Anyone who has hiked in numerous countries around the world has a personal list of his or her "Top 10 Hikes." Kasey Austin, Vice President of Operations for the award-winning active travel company Austin Adventures, has gone through twelve pairs of hiking boots while trekking and leading trips on trails all over the globe.
As you would expect, she has definite favorites in locales from the Grand Canyon, Alaska, and Utah to Peru, Greece, and Patagonia. The following list of the her top 10 hikes in the world reflects her personal choices of trails. Below, you'll find description of each of Kasey's favorite hikes, with an accompanying photo too.
You can learn more about Kasey's background and why she chose these 10 hikes. She shares which is her favorite overall place to trek, the criteria she used to pick these trails, and a variety of general hiking tips too.
Mooney Falls, Havasupai Reservation, Grand Canyon, Arizona
Descend through caves, down ladders, and along anchored chains in the rock face as you wind your way along the shoulder of a cliff that offers stunning views of a spectacular 200-foot waterfall. The clear blue-green pools below, and contrasting red rock walls of the canyon, beckon as you weave in and out of view of Mooney Falls on your descent. Upon reaching the base, hiking further down the canyon brings even deeper pools, creek crossings, and tangles of green grape vines. Don't forget to look back upriver, as the view is constantly changing behind you, begging for photos to be taken from every angle.
Hike length: 6 miles round trip from Supai Village.
Exit Glacier, Near Seward, Alaska
Located in Kenai Fjords National Park, Exit Glacier is another hike that Kasey easy shouldn't be missed. You'll find yourself traversing several mountain ecosystems beginning at the trailhead and making your way through shaded, towering cottonwood trees before making your way through meadow and forest on the way up to alpine tundra. After that, you are “walking on the moon” over a stark, otherworldly landscape of rock and ice.
This “strenuous” trail takes 6-8 hours to hike, and you’ll gain about 1,000 feet of elevation for every mile. As you ascend the trail, take in views of Exit Glacier and the extensive Resurrection River stretching into the valley below. Upon reaching the summit –– on a clear day at least –– you can see for miles across the Harding Icefield. In the distance you can spot peaks jutting up out of the ice, and if you're lucky you may even see a bear or two on the trail.
Hike length: 8.2 miles round trip.
Fira to Oia on Santorini Island, Greece
White-washed houses hugging the edge of a 1,300-foot caldera dominate the scene at the beginning of this spectacular hike in Fira. Birds-eye views of a blue expanse of the Aegean Sea; quaint, picturesque hundreds-years old churches and dramatic volcanic cliffs are all part of the experience. The trek takes you across the island towards the postcard-perfect town of Oia, where a glass of wine in an inviting tavern awaits.
Hike length: 7.2 miles
Wapati Trail, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Beginning with a hike across an open meadow, this trail meanders through Lodgepole pine forests, past chalky white geothermal features, and skirts a lily-pad dotted pond before finally arriving at the edge of the deep, multicolored Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. As you carefully make your way back along the canyon wall, you’ll “Ooo and Ahh” around every bend as the pinks, yellows, reds, and oranges of the rock appear all the more stunning. The final section of the walk takes you out to Artist Point where you'll find the most spectacular views of the 308-foot tall Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River.
Hike length: 3.5 miles point to point.
Beehive Basin, Big Sky, Montana
This hike requires a bit of hard work to reach Beehive Basin in Big Sky, Montana, bit it is well worth the effort. Beginning with views of the Big Sky Valley, this trail snakes its way along a trickling, snow-fed creek, across mountain slopes carpeted with wildflowers. Upon reaching the basin, a small unnamed mountain lake awaits you, while open vistas and towering peaks rise high overhead. A picnic lunch on the lakeshore, followed by some trout fishing or a snowball fight, is a great way to top off the afternoon..
Hike length: 6.4 miles round trip.
Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru
This is the “back way” to get to Machu Picchu by foot and the 40+ mile trail takes you through 15 different ecosystems over the course of the seven day hike days. Along the way, you’ll spend the night in beautiful, luxurious mountain lodges complete with hot tea upon arrival, warm water bottles in your bed at night, and a hot tub right outside the door. Soaking in the steaming water is made all the better as you gaze upwards at the star-studded Peruvian skies overhead.
For an alternate to the popular Inca Trail (with entrance into Machu Picchu via the iconic Sun Gate) the Salkantay Trail with its dramatic scenery, fewer people, and stunning lodges cannot be beaten.
Hike length: 41 miles point to point.
Athabasca Glacier, Alberta, Canada
Strap on the crampons for this guided glacier walk on the massive Columbia Icefield in the Canadian Rockies. A specially trained glacier guide will ensure you’re properly outfitted to safely trek across the ice on foot. Once there, you'll stare down into the abyss of a glacial crevasse as you trek past a gaping hole within the ice itself. You'll also learn your glacier terminology as you view a moraine or millwell up close along the way. Soak up the craggy, glacially carved landscape as your guide provides insights into the geological history of this fascinating area.
Hike length: 3-5 miles round trip.
Angel's Landing, Zion National Park, Utah
The Angel's Landing trail is one of the most famous and thrilling hikes found anywhere within the US National Park system. Those with a fear of heights may choose to pass however, as there are certain points that can be quite intimidating.
This narrow and eye-popping route in Zion’s main red rock canyon will definitely test your limits when it comes to its dizzying drop-offs and deep chasm views. During the hike, you’ll walk along a narrow ridge with vertigo-inducing drop offs on each side. At times, you'll also have to pull yourself up a rock face using anchored chains to give you purchase. While there, you can push yourself even further, by climbing through Walter’s Wiggles, a steep, narrow trail that features 21 individual switchbacks. Upon reaching Angel’s Landing itself, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking 360-degree views that make the trek 100% worth it.
Hike length: 4.8 miles round trip.
Glen Nevis in Scotland's Highlands
This trail isn't just a favorite of Kasey's it has also been voted “one of the best short hikes in Great Britain." Fortunately, despite receiving this accolade, this hike does not see as many trekkers as one would think. This walk begins in a spectacular chasm leading to a meadow, where a waterfall tumbles over 320 feet from the edge of the mountain above. The stunning valley surrounding you –– featured in the movie Braveheart no less –– delivers jaw-dropping views that will make you feel as if you’re walking onto the set of that movie yourself.
Hike length: 5 miles round trip.
Luguna Capri, Patagonia
Monte Fitzroy rises above the serene waters of Laguna Capri, delivering a classic Patagonian view. There are a number of hillocks along the lake that create unique vantage points of the lake and surrounding scenery that photographers are sure to love. Venture further out provides views of sprawling glaciers, jagged peaks, and turquoise lakes that are unlike anything you're likely to have seen before.
Hike length: 4 to 8 miles round trip.
Thanks to Austin Adventures for passing along these top 10 hikes. The company has trips to all of these locations.