Our world is full of spectacular places to explore. In this blog, I’ll share my personal Top Ten List of the Best Hikes in the world, so far. I am very thankful and lucky to have visited some extraordinary places. I’ll share the location, details, why I love it, things to know, and when to visit.
My criteria for determining which hikes made it into the best hikes in the world were hikes that had:
- A unique view or feature.
- Sweeping scenery that captures the feel of an entire area.
- A once in a lifetime incredible experience or an easy favorite that is enjoyable repeatedly.
There are endless amazing hikes across the world. I’m sure my list will change as my personal experiences grow. Everyone’s list will be unique to them. I look forward to hearing your insight on other best hikes in the world in the comments.
My Top Ten Best Hikes in the World (in alphabetical order):
1. Half Dome
Location: Yosemite National Park, California
Distance: 14 to 16 miles round trip depending on route taken. 4800 feet of elevation gain. For details on options, check out my Tips for Hiking Half Dome blog.
Wow Factor: Along this hike you will feel the mist of some of Yosemite’s most spectacular waterfalls, then you will peer down from the top of them. You will venture through beautiful forests, climb up exposed stairs of granite, and hoist yourself up steel cables to the summit. The panoramic views from the summit will allow you to experience this iconic nation park in a whole new way!
Things to Know: Permits are required to ascend the cables at the top of Half Dome that lead to the summit. These operate on a lottery system. The advance lottery is in March. For all details on the lottery process, check out this post.
Best Time to Visit: Weekdays in early to mid-June to have fewer crowds than weekends and see the waterfalls at their best. September is also good for fewer crowds, however the waterfalls may be dry or have much less flow.
2. Havasu Falls
Location: Havasupai Reservation, Arizona
Distance: 10 miles each way (8 miles to the town of Supai, then 2 miles to Havasu Falls and the campground), 2500 feet of elevation loss going in and elevation gain going out.
Wow Factor: Even when I was standing there, I couldn’t believe the beauty of this place was real. It is easily one of the most beautiful places in the world! It is no surprise that it is consistently on best hikes in the world lists. The aquamarine colors of the water and the lush green vegetation against the backdrop of the rocks is unimaginably stunning! Enjoy everything this area has to offer by exploring all five falls in the area – Beaver, Fifty Foot, Havasu, Mooney, and Little Navajo.
Things to Know: The majority of the incline to leave the canyon comes at the very end of this hike and has minimal shade during the day. Get an early morning start to beat the worst of the heat and sun. Pack plenty of water.
Best Time to Visit: Spring and Fall are the best times to visit due to slightly cooler temperatures. Summer temperatures in the canyon can be brutally hot. During monsoon season (July, August, September) there is higher risk for flooding in the canyon.
Note: Floods can occur at any time, even outside of monsoon season, be aware of where the highest ground is when picking your campsite and maintain a general awareness of conditions.
3. Highline Trail
Location: Logans Pass, Glacier National Park, Montana
Distance: 11.8 mile loop (plus shuttle), 1950 feet elevation gain or out-and-back to Haystack Pass, 7.2 miles, 825 feet elevation gain.
Wow Factor: Epic views abound on this alpine trail. In the beginning you will start out walking along a ledge carved into the side of the mountain above Going-to-the-Sun Road. If you have a fear of heights, you’ll want to research this and see if this trail is right for you. Beyond that section, you may be treated to expansive mountain views in every direction, waterfall crossings, and wildlife sightings.
Things to Know: Both Black Bears and Grizzly Bears abound in Glacier and frequent the area around this trail. Be sure to carry bear spray, make plenty of noise, and follow all bear safety protocols.
Best Time to Visit: July to September. Conditions depend on the amount of snow on the trail and Going-to-the-Sun Road being open.
4. Kuliouou Ridge Trail
Location: Oahu, Hawaii
Distance: ~ 5 miles, 1624 elevation gain
Wow Factor: This trail travels through several types of forests. It is so much fun to see all the different ecosystems you pass through. The final vista leads to stunning cliffside views of the lush green mountains, a volcano, and the ocean.
Things to Know: This trailhead is located in a neighborhood. Please be respectful when parking. The top section can be tough. It is steep with a lot of stairs.. If conditions are foggy, the view from the overlook may be limited.
Best Time to Visit: Anytime of year. May be muddy and slippery on steps after rain.
5. Mount Tallac
Location: South Lake Tahoe, CA (Near Fallen Leaf Lake)
Distance: 10.5 miles, 3,500 feet elevation gain
Wow Factor: From this summit, the entire expanse of Lake Tahoe is at your feet. You can also take in the view of Fallen Leaf Lake and see both California and Nevada from the top.
Things to Know: The summit of this hike is almost 9800 feet. If you are not used to hiking at that elevation you may feel it. I definitely felt a difference in my endurance in the final stretch. Mosquitos can be really bad on this hike. Plan accordingly.
Best Time to Visit: June through September are the most reliable months for accessibility due to snow conditions.
6. Panorama Trail (Panoramaweg)
Location: Männlichen to Kleine Scheidiegg, Switzerland
Distance: 2.75 miles, 540 feet elevation loss
Wow Factor: If you start from Männlichen, you will have the pleasure of doing this walk in a gradual downhill. The scenery is unimaginably beautiful. You will be surrounded by emerald green valleys below dotted with chalets and cows out to pasture. Even when you cannot see the cows, you will hear them move slowly with their ever-present cowbells. Before you stands the majestic Jungfraujoch mountain, the tallest point in Europe. Since this is a wide and easy trail, you can take in the sights as you go (clear weather permitting).
Things to Know: If time allows, consider having lunch at one of the hilltop restaurants. Pack a layer to keep warm if there is fog or wind.
Best Time to Visit: Mid-June to October
7. Preikestolen/Pulpit Rock
Location: Ryfylke, Norway (40 minutes from Stavanger by ferry)
Distance: 5 miles, 1640 feet elevation gain
Wow Factor: Preacher’s chair is the translation of the term Preikestolen. This unique rock formation will give you the best seat in the house to the view of Lysefjord below. The rock juts out into the fjord, 1982 feet above the water below. From the flat surface, you will feel just how high up you are.
Things to Know: This trail is very popular. Get there early to have fewer crowds. Scenes from Mission Impossible: Fallout were filmed here in 2017.
Best Time to Visit: April to October are the safest options to avoid winter conditions, however it is open year-round. Proper precautions should be taken if hiking this trail in winter. The most crowded months are July and August.
8. Sentinel Dome
Location: Yosemite National Park, California
Distance: 2.2 miles round trip, 400 foot elevation gain.
Wow Factor: This short trail leads to sweeping views of the Yosemite Valley. I cannot think of a single hike of this distance that is more rewarding! You can see Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, El Captian, Nevada Fall, Vernal Fall, Clouds Rest, and more. The famous fallen Jeffrey Pine, made famous by Ansel Adams, is also located at the summit.
Things to Know: There is no shade on top of Sentinel Dome, so be sure to have sun protection. If you have extra time, you can do the hike to Taft Point that leaves from the same parking lot.
Best Time to Visit: This hike is accessible via Glacier Point Road, which typically opens in mid to late May or early June and closes in October. Check the Yosemite National Park website for details. This hike is great anytime the road is open.
9. Skyline Trail
Location: Paradise, Mount Rainier National Park
Distance: 5.5 miles, 1700 feet elevation gain
Wow Factor: Beauty abounds on this trail, starting with the fact that it takes you up close and personal with Mount Rainier. On a clear day, there are views for miles that include other famous volcanoes – Mount Saint Helens and Mount Adams. In late summer, wildflowers will be exploding like fireworks all around the trail. As snow melts, waterfalls spring up, providing a calming soundtrack to your hike.
Things to Know: Mount Rainier is known for rapidly changing conditions. Pack layers so that you are prepared for anything. Expect that there may be snow on parts of the trail well into summer. Check the park website for current conditions before heading out.
Best Time to Visit: July to September is peak wildflower season and has the least snow.
Location: Tyssedal, Norway
Distance: 17.4 miles, 2625 feet elevation gain from P2 Skjeggedal parking lot or 12.4 miles, 1000 feet of elevation gain from P3 Mågelitopp upper parking lot.
Wow Factor: This full day hike has jaw dropping scenery the entire route before ending at the famous Troll’s tongue cliff over Lake Ringedalsvatnet. Starting out, you’ll cross through boulder fields that may remind you of the movie Frozen. Once you get closer to the fjords, take in the vivid color of the sapphire blue water. Trolltunga is the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic before hiking back.
Things to Know: This is a long hike. Start early to ensure you can return during daylight. Spots in the upper parking lot are extremely limited. Visit this website to learn more about this option or to make a reservation for this lot. Expect to wait in line for a photo, potentially up to a couple hours depending on time of day.
Best Time to Visit: June 1 to August 31. For hikes outside this time period, a guide is required.
Best Hikes in the World Highlights
All of these hikes are extremely popular. Do your part to preserve them by staying on the defined trail. It only takes a few people making a short-cut for others to follow and a new path to be created. This kills vegetation and destroys habitats.
Trolltunga parking –
Preikestolen Info –
Expeditions with Evelyn Exclusives (EEE)
For Havasu Falls, look for campsites on the opposite bank of the creek from the one that the trail leads you into. I found this side to be less crowded. For the Highline Trail, the parking lot at Logans Pass gets crowded early. Take the shuttle or get there early to park. There are no snacks or vending machines at Logans Pass, so pack all the food you need. The Hidden Lake Trail behind the Visitors Center is another great option for a beautiful hike in the area.
Tell me what’s on your mind…
What is on your best hikes in the world list? Let me know in the comments below as well as if you have any questions.