A great vacation must always strike a balance between trying new and delicious food and working off the calories you consume while doing so. Because my favorite travel itineraries always include some sort of food tour, cooking class, or other amazing culinary adventure, they also include a fair amount of hiking and biking to help work up a healthy appetite. Hiking around the world, I have many fond memories and have compiled a list of my favorite trails.
Hiking Around the World – Scariest Hikes:
Angels Landing is a stunning five mile out and back trail in Zion National Park. The beauty of the red rock pairs with beautiful greenery and is met with steep switchbacks and sheer drop-offs. Sections of the trail require the use of chains bolted into the cliff for handholds. I never knew I had a fear of heights until I met my match on the final stretch of this hike. I have to confess that while I didn’t actually make it to the very end at Scout Lookout, I was very happy with my hike to Hogsback and recommend this trail to anyone visiting Zion.
The Precipice Trail in Acadia National park is more of a climb than a hike. The two and a half mile loop trail kicks off with a challenging boulder crawl followed by a series of iron rung ladders. If you have the guts to look away from the metal bars you’re clinging to, the exposed cliffs offer spectacular views of Acadia National Park. While the hike doesn’t require any special equipment, it has many tricky spots and requires determination.
Peek-a-boo and Spooky Gulch
The slot canyons of Escalante, Utah are remarkable. After a 26-mile bumpy drive down Hole-in-the-Rock Road, Peek-a-boo and Spooky Gulch combine to make a gorgeous loop hike. What made this hike scary, in my book, was the weather. As we began our hike a group of ominous dark clouds rolled over the area. With flash flooding a serious concern in the narrow desert canyons, we hiked as quickly as possible to make it out of the park and back down the long dirt road to civilization. If you have the chance to hike the canyons on a beautiful day, it is a must. If the weather is questionable then I’d give this a pass. Better safe than sorry!
The Olomana trail on Oahu, also known as the Three Peaks is a strenuous and treacherous hike. While the first peak is relatively safe and offers amazing views of the windward side of Oahu, the second and third peaks each get more dangerous than the last. Take your time reaching the end of this 4.5 mile out and back trail, as the steep drop-offs and heavy winds make it a challenge!
Hiking Around the World – Most Beautiful Hikes:
Grinnell Glacier was the highlight of our visit to Glacier National Park in Montana. Plan ahead and you can take the shuttle boats from Many Glacier Hotel across the Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine to start your hike with a quick historical tour and scenic boat ride. The eight-mile out and back trail from this point is filled with wildlife, plants, and breathtaking views of the glacier and many lakes of the area. We spotted a group of bighorn sheep, narrowly avoided a black bear, and had a close encounter with a moose eating grass from the bottom of Lake Josephine!
The Kuliouou Ridge Trail on Oahu is a moderate four and a half mile out and back trail with awesome views of Hanauma Bay and Koko Head. The trail starts out in the forest on a shaded dirt and root covered network of switchbacks. After a stretch of pine needle covered soft trail, you’ll reach the open air. The trail continues up a steep ascent and finally, you’re met with the most stunning island views.
The Queenstown Hill Time Walk is a beautiful trail with historical markers and excellent views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. I must say that the name of the hike is somewhat deceiving. This is definitely a hike more than a walk as you make your way up the 2,000-foot climb. It certainly feels like a mountain as the temperature drops quite quickly as you ascend. There are numerous additional trails around the peak to explore.
The Reykjadalur Hot Springs in Iceland remains a fond memory at the top of my great hikes list. The 3.6km trail from Hveragerdi passes steaming hillsides and bubbling mud pools until it reaches the hot springs. There is no better way to relax after a hike than with a steamy hot bath!
For someone who is always trying to get out of the country, it is impressive that my list contains hiking trails mostly in the United States. Our State and National Parks do an amazing job of maintaining and marking trails for hikers of all skill levels. I have yet to hike the Inca Trail or summit Torres del Paine, but with such a beautiful world we live in, there are endless adventures on my list! Have you been hiking around the world? What has been your best hike ever? Where should I head next?
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