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On Foot: Best Day Hikes On the Planet

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There are such epic hiking adventures to be had in a single day, almost everywhere you go to be outside. I love the ritual of that early morning, a stuffed daypack and the reality that you have a huge, beautiful day ahead on foot. Not to mention those end-of-the-day, exhausted celebrations where you relive your favorite stretches. From the canyons of Utah, to the mountains of the French Alps, to the famous tramps (hikes) in New Zealand, here are a few of my favorites.
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You'll have never seen a place more green. Hundreds of shades of it, with waterfalls and babbling brooks. Gleninchaquin is something out of a dream—yet it's the beautiful reality in Southwest Ireland. This family-owned park, overseen by Donal and...
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Aiguille du Midi, 74400 Chamonix, France
France's Chamonix Valley is one of the most scenic places on the European continent. It's a narrow river valley which houses everything from rock-climbing centers to pulsing bars and pubs, and on both sides of the river the peaks of the French...
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Manawatu-Wanganui 4691, New Zealand
This huge, single-day hike is in the running for the "Best Day Hike in the World" contest. If you're spending time in Taupo on the North Island of New Zealand and you love a challenging hike with unbelievable topography, be sure to give yourself a...
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Utah, USA
this hike is the perfect morning trek...not too long or strenuous (around 5 miles) but climbing up the steep trail with railings (pictured behind me) is both exhilarating and fun! a must-do in zion. incredible views of the valley from the top.
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This is your view from the top of the Diamond Lake Hike, which starts about 12 kilometers outside of the town of Wanaka. The views are so beautiful from the summit that it's nearly impossible to ever head back down the mountain. The track starts...
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1 Chapmans Peak Dr, Hout Bay Harbour, Cape Town, 7806, South Africa
When you're staying in Cape Town, be sure to get out to Hout Bay on the Cape Peninsula to witness a sunset that I'm convinced is the most beautiful one I've ever seen. I love the Chapman's Peak Hotel in Hout Bay. Even if you're staying in Cape...
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Lion's Head, Signal Hill, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
After moving to South Africa for a year following my Freshman year of college, I returned home with pictures, memories, and new friends. I had spent the year volunteering and working in the Guguletu township 20 minutes down the N2 highway outside...
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Pont Drift, Botswana
I love the Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana, near the Limpopo River. The opportunity to explore the 25,000-hectare reserve by bicycle or by foot is something that rarely happens on a safari. You can arrange morning and late afternoon walks with...
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Dewey Point, California, USA
There's an absolute gem of a hike in Yosemite National Park that anyone who loves a good winter snowshoe hike should do. It's a seven-mile out-and-back trek from Badger Pass to the inspirational Dewey Point, which is on the south rim at just over...
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Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, USA
The San Francisco Rose Society puts on some beautiful shows in Golden Gate Park. It's great if you're interested in gardening, want to take some photos, or are just looking for a relaxing activity in the park.
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Lake Matheson, West Coast 7886, New Zealand
Lake Matheson is a magical little spot near Fox Glacier. It's a great place to take a walk at sunset, before enjoying dinner and some local wine at the Matheson Cafe. On a clear day, the reflection in the lake proudly displays all the reasons to...
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Urupukapuka Island, Northland, New Zealand
There are 144 islands in the Bay of Islands on the North Island of New Zealand, and Urupukapuka (the largest of them all) aims to please. Check out the island's website to help plan your day, which will be a fabulous and full day that includes a...
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Fjærland, Norway
The Flatbreen hike in Norway is officially in the running for "Best Day Hike in the World," in my book. You'll gain 3,100 feet in elevation on the way up these stunning, glaciated valleys and mountain passes. Depending on your pace and the...
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Castle Hill 7580, New Zealand
This 10-day tramping (that's Kiwi for "hiking") trip on the South Island of New Zealand is hard to beat. This will be your first hike of many, all of which connect you to a land so beautiful that it's impossible to ever leave. Kura Tawhiti is a...
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801 Cedar St, Berkeley, CA 94710, USA
This is the trip of a lifetime—there's no better way to describe it. Beginning in the dynamic and colorful city of Cape Town and finishing at Londolozi Private Game Reserve in Sabi Sand—the very pinnacle of animal-viewing experiences—this trip is...
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California, USA
inspiring natural surroundings... camp inside yosemite at camp four. no reservations needed. wall-in, pitch tent and chat with amazing climbers under el capitan
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Lake Aloha, California, USA
Welcome to Northern California's Desolation Wilderness, the perfect place to hike near South Lake Tahoe. Lake Aloha is a well-deserved and divine place to take a dip after having tackled the climb up from Echo Lake. I'd suggest parking your car at...
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Wildcat Canyon Rd, Orinda, CA 94563, USA
You'll love the views you'll have of the EBMUD Watershed while you're hiking or mountain biking along Nimitz Way in both Wildcat Canyon Regional Park and Tilden Regional Park. The views really open up once you're in the area considered the Bay...
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Terrebonne, OR 97760, USA
Even on a cold, gray day in winter, this state park is something to be celebrated. (The last time I was this impressed with a six-mile hike I was in the diverse and mind-blowing landscape known as the South Island of New Zealand.) Smith Rock State...
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US-101, North Bend, OR 97459, USA
This is a hike that, on a day when the weather is cooperating, is a transformative experience—it's just that beautiful. I lucked out when my arrival to the John Dellenback Dune Trailhead coincided with a break in the rain and clouds I'd seen all...
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Row River Trail, Oregon 97434, USA
On a recent road trip hiking and biking my way through Oregon, I fell hard for the entirely car-free, 17 miles of paved biking/walking trail just outside of Cottage Grove called the River Row Trail. Pine forests, roaring rivers, Dorena Lake—it was...
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I love this view from the bridge of the lower falls of Fish Creek Falls because you can see the local ice climbers in the distance, having fun on the frozen water. At this point you've walked half a mile from the parking to arrive to the falls and...
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It's impossible to capture the scene with a photo. As you move along the well-marked trails on the Western Summit side of Rabbit Ears Pass, the trees appear to lean in and study you as you go. There are seven set trails to choose from at the...
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Steamboat Springs, CO 80487, USA
I was working at CLazyU ranch in Granby Colorado, when my roommate suggested we take a day trip to Steamboat Springs. We got our hiking gear together, filled the car with gas and was off. We made it to Fish Creek Falls trail head and started off....
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Ul. od Sigurate 7, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia
When in Dubrovnik you have to walk atop the city walls. Try to go all the way around, its well worth it and you will get a great workout. Every corner you turn offers fantastic views.
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Franz Josef Glacier, West Coast 7886, New Zealand
I was a glacier virgin. I had never seen one in person before, much less set foot on one. That all changed though as the helicopter lifted off and took off towards the incredible Franz Josef Glacier on New Zealand’s South Island. Almost as soon as...
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53000 East Historic Columbia River Hwy, Corbett, OR 97019, USA
Go for a quick drive east of Portland, Oregon. Enter the Columbia River Gorge, winding above the southern bank of the river...and you'll be able to walk a short trail to Multnomah Falls—the height of a 60-story building, one of the tallest...