Walk the Walk
Going by the same principle of one man's junk being another man's treasure, holidays can be a sort of dividing factor between different people as well. For many, the traditional one or two week trip abroad to a sunny paradise (say to Spain, Italy, Europe, the US, Caribbean, or any one of the many destinations in the Mediterranean where sunshine is pretty much a guarantee) is the pinnacle of holidaymaking; two weeks spent either on beaches, in a villa, or in apartments/hotels whilst sunbathing, dining, and occasionally seeing the local historical sites is simply heaven. Then you have your other kind of explorer, not content with simply laying down in a warm climate for an extended period of time but possessing the urge to use every shred of available time to explore, discover, and most importantly of all, use the two legs that have allowed them to scale the many natural wonders of the world before them. We're talking about the trek-loving people now, and more specifically, trekking-based holidays that offer more than simply a place to lay down in the sun. Thankfully, the world has a great deal of mind-blowing scenery, so it is hoped that you enjoy our list of the best walking/hiking/trekking holidays for the experienced and familiar rambler.
Destination of destinations, beauty of beauties, and frozen landscapes of frozen landscapes: Canada is a true walker's destination. There are dozens of incredible trails throughout the whole of Canada, but Quebec is most definitely a destination which olds an abundance of wonderful ground to place your feet on over and over again. Much of the beauty of Quebec cannot be seen from the roads or your hotels, but rather is only accessible on foot. The national park or Parc national de la Gaspésie is probably one of the most hiked portions of the area, offering 25 summits that break the 1,000 meter mark. You may also run into some wonderful wildlife in the serene surroundings such as caribou or moose.
The national park isn't the only walking wonder that Quebec has to offer, however. The International Appalachian Trail (IAT) originates in the US but stretches through the Appalachian Mountains, with the Quebec section of the trail stretching 650km and offering up some gorgeous views of the mountains. You'll find some great information on this International Appalachian Trail website if you wish to experience it for yourself and get an idea of what you'll be in for if you choose to make this one of your hiking destinations.
Many more hikes including the Sentiers de l'Estrie, the National Trail, and the Traversée de Charlevoix also make for some exciting rambling. You can discover more about this incredible province and all that it has to offer at Bounjour Quebec, a website that should have an answer to most of your questions about Canada's most incredible province..
Mt Cammerer, Great Smoky Mountains, USA
While the USA is more widely known for its foreign policy than its walks, a country as large this cannot possibly be without its fair share of utterly mind-blowing walks: Great Smoky Mountains is probably one of the best that you are likely to experience here. The Great Smoky Mountains consist of a mountain range that runs along the Tennessee-North Carolina border, and my what a wonderful stretch of land this is. Of course it would be foolish to try and walk this range from beginning to end, but it has a number of fantastic walks that are manageable within its purview.
The area that most people will be aware of is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which contains a staggering number of walks of all difficulties ranging from the light rambling through Juney Whank Falls through to the strenuous-yet-rewarding Rainbow Falls via Mt. LeConte. Perhaps the most stunning however is the hikle of Mt. Cammerer, which is another strenuous hike that takes you from the Low Gap Trailhead (2.5miles) then on to the Appalachian trail, hiking up to a summit that takes the total height of the trek to 2,500 ft over 12 trekking miles. 360-degree views can also be enjoyed from the deck of the famous Stone Fire Tower. Hiking the Smokys has a great page of information about the hike on the Mt. Cammerer page, as well as information about many other Smoky Mountain Hikes.
Cinque Terre, Italy
It is quite difficult to imagine going to Italy and not spending every second combing through the Greek and Roman ruins, taking in the beaches, and enjoying the cuisine as regularly as possible, but this country also has some beautiful walks as well. The most famous and indeed the walk that has wowed pretty much everyone that undertakes it is that through Cinque Terre. Simply put, this walk involves walking along a coastal path with the Mediterranean sea dominating one half of your view while the other is filled up magnificently with the magnificence of the mountains that sit there awaiting your admiration and your awe.
Cinque Terre actually consists of five villages, each linked with the wonderful path that makes up the trail. It is often the mistake of travellers to try and make each walk last an entire day, booking one room per day in each of the villages, but this is due to a misunderstanding of the beauty of Cinque Terre: it can actually be undertaken in a day if you're a very ardent hiker. Cinque Terre is actually considered a National Park, the official website of which details the various areas and particulars of the journey, with videos and pictures for those still deciding whether to make this the walk that they undertake this year or not. A great deal of information about the Cinque Terre from a hiker's perspective can be found at Walks of Italy, but the best way to discover the stunning beauty of this walk is to simply undertake it yourself.
Ten Falls Canyon Trail, Oregon
Oregon is of course home to the Oregon Trail, an expanse that spans around 2,200 miles from east to west which is obviously too expansive for a hike. There are many individual hikes within the trail that can be enjoyed by hikers of all abilities and experience, though there are few more beautiful than the Ten Falls Canyon Trail.
This trail is definitely family friendly and isn't as strenuous as the above hikes, but it does differ in that it is based around the passing of ten wonderful waterfalls that make each connecting bit of trail worth conquering. The waterfalls themselves range from around 30 feet to around 180 feet in height, and some you can venture behind if you feel like getting a little wet and wild during your hike. This trail sits within a park that spans about 9,000 acres, so the scale of the state as well as the whole of the United States becomes apparent once you sit down at the end of the trail to enjoy refreshments at the café there. This is definitely one for the family, but that isn't to say it isn't every bit as enjoyable as the more strenuous walks available.
Monte Verde, Costa Rica
It may be one thing to hike through Amazonian rainforests, but until you have experienced one of the many cloud forests of the world, then you can't say you have truly lived. Cloud forests are so named because the altitude at which they sit at results in frequent cloud coverage that makes them an entirely different experience altogether. One of the Most beautiful of these cloud forests is Monte Verde in Costa Rica.
Sitting 4,662m feet above sea level, Monte Verde is a forest that is draped almost permanently in cloud, which manifests most frequently as a fog that envelopes the tall trees and allows a diverse ecosystem to thrive. Expect to be privileged enough to see some of the forest's 100 different mammal species, 400 bird species, and tens of thousands of different insects. The hiking trails here are well maintained and therefore don't require any special footwear unless you are planning on staying overnight in one of the designated huts. This hike isn't for beginner walkers due to the unusually humid conditions, but more information for more experienced hikers and avid travellers can be found on the Monte Verde website.
Nova Scotia, Canada
Canada simply has the right to appear on this list more than once because of the sheer beauty that it packs for prospective hikers of its magnificent lands, though Nova Scotia is an altogether different beautiful beast than Quebec.
The trail in question here is Cape Split, which is considered by many experienced hikers to be one of the best that the whole country has to offer. Cape Split is a coastal hike that is probably the most representative of what Nova Scotia is all about. The lush green hills and stunning coastline can be viewed from a majority of the 16km return coastal path, which is best suited for walkers of moderate experience as it can also get quite muddy in places. There is a park being built on the land surrounding the trail, so expect more natural beauty to be on display in the future, as well as more trails to open up that will hopefully rival the beauty of this magnificent stretch of coastline.
Coastal Path, Isle of Wight, UK
Many that live in the UK often don't appreciate some of the incredible natural beauty that it has to offer: the Scottish highlands, Ireland, rural England, and Wales has some incredible walks to offer. It is the Isle of Wight that seems to stick in the memories of all those who visit it however, most likely due to the relatively unspoiled nature of the countryside that it has to offer, as well as the fact that is has its own walking festival.
The Isle of Wight Coastal Path is not for the amateur hiker. This path stretches 67 miles and can be split into around 6 days of fairly intensive hiking. The path surrounds the island and stays close to the coast, offering the chance to walk over sandstone and chalk cliffs, bays, holiday parks, quieter areas, and inlets. Once one has finished the hike, they can marvel in their own achievement of having effectively circles an entire island, and one of stunning natural beauty and variation. The different routes that make up the walk can be found on the Isle of Wight walking routes page on the official website.
Kvikkjokk Padjelanta Trail, Swedish Lapland
Sweden as a great number of walks for hikers to get themselves involved in, and these range from one day to a week's worth of rambling. The Kvikkjokk Padjelanta Trail, aside from being difficult for many people to pronounce, is a fairly challenging hike that can last up to four days, taking you through the Tarra Valley and furnishing you with some amazing views and brilliant flora for you to be in awe of. The trail stretches from Kvikkjokk to Ritsem over 150km and will give you some of the best views of mountains and water-dipped scenery that can ever be taken in.
The Great Wall, China
It would be silly to suggest that one attempts to hike a trail - the majority of which can be seen from space such is its size - like the Great Wall of China in its entirety. The fact that it stretches from 1500 miles should be enough to make you realise that this isn't a beginning-to-end hike in itself. What can be achieved however is a shorter walk between two locations of your choice along the trail.
There are many stretches of land to choose from along the great wall, some populous and some jutting into the wilderness where not many people go, but it is recommended that you travel in an official capacity and perhaps have a hike organised by an external company rather than trying to undertake a DIY hike. The reasons why are explained on this National Geographic's Great Wall of China page, but suffice it to say that it is unclear whether DIY hikers are fully welcome.
Still, this shouldn't put anyone off going for a serious hike along one of the wonders of the world. You can check out some walks that are tailored to different preferences and levels of experience on China Highlights, making it much easier to plan out your trip and giving you a better idea of what to expect when you embark upon what will likely be one of the most memorable periods of walking of your entire life.