Are you looking for a memorable adventure? While conquering thousands of miles on foot will likely cause equal parts pleasure and pain, the beautiful sights along the way will keep you going. From North America to Europe, Asia, and New Zealand—the longest hiking trails worldwide are waiting for you. So, grab a passport, lace up your boots, and put one foot in front of the other. The world is waiting for you.
1. The Great Trail, Canada (16,777 miles)
The Great Trail (formerly the Trans Canada Trail) runs across Canada from west to east and is the longest network of recreational trails globally. The course starts in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and runs through Alberta to Edmonton before veering up through British Columbia to Yukon. Hikers on The Great Trail experience a variety of landscapes.
From urban to rural to wilderness, hikers can trek along various green, water, and roadways. And the trail offers lots of activities as well. Hikers can incorporate cycling, horseback riding, paddling, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling. Hikers can do it all on The Great Trail!
2. The North Country Trail, U.S. (4,800 miles)
Also known as the NCT, the North Country Trail runs from Middlebury in Vermont to Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota. The trail connects the Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail with the Lewis and Clark Trail. Lucky hikers will traverse through forests, farmlands, remote terrain, and communities. Passing through eight states, the North Country Trail is the longest of the 11 National Scenic Trails (authorized by the U.S. Congress).
3. The Hokkaido Nature Trail, Japan (2,848 miles)
Relatively recent, The Hokkaido Nature Trail opened in 2003. Located on Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands, Hokkaido is about the size of Austria, and The Hokkaido Nature Trail covers much of the space. Usually trekked north to south, hikers can explore Hokkaido’s glaciers, forests, lakes, and active volcanic mountains. The trail is long and still growing!
4. The Great Western Loop, U.S. (6,875 miles)
The Great Western Loop in the Western U.S. links five other long-distance trails (Pacific Crest Trail, the Pacific Northwest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, the Grand Enchantment Trail, and the Arizona Trail). With gorgeous natural scenery, hikers can expect everything from mountains to waterfalls, deserts, forests, and lakes. The first person to complete this beast was Andrew Skurka. The professional backpacker was named National Geographic’s “Adventurer of the Year” in 2007.
5. The South West Coast Path, U.K. (630 miles)
While this long hike is a picnic compared to others on the list, The South West Coast Path is the U.K.’s longest National Trail. The coastline path is beautiful and dramatic. Starting at Minehead in Somerset, the trail runs along the gorgeous coastline of Exmoor. It continues up the coast of North Devon into Cornwall. Hikers follow the coastline of Cornwall into Devon, trek along the south coast of Devon, and along the Dorset coastline before ending in Poole.
And as a bonus, hikers get to cross two World Heritage Sites. The first site, the Jurassic Coast, is known for its fascinating geology and lets hikers witness rocks from the Cretaceous, Jurassic, and Triassic periods. Hikers passing through the second World Heritage Site, the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape, will see remains showcasing Cornwall and West Devon’s contribution to the Industrial Revolution and the mining world in general.
6. Appalachian Trail, U.S. (2,200 miles)
The famous Appalachian Trail is a bucket-list adventure for many hikers. Over 2,000 miles in the eastern U.S., this long trail has many exciting things to see. From forests and mountains to lakes, rivers, and a wide variety of wild animals, the path stretches from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Only for the fittest hikers, the trek is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world and passes through an impressive 14 states.
7. Pacific Coast Trail, U.S. (2,650 miles)
One of the most beloved long trails in the world, the Pacific Coast Trail runs through California, Oregon, and Washington until it reaches the Canadian border. The mountain scenery in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges is every bit as beautiful as you’d imagine.
8. The Great Himalayan Trail, Nepal (2,800 miles)
The Great Himalayan Trail is a beautiful mountain trail combining several smaller trails running from east to west in the Himalayan Mountains. Ambitious hikers will trek through several mountain villages and towns in up to four countries, including India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet. Not for the faint of heart, this strenuous hike takes an estimated 152 days to complete.
9. Great Italian Trail, Italy (3,832 miles)
The Great Italian Trail takes the average hiker eight months to complete. The mountain trail runs from Trieste in northern Italy along the entire Alpine arc across the Apennine mountain chain through Sicily and Sardinia, finally turning west across the Tyrrhenian to Sardinia and Santa Teresa Gallura. The terrain is varied, and the sheer distance will intimidate the most experienced hikers. But exploring Italy’s beautiful country on foot is truly a memorable adventure.
10. Te Araroa Trail, New Zealand (1,900 Miles)
Commonly known as The Long Pathway, the Te Araroa Trail spans across the coasts of the two largest islands of New Zealand. It’s possibly the world’s toughest thru-hikes, with the Tasman region being the most challenging part. The Te Araroa Trail showcases everything New Zealand has to offer.
It connects towns and cities and introduces hikers to New Zealand’s residents, including friendly people, wild animals, and exotic plants. The long hike starts in Cape Reinga and ends in Bluff, and along the way, hikers explore New Zealand’s beaches, volcanoes, mountains, rivers, lakes, and valleys.
Comprised of new and older railway tracks, walkways, and roads, the road portions of the Te Araroa Trail will eventually be diminished to a mere 5% of the entire trail.
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