From improving fitness and mental health — to fostering creativity and increasing productivity — walking has numerous underrated benefits. The low-impact exercise isn’t limited to strolls around the neighborhood or indoors on a treadmill. Here, seven incredible walks around the world that will challenge your daily routine and inspire you to plan your next active vacation.
THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL
Located in the eastern United States, the Appalachian Trail stretches 2,181 miles through 14 states from Maine to Georgia and covers plenty of varied terrain. Attempting the whole hike would take you about six months, but you can easily tackle a few sections and experience different routes. Try your hand at more strenuous parts like the Presidential Range in New Hampshire or something more moderate such as traversing Shenandoah National Park. The trail website will help you plan your trip based on difficulty level and your desired distance.
JOHN MUIR TRAIL
If you’ve heard about the famed Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from reading the book (or watching the movie) “Wild,” the John Muir is a 211-mile trail that runs mostly in conjunction with the PCT from Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney in California. It generally takes about three weeks from start to finish, but there are plenty of shorter trips you could take in just a few days. Note: Wilderness permits are required for much of the trail to ensure there’s no overcrowding.
This unique trail, located in Utah’s Zion National Park, is 16 miles long. It winds through stunning canyons carved over centuries by the Virgin River. There are several natural springs and beautiful hanging gardens, so the hike could be split into two days, with a night spent camping at one of the park campgrounds.
THE AMALFI COAST
The Sentiero degli Dei in Bomerano-Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy is about five miles long and is a great day hike with stunning views of the Mediterranean. It’s referred to as “The Path of the Gods” and you’ll follow old mule trails while strolling rolling hills and vibrant vineyards.
If you’re looking for a great, challenging European walk, you can traverse the entire country of England. The Coast to Coast path crosses Northern England in around 200 miles. You’ll walk from the Irish Sea to the east coast of England, passing through interesting terrain like the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks. If you don’t want to complete the entire trek, there’s always the option to pick a section to walk and then drive the rest.
THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA
Hiking the iconic landmark starts with 4,000 steps, which delivers you to the lowest possible entry point. If you’re looking for a challenge, the entire walk around The Great Wall is 1,800 miles and it’s not entirely groomed or well marked. However, there are plenty of day hikes in the Beijing region and you can also sign up with a tour group for a shorter excursion.
THE LANTAU TRAIL
This hike is a loop on Lantau Island, just a short train or ferry away from Hong Kong. The trail is 43 miles total, but it’s divided into 12 sections that can be walked individually, which are marked according to difficulty level. You can’t go wrong as you traverse through temples, beaches, gardens and fishing villages.