Reader Recs: World’s Best Hiking Trails

Eager to spend some time in the great outdoors?

We asked our Nat Geo Travel Facebook fans to share their favorite trails, and their responses will have you lacing up your hiking boots before you know it.

Don’t believe us? Read on:

We kick things off in Badlands National Park with a kid-friendly suggestion from Michele C.—Door Trail. The short round-trip hike offers stellar views of the rugged peaks and canyons that give this South Dakota park its name. “Having to find the next marker to stay on the trail adds an extra element of fun,” writes Michele.

Kubja S. takes us to the Province of Málaga in Andalusia, Spain, for an adrenaline-filled walk along the Caminito del Rey. “It’s a great path for adventurers who like hiking,” Kubja writes, and it’s easy to see why.

If you’re looking for some extra motivation, Cole G.’s convinced the hike from Lake Louise to the Lake Agnes Tea House in Banff National Park can’t be beat. “Every step is stunning and picture-worthy,” Cole says. Bonus points: The teahouse provides the perfect setting for a post-trek bite after a day on the trails.

The Banks Peninsula Track in Canterbury, New Zealand, gets Emma S.’s vote for the best trail in the world. This spectacular hike offers views of the rugged volcanic coastline and is great for hikers of all levels, she writes.

Kelly K. recommends the Trans Canada Trail, the world’s longest network of recreational trails, for hikers looking to experience an epic coast-to-coast adventure. Though each section is “uniquely beautiful,” Kelly notes that the landscapes around Pinawa, Manitoba, are particularly enjoyable due to rock outcroppings and a picturesque suspension bridge.

Kjerag mountain in Forsand, Norway, made our list thanks to Safia H., who describes the trek as ideally suited for hikers who like a good challenge with their drop-dead-gorgeous views. Tip: Cast your gaze skyward from time to time or risk missing out on the descent of a daring BASE jumper.

If you’re hoping to make a friend or two along the trail, the Bibbulmun Track, which winds through southwestern Australia, is the perfect fit for you, says Jelena S. The characters you’ll meet are as varied as the scenery on this 621-mile trek, she writes.

The Black Canyon of the Yellowstone makes the cut thanks to Kathy H., who lauds the diverse and spectacular landscapes of this 16.5-mile hike through America’s first national park. The challenging trail offers about 2,800 feet in elevation change as well as a stretch of switchbacks, but the views make it all worthwhile.

To round out our list, Vicki W. suggests perhaps the most iconic path in the world—the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The breathtaking setting in the clouds is the “perfect place to reflect on who you are in the world,” she writes. Haven’t had your fill of Peru? Heather M. says the Quarry Trail is a rewarding alternative (or complement) to the more famous Inca Trail.

Megan Heltzel is an associate producer on National Geographic Travel’s digital team. Follow her on Twitter @MeganHeltzel.

What’s your favorite trail in the world? Give us the goods in the comments section for a chance to appear on Intelligent Travel.

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  1. Tulika
    August 24, 2015, 12:56 am

    Trek to dhundi in Manali, Himachal Pradesh (India) is too breathtaking to express. one needs permission from the government of himachal pradesh to get there. The way getting to the place is full of deep gorges, waterfalls, apple trees, cold wind and a calling. The destination has glaciers. Its a white scenery around.

  2. Steven Hare
    New Caledonia
    August 23, 2015, 10:20 pm

    the country where I currently reside, New Caledonia, is perhaps my favorite country for hiking ever. I’ve maintained a blog detailing the hikes I’ve done the past 18 months (with details as suggested by another commenter below). Hard for me to pick a favorite, but the most challenging (particularly as it was during a Typhoon) was “Hiking the GR1 – Stages 6 and 7”. If interested, my hiking blog is at:

  3. Lola Louise Leach
    August 20, 2015, 3:30 pm

    Lochnagar in the Cairngorms, Scotland, blew my mind. New to the world of ‘hillwalking’, I had no idea what to expect, but the entire experience had me in complete awe.

    Every step presented something new and exciting – rugged mountain peaks, vast mis-shapen Loch’s, and endless glittering waterfalls.

    Oozing with natural scenery, wildlife, and history – this Scottish gem is by far one of my favourite trails.

  4. Alanna
    August 20, 2015, 3:28 am

    I recently went to Granada, Spain where I went on a hike up the Sierra Nevada mountains, monachil, the national park, has natural lagoons and waterfalls to stop off at for a nice drink of fresh spring water!

  5. Cam
    August 19, 2015, 9:37 pm

    I really wish this piece of content was organized and researched better.

    It would be ideal for there to be photos of each destination, and some general information (difficulty, length, location, ideal season, what you can expect to see, climate, etc.) given by the users who recommended it – or at the very least researched by the author.

    It’s essentially just paragraphs saying “Random person recommends -insert name here-. Which I get was the point, but if you researched the Trans Canada Trail you would realize that it is just a bunch of small local trails and highways connected to one another, most don’t even connect properly, and you can’t really just “go hike the TCT”.

    I was hoping to find some lesser known trails/areas, not a click-bait article.

  6. Val Schmitt
    Falmouth, Maine
    August 19, 2015, 9:27 pm

    The National Pass Trail in Australia’s Blue Mountains outside Sydney is hands down my favorite hiking trail. Not incredibly strenuous or dangerous, but amazing nonetheless.

  7. Michael
    Windsor, Ontario
    August 19, 2015, 8:19 pm

    I hiked the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island in 1992, the scenery was awesome. 7 Days in the wilderness….

  8. Susie
    August 15, 2015, 8:27 am

    Yosemite’s Panoramic Trail offers a great variety of views including a brilliant green, moss-inducing section beneath a waterfall. It’s a challenging 8.5-miler, but worth every step.