Top 10 Destinations for Hiking in 2024

The Scottish Coast to Coast

Embark on an unforgettable journey across Scotland on the John Muir Way, a 215 km (134 miles) trail that traverses the country’s diverse landscapes.​ From the bustling city of Helensburgh to the historic Dunbar, hikers will encounter rolling hills, rugged coastlines, tranquil lochs, and charming villages.​

Alaska’s Untouched Wilderness

Alaska, a land of towering peaks, pristine glaciers, and abundant wildlife, offers hiking experiences unlike any other.​ Here, you can truly immerse yourself in nature’s grandeur, far from the crowds and distractions of urban life.​

Denali National Park and Preserve

Home to North America’s highest peak, Denali National Park is a must-visit for experienced hikers.​ The park’s vast backcountry, accessible only by bus or foot, provides a true wilderness adventure.​ Challenge yourself with multi-day treks, encountering grizzly bears, caribou, and Dall sheep along the way.​

Chugach State Park

Just outside Anchorage, Chugach State Park offers accessible hiking amidst breathtaking scenery.​ Explore trails winding through forests, alongside glaciers, and up to alpine meadows with panoramic views of the Chugach Mountains and Cook Inlet.​

Kenai Fjords National Park

Witness the dramatic beauty of glaciers carving through mountains in Kenai Fjords National Park.​ Hike to the Harding Icefield, a massive expanse of ice and snow, or opt for coastal trails where you might spot whales, seals, and puffins.​

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

Accessible only by boat or plane, Glacier Bay offers a remote and awe-inspiring hiking experience.​ Explore trails through ancient rainforests, past tidewater glaciers, and along rugged coastlines.​ Kayaking and camping opportunities abound in this pristine wilderness.​

Key Considerations for Hiking in Alaska

  • Prepare for Variable Weather: Alaska’s weather can change rapidly.​ Pack layers of clothing, including rain gear, and be ready for sunshine, rain, and even snow, depending on the time of year and elevation.
  • Respect Wildlife: Alaska is home to bears, moose, and other potentially dangerous animals.​ Carry bear spray, make noise while hiking, and store food properly.​
  • Plan for Limited Services: Many hiking areas in Alaska are remote with limited or no services.​ Pack sufficient food, water, and supplies, and be self-sufficient.​
  • Leave No Trace: Help preserve Alaska’s pristine beauty by packing out everything you pack in, staying on designated trails, and minimizing your impact on the environment.​

Japan’s Mesmerizing Landscapes

Japan, a land of striking contrasts, offers a unique blend of ancient traditions and modern marvels.​ Its hiking trails, often steeped in history and spirituality, wind through diverse landscapes, from snow-capped volcanoes and alpine meadows to bamboo forests and serene coastlines.​

Mount Fuji

Ascending Mount Fuji, Japan’s iconic peak, is a pilgrimage for many.​ The well-maintained trails, typically open from July to September, offer a challenging but rewarding climb with breathtaking views from the summit.​

Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Routes

For a cultural hiking experience, explore the Kumano Kodo, a network of ancient pilgrimage routes in the Kii Mountains. These trails, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, pass through forests, villages, and shrines, offering glimpses into Japan’s spiritual heritage.​

Japanese Alps

The Japanese Alps, a stunning mountain range in central Japan, provide breathtaking hiking opportunities.​ Trek through alpine meadows, traverse challenging ridges, and soak in views of jagged peaks and pristine lakes.​

Philosopher’s Path (Kyoto)

For a more leisurely stroll, wander along the Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto. This scenic canal-side path, lined with cherry trees and temples, is particularly enchanting in spring during cherry blossom season.

Key Considerations for Hiking in Japan

  • Plan Ahead: Some popular hiking trails, especially those on Mount Fuji, require reservations in advance.​ Research trail accessibility, permits, and accommodations, especially during peak seasons.​
  • Respect Local Customs: Japan has a strong culture of respect and politeness.​ Be mindful of noise levels, dispose of trash properly, and be considerate of other hikers and local residents.​
  • Learn Basic Japanese Phrases: While English is spoken in major cities and tourist areas, learning a few basic Japanese phrases will enhance your interactions and show respect for the local culture.
  • Pack for Varied Conditions: Japan’s weather can vary significantly depending on the season and altitude.​ Pack layers of clothing, rain gear, and appropriate footwear for the terrain.

Olympic National Park’s Splendor

Olympic National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Washington state, is a hiker’s paradise. With its diverse ecosystems, ranging from temperate rainforests and glacier-capped mountains to rugged coastlines, the park offers trails for all levels of experience.​

Hoh Rainforest

Immerse yourself in the lush beauty of the Hoh Rainforest, one of the largest temperate rainforests in the contiguous United States.​ Hike among towering trees draped in moss, cross sparkling streams, and marvel at the abundance of ferns and epiphytes.​

Hurricane Ridge

For panoramic mountain views, head to Hurricane Ridge.​ Enjoy easy to moderate hikes with breathtaking vistas of the Olympic Mountains, including Mount Olympus, the park’s highest peak.​ Wildflowers paint the meadows in vibrant colors during the summer months.

Quinault Rainforest

Explore the enchanting Quinault Rainforest, known for its giant trees, including Sitka spruce, western hemlock, and Douglas fir.​ Hike to cascading waterfalls, serene lakes, and along the shores of Lake Quinault, the heart of the Quinault Valley.

Tide Pool Exploration

Discover the wonders of the intertidal zone along Olympic National Park’s rugged coastline. Explore tide pools teeming with marine life, such as sea stars, anemones, crabs, and sea urchins.​ Check tide charts before your visit to ensure safe access.

Key Considerations for Hiking in Olympic National Park

  • Purchase a Park Pass: An entrance fee or America the Beautiful Pass is required for entry into Olympic National Park.​
  • Prepare for Varied Weather: Weather can change quickly in the park, especially at higher elevations.​ Pack layers of clothing, including rain gear, and be prepared for sunshine, rain, and even snow.​
  • Respect Wildlife: The park is home to black bears, cougars, and other wildlife.​ Store food securely, carry bear spray, and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Practice Leave No Trace Principles: Help preserve the park’s beauty by packing out all trash, staying on designated trails, and minimizing your impact on the environment.​

Colorado’s Gorgeous Hiking Trails

Colorado, a state renowned for its towering peaks, alpine lakes, and diverse landscapes, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.​ From challenging climbs to leisurely strolls, Colorado offers hiking trails for every level of experience, rewarding trekkers with breathtaking views and unforgettable adventures.​

Rocky Mountain National Park

No trip to Colorado is complete without a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park, home to iconic trails like Bear Lake, Emerald Lake, and Alberta Falls.​ Hike amidst towering peaks, wildflower-filled meadows, and sparkling alpine lakes, keeping an eye out for bighorn sheep and elk along the way.​

Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness

Experience the iconic Maroon Bells, two of Colorado’s most photographed peaks, in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness.​ Hike to Crater Lake for stunning reflections or challenge yourself with the strenuous climb to the summit of Maroon Peak for panoramic views.​

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Descend into the depths of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, where sheer canyon walls plunge thousands of feet to the Gunnison River below.​ Hike rim trails for breathtaking views or tackle challenging routes into the canyon’s depths for a truly adventurous experience.​

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Experience the unique landscape of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, home to the tallest sand dunes in North America.​ Hike across the dunes, try sandboarding or sand sledding, and cool off in Medano Creek at the base of the dunes.​

Key Considerations for Hiking in Colorado

  • Acclimatize to Altitude: Many of Colorado’s hiking trails are at high elevations.​ Give yourself time to acclimatize to the altitude before attempting strenuous hikes.​ Drink plenty of water and be aware of the symptoms of altitude sickness.​
  • Prepare for Variable Weather: Colorado’s weather can change quickly, especially at higher elevations.​ Pack layers of clothing, including rain gear, and be prepared for sunshine, rain, and even snow.
  • Respect Wildlife: Colorado is home to bears, mountain lions, and other wildlife.​ Store food securely, carry bear spray, and be aware of your surroundings.​
  • Practice Leave No Trace Principles: Help preserve Colorado’s natural beauty by packing out all trash, staying on designated trails, and minimizing your impact on the environment.​

Best Hiking Trails for the 2024 Eclipse

On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will grace the skies of North America, casting a celestial shadow across a narrow path from Mexico to Canada.​ Enhance this awe-inspiring experience by witnessing the eclipse amidst the beauty of nature on a memorable hiking adventure.

Texas Hiking Trails

Texas offers prime viewing locations for the 2024 eclipse. Hike through the rugged landscapes of Big Bend National Park٫ explore the scenic trails of Caprock Canyon State Park and Trailway٫ or venture into the Guadalupe Mountains National Park for stunning mountain vistas.​ Remember to check specific locations within these parks that fall within the path of totality for optimal viewing.

Ohio Hiking Trails

Ohio’s Hocking Hills region provides a picturesque setting to witness the eclipse. Hike among towering sandstone cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and lush forests in Hocking Hills State Park.​ Consider trails like Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls, and Ash Cave for their scenic beauty and accessibility.​

New York Hiking Trails

Witness the eclipse amidst the scenic beauty of upstate New York.​ Hike to panoramic viewpoints in the Catskill Mountains, explore the trails of Watkins Glen State Park with its stunning gorges and waterfalls, or venture into the Adirondack Mountains for a more remote wilderness experience.​

Key Considerations for Eclipse Hiking

  • Plan Ahead and Arrive Early: Eclipse viewing locations will be crowded.​ Reserve accommodations and parking in advance, and arrive early to secure your spot.
  • Prioritize Eye Safety: Never look directly at the sun, even during an eclipse, without proper eye protection.​ Use certified eclipse glasses or solar viewers to protect your eyes from harmful solar radiation.​
  • Check Weather Forecasts: Cloud cover can obscure the view of the eclipse.​ Check weather forecasts closer to the date and have backup plans in case of inclement weather.​
  • Practice Leave No Trace Principles: Pack out everything you pack in, stay on designated trails, and be mindful of other visitors seeking to witness this celestial event.​

Russia’s Hiking Areas

Russia, with its vast and diverse landscapes, offers a wealth of hiking opportunities for adventurous souls.​ From the snow-capped peaks of the Caucasus Mountains to the pristine shores of Lake Baikal, Russia’s natural wonders beckon explorers seeking solitude and breathtaking scenery.

Caucasus Mountains

The Caucasus Mountains, home to Europe’s highest peak, Mount Elbrus, offer challenging treks and breathtaking alpine vistas.​ Hike through valleys carved by glaciers, traverse flower-filled meadows, and camp beneath star-studded skies. Experienced mountaineers can attempt the ascent of Mount Elbrus, while less experienced hikers can enjoy trails in the foothills and lower elevations.​

Altai Mountains

The Altai Mountains, a remote and pristine range in southern Siberia, offer a true wilderness experience.​ Hike through dense forests, alongside pristine rivers and lakes, and past ancient burial mounds and petroglyphs.​ The region is also home to diverse wildlife, including snow leopards, argali sheep, and golden eagles.​

Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest and oldest lake, is a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its beauty and biodiversity.​ Hike the Great Baikal Trail, a network of trails circumnavigating the lake, offering stunning views of the crystal-clear waters, forested shores, and surrounding mountains.​

Key Considerations for Hiking in Russia

  • Obtain Necessary Visas and Permits: Most foreign nationals require a visa to enter Russia.​ Additionally, some hiking areas may require special permits. Research entry requirements well in advance and obtain necessary documentation.​
  • Learn Basic Russian Phrases: While English is spoken in major cities and tourist areas, learning a few basic Russian phrases will be helpful, especially in remote regions.​
  • Pack for Varied Weather: Russia’s climate varies significantly depending on the region and season.​ Pack layers of clothing, including warm layers for cooler temperatures, rain gear, and sturdy hiking boots.​
  • Be Aware of Local Regulations: Familiarize yourself with local regulations regarding camping, campfires, and wildlife interactions. Respect the environment and leave no trace of your presence.​

Hiking Destinations with Permit Access

For some of the world’s most sought-after hiking experiences, securing permits in advance is essential to manage visitor impact and protect fragile ecosystems. These permits often grant access to pristine wilderness areas, iconic trails, and breathtaking landscapes.​

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail, a 4-day trek through the Peruvian Andes culminating in the ancient city of Machu Picchu, requires permits purchased in advance. Limited permits are available each day to preserve the trail’s integrity and the sanctity of the site.​

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

Ascending Half Dome, an iconic granite monolith in Yosemite National Park, California, requires a permit obtained through a competitive lottery system.​ The permit allows hikers to ascend the final 400 feet via cables, offering unparalleled views of Yosemite Valley.​

The Wave, Arizona and Utah

The Wave, a sandstone rock formation with swirling, colorful patterns, located on the Arizona-Utah border, limits access to just 20 permits per day. A lottery system, held months in advance, determines access to this highly sought-after destination.​

Key Considerations for Permit-Access Hiking

  • Plan Well in Advance: Permits for popular destinations often sell out months in advance.​ Research permit requirements, application deadlines, and lottery systems well ahead of your planned trip.
  • Be Flexible with Dates: If your dates are flexible, you may have better chances of securing permits.​ Consider shoulder seasons or weekdays when demand is typically lower.​
  • Explore Alternative Options: If permits are unavailable for your desired dates, research alternative hiking trails or nearby destinations that offer similar experiences.​
  • Respect Permit Conditions: Permits often come with specific conditions, such as group size limits, camping restrictions, and Leave No Trace principles.​ Familiarize yourself with these conditions and adhere to them strictly.​
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