There are times when taking to the open road — an escape from our day-to-day life — is better suited by way of a long hike. From the cool coasts of the Great Lakes to warmer climates in Australia, here’s where you can reconnect with nature, no matter what type of hiker you are.
1. For the Island Stomper: Corsica
Even if the island life isn’t typically for you, Corsica isn’t your everyday island. Those seeking a dose of brawn with their beauty will find both here. Surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, Corsica is both the birthplace of Napoléon as well as one of Europe’s most difficult long-distance trails, the GR 20. A rite of passage for French adventurists today, the GR 20 cuts diagonally across the island, north to south, at 112 miles. Flanked by views of the Mediterranean in all directions — atop a landscape of pink granite, azure lakes, white limestone cliffs, and dense green shrubs framing the path — the trek can take 15 days to complete.
2. For the Social Climber: Australia’s Bibbulmun Track
While relatively moderate in terms of altitude climbs, trekkers hoping to keep it social will find company on Australia’s Bibbulmun Track. Originally conceived as a way to engage Aussie-urbanites with their surrounding bush, the 597-mile trail is known for the gregarious locals frequenting its paths. Hugging the southwest coast, the popular trail guides its way through more than 20 national parks, coastal heathlands flourishing with wildflowers, and nine rural communities with ample opportunity to rub shoulders with townsfolk. The Bibbulmun Track is best hiked in sections, unless you’re looking for two month-long adventure filled with trail talk.
3. For the Tranquility Lover: North and South Carolina’s Foothills Trail
For travelers looking for serenity without leaving the continental U.S., the soothing sounds of running water coursing through North and South Carolina’s Foothills Trail are the perfect fit. Averaging upwards of 80 inches in rainfall, the area embracing The Foothills trail has no shortage of waterfalls, gorges, rivers, and creeks punctuating the 77-mile route. The full hike takes roughly seven days to complete, and after skirting some of the southeast’s tallest waterfalls, the tranquility seeker will experience no shortage of zen here.
4. For the Scene Dreamer: Chile’s Full Circuit
Depending on your landscape of choice, folks going the distance for breathtaking scenery should look no further than Torres del Paine’s Full Circuit. Far-flung in southern Chile, the 52-mile trail offers a full range of visuals from deep valleys and snow-capped mountains to blue glaciers and verdant forests. And that’s not to mention all the diverse wildlife that perch on the horizon. But, perhaps best of all, granite monoliths climb to the clouds with gargantuan reach, looking almost warped — making a 10-day hike a trek that needs no photo-filtering.
5. For the Laid-back Saunterer: Trans Swiss Trail
For the traveler looking for easy footing, Switzerland’s name alone conjures a sense of neutrality that puts the mind at ease. Through what is called Switzerland Mobility, close to 4,000 miles of maintained paths create no-brainer networks, marked by bright trail markers that easily guide even the laziest of hikers. Among all the options, the most notorious is perhaps the Trans Swiss Trail. At just over 300 miles long, it’s an even keeled cross-country route along Switzerland’s most iconic landscapes, cutting its hikers slack without sacrificing access to the country’s diverse beauties. The path frequently intersects with shortcuts, public transportation, hotels, and restaurants for an indulgent yet gloried meander.
6. For the Solace Seeker: Ontario’s Pukaskwa
While most roads are connected, trekkers hoping to find a true escape can head to Ontario’s Pukaskwa Trail, a roadless coastal trail with a trailhead that’s only accessible by boat. More than 35 miles of solitude await along the waters of Lake Superior on the Pukaskwa Trail’s wild pathways, many of which require scrambling along the water’s edge before zig-zagging deep into mossy forests, limestone cliffs, and even the occasional blueberry patch. Unknown to much of the world, the trail takes about seven days to complete. During that time, trekkers might even spot an elusive Woodland Caribou that wander the area’s paths.