Best Hiking Trail in the World: From Utah to Inca Trail & Pataginia

by | May 20, 2024 | Peru Travel Blogs | 0 comments

best hiking trail in the world

Hiking the best trails in the world is more than just a physical activity; it’s a journey into the heart of nature. The allure of hiking spans the globe, calling to adventurers, nature lovers, photographers, and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

There’s a magical connection forged between hikers and the trails they traverse, a rhythm that syncs with the beating heart of the earth.

Experience the awe-inspiring beauty of our planet through exhilarating nature hikes. Travel from the volcanic landscapes of Iceland to the lush rainforests of Peru as our expert guides unveil a curated selection of the world’s most remarkable treks.

The Selection Process best hiking trails in the world for beginners

best hiking trails in the world for beginners is no easy feat. We considered numerous factors, including the natural beauty, difficulty level, accessibility, and cultural significance of each trail.

Additionally, insights from seasoned hikers, travel experts, and local guides contributed to our decision.

Our goal was to find a trail that perfectly encapsulates the essence of what makes hiking such a beloved endeavor for many.

If you have any questions or are seeking the hardest hikes in the world, we are here to guide you with all your preferences and doubts.

Top 15 hiking Trails In The World

1. Classic Inca Trail, Peru

The historic trek through the Andes mountains to Machu Picchu typically spans four days. Ending at the iconic Incan citadel ruins.

While the classic Inca Trail 4 Days remains the most popular choice and is considered the best backpacking trail in the world, many tour operators now offer various routes and trip durations.

For instance, the Salkantay trek offers a more scenic journey, taking you past glaciers, natural springs, and through the jungle. In contrast, the Inca Trail immerses you in history, guiding you through archaeological sites that reveal the past.

2. The Top Trail Unveiled: The Torres del Paine “W” Circuit, Chile

The Torres del Paine “W” Circuit in Chile’s Patagonia region stands out as the best hiking trail in the world. This iconic trek weaves through some of the most breathtaking landscapes on the planet. Including snow-capped mountains, azure lakes, sprawling glaciers, and lush valleys.

The circuit derives its name from the three distinct valleys that create a “W” shape on the map. It is highly recommended as one of the best walking trails in the world.

3. Hooker Valley Track, Canterbury, New Zealand

New Zealand, a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, boasts some of the world’s most stunning hiking trails. One such trail, a moderately challenging hike in Mt. Cook National Park, spans just over 6 miles with an elevation gain of approximately 400 feet.

Along this journey, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of Aoraki Mt. Cook, New Zealand’s tallest peak at about 12,200 feet. The trail also offers the chance to admire unique geological formations, native trees, and abundant wildflowers, and to breathe in the crisp, fresh alpine air.
While it’s a bit of a steep climb at points, you’ll be rewarded with some truly unforgettable views.

4. Mount Kilimanjaro Trek, Tanzania

This 7-day trek guides hikers to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak.

You’ll traverse five distinct ecological zones and climates along the journey, from lush rainforests to icy arctic fields. Reaching the summit is a mentally challenging yet profoundly rewarding experience.

5. Tour du Mont Blanc, France, Italy, and Switzerland

This trail encircles Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps, and traverses three countries: France, Italy, and Switzerland.

Along the way, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to savor regional cuisine. If you love cheese as much as hiking, this 7 to 10-day multicultural journey is perfect for you.

6. Drive, Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah, USA

This relatively easy 12.6-mile out-and-back hike takes approximately 5 hours. Is a standout favorite among the National Parks in the western United States.

Famous for scenic drives and hiking, it ranks high in Instagrammability due to the breathtaking canyon views and unique red rock formations along the route.

Many hikers rent or bring water shoes, especially depending on the season, as wet feet can be inevitable.

Although Zion National Park can get crowded during peak times, it is generally less frequented than other southwestern parks like the Grand Canyon.

7. Laugavegur Trail, Iceland

Embarking on a journey through these vibrant rhyolite mountains unveils steaming hot springs, glacial rivers, and stretches of black sand. The 34-mile Laugavegur Trail traverses Iceland’s southern highlands, offering an awe-inspiring, otherworldly experience.

8. West Coast Trail, Canada

This iconic coastal trail on Vancouver Island’s west coast boasts breathtaking ocean views and rugged, challenging terrain.

A multi-day backpacking adventure is highly recommended, allowing you to immerse yourself in its natural beauty and reflect on its historical significance. Originally established in 1907 as a life-saving route, the trail was intended to aid in the rescue of shipwreck survivors along the island’s perilous coast.

9. The Torres del Paine Circuit, Patagonia, Chile ( O Trek )

Many visitors to Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park opt for the shorter ‘W Trek’ when they see the scale of the terrain, but we recommend the full 9-day ‘O Trek’ circuit to experience the variety of landscapes in this magnificent reserve. is regarded as one of the premier long-distance hiking trails in the world.

Starting from Las Torres, you’ll pass some of the world’s most photogenic vistas: crystal-clear rivers, sculpted mountains, open grasslands, old-growth forests, deep lakes, and the icy Grey Glacier.

Plan, as only 80 trekkers are allowed on each section of the track at any time, and campsites and refugios are in high demand. Book with the companies operating the lodges and camping areas months in advance, especially for the busy November to March trekking season.

Best trek for: photographers, Distance: 85 miles (136km) Duration: 9 days Level: Difficult

10. Trolltunga Hike, Norway

One of the finest ways to experience the Norwegian fjords is through this challenging and scenic trek to Trolltunga, a stunning rock formation jutting out high above sea level.

The name Trolltunga translates to “troll’s tongue,” reflecting its unique and picturesque shape.

12. Colca Canyon (Cabanaconde to Llahuar), Cabanaconde, Arequipa, Peru

This 5-hour point-to-point hike marks the beginning of the full trekking route through Colca Canyon, one of the world’s deepest and oldest canyons, predating the Incas and the Inca Trail, and twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.

The trail offers breathtaking views, indigenous villages, and towering volcanic peaks carved by the Rio Colca. While the scenery and wildlife are spectacular, hikers should be prepared for minimal shade along the route.

Whether you’ve already conquered the Inca Trail or are seeking an alternative adventure in Peru, Colca Canyon is an experience not to be missed.

13. South Kaibab Trail to Ooh Aah Point, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA

This out-and-back trail spans just 1.8 miles but offers a moderately challenging hike for those seeking a swift adventure.

The turnaround point is the aptly named “Ooh Aah Point,” where you can enjoy breathtaking views of Grand Canyon National Park. Be aware that the trail can be icy depending on the season, so be sure to check conditions and bring suitable footwear, such as crampons, if needed.

14. Appalachian Trail, USA

The Appalachian Trail, one of the world’s longest hiking-only footpaths, starts in Maine and traverses 14 states. At its southern end in Georgia, you’ll discover a unique and eerie celebration: a tree adorned with the boots of hikers who have completed the nearly 2,200-mile journey.

15. Carnarvon Gorge Nature Walk, Queensland, Australia

This family-friendly 2.6-mile loop trail in Carnarvon Gorge offers an easy hike with minimal elevation gain.

Set in a lush, wet oasis, the park features diverse wildlife habitats, thanks to the creek that winds through the gorge. A highlight of this trail is the platypus viewing platform.

Open year-round, the best times to visit are at sunrise or sunset, when you might be fortunate enough to encounter some unique creatures.

Best Hikes in South America

Perito Moreno Glacier Trail: A Glacial Adventure

The pristine wilderness of Argentina’s Southern Patagonian Ice Field on the Perito Moreno Glacier Trail. Spanning approximately 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles) round trip, this trail offers adventurers a rare opportunity to witness the breathtaking beauty of one of the world’s few advancing glaciers.

The best time to hike is during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer months, from November to March when temperatures are milder and daylight hours are longer. Located in Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park, near the town of El Calafate, hikers navigate the trail at an elevation of approximately 180 meters (590 feet) above sea level, enjoying awe-inspiring views of the surrounding Andean peaks and glacial valleys.

Despite the unpredictable weather of Patagonia, coming prepared with layers of clothing, waterproof gear, and sturdy hiking boots ensures comfort and safety on this remarkable adventure.

Mirador Loop, Cotapaxi National Park, Ecuador

At an elevation of 4,500 meters (14,764 feet), the Mirador Loop in Cotopaxi National Park is not for the faint of heart. However, this challenging hike offers some of the most stunning views in South America. The trail takes hikers through a diverse landscape including grasslands, glaciers, and volcanic rock formations.

The highlight of this hike is reaching the Mirador viewpoint which offers breathtaking views of Cotopaxi volcano and its surrounding peaks. Hikers can also spot wildlife such as llamas and condors along the way.

Huayna Potosi , Bolivia

For experienced hikers and mountaineers, the climb up Huayna Potosi in Bolivia is a must-do adventure. At an elevation of 6,088 meters (19,974 feet), this snow-capped peak offers a challenging yet rewarding experience for those seeking to summit one of South America’s highest mountains.

The trek begins at base camp and takes approximately four days to complete. Along the way, hikers will navigate through ice fields and steep inclines before reaching the summit. The views from the top are truly breathtaking, offering panoramic vistas of the surrounding Andean peaks and valleys. However, due to its high altitude and technical difficulty, this hike should only be attempted by experienced climbers with proper gear and training.

The best hikes in North America

Scenic Drive, Zion National Park, USA

One of the most picturesque hikes in North America, the Scenic Drive in Zion National Park offers a unique perspective of the park’s stunning red rock formations. This 6-mile round-trip hike takes visitors through a narrow canyon and along the Virgin River, with towering cliffs on either side.

The highlight of this trail is reaching the iconic Emerald Pools, a series of cascading waterfalls that offer a refreshing break from the desert heat. Along the way, hikers can also spot an abundance of wildlife and colorful wildflowers.

Lower Yosemite Falls Trail, Yosemite National Park, USA

Yosemite National Park USA is home to some of the most iconic natural wonders in the United States, including the awe-inspiring Lower Yosemite Falls. This easy 1-mile hike takes visitors to the base of the tallest waterfall in North America, where they can feel the powerful mist and witness the sheer force of nature.

The trail also offers stunning views of Half Dome and other granite formations that make up this famous national park. Plus, with its accessibility and family-friendly nature, this hike is suitable for all ages and skill levels.

El Tepozteco Trail, Tepoztlán, Mexico

Located just an hour outside of Mexico City, the El Tepozteco Trail offers a challenging yet rewarding hike up to the ancient Aztec temple ruins at the summit. The 2.5-mile trail takes visitors through lush forests and past beautiful waterfalls before reaching the top.

The views from the top are truly breathtaking, with panoramic vistas of the surrounding Andean peaks and valleys. However, due to its high altitude and technical difficulty, this hike should only be attempted by experienced climbers with proper gear and training.

Continental Divide Trail From NM 547 to NM 126, New Mexico, USA

For adventurous hikers looking for a longer and more remote experience, the Continental Divide Trail from NM 547 to NM 126 in New Mexico is a must-visit. This 16-mile section of the famous long-distance trail takes visitors through some of the most rugged and scenic landscapes in the state.

From desert canyons to alpine meadows, hikers will encounter a diverse range of ecosystems and wildlife along this challenging but rewarding hike. Plus, with limited cell service and few amenities along the way, this trail offers a true escape into nature.

The Best Hikes in Europe

Catbells, Lake District, United Kingdom

Located in the picturesque Lake District National Park, Catbells is a popular day hike for visitors to England. The 3-mile loop trail takes hikers through scenic woodlands and offers stunning views of the surrounding lakes and mountains.

At the top of Catbells, hikers can also catch a glimpse of the ruins of a 12th-century medieval castle, adding an extra layer of history to this already beautiful hike.

Cinque Terre Coastal Trail, Liguria, Italy

For those looking for a more leisurely yet still breathtaking hike, the Cinque Terre Coastal Trail in Italy is perfect. This 7-mile trail connects five colorful seaside villages along the Mediterranean coast and offers spectacular views of both the sea and the pastel-hued buildings.

balcony Trail Madeira

Another stunning coastal hike in Europe is the Balcony Trail in Madeira, Portugal. This 7-mile trail takes hikers along cliffs and through lush forests, offering breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and the dramatic coastline.

But it’s not just the views that make this hike special – along the way, hikers can also stop at traditional villages and enjoy local cuisine and hospitality.

The best hikes in Asia

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

For experienced trekkers looking for a challenge, the Annapurna Circuit Trek in Nepal is one of the most epic journeys on Earth. This 128-mile trek takes hikers through diverse landscapes ranging from lush valleys to high mountain passes, with some sections reaching over 17,000 feet in elevation.

Along the way, hikers can also immerse themselves in Nepali culture by staying in tea houses run by local families and learning about their traditional way of life.

Great Wall of China Trek, China

For a unique hiking experience that combines history and natural beauty, the Great Wall of China Trek is a must-do. This challenging trek takes hikers along remote sections of the ancient wall, offering stunning views of both its architectural wonder and the surrounding countryside.

But perhaps the most rewarding part of this hike is getting to learn about the rich history and cultural significance of one of the world’s greatest wonders.

World’s End – Baker’s Falls Loop from Ohiya, Sri Lanka

For a shorter but equally breathtaking hike, the World’s End – Baker’s Falls Loop in Sri Lanka is a must-visit. This 5-mile loop takes hikers through lush forests and to stunning viewpoints overlooking dramatic cliffs and waterfalls.

In addition to the natural beauty, hikers can also spot various wildlife along the way, including deer and colorful birds. After the hike, they can relax with a cup of world-renowned Ceylon tea at one of the nearby tea plantations.

Exploring the Best Hikes in Africa

Berber Villages, Atlas Mountain Trek, Morocco

For a truly immersive cultural experience, head to the Atlas Mountains in Morocco for a trek through Berber villages. This 4-day journey takes hikers along ancient paths that have been used by the locals for centuries, offering a unique insight into their way of life.

Hikers will also get to stay in traditional Berber guesthouses and eat home-cooked meals prepared with local ingredients. Plus, the stunning mountain landscapes and views of nearby Mount Toubkal make this trek an unforgettable adventure.

Robberg Peninsula, Garden Route, South Africa

For a coastal trek like no other, make your way to the Robberg Peninsula in South Africa’s famous Garden Route. This 9-mile loop takes hikers along rugged cliffs and sandy beaches, with opportunities for swimming and wildlife spotting along the way.

The peninsula is also home to a variety of marine life, including seals and dolphins, making it a popular spot for snorkeling and diving. And for history buffs, there are also ancient caves with evidence of early human habitation to explore.

Kilimanjaro, Lemosho Route, Tanzania

The ultimate bucket list trek for many hikers, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is the highest peak in Africa and one of the Seven Summits. The Lemosho route offers a longer and more scenic approach compared to other popular routes, with a higher chance of summit success.

Throughout the 8-day trek, hikers will pass through different vegetation zones, including lush rainforests and barren alpine deserts. And reaching the summit at Uhuru Peak is an unforgettable experience that will stay with you forever.

The best Hiking Trails in the Middle East

Mount Toubkal, Morocco

Located in the heart of the Atlas Mountains, Mount Toubkal is the tallest peak in North Africa. While hiking Mount Toubkal doesn’t demand any technical equipment, it remains a challenging endeavor. The trek typically spans 2-3 days, culminating in breathtaking views of Marrakesh. Along the way, you can pause at neighboring villages, adding both ease and length to your journey.

Djebel Zaghouan, Tunisia

Djebel Zaghouan, situated just south of Tunis, is a haven for both casual and seasoned hikers. It boasts a variety of trails catering to all experience levels. The two primary trailheads are at Temple des Eaux, an ancient Roman water temple, and the nearby village of Sidi Medien. Local experts favor the latter for its challenging paths and rich local wildlife. The summit, Ras El Gaasa, rewards climbers with breathtaking views.

The Jordan Trail, Jordan

The Jordan Trail is a remarkable long-distance route that spans over 650 kilometers from Um Qais in the North to Aqaba in the South. Completing the entire trail can take more than 40 days, making it one of the longest hikes in the region. However, travelers have the option to hike shorter sections of the trail. The Jordan Trail Association website provides detailed information on various routes, including day hikes for those seeking a shorter adventure.

Jebel Shams, Oman

Nestled in the Hajar Mountains of northeastern Oman, Jebel Shams offers a stunning hiking experience with breathtaking vistas. While it may not be famed for its peak, the extraordinary views of Wadi Ghul, often called the Grand Canyon of the Middle East, steal the spotlight. Jebel Shams boasts several well-maintained trails that offer accessible and rewarding hikes.

Physical Preparation

Preparation is key to tackling any hiking trail. Build your stamina with regular cardio workouts, strengthen your legs through weight training, and practice hiking with a loaded backpack to simulate real conditions.

Essential Gear and Packing Lists

  • Footwear: Invest in high-quality, waterproof hiking boots with good ankle support.
  • Backpack: Choose a sturdy, comfortable backpack with adequate capacity for your essentials.
  • Clothing: Layered clothing is vital. Bring moisture-wicking base layers, insulating mid-layers, and a waterproof shell.
  • Navigation Tools: Carry a map, compass, and GPS device.
  • First-Aid Kit: Include bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any necessary personal medications.
  • Hydration and Nutrition: Pack a hydration system, water purifiers, and high-energy snacks.
  • Camping Gear: If the trail involves overnight stays, bring a lightweight tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping mat.

Environmental Responsibility

As we explore these magnificent trails, it’s crucial to practice responsible hiking. Adhere to Leave No Trace principles by minimizing your environmental impact:

  • Pack out all trash.
  • Stay on marked trails to protect plant life.
  • Respect wildlife by observing from a distance.
  • Use biodegradable soap and minimize campfire impact.
  • Be considerate of other hikers.

Personal Experiences

Real stories from hikers bring these trails to life. Jane R shares, “Hiking the Torres del Paine ‘W’ Circuit was challenging yet incredibly rewarding.

The camaraderie among fellow hikers, the sheer beauty of the landscape, and the sense of accomplishment upon completing the trail were unforgettable.”

Conclusion

Embarking on a hiking adventure is about more than just reaching a destination; it’s about the journey, the connections made, and the memories forged along the way. Whether you choose the Torres del Paine “W” Circuit or one of the alternate trails, these paths promise to enrich your life in countless ways.

We encourage you to embark on your adventure and discover the world one step at a time. Share your hiking experiences and engage with our community to inspire and be inspired.

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Cesar Conde

I’m Cesar Conde, owner of Tour Leaders Peru & Travel Advisor and my other side job is Nomadic Digital. I share my own amazing Tour Experiences, travel stories, guides, and itineraries for travelers like you and me!

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