1. Amram’s Pillars / The Black Canyon (Israel)
This towering natural structure can be reached by a dirt road just north of Israel’s bustling sea-meets-desert town of Eilat. The walk includes sifting through dried-out waterfalls and an ancient copper mine, and its peak provides stunning views of the Negev desert below.
2. Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex (USA)
“The Bob” cover 1.5 million acres in Montana, and is recognized as the country’s richest ecological region. Factor in the stunning surrounding forests intertwined with its boundaries, that totals 2.54 million acres without a single road. It’s got a greater population density of grizzly bears than anywhere in the contiguous 48 states, and nearly every indigenous animal of the Rocky Mountain region is comfortably living in preservation.
3. Inca Trail (Peru)
The ascent to Machu Picchu is so epic, you experience different weather environments and habitats depending on your path. Depending on the difficulty, you’ll encounter grassland, a cloud forest, an alpine tundra, or a jungle rife with birds and butterflies.
4. Sentiero Azzurro (Italy)
This flat path connects the five villages of Cinque Terre. Its famous epicenter is Via dell’Amore where couples come to seal their love with actual locks along the water. As you ascend the path’s steep grand finale between Corniglia and Vernazza, the walk is lined with olive trees.
5. Mount Kailash Pilgrimage (Tibet)
The top of this 22,000-foot peak is the summit of Kailash — held in high sacred regard by five different religious denominations. Beautifully enough, the actual peak has never been trespassed by a human out of respect and reverence. The trail is widely regarded as far more than your average hike. It’s a pilgrimage to experience the “good grace” of the mountains and the purifying water of Lake Manasarovar — one of the highest lakes on the planet 15,000 feet up.
6. Overland Track (Tasmania)
This path looks prehistoric to start, but winds through mountains, forests, waterfalls, and moorlands along the way. Trekkers stay in huts along the path and have access to Lake St. Clair (Australia’s deepest fresh water lake) as well as Mount Ossa (the highest peak on Tasmania).
7. National Trail (Israel)
Believe it or not, there is one giant trail that traverses the entire state of Israel, broken up separately. The path is peppered with “trail angels” to assist travelers along the way from providing directions to putting people up for the night. Highlights include monasteries along Mount Tabor, views of the Galilee from Mount Carmel, and the Ramon crater where animals roam free and the rocks change color based on the position of the sun.
8. Te Araroa (New Zealand)
This trail opened to the world after being cultivated for 10 years by volunteers. It’s estimated the entire length equals 120 days of hiking, but each section is an encapsulation of all New Zealand culture and experiences ranging from forests on the island’s north end, to lowlands around a spiritual riverbend, to country towns and bustling metropolises.
9. Sir Samuel and Lady Florence Baker Historical Trail (Africa)
This path from South Sudan to Uganda covers and honors the trail blazed in the 1860s by explorers striving to abolish slavery. This year commemorates its 150th anniversary. Its crown jewel is Murchison Falls — a 131-foot tall and 20-foot-wide waterfall along the Victoria Nile.
10. The Narrows – Zion National Park (USA)
The area in Utah was first uncovered by the likes of Native Americans, geologists, and explorers on horseback — which was the most popular way to get the lay of the land all the way through the 1960s. Going by foot includes wading in the water, but the contrast between the elements and color of the rocks makes it breathtaking as it was untouched in the 19th century.
11. Tour du Mont Blanc (Switzerland, Italy, France)
Not even excessive popularity can dim the perfection of this luxurious European trail. Its myriad segments fit travelers of all skills with mountain views of multiple countries.
12. Torres del Paine (Chile)
Perhaps the most stunning way to experience the well-traveled Patagonia region, the Torres del Paine mixes views of glaciers making up the Southern Patagonia Ice Field and ice-blue reservoirs, with lush forest and mountain ridges as a backdrop.
13. Yoshida Trail (Japan)
This climb peppered with volcanic debris begins halfway up Mount Fuji but delivers those that take it to its ultimate summit. If the trail is open, some opt to begin its final legs after dark to see a once-in-a-lifetime sunrise over the valley.
14. Landmannalaugar Trail (Iceland)
This popular way to wander the nature of Iceland connects two of the country’s significant nature reserves. The weather is constantly changing conditions, making it a real roll of the dice for those that dare, but the hills are lush with varying colors (including Bláhnjúkur, “the Blue Peak”) and relics of volcanic rocks.
15. Yam L’Yam (Israel)
Literally translating to “Sea to Sea,” Israel also has a countrywide trail that spans west to east from the Mediterranean Sea to Galilee. Those that embark experience fountains and streams, periodic options to stop-off in small towns with cafés, and “Sechvi pool” swimming holes along the way.