5 Of The Best Long-Distance Trail Walks In The World

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By Sean Murphy

Living in a world with such diverse landscapes and terrains offers trail walkers and hikers countless options where to plan their next adventure.  From trail walks that last a few hours to ones that can take months to complete.  And temperatures that range from freezing to scorching hot.  Valleys, mountain ranges, lakes and rivers.  Nature really knows how to spoil those with a love of the outdoors and those who want to push themselves to the next level.

If you have a few months, or even a year spare, listed below are five of the best long distance trail walks from around the world.

  1. Te Araroa (New Zealand)

Distance: 3,000 kilometres (1,864 miles)

Maori for “The long pathway”, Te Araroa showcases New Zealand in a unique way, offering spectacular scenery in the process.

Te Araroa was officially opened December 3rd, 2011 by the Governor-General of New Zealand, Sir Jerry Mateparae and has been a tourist magnet ever since.  During the 2016-2017 summer season 550 people walked the entire length of the trail, from Cape Regina in the North to Bluff on the southern tip.  It takes roughly three months to make your way to the bays of Queen Charlotte to the volcanic Mount Tongariro.

It is advised to check the official website to get an update on route availability.

  1. Hokkaido Nature Trail (Japan)

Distance: 4,585 kilometres (2,849 miles)

You will explore the volcanic mountains of Hokkaido, glaciers, grasslands, lakes, hot springs and forests.  Officially approved by the Japanese Government in 2003, it takes roughly 230 days to complete the entire trail walk.

Situated on the northernmost of the country’s for main Islands, the Hokkaido Nature Trail is the longest.  It links the country’s national parks and draws trail walkers from all over the world.  What you will see along the way includes Noboribetsa Hell Valley, Mount Usu and Shiretoko National Park.

The region is also well known to be inhabited by the Hokkaido Brown Bears, something to be mindful of, especially if you go in Spring.

  1. Great Himalayan Trail (Nepal)

Distance: 1,700 kilometres (1,056 miles)

The Great Himalayan Trail is the highest and longest mountain trail in the world, crossing the entire Himalayan range from Kashmir to Tibet, via India, Nepal and Bhutan.

There are two routes, the Low Route and the High Route.  You can display your mountaineering skills by taking the High Route (which peaks at a breathless 6,146 metres/20,164 feet) or go village-to-village by taking the Low Route.

The Great Himalayan Trails change constantly due to uncontrollable conditions that effect major routes, so it’s important to research prior to arrival.

  1. Grand Italian Trail, Sentiero Italia (Italy)

Distance: 6,166 kilometres (3,830 miles)

Unveiled to the world in 1995.

The Grand Italian Trail (or the Sentiero Italia) has the splendour that only Italy can provide from the Dolomites, picturesque Tuscan vineyards, to the Amalfi Coast.  It stretches the entire length of Italy from Trieste, bordering Slovenia all the way to the Island of Sardinia.

Traversing the entire Alpine arc, leading into the Apennine chain to Sicily and finally heading west across the Tyrrhenian to Sardinia and Santa Teresa Gallura.  There, you will find the ancient city of Tibula.

The trail can take between 8 or 9 months to complete.  North to south, or south to north, some who have walked this trail have commented that the markings aren’t easy to find, so a GPS is advisable.

  1. The Appalachian (United States)

Distance: 3,510 kilometres (2,180 miles)

An American long-distance trail was always going to be crowned number one, considering their world renowned Triple Crown, that being the Pacific Crest Trail (4,270 km/2,654 miles long), the Continental Divide Range (5,000 km/3,100 miles) and of course The Appalachian.

The Appalachian Mountains stretch from Mount Springer, Georgia, to Mount Katahdin, Maine. In between, you will cross over into 12 other States; North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire.  The lands you will cross were traditionally owned by the Iroquois and Cherokee people.

At least 3 million people embark on the Appalachian Trail every year.  On average it can take three months to complete.  The record for the fastest time traveling from end to end was set in 2016 by Karl Meltzer at just 45 days.

Inspired by the above?  Time to look into your long service leave and get planning!