Trekking remains one of the most popular ways for adventure travelers to explore remote areas of the world. Traveling on foot can be incredibly rewarding, allowing us to connect with nature while taking in some of the most dramatic settings on the planet. If your feet are feeling a little restless, here are eight of the best long distance trekking trails in the world to help keep them busy for awhile.
Pacific Crest Trail, USA
(4286 km/2663 miles)
Stretching north from the U.S. border with Mexico all the way to the border of Canada, the Pacific Crest Trail is one of the most spectacularly beautiful hikes in the entire world. Backpackers pass through an array of environments ranging from deserts, to alpine forests, to mountain passes, and more. Highlights include passing through Yosemite National Park, as well as the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountain Ranges. The PCT was recently made even more famous by its depiction in the film Wild starring Reese Witherspoon, but it has been a popular route for long distance hikers for years.
The Great Himalaya Trail, Nepal
(1700 km/1056 miles)
If you like hiking in a high mountain setting, then it is tough to top the Great Himalaya Trail. This relatively new route strings together a series of shorter trails across Nepal, granting visitors access to the spectacular Himalayan Mountains in the process. Days are spent walking the rugged and remote path while snow-capped peaks tower high overhead. In the evening, backpackers stop in local tea houses, where they soak up the atmosphere while enjoying the food and hospitality of Nepal's mountain people.
At its highest point, the GHT reaches an altitude of 6146 meters (20,164 ft), making this a challenging hike for sure.
Te Araroa, New Zealand
(3000 km/1864 miles)
The greatest hiking route in New Zealand -- a country well known for its outdoor adventures -- is without a doubt Te Araroa. The route begins at Cape Reinga at the northernmost point of the North Island and runs to Bluff, the southernmost point on the South Island. In between, it passes over beautiful beaches, across lovely meadows, and through high mountain passes, with plenty of breathtaking scenery to enjoy along the way. The trail's name means "the long pathway" in Maori, and highlights include trekking past Mont Tongariro, an active volcano that was featured prominently in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.
Appalachian Trail, USA
(3508 km/2180 miles)
Perhaps the best known long-distance hiking trail in the entire world, the Appalachian Trail is often viewed as the standard to which all other major treks are compared. The route passes through 14 different U.S. states, starting in Maine in the north, and ending in Georgia in the south. A complete thru-hike typically takes about 6 months to complete, passing through the spectacular Appalachian Mountains in the process. One of the more popular sections of the trail even passes through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the U.S.
Greater Patagonian Trail, Chile and Argentina
(1311 km/815 miles)
While still in the early planning stages, the Greater Patagonian Trail promises to be one of the most breathtakingly beautiful hikes in the entire world when it is fully established. The route is actually in place, but the trail still lacks some infrastructure to help assist trekkers, requiring those who undertake this trek to be a bit more self-sufficient along the way. The route passes through the Andes Mountains, across volcanic fields, into dense forests, and past glorious mountain fjords and lakes.
One of the last truly wild places on the planet, Patagonia is an absolute paradise for hikers.
Sir Samuel and Lady Florence Baker Historical Trail, South Sudan & Uganda
(805 km/500 miles)
If you're looking to walk in the footsteps of great explorers, then perhaps the Sir Samuel and Lady Florence Baker Historical Trail is meant for you. The route, which only just opened last year, begins in Juba in South Sudan and passes over the border into Uganda, running southward along the banks of Lake Albert. Back in 1864, the Bakers became the first Europeans to visit that massive body of water, and the trail takes hikers directly to Baker's View, a historic spot that overlooks the lake.
Unrest in South Sudan means that certain portions of the trail may not be safe at the moment, but the route does pass through spectacular sections of the African wilderness.
Continental Divide Trail, USA
(4988 km/ 3100 miles)
The third trail in the American "Triple Crown" of hiking is the Continental Divide Trail, a route that runs from Mexico to Canada through the awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. The route features amazing mountain vistas for nearly its entire length and is notable for following its namesake -- the Congenital Divide -- which splits the watersheds that drain towards the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. As a result, depending on where you are at along the trail, some rivers run to the east and other west.
Remote, wild, and isolated, the CDT is perhaps the most challenging trail on this entire list.
Larapinta Trail, Australia
(223 km/139 miles)
The Larapinta Trail in Australia is by far the shortest hike on this list and yet is just as spectacular as any of the other walks. This hike will take just 12 to 14 days to complete, passing through remote outback landscapes in the process. Located in Australia's Red Centre near the town of Alice Springs, the Larapinta is a walk that features narrow gorges, rugged mountains, and sweeping vistas. Along the way, trekkers pass sacred Aboriginal sites and may even spot wild camels or dingos too.
This is a great route for someone who doesn't have weeks to spend on the trail but is looking for a unique hiking journey none the less.