A long distance hiking trail is usually described as an off-road walkable path that takes more than two days to complete, often found in the wilderness. Few people ever manage to complete these demanding journeys but, those who do, claim the experience changed their life forever. We have selected the finest, most challenging and overall epic trails from around the globe. Read on to find out our picks!
Number Six: Pacific Crest Trail
The famous North American trail runs 2,650 miles, from the Mexican border in California to Canada—one of the longest backpacking trails in the U.S. The route usually takes five months to complete for experienced hikers. The Oscar-nominated movie Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon, set off an explosion of popularity for the path, with over 1,500 people taking out the permits to walk it every year since the movie was released. Other remarkable long-distance hiking trails in the U.S. are the Appalachian and the Continental Divide trails.
Number Five: E1 European Long-Distance Path
The E1 is one of the most unique hiking trails in the world, as it cuts through six different countries: from cold Norway in the North, to sunny Italy in the South. The 3,082-mile long path, which covers mountains, forests, rivers and charming little towns, delights the very few people who actually dare embark on this adventure. With most visitors opting for the neighboring (and not nearly that lengthy) Camino de Santiago instead, the E1 remains a mere fable for most people. If you’re not one for foot blisters, you can always just purchase an Interrail pass.
Number Four: Greater Patagonian Hiking Trail
The greater Patagonian trail (some 930 miles) is not a path for amateurs; it will lead you straight into the legendary Patagonian Andes, which spans through Chile and Argentina. Unlike the previous trails we have mentioned, the Greater Patagonian is very underdeveloped, steep and remote, with scarcely any signs to guide you into the right direction. The alpine view, however, is unlike anything you have ever seen before.
Number Three: Te Araroa Trail
The Te Araroa Trail (Maori for The Long Pathway,) is a 300 section, 1,864-mile long tramping route which connects New Zealand’s North and South islands, crossing the entirety of the country. This route encompasses the beauty of New Zealand’s stunning scenery, coming across turquoise glacial lakes, lush rainforests, active volcanoes, rugged mountains and penguin-filled deserted beaches. Lord of the Ring fans will love it.
Number Two: Tokai Nature Trail
Covering the Prefectures of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Yamanashi, Shizuoka, Aichi, Shiga, Gifu, Mie, Kyōto, Nara and Ōsaka, the Tokai was Japan’s first attempt at a long-distance trail that would draw visitors from all over the world. The path, which is roughly 994 miles long and passes temples, ancient castles and waterfalls, connects several major national parks and points of interest, and it’s fairly easy to navigate—it’s well-equipped with numerous signs, public restrooms and picnic areas. Moreover, Japan is one of the safest countries to visit; with one of the lowest crime rates in the world and barely any large predatory mammals, the Asian trail is one of the most harmless on this list.
Number One: Great Divide Trail
The Great Divide, which traverses the territory between Alberta and British Columbia (some 745 miles), is Canada’s longest walking path at the moment, and one of the most spectacular on the planet. The route has existed for over 50 years, although it’s still not recognized as such by Parks Canada. However, The Great Divide Trail Association works hard to maintain and promote the pathway, in order to keep it in the best possible condition for visiting backpackers. For those who would rather bike their way through Canada, an off-road parallel biking route is also available. It’s recommended to embark on this adventure during the Spring and Summer months, as the GDT tends to get completely buried in snow during the Winter months! We hoped you enjoyed our list, thanks for reading!