World's Best Hikes: A Guide's Guide
World's Best Hikes: A Guide's Guide
Descend through caves, down ladders, and along anchored chains in the rock face as you wind your way down the shoulder of a cliff with views of a spectacular 200-foot waterfall. The clear blue-green pools below and contrasting red rock walls of the canyon beckon you down further as you weave in and out of view of Mooney Falls on your descent. Upon reaching the base, a hike further down-canyon brings deeper pools, creek crossings, and tangles of green grape vines. Be sure to look upriver, as the view constantly changes behind you, begging for photos to be taken from every angle.
6 miles, round trip from Supai Village
Located in Kenai Fjords National Park, you traverse several mountain ecosystems beginning at the trailhead shaded by towering cottonwood trees then making your way through meadow and forest up to the alpine tundra. After that you are “walking on the moon” over a stark landscape of rock and ice. This “strenuous” trail takes 6-8 hours to hike, and you’ll gain about 1,000 feet of elevation every mile. As you ascend the trail, take in views of Exit Glacier and the extensive Resurrection River extending into the valley below. Upon reaching the summit (on a clear day), you can see for miles across the Harding Icefield and can spot peaks jutting up out of the ice. You may also see a bear or two on this trail!
8.2 miles, round trip
White-washed houses hugging the edge of a 1,300 foot caldera dominate the scene at the beginning of this spectacular hike in Fira. Birds-eye views of a blue expanse of the Aegean Sea; quaint, picturesque churches hundreds of years old; and dramatic volcanic cliffs will capture your sights as you make your way to the postcard-perfect town of Oia. A glass of wine in an inviting tavern amongst the locals in Oia is a requirement before transferring back to Fira by bus!
Beginning with a hike across an open meadow, this trail meanders through lodgepole pine forests, past chalky white geothermal features, skirting a lily-pad dotted pond, and finally delivers you to the edge of the deep, multi-colored Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. As you carefully make your way back along the canyon wall, you’ll “ooh and ahh” around every bend as the pinks, yellows, reds, and oranges of the rock appear all the more bright as you walk the final section to Artist Point, the most spectacular viewpoint of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, a 308 foot tall waterfall!
3.5 miles point to point
The work to get up to Beehive Basin is worth the effort. Beginning with views of the Big Sky Valley, this trail snakes its way along a trickling, snow-fed creek, across mountain slopes carpeted with wildflowers. Upon reaching the basin, a small unnamed mountain lake awaits you surrounded by open vistas, tall mountains, and snow! A picnic lunch on the lakeshore followed by some trout fishing or a snowball fight is sure to be on your agenda for the afternoon!
6.4 miles round trip
This is the “back way” to get to Machu Picchu by foot and the 40+ mile trail takes you through 15 different ecosystems over the course of 7 days. Along the way, you’ll spend the night in beautiful, luxurious mountain lodges complete with hot tea upon arrival, warm water bottles in your bed at night, and a hot tub right outside the door where you can gaze upwards at the star-studded Peruvian skies. For an alternate to the popular Inca Trail (with entrance into Machu Picchu via the iconic Sun Gate) the Salkantay Trail with its dramatic scenery, fewer people, and stunning lodges cannot be beat!
41 miles point to point
Strap on the crampons for this guided glacier walk on the massive Columbia Icefield of the Rocky Mountains. A specially trained glacier guide will ensure you’re properly outfitted to safely discover the world of glacier ice by foot! Stare down into the abyss of a glacial crevasse as you trek past a gaping hole within the glacier. Learn your glacier terminology as you view a moraine or millwell up close. Take in the craggy, glacially carved landscape as your guide provides the history of this fascinating area.
3 to 5 miles, round trip
One of the most famous and thrilling hikes within the US National Park system. Those with a fear of heights may choose to pass for something less intimidating. This narrow and eye-popping hike in Zion’s main red rock canyon will definitely test your limits when it comes to its dizzying drop-offs and deep chasm views. During the hike you’ll walk along a narrow ridge with drop-offs on each side and pull yourself up a rock face by way of anchored chains. Don’t forget to ascend Walter’s Wiggles along the way! Upon reaching Angel’s Landing, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking 360-degree views that make it 100-percent worth it!
4.8 miles round trip
Voted “one of the best short hikes in Great Britain.” Fortunately, despite receiving this accolade, this hike does not see as many trekkers as one would think. This walk begins in a spectacular chasm leading to a meadow, where a waterfall tumbles over 320 feet from a high mountain. The stunning valley surrounding you, featured in Braveheart, promises jaw-dropping views that will make you feel as if you’re walking the set of a movie.
5 miles round trip
Monte Fitz Roy rises above the serene waters of Laguna Capri for a classic Patagonia view. There are a number of hillocks along the lake creating unique vantage points for photography of the lake and surrounding scenery. Trekking around this area will provide views of sprawling glaciers, jagged peaks, and turquoise lakes that look unlike anything you’ve ever had the pleasure to see.
4 to 8 miles, round trip