Epic Hiking Trails
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21 Epic Hiking Trails Around the World

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Epic Hiking Trails
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The Trails Are Calling

Looking for a fun, adventurous, and affordable summer vacation? Go take a hike — literally. Hiking is a great way to see waterfalls, mountain peaks, and alpine meadows without spending a lot of money. And a hike isn't just something to do on a summer afternoon. There are many trails that are best experienced on multi-day hikes, both in the United States and overseas. Hikers don't need much to get started: good boots, a backpack, basic camping gear, and in some cases a permit. Many trails have inexpensive huts or lodges to use along the way, and dining is more pork and beans than filet mignon. Cheapism rounded up some of the best hiking trails around the globe.

Related: 20 Spectacular Trails That Used to Be Railroads

The John Muir Trail
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The John Muir Trail

Running from Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney, the 211-mile John Muir Trail in California overlaps with much of the Pacific Crest Trail. Although it's one of the most beautiful and famous trails in the country, it's not very busy and frequently provides a sense of solitude. There are several camps and stores in the High Sierra backcountry along the way offering supplies and warm showers.

Appalachian Trail
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Appalachian Trail

The 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail running from Georgia to Maine takes five to seven months to hike from start to finish. For a shorter trip, consider starting at the southern terminus in Springer Mountain, Georgia, and heading north into North Carolina. There are also good options in the northern parts of the trail, such as hiking through the Great Valley of the Appalachians in Pennsylvania or the Hundred-Mile Wilderness in Maine.

Tour Du Mont Blanc
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Tour Du Mont Blanc

One of the most famous trails in Europe, the Tour du Mont Blanc goes through France, Italy, and Switzerland in a circular route around Mont Blanc. The scenery is stunning, and hikers can get away without carrying a tent or even food thanks to the villages along the route. The entire loop takes about 11 days to cover, unless you're running: At the annual marathon, some athletes complete the trail's 105 miles in less than a day.

The Lost Coast Trail
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The Lost Coast

On a secluded stretch along the Pacific Ocean in northern California, the Lost Coast Trail is a 53-mile trek through surprisingly rough terrain. The trail has two sections: the northern part hugs the ocean so closely that hikers must keep an eye on the tides, while the southern part weaves through an old-growth redwood forest. Even during the dry season (May through September) the trail can be extremely wet, and hikers should expect to see fog and light rain.

Overland Track
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Overland Track

An island state off the southeast tip of Australia, Tasmania is home to the platypus, the wombat, the Tasmanian devil, and the Overland Track. The latter is a 40- to 50-mile hike through the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The six-day hike goes from Cradle Mountain to Lake St. Clair National Park, with summit views and waterfalls along the way. Summer is the busy season, with mandated routes and a limited number of hiking permits available.

The King's Trail
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The King's Trail

Inside the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden, the Kungsleden (King's Trail) is a 100-mile path that's been used for more than a century. There are four parts to the King's Trail, each taking about a week to complete; the most popular is the route between Abisko and Kebnekaise in the northern part of the trail. There are inexpensive huts along the way for shelter, and hikers are welcome to pitch a tent and pay a smaller fee to use the facilities.

The Long Range Traverse
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The Long Range Traverse

The trail through Canada's Long Range Mountains in Newfoundland isn't marked, so it's best to know how to use a map and compass before setting off on this 20- to 25-mile journey. There are five campsites along the way, providing a target destination each day. The initial 2,000-foot ascent amid moose and caribou pays off quickly, with stunning views of fjords, thousand-foot rock faces, and mountain ponds. Hikers are often on their own, adding to the magic and hinting at the difficulty of this six-day trek.

North Drakensberg Traverse
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North Drakensberg Traverse

The 41-mile North Drakensberg Traverse in South Africa winds its way up the Drakensberg Range (Dragons' Mountains) with a series of switchbacks and chain ladders. There's no marked path or designated campgrounds, and a guide is recommended for those lacking solid navigation skills. Dramatic plateaus, caves with ancient paintings, and nearby Tugela Falls, the second-highest waterfall in the world, make this an unforgettable journey.

Queen Charlotte Track
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Queen Charlotte Track

Well-maintained and relatively easy, the Queen Charlotte Track is a 44-mile trail through New Zealand's forests and bush, skyline ridges, and sparkling bays. The trail, which stretches from Ship Cove to Anakiwa, is shared by hikers and mountain bikers. Those on foot usually complete the trail in three to five days, while bikers take just two. There is a ferry service that brings travelers back to the start or to points along the trail.

Continental Divide Loop
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Continental Divide Loop

Hiking the full length of the Continental Divide Trail, which runs from Mexico to Canada, takes about six months for hikers covering 17 miles each day. The Continental Divide Loop, a 54-mile trek through Rocky Mountain National Park, offers a bite-sized portion of the trail. Lakes, waterfalls, and even some bushwhacking are highlights of the journey. The trail reaches 13,500 feet above sea level and hikers should take time to get acclimated to the elevation before setting off.

Laugavegur Trail
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Laugavegur Trail

One of the most popular hiking routes in Iceland, the Laugavegur Trail offers a variety of terrain, including glaciers, rivers, lakes, hot springs, and the active volcano Eyjafjallajökull. Wind and snow can make this a difficult trek, although the 34-mile journey generally takes just two to four days. There are lodges along the way but they must be booked months in advance. Hikers can camp outside a lodge and use the facilities if no spaces are available inside.

Torres Del Paine
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Torres Del Paine

Chile's Torres del Paine National Park in southern Patagonia is defined by three towering granite peaks. A popular loop trail around the peaks takes about eight days. The trail has numerous huts, and hikers can expect to see plenty of wildlife, including guanacos (similar to llamas), as they make their way past lakes and glaciers.

The Walker's Haute Route
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The Walker's Haute Route

The 112-mile trek from Chamonix, France, to Zermatt, Switzerland, takes about 10 to 12 days. Hikers make their way through glaciers and snow-capped mountains, but there are green alpine valleys filled with wildflowers as well. The trek is most popular during summer, when the mountain huts are open for business.

Fifty Mountain-Northern Highline Trail
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Fifty Mountain-Northern Highline Trail

Glacier National Park in Montana has hundreds of miles of trails featuring some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. The Fifty Mountain-Northern Highline Trail covers 30 miles, passing Granite Park Chalet and Goat Haunt. With steep ascents it's not an easy hike, but many hikers say it's well worth the struggle.

Trans-Zion Trek
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Trans-Zion Trek

Covering parts of several different trails, the Trans-Zion Trek in Utah is about 50 miles long. Although the start and end points are fairly remote, local outfitters offer pick-up and drop-off service. The trail descends into canyons and climbs up into hot and dry desert. This is a good hike for early summer since the heat gets a bit intense later in the season.

The West Coast Trail
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Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim
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Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim

Considered one of the more epic American hikes, this 24-mile trek is on most serious hikers' bucket lists. Some people do it in one day, but for a more leisurely pace, plan on four. Leave from the North Kaibab Trail and descend around 6,000 feet to Bright Angel Trail, where you'll begin the climb back out of the canyon. Along the way, take in 2 million years' worth of Earth's history, rest along the sandy banks of the Colorado River, and cool off in the frigid pool at the base of Ribbon Falls.

Te Araroa Trail
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Te Araroa Trail

Got a few months to spare? At 1,850 miles, this trail in New Zealand, which fittingly translates to The Long Path, is the very definition of legendary. Stretching from the north's Cape Reinga to Bluff in the south, it takes 50 to 80 days to tramp the entire route and requires quite a bit of planning. But the adventurous will be rewarded along the way with views of New Zealand's breathtaking scenery and the friendly hospitality of Kiwi locals. Don't have weeks on end at your disposal? There are plenty of shorter sections that serve as standalone hikes.

West Highland Way
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West Highland Way

If you're the type of hiker that likes a few pub stops along the route, this is your kind of haul. At around 96 miles, the West Highland Way takes hikers from Milngavie, near Glasgow, to Scotland's Fort William. You'll pass through eight communities that offer a bit of that British-isle charm, as well as lakes, rivers, mountains, and moors. Hire a baggage transfer company to appreciate all that scenery — and the pints! — even more.

Cinque Terre
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Cinque Terre

Not everyone is looking for a multi-day hike. The trek through the five villages of Italy's Cinque Terre, long considered the Italian Riviera and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, will take you one day. Start in Riomaggiore and along the route you'll take in views of vineyards, olive groves, terraced farms, and sweeping vistas of the Ligurian Sea. Bonus: Stop at the popular Gelateria Vernazza to grab a gelato and fuel your push to the final village of Monterosso.

The Manitou Incline
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The Manitou Incline

Some hikes you do for the scenery, and others you do for the bragging rights. This hike in the charming Colorado mountain town of Manitou is the latter. It's just under a mile, but you'll gain nearly 2,000 feet of elevation — nearly 2,800 literal steps — in that stretch. The average trail grade is 45%, but it pitches to 68% in spots. At the top you earn an incredible view of nearby Colorado Springs. And don't fret: The hike down is a much more relaxing 4-mile trek along Barr Trail.