Best Wilderness Hikes

Daniel Brown
• Friday, 18 December, 2020
• 15 min read

The circular trails listed below also all offer incredible experiences in some of America’s most treasured public lands. Colorado has an abundance of awesome mountains, but the Maroon Bells are considered the most photogenic in the entire continent of North America.

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Avoid crowds by venturing in September and be sure to take the time to explore iconic Fin Dome in Sixty Lake Basin. It has mountains, mesas and pinon woodlands in addition to incredible desert sunsets and starry nights.

This remote trip should be hiked November through April, though, as heat can make the rugged journey almost unbearable. Plan to carry a couple of days' worth of water and refill at Juniper Canyon and Blue Creek.

The icy giants that this park is named for may disappear by 2030, so plan to take in the marvels of the North Circle soon. You’ll venture under the Continental Divide, by an old stone chalet, over Fifty Mountain Pass, and through the famous 75-foot Ptarmigan Tunnel.

In this treasured area, the third, fourth and fifth-largest peaks in the state are surrounded by gorgeous lakes and alpine meadows. But what’s unique about this place is its volcanic wonderland of cinder cones, glassy obsidian, lava flows and pumice flats.

Take the ferry to this destination boasting sea cliffs, serene coves and secluded campsites. The loop starts with Rim Trail taking hikers along Grand Island’s shoreline and through fern-filled forests.

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Start at high Cling mans Dome and follow the Appalachian Trail before descending to Fontana Lake. Hikers will be able to take a dip at swimming holes, munch on wild berries, catch fresh trout and stretch out on giant rocks.

Camp and dine on the sandy beaches of Salmon River, saunter through meadows of wildflowers and lakes, and take in views from 8,000-foot buttes. Transporting hikers through narrow red rock to the Paris River, it is one of the longest non-technical slot canyons in the world (plan to bring a 40' rope in case though).

This challenging route provides plenty of rewards for hikers who will end their days camping under shady maple trees. If you’re looking for just a taste, try its northernmost stretch through the Paste, where you can take in views of North Cascades National Park.

This 30-mile journey winds through gorgeous temperate rainforests and wildflower-strewn alpine meadows in the wildlife-rich southern part of the park. One end is at Mount Whitney in Sequoia National Park and the other is in Yosemite Valley, whose iconic landscapes have been protected for 50 years.

You can avoid John Muir’s crowds if you are ready for more of a challenge on a trail that is less marked and maintained. This route takes you from one rim to another, allowing you to peer deeply into the ancient times embedded in colorful layers of rock.

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Photo: South Kebab Trail in Grand Canyon National Park. At five miles round-trip, the hike can surprisingly take hours to complete with its great heights and adrenaline-charged drops.

Once at top, the rewards are magical as you set your weary eyes on stunning Zion Canyon from above. The 16-mile is another great trail here, as it curves with the Virgin River through spectacular sandstone gorges.

Offer many wonderful sights but the peak of Mount Washburn has the most breathtaking view with Yellowstone Lake, the Baroda and Bear tooth Ranges, and even the faraway Grand Tetons. July and August usher in wildflowers, and mornings host peregrine falcons, elk, mule deer and bighorn sheep.

Over 100 miles journey through Glacier National Park, where it also connects with the Pacific Northwest Trail. A relatively easy section follows Glacier’s premiere for 11 miles, boasting jagged peaks, bright wildflowers, and lucky glimpses of mountain goats and bears.

The CDT also peels through some of Montana’s one-of-a-kind wilderness areas, where we are helping fish populations cope with a warming climate. Along with over 1,000 miles of canoe routes, Boundary Waters has 18 hiking trails and about 2,000 campsites.

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(Source: www.backpacker.com)

A hike through the most visited national park makes for a classic Southern backpacking trip. With the highest point on the trail at Cling man’s Dome, this section is high and steep as it courses along ridges, offering persistent vistas.

About a mile round-trip, the path is raised above a marsh teeming with alligators, turtles, unhinges, herons, egrets, and many other birds. Photo: Great Blue Heron on Angina Trail in Everglades National Park.

But be forewarned: it is considered the second hardest day hike in the country (we recommend you make it a multi-day). As you climb 3,480 feet over four miles, you will be rewarded by view of the entire secluded “Semi” as well as alpine wildflowers underfoot.

The coastal path offers photographic views of iconic pink granite formations from Sand Beach to Otter Point. Gotham is relatively easy as well, taking hikers past plenty of wild blueberry bushes.

New trails now offer direct access to these places from campgrounds and lodging facilities. Photo: View of coast from Gotham Mountain Trail in Acadia National Park.

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(Source: www.alltrails.com)

This hike is more fantasy than reality perhaps, but we’d be remiss if we left Alaskan landscapes off the list. Every spring and fall, caribou herds migrate 120 to 400 miles in the Brooks Range just above the Arctic Circle.

“Sometimes when I close my eyes, I can hear their clicking ankles on the tundra, and I imagine walking behind them in silence in that vast expanse of wilderness, ” writes author Terry Tempest Williams. I’m not gonna lie to you guys… When I asked other bloggers to share their favorite wilderness hikes around the world, it came from a selfish place.

They have you staying in mountain guest houses, clamping with trekking guides, or roughing it in a tent on your own. Albanian Alps, Albania Length of Trail: It depends on how much you want to hike.

And since you’ll be sleeping indoors, you don’t have to worry about buying camping gear. While hiking one day, a sweet old lady invited me in for espresso shots and reiki (an Eastern European liquor that is similar to moonshine).

If friendly locals and hipster traveler status is not reason enough, then go for the mountains and lakes. Accommodations: There’s a dense mossy cloud forest and countless waterfalls that are hidden away in the lush greenery as well as authentic Karen hill tribe villages that have set up comfortable homestays in order to welcome guests and teach them about their culture.

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(Source: www.tumblerridgegeopark.ca)

They’ll know the terrain–which can be a bit scary at times as you have to shimmy along the sheer cliff edge to get to some waterfalls, and also know how to deal with unexpected encounters say with wild monkeys or snakes. Perhaps it was because it was in April, which is the end of the burning season, so the air can still be a bit heavy with smoke, or perhaps it’s because the mountain is so huge that you’re likely to have the incredible wilderness all to yourself.

A $200 permit is required (except in winter) purchased in advance from Tasmanian National Parks. Accommodations: Shared dormitory style huts and camping areas are available at key overnight locations with bathroom facilities and are included in the hiking permit.

The Overland Track in Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is one of the most popular and scenic multi-day hikes in Australia. It meanders through remote, World Heritage Listed rainforest, rugged mountains and wide alpine plains left from prehistoric glaciers.

The Overland track guarantees four seasons in one day with bright sunlight, wind, rain, fog and even snowfall is possible year-round. Hikers travel typically from Cradle Mountain in the north to Lake St Clair in the south.

In winter months travel is permitted in both directions although this is often through deep snow falls. Distances travelled each day are between 10-17 km with huts and designated camping areas the only places hikers are permitted to spend overnight.

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Hikers need to bring all their food and cooking gear for the entire hike as there are no towns or shops accessible along the trail. The trail is well-marked and wooden duckboards and elevated platforms cover the super muddy sections.

Accommodations: Along the trail you can sleep in guest houses, camping sites and even huts. As there really are no restaurants in the villages you’ll walk through, guest houses will also offer family style meals.

The first day is mostly spent getting out of Nazareth and reaching Can, where Jesus is thought to have performed one of his miracles. To be fair, the views aren’t stunning as you’ll be going through some wasteland with lots of abandoned garbage.

The second day is better in terms of sights, and you will be crossing some beautiful fields until you reach Alanya, a tiny village and a model farm that was founded in 1899. The third and fourth days are the best in terms of walking and sights: it becomes a bit more challenging, and the distances are larger, but you will visit the Horns of Attain, one of the most interesting sites in the area, and Nevi SHU’EIB, where the tomb of Jethro, father-in-law of Moses and a prophet in the Drupe tradition is located.

From there, it is an easy walk to the Sea of Galilee, where there are some lovely small beaches and where it is pleasant to swim. Length of Trail: On average, the hike takes about four days, with the start and end point within easy reach of Bukhara.

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(Source: www.allolympicpark.com)

It’s only an hour from the village Ghorepani and offers a full view of Annapurna south. The route is relatively straightforward with plenty of foot traffic, though having a guide or porter would make life easier.

Accommodations: There are many villages with guest houses along the way, and unless its high season, it’s possible to just turn up and ask for a room. Most guesthouses have all the basic amenities, with duvet, bathrooms, hot water, and even Wi-Fi.

It’s possible to extend it and from Choquequirao ruins walk to Machu Picchu, then the total distance will be 136 km. Unlike with Machu Picchu walking is the only way of getting to Choquequirao which makes it significantly less crowded, in two days we spent there we saw about 20 people.

The trek to the ruins starts at Pechora, a small village about 3 hours drive from Cusco, it’s possible to get there by public transport. If you decide to walk from Choquequirao to Machu Picchu you’ll need 4 more days.

The scenery on Choquequirao trek is amazing; lush green mountains, rivers, canyon, waterfalls, flowers, many butterflies and hummingbirds. Length of Trail: The EBC from Nepal is called the South Base Camp.

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The hikers are required to show their passports and buy the permits at these check points. Accommodations: There are plenty of villages along the way to EBC that provide tea houses.

A tea house is owned by the locals, and they offer restaurant and stay facilities. The food, Wi-Fi and drinking water are top of the cost, which depends on each hiker.

Nestled in South America’s sprawling Altiplano region, the 125 km Cordillera Real stretches from southeast of the shores of Lake Titicaca to just east of the Bolivian capital city La Paz. Those seeking tremendous views of staggering glaciated peaks and jewel-toned lakes, as well as solitude on the trail will be delighted by a trek in this region.

Guides and transportation to and from the trail can be arranged in La Paz and will vary on the company that you choose. Experienced alpinists can choose their own adventure amidst the 600 peaks over 5000 m without the hassle of permitting required in other parts of the world.

Those wishing to bring their own equipment and food can pick up a guide for starting at about $70usd per day, which is not required but recommended. This is a good option for groups as the trail can be extremely remote and easy to lose at parts.

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Lastly, those who bring their own gear, maps, and food can complete the trek for less than $20usd per day, depending on what they are charged to camp. In sum, Bolivia’s Cordillera Real is an affordable, off the beaten path trekking and climbing destination that is not to be missed.

Within the province of British Columbia is Bugaboo Provincial Park, and home to one of the best multi-day hikes in all of Canada. Accommodations: Conrad Main Hut and Applebee Dome are the places where hikers can pitch a tent, or get a bed inside the cabin.

As the trail inclines through pine trees and weaves along sheer cliff edges, this challenging hike gives some of the best views you can get in Canada! The route to the mountain is quite challenging considering the weather being extremely hot for the most time of the year in Oman.

Length of Trail: The hike can be completed within two to three days depending on the fitness level of the hiker. It should be noted that there are no shops or restaurants on the entire hiking trail, therefore, the hikers should be equipped with enough food and water to last two days.

These snow-capped mountains in the middle of equatorial Africa can be accessed from the Renoir Mountains National Park in Uganda or Vicuna National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), but the Ugandan side is safer and easier to access. Plants topped with enormous cabbage-like branches, giant lovelies, and trees draped in Irish moss, often shrouded in mist, all make for a mystical, magical experience.

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The landscape is fragile, and there is an annual cap on the number of hikers who can enter the park, to help preserve it. At the top there are several peaks you can climb to the summit, and a few remaining glaciers, though they are rapidly decreasing or disappearing.

Cost: There are several outfitters who can organize an excursion for you, and I recommend choosing a local company. What instantly endeared me to the far reaches of northern Utah, however, was the chance to see an undiscovered side of this state.

A side full of towering mountains, turquoise waters, and stately forests, all set in one of the most rugged wildernesses I have ever hiked. I recommend taking three days for this hike, due to the strenuousness, as well as the significant increase in elevation as you make your way up to the summit of King’s Peak.

Begin the first day at the Henry’s Fork Trailhead, and hike the initial seven miles of this trek until reaching Dollar Lake, an ideal backcountry spot with a reliable water source suitable for overnight camping. But it is also the most stunning day, as hikers have the chance to witness basins of alpine pools mirrored by towering peaks.

Although it pales in comparison to higher altitude hikes, this is one of the hardest I’ve ever done for one simple reason. I asked my guide what his favorite part of the trek was, and he told me that many of his clients cried at the summit.

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At that point, it was the most mentally challenging thing I’d ever done, and it proved to me just how strong my mind could be when my body wanted to quit. Today, people hike the route for religious, spiritual, fitness, and a variety of other reasons.

There is no definitive starting point for the Camino and historic routes range as far east as Hungary and beyond. Many choose to start at a town on the French-Spanish border, following the Camino Frances through the regions of Navarre, La Rioja, Castillo and León, and Galicia.

Alternatively there are also private guest houses, pensions, or hotels in larger cities. Starting in Santa Marta, Colombia, the Lost City Trek is a tough but rewarding 4-6 day hike deep into the jungle and foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range.

The views make up for the effort and eventually you reach the first fruit stop of the adventure. Each day begins early to try to avoid the midday heat and includes swimming stops and a visit to an indigenous village.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner, in addition to morning and afternoon fruit stops, are all included in the price and delicious. Finally, the day has arrived and everyone is awoken extra early to hike the last stretch and make the climb up the ancient stone stairs that lead to La Ciudad Persia or The Lost City.

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The setting is incredible and your guide will show you the main areas and explain the discovery. When finished, you’ll hike back to the last night’s camp for lunch before embarking on the return journey.

Returning to Santa Marta or Marque Tyrone you will be exhausted, dirty and ready to celebrate your accomplishment with your new friends! The Inca Trail passes through many original Inca ruin sites as well as breathtaking natural scenery including snow capped Andes Mountains, lush jungle, and mystical cloud forests.

As it is not possible to hike the Inca Trail without a guide per government regulations, treks must be booked through a tour agency. This price includes pickup from Cusco to the start of the trail, trek permits, two guides, porter services, food, camping equipment, entry to Machu Picchu, and a train ticket back to Cusco.

To avoid this take altitude sickness tablets, acclimatize in Cusco before starting the trek, and eat coco leaves to help with the symptoms. While hiking the Inca Trail does require some preparation in advance, it’s an experience you’ll never forget.

The Carlos de Foc is a beautiful multi-day hike in the Aiguestortes National Park in the Catalan Pyrenees. The national park is characterized by a large variety of pristine likes of all sorts of colors.

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There are several 2700-meter high mountain passes along the walk, the highest point being the Coll de Contraix. My favorite thing in this trek is that the landscape is never monotonous; it changes frequently from dense pine tree forests to barren rocky cliffs.

Cost: N$6980 per person (roughly US$500) all-inclusive for 2 nights (hike, guides, meals, drinks, ‘accommodation’). TOK Rookie Trails is a three day / two night guided hike through Namibia’s stunning Namibian Nature Reserve.

It’s the surreal desert landscape and collude clamping style that make the walk so unique. During the hike, the Namibian Nature Reserve slowly unveils landscapes that are both desolate and dramatic, endless and ever-changing.

On the TOK Rookie Trails, you’ll experience a mix of flat grassy plains, undulating hard and soft dunes and one larger rocky hill, all set against a backdrop of soaring mountains and sweeping valleys. Along the way, expect to spot desert wildlife like onyx and zebra, and wonder how they survive in such barren lands.

People walking in groups make more noise and are less likely to surprise a bear and unwittingly enter into a dangerous situation. Reserve well in advance for summer trips when the trail is most popular and arrive early at the ranger station to stand in line and watch the required bear safety video and get the latest information on river crossings.

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Also known as “Little Tibet”, this beautiful region offers impressive Tibetan monasteries, remote villages, and gorgeous mountains. This route will take you along unforgettable landscapes such as rocky peaks, moon-like plateaus and wild rivers.

Accommodations: Also, you can either camp in the wild or you can stay in the local home-stays that you’ll find along the circuit. Be prepared to see dramatic mountain peaks, lakes, glaciers, and the famous 3 Towers at the end which mark the amazing accomplishment of completing the W trek.

During the high season, from December to February, it’s fully booked months in advance. My boyfriend and I have trekked in April and booked all the campgrounds last minute just a few days before starting the trek.

Once you book your campsites, or huts offering full board, you only need to pay a national park entrance fee, no permits required.

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