15 Scenic Trails Perfect For Long-Distance Hiking

two person walking towards mountain covered with snow

1. Appalachian Trail

Spanning over 2,100 miles along the East Coast, the Appalachian Trail offers stunning vistas, diverse landscapes, and a challenging adventure for long-distance hikers. Hikers can experience a range of ecosystems, from hardwood forests to alpine peaks, as they traverse through 14 states on this iconic trail. The Appalachian Trail is not only a physical challenge but also a journey of self-discovery and connection to nature.

2. Pacific Crest Trail

Running from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon, and Washington, the Pacific Crest Trail showcases breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges. This long-distance trail provides hikers with a unique opportunity to witness a diverse array of landscapes, from desert terrain to lush forests. With its remote stretches and varying elevations, the Pacific Crest Trail offers an unforgettable adventure for those seeking a deep connection with the natural world.

3. Continental Divide Trail

This 3,100-mile trail traverses the Rocky Mountains from Canada to Mexico, providing hikers with rugged terrain and unparalleled scenery along the Continental Divide. Hikers on the Continental Divide Trail can expect to encounter challenging mountain passes, high alpine meadows, and pristine wilderness areas. The trail offers a sense of isolation and wilderness immersion, making it a bucket-list experience for avid hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.

4. John Muir Trail

Located in California’s Sierra Nevada, the John Muir Trail offers a 211-mile trek through some of the most pristine wilderness in the United States, including Yosemite National Park. Hikers on the John Muir Trail are treated to breathtaking views of towering peaks, crystal-clear alpine lakes, and lush meadows filled with wildflowers. The trail is a tribute to conservationist John Muir’s love for the Sierra Nevada and provides a serene escape into the heart of nature.

5. Te Araroa Trail

New Zealand’s Te Araroa Trail spans the length of both the North and South Islands, showcasing the country’s stunning landscapes, from beaches to mountains. Hikers on the Te Araroa Trail experience a diverse range of ecosystems, including coastal walks, dense forests, and volcanic terrain. The trail offers a cultural journey as well, with opportunities to connect with Maori heritage and local communities along the way.

6. Colorado Trail

Stretching 486 miles through the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado Trail offers hikers a challenging and rewarding journey with panoramic views of alpine lakes and peaks. Hikers on the Colorado Trail traverse through alpine tundra, deep forests, and wildflower-filled meadows, encountering diverse wildlife and stunning landscapes. The trail’s elevation gains and rugged terrain make it a favorite among experienced hikers looking for a true backcountry adventure.

7. Great Divide Trail

Running through the Canadian Rockies, the Great Divide Trail covers over 700 miles of remote wilderness, with opportunities to spot wildlife and experience the raw beauty of the region. Hikers on the Great Divide Trail navigate through pristine forests, high alpine passes, and rugged mountain terrain, immersing themselves in the untouched wilderness of the Canadian Rockies. The trail offers a true escape from civilization, providing a sense of solitude and connection to the natural world.

8. Appalachian Approach Trail

As the approach trail to the Appalachian Trail, this 8.8-mile hike in Georgia provides a taste of the AT experience, with a diverse range of flora and fauna. The Appalachian Approach Trail offers hikers a gentle introduction to the challenges and rewards of long-distance hiking, preparing them for the journey ahead. Hikers can enjoy peaceful woodlands, cascading waterfalls, and abundant wildlife, setting the stage for their Appalachian Trail adventure.

9. Camino de Santiago

This historic pilgrimage route in Spain offers a variety of trails, with the most popular being the Camino Frances, traversing 500 miles from the French border to Santiago de Compostela. The Camino de Santiago is a cultural and spiritual journey, drawing pilgrims from around the world to walk in the footsteps of ancient travelers. Hikers on the Camino de Santiago experience charming villages, historic churches, and a sense of camaraderie along the trail, making it a unique and transformative trek.

10. Long Trail

Running the length of Vermont, the Long Trail is the oldest long-distance trail in the United States, offering hikers a rugged and remote trek through the Green Mountains. Hikers on the Long Trail encounter challenging terrain, rustic shelters, and panoramic views of Vermont’s lush landscapes. The trail provides a sense of solitude and wilderness immersion, allowing hikers to disconnect from the modern world and reconnect with nature.

11. Wonderland Trail

Circling Mount Rainier in Washington, the Wonderland Trail is a 93-mile loop that showcases glaciers, meadows, and stunning views of the iconic peak. Hikers on the Wonderland Trail experience the dramatic beauty of Mount Rainier up close, with opportunities to see wildlife, wildflowers, and cascading waterfalls. The trail offers a mix of alpine scenery, old-growth forests, and subalpine meadows, making it a must-do for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

12. Laugavegur Trail

Located in Iceland, the Laugavegur Trail is a 34-mile trek through otherworldly landscapes of volcanoes, hot springs, and colorful mountains, culminating in a visit to the famous Landmannalaugar geothermal area. Hikers on the Laugavegur Trail traverse through a geologically diverse region, with surreal landscapes that feel like stepping into a different world. The trail offers a blend of geothermal wonders, rugged terrain, and Icelandic hospitality, providing a unique and unforgettable hiking experience.

13. West Highland Way

In Scotland, the West Highland Way covers 96 miles from Milngavie to Fort William, taking hikers through dramatic landscapes of lochs, mountains, and moors. Hikers on the West Highland Way experience the rugged beauty of the Scottish Highlands, with sweeping vistas of misty lochs, ancient forests, and rolling hills. The trail offers a glimpse into Scotland’s rich history and natural heritage, as well as a chance to connect with local culture and traditions along the way.

14. GR20

Considered one of Europe’s most challenging trails, the GR20 in Corsica spans 112 miles from north to south, offering hikers rugged terrain, rocky peaks, and panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea. Hikers on the GR20 navigate through steep granite mountains, lush forests, and remote alpine terrain, with breathtaking views of the rugged Corsican landscape. The trail provides a true test of endurance and outdoor skills, rewarding hikers with unparalleled beauty and a sense of accomplishment.

15. Pennine Way

Stretching 268 miles through England’s rugged Pennine Hills, the Pennine Way offers hikers a journey through remote moorlands, picturesque villages, and historic sites, showcasing the natural beauty of the British countryside. Hikers on the Pennine Way traverse through charming countryside, rolling hills, and expansive moorlands, with opportunities to explore ancient ruins and quaint villages. The trail provides a cultural and historical journey, as well as a chance to experience the tranquility and beauty of England’s countryside.