7 of the Longest Hiking Trails in the World

Looking to break in a pair of hiking boots? These routes will do the job and then some.
Views from the Pacific Crest Trail as hiked by Philip Kramer
Spectacular views from the PCT © Philip Kramer
By Alison Mann

Believe it or not, it’s often said that the human body is best designed to handle walking for days on end. Long-distance hikers tell tales of gaining their "hiker's legs" after weeks on the trail. So what better way to get yours than to try out some of the longest trail routes out there?

Pacific Crest Trail (above)

Where: California, Oregon and Washington
How long: 2,663 miles
Bragging factor: Everyone will know what you're talking about.

America is home to a few super long-distance trails. There’s the PCT, made famous by the movie "Wild," and the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. These trails are linked by the American Discovery Trail, which stretches over 6,800 miles.

Philip Kramer completed the spectacularly scenic PCT, and of it he says: “The Pacific Crest Trail, whether walked in sections or as a whole, is a complete adventure. You'll haul precious water across the hot, dusty, cactus-riddled Sonoran and Mojave deserts, linger in awe at the stunning granite formations of the Sierra Nevada, weave around the volcanoes of the Cascade Range and, if you're lucky, descend into Canada through the wild and mountainous gates of the North Cascades. Between the weather, the changing landscape, the towns, the people and the physical challenge, hiking the PCT provides a beautifully diverse and rich outdoor experience.”

View from the TCT in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada
View from the Trans Canada Trail © James Clark

Trans Canada Trail

Where: Stretches across Canada
How long: Currently 11,185 miles (will be nearly 15,000 miles when complete)
Bragging factor: Once it’s finished, you can say you’ve done the longest in the world.

The Trans Canada Trail is currently 80 percent complete — but even unfinished, it is still mighty long. Organizers hope that the network of trails will be complete in 2017.

The 6166km long Grand Italian Trail crosses the Italain Alps
The Grand Italian Trail spans the Italian Alps © zocchi2/Getty Images

Grand Italian Trail (Sentiero Italia)

Where: Across the Italian Alps and through the country
How long: 3,831 miles
Bragging factor: Trekking across the Alps is pretty awesome.

How big is Italy exactly? That's the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about this trek. The route weaves across the top of the boot-shaped country, across the imposing Alps before making its way down to the point and over to Sicily and Sardinia. You're sure to see a huge variety of scenery, and no doubt some amazing, carb-heavy food to keep you going.

A view from the Hokkaido Nature Trail, which circles the island of Hokkaido, Japan
The Hokkaido Nature Trail passes volcanic areas © Imre Cikajlo/Getty Images

Hokkaido Nature Trail

Where: The island of Hokkaido
How long: 2,849 miles
Bragging factor: It’s actively volcanic.

A diversity of hiking awaits those attempting the trail on the island of Hokkaido. It links the country’s national parks and spots of cultural interest. The trail travels over volcanically active land, providing rugged trails as well as forests and lakes.

A traditional house seen on the Historical Baker Trail which travels from Uganda to South Sudan
There’s more than landscapes on this trail © Julian Monroe Fisher/thebakertrail.com

Baker Historical Trail

Where: Uganda to South Sudan
How long: 500 miles
Bragging factor: Because of the civil war, few people have completed it.

OK, so it’s not the longest trail, but it is 100 percent incredible — and the longest on the African continent. It passes through South Sudan, which broke into civil war in December 2013.

“Despite the war, we conducted work throughout January and February 2014," says Julian Monroe Fisher, who was part of the team taking on the first trek of the route. "All Baker Trail markers were delivered to all marker locations from Juba, South Sudan, to the top of the Murchison Falls, northern Uganda, to Baker’s View, looking out across Lake Albert to the Congo.” A peace treaty was signed in August 2015, so organizers are keen to get back to Juba as soon as possible.

The Dho Tarap Valley, Nepal is passed during the Great Himalayan Trail
The Dho Tarap Valley, Nepal © Robin Boustead

Great Himalaya Trail

Where: Himalayas
How long: Nepal section roughly 1,056 miles (complete trail to reach 2,849 miles)
Bragging factor: It reaches heights of 20,340 feet.

This trail takes trekkers high into the Himalayas, over arguably some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. The trail has so far been mapped through Nepal, Bhutan, India and Pakistan and work is well underway on the Indian and Tibetan section.

Robin Boustead is the pioneer of this effort and says doing the trail is well worthwhile. “Get out there and do it!" he encourages. "Get some serious field experience and if you don’t have that then do it with someone who does. No matter how tough you think it’s going to be, it will be tougher! But it is a great, life-changing experience. You genuinely don’t come back the same person. Of course, the views are spectacular too!”

The Te Araroa trail in New Zealand stretches 3054km
Te Araroa trail New Zealand © Ben Curran

Te Araroa

Where: Cape Reinga in the north of New Zealand to Bluff in the south
How long: 1,864 miles
Bragging factor: A proper island adventure.

Taking between 50 and 80 days, the Te Araroa travels across both New Zealand islands. It’s a magnificent landscape of mountains, lakes and forests and was first completed by Geoff Chapple in 1998 — back in the day when it wasn’t so easy to update everything online straight away!

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