To experience true wilderness you need to hit the trail and get away from it all. Discover here the top 10 day hikes worth planning an entire holiday around!
10. Aletsch Panoramaweg, Switzerland
Get up close to the biggest glacier in the Alps; this hike along the picture-perfect Aletsch Glacier is surrounded by 32 peaks rising above 4,000m, including the famous trio of Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. It starts with expansive glacier and mountain views from Bettmerhorn then crosses the Grosses Gufer rock glacier and runs along the face of the Aletsch Glacier to Märjelensee, where small icebergs float in the lake. The region has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001.
9. Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan
Taktsang Lhakhang – which translates to “Tiger’s Nest” – is Bhutan’s most iconic landmark, clinging impossibly to a sheer cliff face 900 m (2955 ft) above the valley floor. The temple is cloaked in myth, illustrating the sacred tales of Guru Padmasambhava, the source of Buddhism in Bhutan. Legend has it that the Guru flew from Tibet on the back of a mystical tigress and landed on the steep cliff to meditate in a cave. In the late 17th century, the monastery was constructed around the cave by Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye, who was universally believed to be the reincarnation of the Guru. The complex is open to visitors and can be reached by a four hour scenic hike through a beautiful, shady pine forest.
8. Wild Pacific Trail, Vancouver Island, Canada
In the Canadian hiker’s paradise of British Columbia, Vancouver Island is considered among the finest areas for hiking thanks to its warmer climate. The island features a diverse landscape and biosphere. The Wild Pacific Trail is an easy day-hike route that curves along the rocky shoreline of the Ucluelet Peninsula on the west coast of Vancouver. It offers views of forested inlets, craggy sea stacks, whale-filled bays, and the open Pacific Ocean. Despite its name, this hike is not wild at all. The walking path is easily accessible, family-friendly, and well maintained. It’s made of gravel walkways and picturesque wooden boardwalks. The first leg of the trail cuts through the lush rainforest and runs along the rocky coastline, providing dramatic views of the island-filled Barkley Sound and great opportunities for whale spotting.
7. Laguna de los Tres, Argentina
The 360º views of Patagonia’s most awe-inspiring mountains are the draw of this hike, which ends at a mirror-lake beneath the towering granite peak of Mount Fitzroy. The trail begins on the edge of buzzing El Chaltén town and climbs steeply into native forest, with views of the Río de las Vueltas, then on to Laguna Capri. It crosses several rivers before climbing up loose scree slopes to reach the iceberg-filled Laguna de Los Tres, backed by the famed spires.
6. Fimmvörðuháls, Iceland
Among the many hiking trails in Iceland, the Fimmvörðuháls hike (also referred to as the Fimm hike) is one of the best day hikes. Located in South Iceland, the 25 km (15 mi) hike is part of the highly popular, multi-day Laugavegur trail, and runs between the Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull Glaciers. At Fimmvörðuháls Pass, hikers can marvel at two volcanic craters — Magni and Móði — formed in the wake of the March 2010 eruption. With grassy tundra, volcanic plateaus, and over 26 waterfalls, the Fimmvorduhals trail leads hikers through Iceland’s most striking nature.
5. Grand Canyon Rim to Rim, Arizona, USA
On this epic Grand Canyon hike, you’ll leave from the North Kaibab Trail on the North Rim, challenging your personal limits as you descend 14.3 miles and 6,000 feet to the bottom of the canyon before connecting with the Bright Angel Trail and climbing 4,500 feet and 9.6 miles back out again to the South Rim. Along the North Kaibab Trail you’ll take in mesmerizing scenery as you pass through two billion years of the Earth’s history and eleven layers of ancient rocks. Eventually, you’ll reach the sandy banks of the Colorado River. Here, in the heart of Grand Canyon National Park, dozens of massive rock formations will tower above you on all sides. For those with a love of the natural world, it’s pure sensory overload.
4. Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is heralded as the best one-day hikes in New Zealand and the world. Many who complete the 7-8 hour, 20 km (12 mi) journey will tell you the climbs can be steep and the weather unpredictable, though worth it in every aspect. Dramatic and awe-inspiring scenery, including epic views of the volcanic peaks of Ngauruhoe, Tongariro and Ruapehu, ensures the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is considered a world-renowned trek. Tongariro National Park is one of three World Heritage sites in New Zealand. The other two are Te Wahipounamu in the South Island, and the Sub Antarctic Islands.
3. Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Dolomites, Italy
The Dolomites are a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the northern Italian Alps, numbering 18 peaks which rise to above 3,000 m (10,000 ft). It features some of the most beautiful mountain landscapes anywhere on the planet, with vertical walls, sheer cliffs and a high density of narrow, deep and long valleys. There are hundreds of walking, backpacking, and via ferrata routes in the area. The best of the shorter hikes is definitely the Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop, which circumnavigates three colossal towers framed by lush green valleys. This incredibly rewarding hike has barely any elevation gain, making the walk especially easy and comfortable. An endless array of verdant alpine meadows and the imperiously dramatic scenery of the Tre Cime massif surrounds hikers all along the way.
2. Table Mountain, South Africa
Around 600 million years old, and a canvas painted with the rich diversity of the Cape floral kingdom, Table Mountain is the most iconic landmark of Cape Town, South Africa. From the top, you can enjoy tremendous 360-degree views of the city, Table Bay, the Atlantic seaboard, the nearby mountain peaks and the rest of the Table Mountain National Park.
1. Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii
Perilous cliff paths leading to Hawaii’s most remote beach: the incredibly scenic Kalalau Trail is a wild hike through five valleys of pristine wilderness and lush rainforest, with off-shoots up to waterfalls and stream crossings along the way. It runs for 11 mi (18 km) along our planet’s most spectacular stretch of coastline, the Na Pali Coast in Kauai, Hawaii. Kalalau Trail provides the only land access to the legendary Kalalau Valley.
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