Top 20 Trails on the Planet

When you discuss thru-hiking, most people mention the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Coast Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail. These high-profile trails are well-known worldwide, but they are not the only spectacular long-distance hiking trails in the world.

There are dozens of long-distance trails throughout the world waiting for you to discover. We profile 20 of the best in epic locations such as Bhutan and Argentina.

Wales Coast Path - Wales, United Kingdom
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The first country in the world to develop a dedicated costal trail around its entire coastline, the Wales Coast Path, developed by the Welsh government along with other local authorities and national parks, the Welsh Coastal path opened in 2012. It begins at the city of Chester in the north and ends at the town of Chepstow in the South 886 miles later, it can be completerd with the offas dyke path to complete a full circle of Wales.

Most people hike the path in sections, taking time to savor the stunning ocean views, impressive cliffs, and historical sites. Unlike most trails where you encounter woodland animals, the Wales Coast Path allows you to experience the unique flora and fauna found in coastal locations such as beaches, dunes, estuaries, and salt marshes.

Details on the Wales Coast Path can be found on the trail's official website.

The Cicirone Guide Book can also be purchased here

This incredible route can be found here

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Te Araora Trail - New Zeland
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Te Araroa (The Long Pathway) is New Zealand's long distance hiking route, stretching circa 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi) along the length of the country's two main islands from Cape Reinga to Bluff. It is made up of a mixture of older tracks and walkways, new tracks, and link sections alongside roads. Tramping the full length of the trail generally takes three to six months.

more information can be found on the official website.

The most comprehensive guide available can be found here.

The route can also be found here

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Tour Du Mount Blanc - France, Italy, Switzerland,
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The Tour du Mont Blanc or TMB is one of the most popular long-distance walks in Europe. It circles the Mont Blanc massif, covering a distance of roughly 170 kilometres (110 mi) with 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) of ascent/descent and passes through parts of Switzerland, Italy and France.

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It is considered one of the classic long-distance hiking trails. The circular route is normally walked in a counter-clockwise direction in 11 days. It is also the route of an annual mountain marathon in which the winners normally cover the entire distance in less than 26 (women's race) or 22 hours (men's race).

More information can be found here

The Cicerone Guide book can be found here

You can also check out or download the route here

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GR20 - Corsica
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The Grande Randonnée 20 or GR 20 (or fra li monti) is a GR footpath that crosses the Mediterranean island of Corsica running approximately north-south, described by the outdoor writer Paddy Dillon as "one of the top trails in the world".

The whole trail is about 180 km long with 12,000m of elevation gain, clearly waymarked throughout, the walk for most of the 10,000-20,000 hikers per year takes around 15 days. The trail is considered to be the most difficult of all the GR routes and consists of two parts: the northern part, between Calenzana and Vizzavona and the southern part, between Vizzavona and Conca.

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The northern part is considered by some the more difficult part, because of the steep and rocky paths, though this could be an effect of many walkers beginning in the north and not being as fit for this section. The southern part of the trail is often considered easier though the lower altitude may give rise to higher temperatures in summer and so provide more difficult walking conditions.

Along the trail there are mountain huts described as "refuges" or gîtes. The standard and price of accommodations and food varies from refuge to refuge. Hikers can sleep in a tent near the refuge, but it is not permitted to pitch tents along the trail.

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Great Himalayan Trail, Nepal
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The Great Himalaya Trail is a route across the Himalayas from east to west. The original concept of the trail was to establish a single long distance trekking trail from the east end to the west end of Nepal that includes a total of roughly 1,700 kilometres (1,100 mi) of path. There is a proposed trail of more than 4,500 kilometres (2,800 mi) stretching the length of the Greater Himalaya range from Nanga Parbat in Pakistan to Namche Barwa in Tibet thus passing through, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. Although an actual continuous route is currently only a concept, if completed it would be the longest and highest alpine hiking track in the world

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The proposed trail links together a range of the less explored tourism destinations of Nepal's mountain region.

The trekking route crosses both well-known areas as well as other lesser-known sites that are very poor but have enormous tourism potential. The purpose of developing the trail was to promote socioeconomic benefits to mountain communities. The Great Himalaya Trail covers 16 districts, ranging from Dolpa that connects with the Tibetan plateau, to Darchula, which borders India. Trekking in Nepal is a major attraction for tourists, but popular destinations have been limited to the regions of Solukhumbu, Everest, Annapurna and Langtang.

The route offers diversity in terms of landscapes, flora and fauna, people and culture: from snow leopards to red pandas; from sub-tropical jungle to fragile high-altitude eco-systems; from the famous Sherpas, to Shamanism, to the ancient Bön Buddhist culture in Dolpa.

More information about the trail can be found here

One of many guidebooks available can be found here

A Copy of the route can be found here

Bruce Trail, Canada
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The Bruce Trail is a hiking trail in southern Ontario, Canada, from the Niagara River to the tip of Tobermory, Ontario. The main trail is more than 890 km (550 mi) long and there are over 400 km (250 mi) of associated side trails. The trail mostly follows the edge of the Niagara Escarpment, one of the thirteen UNESCO World Biosphere Reserves in Canada. The land the trail traverses is owned by the Government of Ontario, local municipalities, local conservation authorities, private landowners, and the Bruce Trail Conservancy (BTC). The Bruce Trail is the oldest and longest marked hiking trail in Canada. Its name is linked to the Bruce Peninsula and Bruce County, through which the trail runs. The trail is named after the county, which was named after James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin who was Governor General of the Province of Canada from 1847 to 1854.

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Overland Track - Tasmania, Australia.
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The Overland Track is an Australian bushwalking track, traversing Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. It's walked by more than nine thousand people each year, with numbers limited in the warmer months. Officially the track runs for 65 kilometres (40 mi) from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair however many choose to extend it by walking along Lake St Clair for an extra day, bringing it to 82 kilometres (51 mi). It winds through terrain ranging from glacial mountains, temperate rainforest, wild rivers and alpine plains.

More information can be found here

The Cicerone Guide can be found here

The route can be found here

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Tokai Trail - Japan.
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The Tōkai Nature Trail (東海自然歩道, Tōkai Shizen Hodō) is a long distance walkway that traverses 11 prefectures and covers 1,697 kilometres (1,054 mi), running from Meiji no Mori Takao Quasi-National Park in Tokyo to Meiji no Mori Minō Quasi-National Park in Osaka Prefecture. Hiking the entire trail usually takes 40 to 50 days.[1]

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In 1969, the former Minister of Health, Labor, and Welfare (current Minister of the Environment), proposed establishing a long-distance hiking trail. In 1970, with cooperation of related local governments, the construction project began, and was completed in 1974. Subsequently, the idea of connecting two quasi-national parks gave rise to constructing an array of additional quasi-national parks along the path. Numerous hills, wetlands, and canyons, which had not previously been viewed as tourist spots were designated as quasi-national parks and presently serve as nature preserves.

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Sentierio Italia/Grand Italian Trail - Italy.
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There are "Great" trails and even "Greater" trails, the Sentiero is best described as "Grand."

It's an indulgent, convalescent tour traversing the entire Alpine arc before shimmying down the Apennine chain to Sicily and finally drifting west across the Tyrrhenian to Sardinia and Santa Teresa Gallura -- site of the ancient city of Tibula.

The route was forged in 1995 by the first Walk Italy event and gives not so much a taste but a full five courses of La Dolce Vita: from the majestic Dolomites, via rich Tuscan vineyards, to the jaw-dropping splendor of the Amalfi Coast.

With such varied terrain and the sheer distances involved a thru-hike takes considerable planning and roughly eight months to complete.

More information: Traildino.com

The Cicerone Guide can be found here

The route can be found here

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Appalachian Trail - United States of America
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The Appalachian is the grand daddy of long-distance trails.

One third of North America's holy hiking trinity, the Triple Crown -- the others being the Pacific Crest and Continental Divide trails -- it's the most iconic, famed for its "thru hikers" who attempt to complete it in a single season.

Its 5 million steps follow the Appalachian Mountains from Mount Springer, Georgia, to Mount Katahdin, Maine.

The range was once a natural border to the 13 colonies held by powerful Native American tribes like the Iroquois and Cherokee, before independence gave rise to westward expansion.

Among the highlights: the idyllic, overgrown tracks through Great Smokey Mountains National Park in North Carolina, North America's most diverse forest.

More information at: Appalachiantrail.org

One of many books can be found here

The route can be found here

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Continental Devide Trail - United States of America

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Spanning 3,100 miles from Mexico to Canada along the Rocky Mountain spine of North America, it takes hikers across some arduous but spectacular terrain including the Red Desert dunes of Wyoming and the heights of Grays Peak (14,270 feet/4,350 meters) in Colorado.

The standout feature is Triple Divide Peak in Montana, where the rain runs three ways to the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Arctic via Hudson Bay.

Only 150 people attempt to thru-hike the trail each year.

The youngest to complete it was 13-year-old Reed Gjonnes.

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Pacific Crest Trail - United States of America
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The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), the third trail of the Triple Crown, officially designated as the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, is a long-distance hiking and equestrian trail closely aligned with the highest portion of the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges, which lie 100 to 150 miles (160 to 240 km) east of the U.S. Pacific coast. The trail's southern terminus is just south of Campo, California by the U.S. border with Mexico, and its northern terminus is on the Canada–US border on the edge of Manning Park in British Columbia; it passes through the states of California, Oregon, and Washington.

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It was designated a National Scenic Trail in 1968, although it was not officially completed until 1993.[9] The PCT was conceived by Clinton Churchill Clarke in 1932.[10] It received official status under the National Trails System Act of 1968.

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Great Patagonia Trail - Chile & Argentina
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In the “Go Big or Go Home” category, we submit the Greater Patagonia Trail. This bad boy is NOT for beginners, and has only been completed by a handful of seasoned hikers over the course of the 3-4 months it can take. This trail is underdeveloped, isolated, rigorous, and quite remote. The aim is to traverse the Patagonian Andes that border Chile and Argentina. You’ll need beaucoup stamina and map reading skills to go along with your world-class planning and hiking expertise. For variety of terrain, however, this may be the ultimate hiking challenge. You’ll take in country roads, town paths, river rafts and horse trails to complete your journey. The Argentinian and Chilean governments are putting their money where their mouths are and hope to improve infrastructure in the years to come so more folks will visit. But for now, you can revel in the unofficial status of the route should you choose to tackle it – and know that you’re walking in places of otherworldly beauty not many have ever laid eyes on.

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Kungsleden - Sweden
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Kungsleden (King's Trail) is a hiking trail in northern Sweden, approximately 440 kilometres (270 mi) long, between Abisko in the north and Hemavan in the south.[1] It passes through, near the southern end, the Vindelfjällen Nature Reserve, one of the largest protected areas in Europe. In the winter Kungsleden is a ski trail with approximately the same route.

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Kungsleden runs for about 440 kilometres (270 mi) between Abisko in the north and Hemavan in the south. The trail is well-marked and many sections are well equipped and maintained by the Countyboard of Norrbotten (Länsstyrelsen i Norrbotten), with plank walkways covering swampy or rocky ground. However, other sections, further from the trailheads, are eroded and rocky, increasing the difficulty of hiking. There are bridges across non-fordable streams and during the summer season lakes and rivers could be crossed either with rowing boats provided by Countyboard of Norrbotten or STF or by taking a local charter boat. The winter trail takes a somewhat different course in locations where it runs over swamps or lakes that can not be negotiated in summer.

The trail is separated in four portions—each representing approximately one week of hiking. The most popular part is by far the northernmost—between Abisko and Kebnekaise. The season, when the huts are open, usually runs between mid-June and the end of September, rowing boats are usually in place at the end of June or beginning of July, but the weather can be very treacherous, including late or early snow. The winter season runs from mid-February to the end of April.

Slovenian Mountain Trail - Slovenia
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The Slovenian Mountain Hiking Trail (Slovene: Slovenska planinska pot), sometimes also called Transverzala (Long-Distance Trail), is a route from Maribor to Ankaran. It covers most of the Slovenian mountain areas including Pohorje, the Julian Alps, the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, the Karawanks, and the southwestern part of Slovenia. It is the oldest hiking track in Europe.[1]

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The trail opened on August 1, 1953, with 80 control points. Since then, the trail has only changed slightly. These are the trail's current features: Control points: 75; Length: 599 km; Total ascent: 45.2 km; Total descent: 45.5 km.

There are 58 huts and two museums — the Slovene Alpine Museum in Mojstrana, and Franja Partisan Hospital (from World War II) — and the cave system named Škocjan Caves.

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Transcaucasian Trail - Georgia & Armenia
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It’s not every day that Time names a hiking trail to their annual World’s 100 Greatest Places list.

In fact, this is a first.

And this is just the beginning of the attention and recognition that the new Transcaucasian Trail, a more than 1,800-mile trail that connects some of the most beautiful and remote regions of Armenia and Georgia (and eventually Azerbaijan) to one another, has started to receive.

And while these are some of the most incredible landscapes you could ever experience in person, it isn’t just the views that make the Transcaucasian Trail a special experience, it’s the interactions and hospitality of the locals along the way that especially set these hiking trails apart.

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From the moment you start this hike, with Sevan Lake to your back as you ascend into the clouds that you really start to realize the beauty – and diversity in landscapes – that Armenia has to offer.

In the following days, hiking through cities like Kalavan, Gosh, and through the forests of Dilijan National Park – the Armenian Switzerland, as locals like to call it – it was the leaves that changing colors of the leaves, the mountaintop views, and unique rock formations that made the hike perfectly picturesque.

But you’ll have to work for these views because with ascents from 1,100 to 4,200 feet up into the clouds and with trails as long as 14.5 miles, this hike is, one might say, no walk in the park.

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Michinoku Coastal Trail - Japan
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Inca Trail - Peru
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The Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu is unquestionably one of South America's greatest treks.

It can also feel overrun at times, which is where this excellent alternative comes in.

Lares and Royal Inca Trail, a guided three-day trek in the Lares region, follows an ancient Inca path through Andean forests, up the Huchayccasa pass and through the village of Huacahuasi, with the chance to catch glimpse of soaring Mount Veronica.

Once over, hikers can then catch a train to the Inca Trail, completing the final stretch through the cloud forest and into the famous ruins.

 Camino de Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Rather than following a single path, the Camino, also known as the Way of St. James, is actually a series of different pilgrimage routes, all ending at the shrine of the apostle St. James in the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela.

The most popular modern route follows a line across northern Spain from the French Pyrenees.

While some choose to stay at monasteries along the way, plenty of operators offer hotel stays and luggage transfers.

The Lycian Way - Turkey

Covering 300 miles around the coast of southern Turkey from Fethiye to Antalya, the Lycian Way gives walkers a chance to explore the former kingdom of Lycia.

Passing through the ancient town of Sidyma and the ghost town of Kaya, the route cleaves to the water, with the chance of a cooling dip after a long day's walk.

We offer an eight-day guided hike along the opening stretch, with the chance to stay on a traditional gulet sail boat each night.

The route is well-marked and can be followed without a guide.

© 2021.Thru-Hike Adventures.

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