Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Sat September 24 2016

Opinion Home | Tales From the Leap

  • Shannon Wolf | September 24, 2016 11:00 PM ET

    The World's Best Long-Distance Hikes

    The World's Best Long-Distance Hikes

    PHOTO: Whether you choose to trek in Nepal, Canada, America or anywhere else in the world, you will have an amazing experience. (All photos by Shannon Wolf)

    The fact is, traveling the world has changed me — but not in the way I’d ever imagine. I have opted for bare skin over makeup, comfortable over fashionable (depending on the country of course) and most shockingly, from a city dweller swearing I’d live in one all my life to feeling the height of freedom with only a 30L pack of essentials, living in a tent with an ever-changing landscape.  

    With that said, hiking has not only become a like but a gradual love after building my stamina. My bucket list has become a slew of ocean and redwood trailed daydreams all geared toward seeing the world from a very real and raw perspective.

    Below are some of the best hiking opportunities in the world that will surely leave you breathless — and not just from the altitude.


    Annapurna Circuit


    Oct-Nov: Most popular time to go
    April-May: 2nd most popular time to go

    When you think of Nepal, you probably think of the greatest and grandest trek of all time: The Everest Basecamp, with the most spectacular and highest peaks in the world. We all know this trail is not for the faint of heart and requires a lot of training beforehand so if you’re not ready for it but still want something spectacular, you won't be disappointed by the Annapurna circuit.

    If you’re new to trekking, don’t worry — It’ll feel like Everest and you’ll feel like Rocky Balboa by the time you reach the end of the 160-230km trail, taking anywhere between eight to 25 days to complete.

    You will pass through rice paddy fields, subtropical forests, waterfalls, cliff-scapes and villages with a variety of climates along the way. It is a horseshoe-shaped route circling some of the best scenery Nepal has to offer and to this day is still dubbed one of the best treks in the world.

    READ MORE: 5 Great Hikes for Beginners

    PHOTO: One of my biggest hiking dreams is to walk across New Zealand on the Te Araroa Trail.

    New Zealand

    Te Araroa Trail


    If heading Southbound: Sept.-Dec.

    If heading Northbound: Nov.-Jan.

    Where To Start: Most people start at Cape Reinga in October or November and are then able to walk the majority of the South Island during the optimum period.

    Out of all the trails, my dream hike is the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand where you can walk the length of the country in four to six months from the North to the South Island, a distance of 3,000km.

    The Te Araroa is a fairly new trail, which means it’s raw, real and underdeveloped in some areas — adding in that extra bit of adrenaline for all you junkies. Furthermore, the trail’s landscape is so diverse that you can experience everything from active volcanoes to redwood forests to bubbling mud pools, snow capped mountains, the sparkling rivers, sea and coastal views with some spectacular sunsets… (just to name a few).

    Needless to say, it’s no walk in the park, but you will come out of it feeling nothing but vigorously accomplished.


    Cappadocia Valleys


    April-June: Most popular time to go

    September-November: Second most popular time to go

    Although an easy trek, this trail will leave you speechless as you make your way through eight valleys between Uchisar and Cavusin/Zelve. This one’s a must for anyone heading to Turkey.

    Dependent on how prepared you are, you could do day trips (two to five hours) or spend days and even weeks wandering through the valleys and through ancient caves, fairy chimneys, sandstone cliffs, lush vegetation and some spectacular views including thousands of hot air balloons above you at sunrise.

    PHOTO: Walking through the Cappadocia Valleys, I knew that it was the start of a long-lasting love affair with trekking.


    Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit

    (Yoho National Park, Alberta)

    For those looking for a challenge with scenery that is well worth your heart skipping a beat or two, this is the trail for you. Capping in at 11km and 1,051m in elevation, the O’Hara trail offers hikers flexibility to complete the trail in small or long sections that give you a chance to take a break or keep pushing onward and upward to view nearly a dozen turquoise mountain lakes.

    From the panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains stretching from Lake O’Hara to Lake Oesa, across to the Yukness Ledges and the Opabin Plateau, you will understand why we Canadians are in love with our country.


    Kalalau Trail


    May-June: Most popular time to go/least amount of rain.

    Rated as one of the most scenic route in the world, it's no wonder why this Napali coastal trail along the Pacific Ocean is on the list. This 11-mile trail is pleasant to trek all year round with temperatures seldom dropping below 15 degrees C (60 F). The Kalalau Trail is outrageously beautiful, but equally challenging due to muddy trails, river and stream crossings.

    You will spend your time trekking along remote beaches, valleys and lush jungles while being able to do side trips to view Hawaii’s impressive waterfalls, sea caves and more. 


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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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