Top 5 Legendary Trails of the World
Our recent release Wanderlust explores legendary hiking trails in enchanting corners of the globe and over a variety of terrain: thin ice and desert sands; coastal tracks and forest pathways. Preview five of these storied trails below and browse the full compendium here.
ALTA VIA 1, DOLOMITES, ITALY
A dramatic combination of serrated limestone peaks, sheer cliffs, shimmering alpine lakes, and deep, narrow valleys, the Dolomites are listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO for good reason. From a hiker’s perspective, the excellent network of pathways that crisscrosses the Dolomites is ideal. The most famous of these is the Alta Via 1. Stretching some 120 km (75 mi.), the trail is a journey through fine Alpine landscapes from beginning to end. There is a total of 6,665 m (21,867 ft.) elevation gain throughout, meaning the hike is demanding in sections; however, the route is well signed and maintained, and in fine weather stays within the capabilities of most hikers.
Distance: approx. 120 km (75mi.), Duration: 10 days, Level: Moderate, Season: July to September, Start/Finish: Dobbiaco, South Tyrol – Belluno, Veneto
KALALAU TRAIL, HAWAI, USA
Coastal hiking does not get much better—or much more precarious—than Hawaii’s Kalalau Trail. There are pristine beaches, cascading waterfalls, lush valleys, and jaw-dropping 180-degree vistas over the Pacific Ocean. Were it not for the occasional violent downpour or the subsequent landslides, this corner of the world could easily be considered a sort of paradise on earth. There are no roads that connect the unique ecosystem to civilization. The only way to access it remains reserved for those who are brave enough to venture out and explore it by water or by hiking the Kalalau Trail.
Distance: 35 km (21.7mi), Duration: 2 to 3 days, Level: Moderate, Season: April to October, Start/Finish: Out-and-back trip from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Beach
THE GREAT DIVIDE TRAIL, CANADA
Beginning at Waterton Lake on the United States–Canada border, the Great Divide Trail (GDT) picks up where the Continental Divide Trail leaves off. It then proceeds to wind ist way some 1,200 km (746 mi.) northwest along the Rockies, eventually reaching its northern terminus at Lake Kakwa. During ist course it weaves back and forth between the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, treating the hiker to a continuous course of glacier-carved valleys, glistening mountain lakes, and some stunning views of the legendary Mount Assiniboine.
Distance: 1,200km (746mi.), Duration: 40 to 50 days, Level: Moderate to Difficult, Season: July to September, Start/Finish: Waterton Lake National Park, Alberta - Kakwa Lake, British Columbia
LAUGAVEGUR TRAIL, ICELAND
Iceland’s landscape is a draw for many. As the country is situated on both the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the Icelandic Plume, it is a hub of geothermal activity, containing volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles. Traversing the Laugavegur is almost like walking through a 78 km (49 mi.) long postcard. Across its length, the contrasts are mesmerizing—rugged coast gives way to windswept highlands; black-sand deserts yield to vivid moonscapes. For those who have chosen to trek northbound, the reward for four or five days of exertion comes in the form of a dip in Landmannalaugar’s warm waters.
Distance: 78 km (48.5 mi.), Duration: 4 to 5 days, Level: Moderate, Season: June to August, Start/Finish: Landmannalaugar to Skógar or Thórsmörk
PINDUS HORSESHOE, GREECE
The Pindus Mountains of northwestern Greece are one of the hiking world’s best-kept secrets. Alpine lakes and jagged limestone mountains combine with centuries-old stone villages and rainbow-shaped bridges to provide visitors with a singular combination of natural and historical elements. For the biggest part the trail winds through the spectacular Vikos Gorge. With a depth that ranges between 450 and 1,600 m (1,476 and 5,249 ft.), the Vikos is entered into the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s deepest gorge. Not to miss is a sidetrip to Meteora, an awe-inspiring collection of predominantly sandstone monoliths with centuries-old monasteries perched on top of them, that is situated only a few hours drive from the Pindus Mountains.
Distance: 58 km (36 mi.), Duration: 4 to 5 days, Level: Moderate, Season: May to October, Start/Finish: Monodendri to Vradeto