There are many amazing places to go hiking, so we would say there isn’t really one best place. But there are some locations that spectacularly lend themselves to exploration on foot versus others that are more easily or enjoyably explored by boat, bicycle, or car. A great trekking destination has specific characteristics that make it so good for hiking.
In this article, we are focusing on truly world-class places to hike. We’re not interested in average, or even good, here. We’re interested in the best. Below we elaborate on what to look for in a great place to hike and then we list our top picks for the best places to hike in the world.
Grand Canyon National Park
There’s nowhere else on earth like the Grand Canyon, and Grand Canyon National Park is the heart of this 277-mile-long geological phenomenon. It is also one of the best places in the world for hiking. It has all of the major characteristics of a great trekking destination: incredible scenery, vast open spaces, great trails, solitude, and ecological integrity. You can make the most of the Park by embarking on a day hike to a viewpoint or a backpacking trip down to the Inner Gorge and the Colorado River.
The Alps are hard to beat in terms of scenery, space, and walkability. It feels like they were created specifically for trekking. One of the most amazing ways to enjoy the Alps is to link up mountain villages or huts on multi-day trips. You will experience not only breathtaking scenery, wildlife, and amazing hill walking but you’ll also get to enjoy delicious European cuisine, charming lodging, and different cultures.
The state of Colorado offers world-class hiking and backpacking, and an almost endless supply of it. With one major national park – Rocky Mountain National Park – and 44 wilderness areas that cover more than 3.5 million acres (approximately the size of Connecticut), Colorado is a true hiking gem. You can camp, stay in any number of iconic mountain towns (Crested Butte, Winterpark, Telluride, Aspen, Steamboat…etc.), or go on a multi-day backpacking trip.
Peru is a big country with tremendous hiking for the eager adventurer. It really offers almost anything you could ask for. From the famous Inca Trail and Machu Picchu to the second-highest mountain range in the world (Cordillera Huayhuash) to coastal deserts, cloud forests, the Amazon Rainforest, and more. The scenery is without question world-class, particularly in the high Andes. The mountains are vast and expansive with plenty of trails and alpine treks to choose from. Solitude is available if you seek it out, and many ecosystems of the Andes are still quite wild with native wildlife and pristine wilderness.
Washington State has 3 major national parks – Mount Rainier, Olympic, and North Cascades – all of which offer tremendous hiking opportunities. Beyond the national parks, Washington has 31 wilderness areas with varying landscapes of lush rain forests, iconic peaks, wild rivers, plunging waterfalls, pristine meadows, and more. Washington has it all – dramatic scenery, vast expanses of wilderness, an abundance of hiking trails, access to solitude, and intact ecosystems.