On Foot: Best Day Hikes On the Planet
Collected by Bronwen Gregory , AFAR Local Expert
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.
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...
North Island, New Zealand
There's no other day hike in all of New Zealand that is as diverse as the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. The terrain is so unique, the location was used to portray "Mt Doom" in the Lord of the Rings films. The nearly 20 kilometer trail winds into high...
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...
Lion's Head, Signal Hill, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
The hike up Lion’s Head affords incredible views. Since the trail winds around the mountain, you’ll have the unique opportunity to see every side of Cape Town from above. When you start, the ever-stunning Table Mountain will be just to...
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...
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...
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, USA
Golden Gate Park was formed out of an expanse of sand dunes to the west of the city in the nineteenth century—a history that is still discernible in the rolling topography of much of the park’s more than 1,000 acres. Over 13 million...
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...
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...
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...
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...
“We wanted to go to Yosemite, but didn’t have time.” I’ve heard this refrain from several San Francisco visitors and they all have said it with regret. Yes, the reverent national park is outside of a short-drive comfort zone – it’s more of a...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
Steamboat Springs, CO 80487, USA
Despite being northern Colorado, Steamboat Springs offers belly-filling home-style southern cooking at the Low Country Kitchen right on Lincoln Avenue. Dig into the classics (without the greasy coating), like fried okra and buttermilk fried...
Ul. od Sigurate 7, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia
A city of red-tiled rooftops, pine- and cypress-shaded hills, and sparkling turquoise waters, the Old Town of Dubrovnik stuns with both its architecture and scenery. Its surrounding stone walls, built between the 11th and 13th centuries to protect...
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...
53000 East, Historic Columbia River Hwy, Bridal Veil, OR 97010, USA
Multnomah Falls is a gorgeous sight located about 45 minutes by car outside of Portland, Oregon, on the Columbia River Gorge. Several hikes of differing degrees of difficulty offer vantage points to view the falls. The sound of the rushing water...
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