Many famous trails draw adventurous hikers in thousands annually. These trails offer the challenge of walking on high elevations and trekking for miles in tough weather conditions. But they also provide scenic views of mountainous areas, amazing water bodies, and rare species of animals and plants. Here is a list of some of the most famous trails you should visit in your lifetime.
1. Appalachian Trail
Famous for its length, full development and well laid out track, the Appalachian Trail is the longest and probably the most popular hiking-only trail in North America. It stretches over 2,189 miles and traverses 14 states from the Springer Mountain in the state of Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Along the trail, you can see woodlands, wilderness, mountain ranges, waterfalls, and over 2,000 species of animals and plants. Appalachian Trail passes through two national parks and eight national forests and many counties that serve as places to replenish supplies. It is one of the best marked and managed trails in the world with about 4,000 dedicated volunteers and over 250 shelters.
2. Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail is a long hiking trail that is also mapped out for horses. It aligns closely with the summits of the Sierra Nevada and the Cascade mountains, which are located on the eastern Pacific coast in the U.S. From its southern terminus in California on the border with Mexico, the Pacific Crest Trail runs for up to 2,659 miles, passing through California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia in Canada. The trail is usually hiked from late April till September and offers scenic views of pristine mountain ranges. However, due to the high elevations (as high as 13,000 feet at the peak), the weather can be very harsh and hikers sometimes experience acute water shortages.
3. Continental Divide Trail
This trail is the third trail in the famous hiking triple crown in the U.S. Other trails that form the crown are the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. The Continental Divide begins in Mexico, traverses 5 U.S. states (New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana) and follows the continental divide of North America along the Rocky Mountains. CDT passes through the scenic Glacier National Park in U.S. and it is a combination of small roads and dedicated trails. Thru-hikers usually hike the CDT between April and October.
4. Te Araroa
Te Araroa means Long Pathway in Maori and it is the longest tramping route in New Zealand. Stretching for over 3,000 km (about 1850 miles), Te Araroa is a windy path along the nation’s two major islands: Cape Relinga and Bluff. Created through the efforts of well coordinated volunteers for over 10 years, this scenic trail has a number of challenging sections that require fitness, proper planning, navigation and river crossing skills. Thru-hiking usually takes between three to six months. On the trail you can see beautiful beaches, impossibly lush rainforests and blue glacial lakes.
5. Tokai Nature Trail
This level and relatively hiker-friendly trail runs for 1,054 miles from Tokyo to Osaka in Japan. It passes through numerous quasi-national conservation parks and traverses many hills, canyons, and wetlands and tourist sites. Highlights of this trail include Mount Takao, the Takaoyakuo-ji Buddhist temple, the Hachioji Castle built on a mountain in 1587, and famous tourist spots like the 8 Springs of Mount Fuji and the Fuji Five Lakes.
6. Wales Coast Path
The Wales Coast Path is the only dedicated footpath in the world that traverses a country’s entire coast line. Opened in 2012, this trail runs for about 870 miles and passes through 11 National Nature Reserves. This award winning Trail was rated by National Geographic as the 2nd best coastal destination on earth. From River Dee in the northern part of the country, many parts of this trail are accessible to horse riders and people with disabilities and restricted mobility.
7. Inca Trail, Peru
Inca Trail was built by the ancient Incas and now traversed by thousands of people, making it the most popular trail in South America. The trail extends from Sacred Valley down to Machu Picchu and then winds it way around the mountains. It provides spectacular views of the white-tipped mountains and high cloud forests. Hikers will relish the opportunity to walk up the cliffs from one ancient ruin to another.
Most of the trails highlighted here are very long distance trails which offer diverse weather conditions and topography. So you need to study the prevalent conditions on the trail and prepare appropriately before you begin a hike.