Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii, United States

World's Best Hikes, 15 Classic Trails

Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii, United States

1. Kungsleden, Sweden
Round-Trip: 65 miles, 3 to 5 days
When to Go: The Europeans do it in August, when they get holiday time, so be bold and go in early September for authentic solitude and no bugs.

2. Grand Canyon Hike, Arizona
Round-Trip: 44 miles, 4 to 6 days
When to Go: Everybody does this hike in September to October or April to May, so go in March or November for a more contemplative experience.

3. Everest Base Camp Trek, Nepal
Round-Trip: 70 miles, 16 days
When to Go: Pre-monsoon (March or April) gives you the rhododendrons in bloom and lots of climber action, but post-monsoon (November) gives you drier weather. Go with guide services that use local Sherpa guides, cooks, and porters—it’s part of the experience.

4. Fitz Roy Trek, Patagonia, Argentina
Round-Trip: 36 miles, 4 to 7 days
When to Go: February to March to avoid the crowds of midsummer and enjoy stable fall weather when the infamous Patagonian winds abate.

5. Petra Through the Back Door, Jordan
Round-Trip: 50 miles, 7 days
When to Go: October through April, when desert temperatures relent—a little. Go with Adventure Jordan, the local company that discovered this 50-mile route through the deserts, mountains, and peaks of Jordan.

6. Grindelwald, Switzerland
Round-Trip: 10 miles if you ride up and walk down, 2 to 3 days
When to Go: High summer is the season here, but hikable weather often extends into September, when the Europeans are back at work. The Faulhorn closes in October.

7. Yosemite Grand Traverse, California, United States
Round-Trip: 60 miles, 6 to 7 days
When to Go: Reaching as high as 12,000 feet, this trans-Sierra route is open only from mid-July to mid-September.

8. Chilkoot Trail, Alaska and Yukon Territory, U.S. and Canada
Round-Trip: 33 miles, 3 to 5 days
When to Go: The Coast Range opens up a bit earlier than the Rockies, so you can push the season a bit. Late June to early October works most years, but August has the best weather—and sees the heaviest traffic.

9. Tonquin Valley, Canadian Rockies, Alberta, Canada
Round-Trip: 27 miles, 3 to 5 days
When to Go: July to September; it can snow any day of the year.

10. Bay of Fires, Tasmania, Australia
Round-Trip: 16 miles, 4 days
When to Go: October to May is the season for this beach route along the northeastern shore. Go with the Bay of Fires Walk; it’s the only way in or out.

11. Long Range Traverse, Newfoundland, Canada
Round-Trip: 23 miles, 3 to 5 days
When to Go: Relatively low elevation means this route opens in June and can be hiked until late September. But come prepared: The Long Range Mountains are on the Gulf of St. Lawrence and take the brunt of some of the worst weather in the world. Go with a guide service if you’re not an expert navigator.

12. Queen Charlotte Track, New Zealand
Round-Trip: 44 miles, 3 to 5 days
When to Go: Located on the sunny north end of the South Island, near the famed wine growing region of Marlborough, the Queen Charlotte can be done virtually year round. Hike with Marlborough Sound Adventures, who have the logistics wired.

13. Mountains of the Moon, Uganda
Round-Trip: 38 miles, 6 to 7 days
When to Go: December to March, the “dry” season. Go with guides and porters; they know the way and are not expensive.

14. Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii, United States
Round-Trip: 22 miles, 3 to 5 days
When to Go: May to September for drier weather; April or October for more solitude

15. Croagh Patrick, Ireland
Round-Trip: 8 miles, 1 day
When to Go: Spring through fall is best for weather, but the climb can be done year round when the summit isn’t covered with snow and ice. Expect fog, wind, rain, and hail rolling in off the Atlantic at any time.

via National Geographic by Peter Potterfield