Few ways of travel allow you to get as close to a new country as on foot. By slowing down your speed and forcing yourself to concentrate on every step you take, trekking is a radically different way of experiencing a destination. Hiking holidays have rapidly grown in popularity over the past few decades, reflecting a desire for vacations to be a chance to unplug from technology and the modern world and instead reconnect with nature.
With trails winding across huge areas of the Northern Hemisphere, it’s never difficult to find an appealing destination for a hiking holiday and we’ve compiled a list of our favorite trails that every trekker should attempt at least once in their lifetime.
Northern Hemisphere Hiking Holidays: The Appalachian Trail, U.S.A
A quintessential Northern American hike, the Appalachian Trail draws thousands of trekkers to embark on what, for many, is a six-month adventure along the longest hiking-only trail in the world.
Starting at Springer Mountain in Georgia, this route follows the ridge of the Appalachian Mountains, traversing 2,200-miles (3,540km) of wilderness as it passes through 14 states. Most hikers start in April to make the most of the summer months (and favorable weather), however, with sections of the trail accessible from nearby towns, you can walk small sections if you’ve not got half a year to dedicate to the adventure!
Northern Hemisphere Hiking Holidays: The Pacific Northwest Trail
This 1,200-mile (1,930km) epic hiking trail starting in Montana and ending at Cape Alava in Washington is yet another must on your trekking bucket list.
Crossing three national parks, seven national forests and miles and miles of stunning scenery, including the rugged peaks of the Rockies and the Olympic Mountains, few places on earth offer such a spellbinding route through nature as the Pacific Northwest Trail.
While it takes most hikers between 60 and 70 days to complete, you can actual break some of the route into day- or weekend-long hikes, making the incredible public lands through which the trail passes accessible to everyone.
Northern Hemisphere Hiking Holidays: Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
One of the ultimate long-distance trails on the planet, the Annapurna Circuit is as 128-mile (205km) route that passes through the jungles and plummeting river gorges of Nepal before heading into the Himalayas. Here, the mighty Annapurna III and Gangapurna emerge as if by magic from behind a canvas of majestic mountains, with the best views available as you reach 17,768-ft. (5,416m) Thorung La, the highest pass of the trek.
But this is a path where surprises lie around every corner and atop every mountain. Stumble upon rhododendron forests, tea-houses and monasteries perched precariously on hillsides as you get a glimpse of rural life in one of the world’s highest mountain ranges.
Northern Hemisphere Hiking Holidays: West Coast Trail, Canada
Passing along the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, the West Coast Trail is yet another long-distance trail for the adventurous hiker. Comprising 47-miles (75km) in total, this trail can take from three to six days depending on your level of fitness and promises potential sightings of black bears and cougars in the forests, as well as whales offshore.
Started as a way of helping shipwreck survivors to get back to safety, nowadays the West Coast Trail sees thousands of hikers from around the globe, all keen to stay overnight at the remarkable Tsusiat Falls campground and admire the region’s rugged natural landscape.
Northern Hemisphere Hiking Holidays: Kungsleden, Sweden
The Kungsleden or King’s Trail is Sweden’s top hiking path, which weaves its way through a wilderness of snow-peaked summits, dense forests and shimmering lakes as it passed between Abisko in the north of the country and Hemavan in the south.
Hikers can combine camping with nights spent in rustic huts as they trek the 273-miles (440km) of this route, passing through national parks rich in beech forests, wetlands and wildflower meadows.