states to be exact. If you are truly a hardcore conditioned hiker and have 7 months to kill (or if you can do it in a single season if you are Heman – which some do!-)- that may still not be enough. Only one in four finish the entire 2,180 miles of the Appalachian Trail in one undertaking. Thousands of trekking enthusiasts attempt each year, but this massive undertaking leaves many on the trail side calling back home. Yet don’t be set back, you can just do a portion – take a pick of what you want to see perhaps for a weekend hike, you don’t have to kill yourself just for bragging rights. You will have the constant companion of dramatic scenery – from mountains cascaded with lush greenery, to the green countryside with wildflowers rustic farmland, to waterfalls, walking alongside wild horses, moss-covered forests- the list goes on for 2,000 miles. The Appalachian Trail, a.k.a. the Continental Divide Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail formally what is known as the Triple Crown of long-distance hiking in the United States. Image by Paxson Woelber.
#2. Baltoro Glacier & K2, Pakistan
Demanding the dynamic skillset of those with near ice climbing ability, Iron Man athleticism and ability to inflict 15 days of self-inflicted abuse – the magnanimous peak of K2 (8,611m, 28,251ft), the world’s second-highest peak. The challenge of the jutting rock and slick ice will humble the most experienced hikers and climbers, yet even more so – the scenery will leave even the most conditioned athlete breathless. You won’t find more beautiful scenery anywhere on the planet, with a bird’s eye view uncontested – a trek that begins walking along icy rivers boldly leads into the heart of the glacier before walking to the granite pyramidal mountains including Paiju (21,686ft), Uli Biaho (21,053ft), Great Trango Tower (20,623ft) and ultimately K2. If the 15 days don’t make your jaw drop, you can break it up with side trips to the more palatable covered glaciers.
#3. The Narrows, USA
A 26 km (16 mi) journey through red rock slot canyons that were carved over the millennium by the Virgin River, the Narrows in Zion National Park is a hike like no other. The route is the river, with over half of the hike spent wading and sometimes swimming. The hike can be traversed in a day, though some choose to take the hanging gardens and natural springs at a more leisurely pace – spending a night at one of the park’s 12 campgrounds.
#4. France – 104 Miles, 168 KM
Photo by MiguelVieira
15 days (168km, 104 mi) of pure sweat and drudgery through Corsica will be rewarded with landscapes of lush green valleys, wildflowers, and snow peaks. With year round glacial lakes (not for swimming), granite rock formations, lush vegetation and forest with various types of snow and ice formations – there are many changes of scenery throughout this hike that provide a diverse spectacle of adventure for hikers. The terrain can be steep and rocky, with bridges – that are maintained by locals – but can be a bit shaky and rather unstable at times. Yet these types of challenges all add to the fun of the expedition and the stories to be told. Founded in 1972, the GR20 connects Calenzana in the Balagne with Conca (just north of Porto Vecchio).
#5. Inca Trail, Peru – 20 Miles (33km)
Image by funkz
This epic 20-mile trail was trodden by the ancient Incas and is the destination of thousands of outdoor enthusiasts each year. The trail takes you from the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu ruins, winding through the lush green mountains – taking you up three high passes en route. You’ll have views of massive now-peaked mountains as you traverse across the cliffs, and you may even hike above the clouds. The epic views, challenging hikes, and ancient ruins make this most notably one of South America’s most popular tourist destinations. and if you talk to any severe trekker who has been across the globe – this is likely on their list.
#6. Pays Dogon, Mali
When you think of Africa, you likely think of safari – not of trekking. Yet don’t miss out. “he land of the Dogon people’ is one of Africa’s most fascinating and awe-inspiring regions. The hike can be strenuous and can take anywhere from two and ten days. The trek will take you through the soaring cliffs of the Bandiagara ridge riddled with ancient and abandoned cliff dwellings. Dogon villages can be seen across the cliff and are a fascinating part of the history of the region and are an architecture and landscape you won’t see anywhere else in the world. The Dogon tribes are world-renowned for their masked stilt dancers and the rich culture of intricately carved doors and pueblo-like dwellings into the bright red/orange rock.
#7. Everest Base Camp, Nepal 5,545m (18,193ft)
You knew it was coming, but if the list didn’t have it then it wouldn’t have any credibility. For those who want to say you’ve “Hiked the world’s highest mountain”. It doesn’t mean you have to get to the top – you can just get to base camp and you will have hiked the mountain. Kala Pattar0 – This 3-week trek is difficult, but you won’t die or lose limbs to frostbite. You’ll see amazing views of the world’s most massive peak and ridges of cascading ice and snow, passing by local Sherpa people who reside in the local villages. It will take time to acclimate to the altitude, even at base camp the oxygen is thin and it takes a conditioned athlete to complete the expedition.
#8. Indian Himalayas, India
Few make it to India’s greatest mountain range. Yet if you find yourself in the region with an extra month to kill – hiking the Himachal Pradesh might be for you. If you are hardcore with nerves of steel, try tip-toeing along the ridges for 24 days from Spiti to Ladakh. This remote route follows the trade route by mule packers. The desolate high-altitude terrain is a reflective and awe-inspiring place, with changing landscapes from open valleys, to jutting ridges and peaks, to forests.
#9. Routeburn Track, New Zealand
Image by kiwinz
See the stunning subalpine scenery of New Zealand’s South Island surrounding this medium three-day (32 km, 20 mi) track. At the base of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, the track passes through two national parks: Fiordland and Mt Aspiring. Highlights include the views from Harris Saddle and atop Conical Hill – from where you can see waves breaking on the distant beach. The main challenge for this popular hike is actually securing a place among the limited numbers who are allowed on the track at any time.
#10. The Haute Route, France-Switzerland
Image by Marko Pujic
Taking you through the massive snowy peaks of Chamonix France through the southern Valais to Zermatt in Switzerland, the Haute Route traverses some of the highest and epic scenic country accessible to hikers anywhere in the Alps. Majestic landscapes is an understatement. The summer Haute (a different route from the winter ski touring route) takes around two weeks to complete. It mainly involves steep traverses, demanded altitudes, and requires a high level of athleticism. There isn’t much relief from the rugged terrain, but there isn’t any dullness to the scenery either – making this one of the most majestic and beautiful tourist destinations in the world – even for those not willing to take the hike.
*Featured image by MiguelVieira