Want to see the world? Go for a walk.
Every country in the world boasts networks of trails leading from thousands of point As to thousands of point Bs. The question is: Which trails pass the most beautiful vistas along the way?
The answer, quite simply, is these ones. The hikes below may be the loveliest in the world. So go for a walk.
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California The John Muir Trail is a 210-mile trail through the Sierras. Its northern terminus is at Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley, and the southern terminus is located at top of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48, at 14,505 feet. The section I like is from Tuolomne Meadows to the Devil's Postpile, a 28-mile hike that starts in Yosemite, goes through much of the Ansel Adams Wilderness and ends back in Yosemite. It's one of the most beautiful sections of trail in the entire world: backcountry lakes, Sierra mountains, glaciers, wildlife, abundant plants, and towering trees. It's pristine land that's easily accessible from a popular national park; plus, it's good for people of all skill levels, from beginners to experts. Read More: The Top 100 Hotels in the World Text and photo by Jeff Thrope
Nepal The Anapurna Base Camp Trek is an 11-day study in relentless verticality, the downhills no less punishing than the up (the only difference being the muscle group that aches). But what the hike lacks in, say, gently rolling hills, it more than makes up for in drop-dead gorgeousness, with icy, outsized Himalayan peaks at every turn, not least the trek’s namesake. Equally beautiful—and shockingly lush—is the landscape, all forests, rice terraces, waterfalls and rivers. And while the guesthouses along the way are nothing if not rustic, each is a sight for sore…everything. Read More: Top 15 Hotels and Resorts in Las Vegas Text and photo by Abbie Kozolchyk
Hong Kong The most famous of the Hong Kong hikes is the island-traversing Hong Kong Trail. The 50km west-to-east hike starts at the city’s most famous tourist spot, the Peak, overlooking the glass and steel buildings Hong Kong is known for. The end of the hike (in this picture) takes you to the side of Hong Kong—literally and figuratively— to a part of the island known for lush green hills and beaches. Although the trek up Dragon’s Back and Shek O Peak are some of the most difficult parts of the trail, you're rewarded with a descent into Big Wave Bay, where you can spend the afternoon relaxing on the beach. Read More: Top 15 Resorts in Northern California Text and photo by Jessica Beaton
Zion National Park, Utah The Narrows is one of the longest slot canyons in the world, and the exhilarating 16-mile trek through it is likely to be one of the most spectacular things you’ll ever do. This river hike wanders along towering, red-rock canyon walls that narrow to just 22 feet wide in some spots. You can do this as a (grueling) single day through-hike, but why rush it? Spend the night and savor every minute in this national park. The parks department allows only 80 hikers per day, so plan ahead and make a reservation in advance. And you’ll need to rent some gear: dry bags, sturdy water shoes, neoprene socks, trekking poles. Read More: The Top 100 Hotels in the World Text and photo by Keith Mulvihill
La Fortuna, Costa Rica Live out your wildest Tarzan and Jane fantasies on this super lush jungle hike. The Chato Volcano (Cerro Chato) is an inactive volcano located near the more famous (and active) Arenal Volcano. The trail traverses the steep slope of Chato through a dense, leafy (hyperoxygenated!) canopy. At the top is a serene crater lake. The trailhead can be found in the same location as La Fortuna Waterfall. Learn more about the hike here. Read More: The Top 10 Caribbean Islands Text and photo by Keith Mulvihill
Mt. Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia Glacier-fed Berg Lake nestles right up against Mt. Robson (the Candian Rockies' highest peak), and caps off a 13-mile trek past roaring waterfalls, rushing rivers, and jagged, glacier-topped mountains. We suggest doing this as a two-day backpack, camping overnight at Berg Lake. That way you up the odds of getting some blue skies (the weather around Mt. Robson is ever changing), and you’ll have time to take in the stunning vistas and icy landscape. On your day off we suggest a hike to Snowbird Pass to lay eyes on the Coleman Icefield— totally worth the effort. The Mount Robson visitors' center and the Berg Lake trailhead are just off Highway 16, about an hour west of the town of Jasper in Alberta. Read More: Top 15 Resorts in Northern California Text and photo by Keith Mulvihill
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming There is a really delightful boardwalk that skirts the edge of the Grand Prismatic Spring (one of the most astonishing geothermal features on the planet). But even better: there is a super easy hike that gives you a bird's-eye view of the freaky pool of water in all its chromatic splendor. Take the trail to Fairy Falls (one mile south of the Midway Geyser Basin) and cross the steel bridge across the Firehole River. Follow the Fountain Freight Road hiking/biking trail for approximately one mile before the hiking-only trail to Fairy Falls branches off on the left. As you round the backside of Grand Prismatic, take the detour trail straight up hill. Keep in mind that it is not safe to go off-boardwalk everywhere in Yellowstone; talk to rangers or hire a guide. See a map of the trail here. Read More: The Top 100 Hotels in the World Text and photo by Keith Mulvihill
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