Alberta and Andorra to Utah and New Zealand hiking in the Alps, Andes, Rockies, Tian Shan and more. Over 50 bloggers and influencers from around the world have come together to share their favorite hike of 2017! Here’s your big dose of hiking wanderlust for 2018 and beyond!
Justin – Beer And a Backpack
Unlike most years, I only went on one proper hike in 2017. Also, unlike all previous years, I’m now a full-time traveler. Fortunately for me, the one hike I took this year is also the best I’ve ever completed. The Tour du Mont Blanc is found on nearly every Top 10 Hikes in the World list ever compiled, and for good reason; it is simply magnificent. I decided to do this hike in June since July and August are packed with hikers.
The TMB, as it’s affectionately known, circumnavigates the Mont Blanc massif through the Alps of France, Italy, and Switzerland. If you’ve never been to the Alps, stop what you’re doing, do a Google image search, and prepare to start booking flights. Words simply cannot describe the unyielding beauty that this part of the world possesses.
The hike itself is not technical, there’s not really any rock scrambling or climbing necessary. But it is long; the longest version (of which there are several) covers about 170 kilometers. The 7-10 days you’ll spend hiking it consist of seemingly never-ending ups and downs over mountain passes. Experienced hikers and fit individuals will consider it challenging, but not overwhelmingly so. I’m not very fit, but my stubbornness and the prospect of a cold beer and a delicious meal at the refuges each night carried me through.
Christine – Chris-Crossing Germany
My favorite hike of 2017 is hands-down the 46 km tour from Wendisch Rietz to Halbe on the 66-Lakes-Trail, a 416 km loop around Berlin, Germany which starts and ends in Potsdam. I love this hike as a whole because I was able to get out each weekend and complete sections of it. This part of the trail, which I did in March, was my particular favorite because it was rife with beautiful, clear lakes (more in number than any other leg). Also, it is nearly impossible in Germany (and Berlin especially!) to escape the raucous racket of the autobahn, but this hike is very peaceful, at most passing through farmland when it must encounter civilization. To top it off, I was able to camp on the shore of Neuendorfer Lake.
Runners-up hiking around the Mutters Alm near Innsbruck, Austria for the incredible views of the city and the Portuguese Route (particularly Barcelos to Valença) of the Camino de Santiago for a solid introduction to long-distance hiking.
Emma – Journey of a Nomadic Family
This hike brought in our new year of 2017 and our first nomadic international destination as a family. It was the most challenging hike we’d ever completed and because of that, it is one that will stay with us for a long time.
Our kids were 13, 8 and 6 at the time and we hiked Piko Ruivo to Pico Areeiro on Madeira. It is a very rugged route of almost 8km but by the time you’d factored all the descents/ascents in, my hike tracking app said it was over 15km. The start height is 1818m and the end height is 1862m but do not be fooled because around the central peak of Torres, you must climb 300m in under a kilometer! The complete walk includes six ascents totaling around 1000m in all.
I can truly say that this is the most exhilarating and awe-inspiring route I have hiked so far in my life. It was a phenomenal hike; it sapped all my energy, I have never sweated so much, I was cold to the bone, it drove me to tears and exasperation, it made me smile and it united us as a family. Pretty much everything you’d want a hike to do, it did and more!
There are immense clouds, numerous rock falls, tunnels, missing and blocked parts of the route, white trees, birds galore and oh the steps! This is a hike that you will never forget!
We arrived back at Pico Areerio just in time for sunset and that wondrous feeling to be back coupled with the amazing views of the sun dipping over the cloud was breath-taking. I may have shed a little tear of gratitude and relief.
Eran – The Laughing Traveller
In 2017 I traveled both in the Faroe Islands and in Ireland, so it was a pretty greenish year. If I have to pick only one hike that would be Lake Sorvagsvatn in the Faroe Islands. It is located on the island of Vagar, one of the 18 islands of the Faroes and the one on which the airport is situated. I was there at the first week of June and I guess one of the reasons for it being my favorite hike is that it was the first one I did in the Faroes and the weather was nice.
The hike itself follows the largest lake in the islands and at the end, it meets the ocean where an optical illusion is created due to the cliffs around (you can read about it here). You have to climb to a certain point in order to get that perfect picture you want, but it’s well worth it! And every time you reach a “peak” you find out that there’s another one, just slightly higher.
Agnes – Agnes Goes East
Trusso Valley – Stepantsminda, Georgia
I’ve heard about the beauty of Caucasus long before I’ve actually decided to go. And I’m really grateful to my brother, who convinced me to join him on his Georgia trip. Hiking in Trusso Valley in July was absolutely amazing!
The hike is not very strenuous, yet so rewarding – the valley offers spectacular views, is lush with vegetation and full of bustling, cold streams that fall into the main Tergi River. You can drink the water straight up, as it’s clean and rich in minerals. The air is pleasantly cool, even in midsummer and the only sound you hear is birds signing and sheep grazing high up the mountains. The valley is peppered with ruins of old villages, towers and monasteries, luckily not peppered with tourists! It was so beautiful to simply enjoy the nature and delicious snacks prepared by our Georgian host. We’ve spent the entire day in the valley and our only regret was that we didn’t plan to camp there…but hey, maybe it will be my favorite hike of 2018 too!
Paula – Irish Girl Travels
Mizen Head – County Cork, Ireland
The Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland has lots of outdoor walks/hikes where you can encounter beautiful beaches, lovely lighthouses, wonderful waterfalls and captivating coastal cliffs. As a child, I visited many of the towns and counties along the wild Atlantic way route but only as an adult do I appreciate the beauty of my own country.
Even though as a country we have very unpredictable weather it is still a wonderful place to explore when the sun is not out (once you are dressed appropriately). I think another reason it is my favorite because I love to be near water. So getting to discover beaches and waterfalls along with the views that come with cliff fronts it is hard not to fall in love with it.
One of my favorite from the last year was visiting Mizen Head in Cork (most southwesterly point in Ireland). From the small picturesque towns and hidden beaches you pass to get there, to then be greeted by the raging sea crashing against the cliffs. Even with the overcast weather, I did take some time to soak in the views. This trip was taken at the beginning of March. Most of the week we had blue skies with one or two days like this.
Teresa – Brogan Abroad
Ireland is a hiker’s paradise, and that includes Dublin. The city is surrounded by the Dublin Mountains, where you can find lots of adventure and trails ideal for day hikes. One of my favorite hikes is the one that leads to the Hell Fire Club, at the top of Montpellier Hill. It has fantastic views of the Glenasmole Valley, the last Gaelic speaking part of Dublin, and over the city.
The Hell Fire Club was originally built as a hunting lodge in the 18th century and later became a gentleman’s club where all sorts of debauchery, like heavy drinking, orgies, witchcraft rituals, and even sacrifices took place. Locals say that the building is cursed and legend has it that the men always used to keep a seat at the table for the Devil. It is said to be one of the most haunted in Ireland.
I did this hike in October, so it was a little grey and chilly, which added to the spooky atmosphere. Be sure to be prepared for the weather outside of summer months. But then, this being Ireland, you should always be prepared for the weather – summer and winter.
Tom – The Summit Hunter
Balfrin Mountain Trek – Valais, Switzerland
On a rather cloudy July morning 2017 we started our mountain tour on the Balfrin in Gasenried 1659m (5442ft) near Zermatt. After a gentle ascent, it suddenly went steeply uphill through a forest.
After approximately 2 hours, we arrived on a plateau, which used to be the glacier tongue of the Ried Glacier. In the distance, we saw not so far away from us the glacier, which we traversed 2 hours later. Unfortunately, the glacier was in a miserable condition. However, we found the ideal line and could handle the crevasse elegantly. Arrived at the other end of the glacier, we took off our crampons, which now was something climbing announced. The about 300 meters difference in elevation (1000ft higher) that separated us from the Bordier hut, our intermediate stop, was a rock wall. The rock was rather easy climbing and very well secured. Finally arrived at the hut we could eat, just before we went to bed early. The next day (Monday), we started our tour at 4 o’clock.
First, we went in easy climbing on the big Bigerhorn 3626m (11929ft). From there it became more difficult than over a connecting ridge to the Balfrin. It was a rather fine line and very exposed. 20 minutes of high concentration were announced but everything went well. After another 30 minutes of easier climbing, we stood at 8:45 am. on the Balfrin summit 3796 meters (12454ft) high. The view was stunning. All around us over 20 mountains higher than 4000m (13,000ft), just breathtaking and magnificent and below us rested the Ried glacier. It was the most beautiful Monday morning in my life so far.
Marie – Big Travel Nut
Last January I traveled to the Canary Islands and signed up for a day walk on Lanzarote with a company called Eco Insider Tours. Lanzarote is a volcanic island, and this walk set out to explore three volcanoes within the Parque Natural de Los Volcanes (neighboring the better known Timanfaya National Park).
The eerie landscape brought to mind the surface of an alien planet, covered in lava fields and dozens of volcanic cones, all created less than 300 years ago. Our guides told us about the many different types of rocks and even plants (lichen, grasses and small bushes) that were scattered around.
The hike was, in fact, three mini-hikes, linked by rides in 4×4 vehicles. We first took an easy stroll around the base of a rust-colored volcano where we came upon a 5-meter tall rock (“volcanic bomb”) which had been ejected from the crater. The second walk was up against the side of a low crater through fine pebbles that felt like walking through soft snow. And the grand finale was walking inside a collapsed volcano. This was my favorite part, due to the dramatic appearance of the cone on the approach, as well as the colorful rocks inside.
Sonja – The National Parks Girl
In July my boyfriend and I headed to Italy to hike the world-famous Alta Via 1 in the Italian Dolomites. I spent six months preparing for the hike – training, taking Italian lessons, and reading everything I could about the trek. Despite spending so much time staring at photos of the route and reading trip reports online nothing prepared me for the scale and beauty of the Dolomites.
We spent a week hiking through the stunning high alpine, over rolling hills, and into lush forests. We also tried our hands at a via ferrata route. “Via ferrata” is Italian for “iron road” and the segments consist of iron cables and ladders that were initially bolted in place during WWI to help soldiers navigate the exposed terrain. Today hikers along the AV1 use the cables for the same reason with a much different mindset. Trying something new, pushing my limits, feeling defeated and then overcoming was one of my favorite parts of the trail. Now the only question is, which Alta Via route to tackle next.
Roger & Thaisy – Trails4Hiking
Lago di Sorapis – Dolomites, Italy
Our favorite hike of 2017 was the amazing blue Lago di Sorapis, in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Dolomites, Italy. We hiked this trail in September when the landscape starts to get brownish and the weather changes fast.
When we were planning the hike, we saw that everyone focuses on the blue lake, but we discovered that the trail that gets there is equally beautiful! The views of the surrounding mountains were really amazing!
The trail has 12km round trip and it’s considered moderate with 325m of total gain. The path starts in Passo Tre Croci and can be divided in 4 sections, two of them with via ferrata (cables and staircase), but you can get across without it.
The trail goes through forests with some occasional nice views and two small waterfalls that you can jump over. Pay attention to the old WWI bunkers and caves hidden between the trees.
It took us 4 hours for the hike round-trip using route #215 both ways, with a long lunch enjoying the panorama of the lake. Oh, and a tip: walk the trail around the lake too. There is a great view!
Chris & Oana – Around the Compass
Our favorite hike this year was in Andorra, one of the smallest countries in Europe, situated in the heart of the Pyrenees and bordered by Spain and France. This hike was special, mainly because we decided last minute to go to Andorra in September and we were impressed by the beautiful, underrated landscapes that this tiny country has to offer.
Andorra has more than 54 marked hiking trails and the guide “Trails of Andorra” is available to buy from any tourist office for only 5 euros. We bought one copy and we picked the trail through Maiana Pass which is one of the most spectacular routes in the Madriu-Perafita-Claror valley.
Along the route there are a few refuges in good shape if you want to spend the night, springs were you can drink fresh water, waterfalls were you can test your photography skills and not to mention the breath-taking landscapes. The trail weaves through the forest for some part, offering the opportunity to admire the unspoiled nature and the diversity of plant life along with cows, horses, sheep and dogs along the route. The hike is 15.7 kilometers and is supposed to last about 5 hours and a half. You can read more about it in our post about Andorra.
Nicole – Wandering with a Dromomaniac
My favorite hike of 2017 was the Fairyland Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. This trail starts at Fairyland Point and completes an 8-mile loop, including a portion of the Rim Trail. This trail is considered strenuous because it has various elevation changes (2309 feet) and because it’s a long one.
I did this trail in October, with some of the best hiking weather I could ask for. Each turn on this trail opens up a new photo opportunity with fantastic views of the pink, orange, and cream-colored hoodoos. The layers of color in the sand and the rock structures are astounding and you truly feel like you have stepped into a fairyland, expecting to see little sprites flying around you as you walk along the trail.
The whole trail is truly magical. You shouldn’t take this hike lightly though, bring lots of water and be aware that it can be windy, so on some of those sections with drop-offs on either side go slow and watch the gusts.
David & Jamie – Photojeepers
The 2.7-mile trail begins at Sunset Point where you descend 800 feet down to the canyon floor. Along the way you pass the famous Thor’s Hammer formation, rock windows and hoodoos. This section of the hike is always breathtaking as you get a more intimate view of these colorful hoodoos.
The walk along the canyon floor takes hikers through a forest of Ponderosa Pine trees. Before the strenuous ascent back up to the rim, there are more stone formations to see and photograph and narrow passages and tunnels to navigate.
Our favorite time to hike this trail is right after sunrise when the light is best for photography and the temperatures are just right for hiking. This year we completed the hike in April, but have also done it in the fall and it’s wonderful as well.
Stacy – Adventure & Chill
2017 is coming to an end. We spent three weeks hiking nearly a dozen National Parks from Yellowstone to Grand Teton, the Big 5 in Utah, and sledding at the Great Sand Dunes. Out of all of 2017’s travels, my favorite hike was in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Bryce Canyon is unlike anything I have ever seen. When I walked to the edge of the cliff and peered down into the hoodoo’s, I was mesmerized and slightly bewildered. A trail that I enjoyed hiking in June was the Navajo Trail. It takes you from Sunset Point down into the Bryce Amphitheater (the bottom of the hoodoos). Navajo Trail is a 1.3-mile loop with a descent and ascent of 550 feet and an elevation change from 8000 to 7479 to 8000.
The entire hike kept us enthralled. Surprisingly, enormous Douglas Fir trees are jutting out from within the hoodoos. The sun doesn’t seem to shine bright enough to reach them, yet they have been growing for years. There are areas where you feel like you are in various scenes from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It’s a must-do for any hiker. Our three young kids did it and asked to go back!
Tiffany – Follow Tiff’s Journey
Coyote Gulch – Grand Escalante National Monument, Utah
My favorite hike this year is Coyote Gulch in Escalante. I backpacked this on Memorial Day Weekend in May and although it was very hot, the weather somehow seemed perfect.
I enjoyed this one a lot because you’re surrounded by tall canyon walls and large arches hovering overhead, with crystal clear water so clean that you can drink straight from the spring. This one was special for me partially because I had been desperately wanting to go for so long (I even attempted to go six months before but my rental car literally got stuck in the dirt road), but mostly because this area is very pristine and secluded.
It’s getting a lot more popular but because of the effort it takes to get out there, it’s only the true nature lovers who respect the land and keep it untainted. Honorable mention: Little Colorado River Gorge.
Byron – Misfit Moves
Max Patch Mountain – North Carolina
Jamie – The Daily Adventures of Me
This year I climbed my first mountain. Now New England mountains are pretty wimpy, but the trail was rocky, steep and tough, at least for a first mountain. My hike to the summit of Tumbledown Mountain in Maine is definitely my favorite hike of 2017.
While we were climbing my friend and I questioned whether we could finish and every person kept encouraging us with the fact that it is so worth it. When we got to the top they were so right! It is one of the prettiest places on earth that I have been. And I really didn’t expect that. I have been to Iceland. Heck, I went to Norway this year. But getting to the top of the mountain and seeing the glacier lake tucked into its peaks. It really took my breath away. We went farther up and were treated to a view of the surrounding verdant beauty that is western Maine.
The experience inspired me so much that I climbed another mountain this fall. But, there is nothing like your first. As an honorable mention, a short hike to Stalheimfossen just outside of Flam, Norway made me feel like I was walking where real trolls and fairies live and Norway’s waterfalls are pretty incredible!
Emily – Brazen Backpacker
South Fork Big Pine Creek Trail – Sierra Nevada, California
2017 was THE year of new trails for me. From Peru to Zion to Yosemite and everywhere in between, I tramped my rubber soles all over the world and amassed a wealth of stories to tell. Though The Inca Trail and Angels Landing were breathtaking in their beauty, they were a little crowded for my taste, and my favorite hike, unexpectedly, turned out to be a lesser-known gem in the Sierra Nevada of California – the South Fork of Big Pine Creek Trail hiked in September.
The trail starts by traversing a piece of the High Sierra, paralleling a rushing stream until it begins to climb over a thousand vertical feet to a pass dotted with ancient bristlecone pine trees. Once over the pass, the landscape quickly becomes jaw-droppingly immense, with the huge stone spires and glaciers of the Palisade Crest coming into view. From here, there are several aquamarine lakes to camp at, notably Brainerd Lake and Finger Lake (for the more adventurous). This trail serves as the jumping off point for mountaineers daring enough to climb Middle Palisade or any of her neighboring peaks. The views, solitude, and wilderness found here are unmatched elsewhere in California!
Erika – My Socaled Life
Temescal Canyon – Pacific Palisades, California
When I was asked what my favorite hike of 2017 was, I had absolutely no idea where to start. Since almost all of my hiking is done with my 4 and 6-year-old daughters in tow, I don’t get to be as adventurous as I’d like to be.
However, after careful consideration, I’d have to choose Temescal Canyon in Pacific Palisades. Last winter was an exceptionally wet one for Southern California which meant the waterfalls were flowing steadily all spring. This March my 6-year-old and I did it alone. We had brought our golden retriever along and didn’t realize dogs weren’t allowed on the trails so my husband and I had to separate. I didn’t drive all the way there for nothing! That being said, I refused to carry my daughter. The trek is roughly 6 miles with a steady incline and a gorgeous ocean view at the summit followed by a moderate and windy decline. She cried (a lot) of the way but was so proud of herself for completing the hike by herself. Even a group of college students congratulated her on the trail. It was a very proud moment for me.
I hope that I can pass on my love of hiking and the outdoors to my daughters one trail at a time. If I’m allowed an honorable mention, my second favorite hike was Echo Mountain in Altadena.
Roxanna – Gypsy With a Day Job
My favorite hike of 2017 would be one of those closest to home, right in central Illinois, in Matthiessen State Park. Entrance to the park and its 5 miles of trails, is free.Matthiessen is a stunning, but little-known area of small natural wonders, formed by glacial melt after the last ice age The result is hard to describe. There are natural prairie lands, forests, lakes, streams, as well as sandstone ravines and canyons, carved by glacial runoff.
Matthiessen is a neighbor to Starved Rock, where similar features are bigger and more dramatic. Starved Rock draws huge crowds on the weekends. Matthiessen, on the other hand, can often be hiked with some solitude, even on a Sunday in the summer. There are some challenges on the trails, but most parts can be navigated by different levels of adventure lovers.
Our favorite treat at Matthiessen is the handful of natural waterfalls along the trails. They are almost completely accessible and have a delicate and magical quality, flowing into small cool pools, that offer refreshing fun after a hot summer hike. Three generations of us traversed the trails together in the middle of June. We got sweaty, we got muddy, then we showered in a sparkling waterfall. It was a day of pure delight!
Jacki – Travels with Jacki
White Oak Canyon – Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
White Oak Canyon has been my family’s favorite hike since we moved to Virginia in 2004. As a matter of fact, my daughter has been hiking the trail with us every year since she was 4 months old! While White Oak Canyon is beautiful any time of year, our favorite time to hike the trail is the month of October, when the fall foliage is at its peak with brilliant orange and red hues.
We enjoy starting off early in the morning when the park opens, eating lunch at the top waterfall, and then making the long hike back to the truck at the end of the day. At nearly 8 miles long (some of it strenuous with narrow rocky paths) is an absolutely gorgeous hike with five major waterfalls, a few swimming pools to cool off in if you hike during the summer, and views of the Shenandoah Valley from the top. It is easily one of the best and most rewarding hikes in all of Shenandoah National Park. And best of all, it is dog-friendly, much to a German Shepherds delight!
Crystal – The Petite Adventurer
Olomana Trail – Oahu, Hawaii
The Olomana trail is one of those hikes that I like to call “character-building”. It’s 4.5 miles of incline through humid tropical terrain which takes you up to a dreamy view of Oahu’s lush landscape and the Pacific Ocean’s endless waters. Olomana has three challenging peaks, which presents a fun challenge for any adventurer.
The first peak is full of interesting scrambles which always gets my adrenaline pumping. The second peak yields more epic views of the island, while the third peak is reserved for highly experienced climbers as it requires ropes on its sharp ridge. I had the privilege of digging through this beauty of a trail to get to the first peak during a hot afternoon in August. My favorite part of this hike is seeing the landscape change from the tropical rainforest floor, to arid rocks, to flat forest, and up to rocky ridges. Be sure to wear good shoes with ankle support, bring lots of water, and of course, bug spray to keep the mosquitos away.
Brandy – Brandy Wandering
Blue Lake – Telluride, Colorado
I spent nearly my entire 2017 hiking through Colorado and by far my favorite hike was to Blue Lake near Telluride. Experiencing colorful fields of wildflowers being in full bloom, enjoying perfect August weather, listening to rushing creeks near the trail, witnessing a waterfall, seeing old mining ruins, and having lunch at a gorgeous blue alpine lake with a backdrop of beautiful mountains made Blue Lake a hiker’s dream.
This hike, besides being the most beautiful I had experienced this year, was particularly special to me because it was my first long solo hike at both a high elevation. The hike itself peaks at 12,220 feet and is around 6 miles roundtrip.
Being a person who used to be afraid of their own shadow and going places solo, taking this hike was extremely empowering. Completing this hike was a huge step in gaining the courage to commit to solo traveling to all the US national parks starting at the beginning of 2018!
Mary – Runaway Mary K
Notch Trail – Badlands National Park, South Dakota
I’ve been lucky enough to go on many amazing hikes this year. The unforgettable Mount Le Conte in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was one of my favorites, along with the Ape Caves near Mount St. Helen. My favorite hike of 2017, however, was actually located about halfway in between those two places: The Notch Trail in the Badlands National Park.
It seems like I never hear anyone talk about the Badlands of South Dakota. But when I was moving from Nashville to Portland it seemed like a great opportunity to make an epic road trip out of it. During my research, I came across some information about the Notch Trail, and I knew that I had to do it. The terrain was unlike anything I had ever seen. In fact, I kept babbling about how weird and wonderful it was! Rough and rocky with hardly any plants, it’s almost how I would picture the moon. Despite the fact that this was the middle of July and extremely hot, I loved every second of this hike. It will definitely be one that I will never forget.
Chad and Stef – Touring Tastebuds
Arkansas has a million options when it comes to hikes, but our favorite is Hawksbill Crag. The views are unbeatable at the top, with ledges that open up to mountain views for miles! Nothing beats looking out across the beautiful untouched land. We went in June and suggest going in spring or summer when the trees are green and the sun is shining! Even bring a picnic or a hammock to enjoy once you get to the top! Just don’t get too close to the edge!
Sara – Minnesota Hiking
Shovel Point Trail – Tettagouche State Park, Minnesota
Since I’m a Minnesota native and happen to think that we have some great places to hike here in my home state, I’d like to focus on favorite hikes in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Choosing a favorite hike of 2017 was really difficult, so I’m cheating, just a tad. I’d like to share my favorite park to hike — Tettagouche State Park. For those who haven’t been, it’s on the north shore of Lake Superior, about 60 miles north of Duluth and about 215 miles from Minneapolis. This park is most stunning during peak fall colors, usually around the first weekend of October.
I fell in love with hiking on the Shovel Point trail at Tettagouche as a college student in 1997. I’ve made it a point to do this hike at least once each year. It’s a short hike at less than 1.5 miles out and back. The overlook views of Lake Superior are worth every step. The scenery takes my breath away every time, even after 20 years.
Also in Tettagouche is the hike to Bean Lake and Bear Lake, which is a section of the 300+ mile Superior Hiking Trail. It’s a 6.5-mile out-and-back with stunning views overlooking Bean Lake. There’s an elevation change of almost 1,000 feet, which is pretty significant for Minnesota.
Michelle – The Wandering Queen
Cleetwood Cove – Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
The trailhead known as Cleetwood Cove is one of the many hikes that make up Crater Lake National Park. The hike is 2.2 miles round trip, with an elevation drop/gain of 700 feet. The trailhead is the only legal access to the shore of Crater Lake. To get to the lake, the trail initially takes you downhill on steep switchbacks. Throughout the hike, you get an opportunity to see the lake’s magnificent, sapphire blue waters from a variety of angles. Once at the shoreline, there are usually many people enjoying the water by swimming, jumping off of cliffs or sunbathing on the rocks (Water temperature is on average at 59°F during the summer, so it is chilly).
The reason why this was my favorite hike of 2017, is because of the spectacular views, which shows off nature’s beauty with a spectrum of dazzling colors throughout the hike. I also enjoyed being able to swim in the lake on a hot summer day in July. This experience was one of a kind, and it was one of my favorite moments of 2017.
Rachel – Backcountry Petite
The Adirondacks are a must-see region of the United States to make sure that’s on your New York Life List if you live or vacation on the East Coast. The region occupies about 1/5 of New York State and at over 6 million acres, there are plenty of lakes and hiking trails to explore.
The Northville-Placid Trail is about 135 miles depending on trail conditions; this trail has highly variable conditions depending on recent rainfall, insects, and beavers. It is often very muddy and sometimes the bridges that have been built for hikers to get across streams have been damaged or knocked down.
This is remote wilderness. If you get injured on the trail, you might be waiting days before anyone passes by. If you need to get off the trail and find a town, it could be miles before you reach anything. There are bears and moose sharing the land with you so you must be aware of your surroundings at all times.
The best thing about the NPT is the unpredictability and the challenge of getting through. You will be challenged mentally and physically. It can be extremely buggy especially in late spring/early summer during the black fly season. Sections of the trail are very remote; this is not like hiking the popular Appalachian Trail where you’ll run into many other hikers.
Although the Adirondacks is famously known for the high peaks, hiking that section means trekking by more day hikers, and having less of a chance to capture some stunning views of the rugged backcountry. If you’re really seeking some solitude, this 40-50 mile section of the trail is a perfect choice.
Sam – Our Passport Diary
Cathedral Rock – Sedona, Arizona
This actually isn’t our first time doing Cathedral Rock. We’ve done it a few times but this year we hiked it in November. But instead of the crowded, classic trail, we prefer this series of trails that a local told us about a few years ago.
We started on the Baldwin trail which soon met up with Templeton Trail and we followed Templeton Trail. Part of the trail runs parallel to Oak Creek, so during the hot summer, it’s a nice place to cool down! After about a mile and a half on Templeton trail, you hit the standard Cathedral Tock trail. From this point on, you can’t escape the crowds. But, since it meets up with Cathedral Rock about a quarter of the way up, some of the people who decide it’s too much for them have already turned around! So the crowds definitely thin out at this point. Once you are on the Cathedral Rock trail, it’s half a mile of scrambling straight up the rock formation. So you do need to watch your footing. But once you make it to the top, the views are incredible!
Scott – Our Passport Diary
Oliver’s Cove – Fogo Island, Newfoundland
This “hike” is more like a walk. So I’m kind of breaking the rules with this one here but bear with us, as it was one of the most beautiful walks we’ve ever done. It’s located on the eastern side of Fogo Island and is only about 3 miles long. The trail leads mainly through a rocky coastal landscape and at the end, it takes you through the historic community of Tilting.
We went the first weekend in June and there was still a lot of pack ice along the coast. We went during this time as the currents flow in such a way that icebergs that have broken off of Greenland pass by Fogo Island. It’s called “Iceberg Alley”. So for the entire coastal walk, we had front row seats to some amazing iceberg views.
Aaron & Mel – Hughes Your Own Adventure
Iceberg Lake – Banff National Park, Alberta
We are incredibly fortunate to look back on our year and have so many contenders for our favorite hike. From the beargrass-lined Highline Trail in Glacier to abandoned desert mines in Joshua Tree, and the mossy rainforest in Olympic, the hike that stands out as the clear winner is Iceberg Lake on the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park.
One of our first stops, when we arrived at the park in early August, was the visitor’s center where a friendly ranger tipped us off to this unlabeled trail and handed us a photocopied map with a picture of the area and a bunch of hand-written notes on it. We started by circling around the north side of the unbelievably blue Bow Lake, then followed the creek that feeds it. After crossing the creek we scrambled up steep moraines and across narrow rock ledges, following carefully stacked cairns and faded flagging until we made it up to the glacier-fed lake.
The view from the shoreline was incredible, with Bow Glacier capping the mountain to the west, Bow Glacier Falls plummeting 400 feet to the east and Bow Lake shining far below. What made it even more special was having it all to ourselves.
Hannah – That Adventurer
Garibaldi Lake – Whistler, British Columbia
Eli – The Partying Traveler
“Somos soldados.” We are soldiers. That’s all my guide had to say after our small group of trekkers trudged through difficult terrain and awful weather to camp out in clear view of the famed Volcan Fuego.
It took nearly five hours to reach base camp, several thousand feet above our starting point and almost ten miles carrying all of our equipment, food, and water. Running on no sleep thanks to one of Guatemala’s most exciting parties the night before, I passed out immediately upon reaching base camp, wondering if all of this was worth it. It only took a few ground-shaking volcanic eruptions for the answer to be a clear yes, but even that did not compare to the unforgettable show once the sun went down and the stars came out. Seeing the fiery eruptions from the neighboring volcano while the stars lit up a clear sky made every brutal step of the trek feel insignificant.
Trekking Acatenango is no easy feat, and it ranks among the hardest treks I have ever done in my life. Despite the extreme challenge, anyone who has conquered Acatenango can tell you without a doubt that it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Nate – Nate Meets World
The Peñas Blancas Massif in Nicaragua was my favorite hike of 2017. It is in a remote part of the country and a bumpy three-hour chicken bus ride from the city of Matagalpa. I did the hike in July during the rainy season so I lucked out with the weather but I would recommend coming here a bit earlier during the year during dry season.
The cliffs jut out of the earth’s crust to create such a beautiful area. The views before you started the hike were amazing, but they get even better once you hit the trails.
If you do visit this area, your guide will likely be Don Chico who has lived in the area his whole life. He will guide you to the top of the cliffs on trails and ladders he built by himself. Once there, he will navigate through the forest to some amazing viewpoints of the area which includes looking down onto a massive waterfall. From there you are taken behind the waterfall to the river that snakes its way through the reserve. It is almost as beautiful as the waterfall itself. There are more views of the expansive cliffs from the other side as well. Don Chico guides you along the top of the cliffs before taking a slow and steep descent down the cliffs back to his farm where we began the day.
The full hike takes between 5-6 hours and is a truly unforgettable off-the-beaten-track experience!
Patrick – German Backpacker
Laguna 69 – Huaraz, Peru
After arriving in Peru on my journey through South America, my first destination was Huaraz, a small city north of Lima in the middle of the Andes mountains. On my birthday in the beginning of June, I decided to go for one of the most beautiful day hikes in Peru – the hike to Laguna 69. The starting point was already at 3800 meters, making the hike quite challenging since I wasn’t completely acclimatized yet.
However, I wanted to enjoy the lagoon before any other tourists would get there and hiked up the path as fast as I could, passing most other tourists and making my way up to 4600 meters above sea level. After a few hours hiking through the beautiful and peaceful Peruvian countryside, I reached the stunning Laguna 69. I was very lucky with blue sky and sunshine, which changed the water into a beautiful turquoise color. I enjoyed the peaceful view for at least an hour before I slowly made my way back down again and returned to Huaraz. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday hike!
Angela & Audriana – The Rambling Gals
Salkantay Trek – Cusco, Peru
Earlier this year in January, we spent a month in Peru. Rather than do the classic Inca Trail, we went with the Salkantay Trek. The trek was full of some of the most wonderful experiences I’ve ever had in my life—EVER!
It was also very challenging and some days I thought I wasn’t going to be able to carry on because of exhaustion, sore legs that felt like noodles, blisters forming around my heels and all the things that come along with hiking for five straight days. Don’t let this turn you away! Even though this is true, I did carry on and most of the time I didn’t realize how sore or tired I was until I got to the accommodation for the night. I was so preoccupied and in the moment, there was no time for this. I think back to my time here and I can see everything; the lush countryside with horses grazing, the turquoise lake, the beautiful Machu Picchu, the smiling locals easily passing us in flip-flops. Every day there was something new in store and every day my breath was taken away by the sheer beauty of Peru.
Tom – Tom Plan My Trip
Hiking is rewarding, but it could be scary for a beginner. Am I able to follow the path? Do I have the right equipment?
Like many habits, you have to start with something simple. Otherwise, you will find an excuse, and you won’t do it.
It’s why Tayrona National Park in Colombia one of my favorite hikes. You can do it in 2 or 3 days. Moreover, there are camps where you can sleep, drink and eat. My favorite periods to visit Tayrona are November, March, July, and August. It’s usually sunny all day long and it’s less touristy.
To avoid the tourists, stop at the small entrance called Calabazo. It’s like passing through the artist’s door in a Theatre. One guard, 1 ticket, and 2 minutes later, the trees, monkeys, and rocks are only for you.
In this green palace, huge trees have built the roof. You won’t feel the sun but you will sweat a lot. Yes, it’s humid on the Carribean Coast.
After 3-4 hours, you can hear the waves smashing the beach. Your mind is already there, “the future you” is swimming with one hand in the cold ocean. Why only one? Did you already try to swim with two hands and a coconut?
Playa Brava is your first stop. There is nobody. It’s too far for the lazy tourists.
Chardet – Corpão Fitness
Some hikes you love for the adventure or challenge. Others are memorable for their serenity and views at the top. Morro Dois Irmãos in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil gives you all of the above. Of the hikes I’ve done in 30 different countries, this is one of my favorites because you get panoramic city views from the middle of a tropical forest.
You start at the top of the Vidigal Favela which you can access by taxi or mototaxi (this latter one is much more fun.) The climb that follows is short (approx 50min) but intense; it requires you to occasionally pull yourself up by tree roots and walk over big boulders jutting out over cliff edges. As you climb, you get different views of Rio – from the beach to the favelas. You’ll continue to go through jungle leaves and tropical flowers until you reach a gorgeous view of Rio. You’ll be sweaty, possibly out of breath but definitely in love.
Kim – Adventures N Sunsets
An early April hike to Tugela Falls on the border of South Africa and Lesotho was among the best of my life! This is one of a few famous hikes in the area or a section of a much longer possible hike along dramatic and cliffy mountains in the Drakensberg range.
We went as a guided group from our hostel and hiked all day through thick fog. It was almost in a moment of pure magic that the fog cleared for us at the top of the falls, presenting us with sweeping views of rippling mountains and valleys for miles. Tugela is actually the second highest waterfall in the world! To get back down we climbed down ladders on a steep rock face and had to face a thunderstorm before finally getting back to a tiny warm building at the trailhead. It was an incredible adventure that I’ll never forget!
Sarah – World Unlost
As someone of mediocre fitness and little patience for heat, I may have been a little over-ambitious in choosing the Moroccan Sahara as the location for my first ever multi-day hike. But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to explore some off-the-beaten-path spots of the desert and spend time with nomadic families.
And so, one overcast 95-degree Fahrenheit day in October, we were off. Led by our three guides, and flanked by two camels who carried the bulk of our gear, we followed the path of the nomads along a centuries-old caravan trade route linking Zagora, our starting point, to Timbuktu. Our end goal was the towering sand dunes of Erg Chigaga, where we spent the final night out in the open beneath the stars.
Along the way, we stayed at a remote, palm-fringed oasis, hiked up the zigzag paths of a rocky mountain, spotted wild gerbils, eagles and the tracks of the elusive fennec fox, and shared mint tea with a ridiculously kind Berber nomad family. The landscapes were jaw-dropping. But it was truly the cultural interactions that made this such a special adventure: the best hike I’ve done not only in 2017 but in all 27 years of my life so far.
Stephanie – Poppin Smoke
My favorite hike of 2017 was Mount Fuji. My husband and I had been planning to climb it since we arrived in Japan in August 2016, but since the climbing season is so short, we did not have the opportunity until a year later. Mount Fuji is revered in Japan, and many Japanese say they aspire to climb “Fuji-san” one day, but I’ve met few who have actually done it.
The hike was my favorite, not only because of its cultural significance in our current home but because it was so beautiful. We lucked out with perfect weather and had gorgeous views all the way up. The descent was a bit unique in that it involved plunging through more than 10 kilometers of deep volcanic ash, but overall, it was a satisfying challenge, and we enjoyed every minute of it!
Ale & Sara – Foodmadics
In the course of this year we traveled full time, we had many amazing hikes but our favorite one remains the one in China at the Zhangjiajie natural park.
We went there in August and we do not recommend to do the same if you have the chance to choose another time of the year, as the heat will make the hike a lot more difficult.
The park offers the most incredible view of mountain pinnacles that are said to have inspired James Cameron writing Avatar. We do not know if this is true but we know for sure that the views are amazing at the top and the hike in the park can be so rewarding if you decide to walk away from the crowds and know how to do it.
There were many highlights during the hike, one of our favorites was the Emperor’s throne, 45 minutes walk from the main road that leaves you speechless when the forest gives room to the pinnacles views. However, if we had to choose one, the best would be the intense walk from the golden circus at the bottom of the valley up to the pinnacles, countless steps towards the top but the reward will leave you speechless!
Navigating Zhangjiajie can be difficult due to the lack of information in English. This is why we decided to write a guide to walk the Zhangjiajie Natural park to help any other hiker who wants to get lost in nature and walk the immense park instead of relying on the elevator and the cable car.
Chris – traveling mitch
Taebaeksan – Gangwon, South Korea
My favorite hike was Taebaeksan, which is also known as Mount Taebaek, in South Korea. What truly made the experience special was that we (my now fianceé Briana and I) hiked it in the middle of February. Funny enough, I can’t ever recall feeling cold. At the top of the mountain, you can find a slew of ancient yew and azalea trees that still cling on for dear life despite the wintry climes. You’d expect whipping winds and gale force winds, but there’s something surprisingly serene about hiking and reaching summits in the winter time.
It’s funny, I started rifling through my brain for hikes that I’d done that have really stayed with me, and this floated to the top almost instantly. Obviously, whether my conscious mind wants to admit it or not, my unconscious mind has made the choice loud and clear. And so, on that note, I formally declare Taebaeksan in South Korea my favorite hike (especially in Winter)!
Nick & Dariece – Goats On The Road
Our favorite hike that we did in 2017 and indeed our favorite hike of all time was the amazing Keskenkija Loop trek that we did in Jyrgalan, Kyrgyzstan. This trek took us up into the backcountry of eastern Kyrgyzstan where we met up with local nomads both on horseback and inside of their family yurts.
In June, we were the first foreigners to ever do the trek and together with a local group from USAID BGI and Discover Kyrgyzstan, we marked the trail ourselves. We even had the opportunity to name a pass after ourselves because the area had not yet been mapped! This was our favorite trek of all time because we were with our good friends Jarryd and Alesha (NOMADasaurus) and an awesome group of local nomads who helped us plot the route.
Jarryd & Alesha – NOMADasaurus
Our favorite hike of 2017 was the brand new 3-day Keskenkija Loop in Kyrgyzstan. Found in the Jyrgalan region in the northeast of the country, this stunning loop climbs from the small village into lush, glaciated valleys surrounded by jagged peaks and through dense pine forests. It involves a slightly treacherous river crossing, which depending on the time of year can only be done on horseback, and also wanders through yurt villages and pastures used by nomadic shepherds. What makes the Keskenkija Loop so unique isn’t necessarily the scenery, which is of course out of this world in terms of beauty, but because of the cultural interactions you can have with the locals.
Aaron – Aaron Teoh
My September hike in Petra, Jordan, was definitely my favorite one this year. After seeing and reading so much about Petra I was getting a little worried that it may turn out to be over-hyped. Nonetheless, when I finally arrived at the fabled location, every step was un-exaggeratedly, filled with awe.
Stepping through the narrow and gracefully winding sandstone gorge (the Siq), suddenly emerging from it and coming face to face with the spectacular facade of the two-thousand-year-old Treasury, then exploring the ruins in the ancient city Petra all the way till the Monastery, is an experience unlike any other. The dry desert climate has minimized wear and tear over millennia, making every step through Petra feel like a step back in time.
It is little wonder that many films have taken inspiration from this otherworldly, yet vibrant, landscape. The nomadic Bedouins living in the hills of Petra only add on to the mysterious atmosphere of the hike, making it feel like Petra, while abandoned for almost two thousand years, has always been alive.
Dave and Deb – The Planet D
Our favorite hike of 2017 was definitely going to Bhutan’s Tiger’s Nest Monastery in October. We have seen photographs of Tiger’s Nest for years and never thought that we’d actually get there ourselves.
The trek is a short one and a half to two-hour climb, but it is steep and challenging with a 1000 meter (3000 foot) elevation gain to 3000 meters (9000 feet) high. Once you reach your destination you are free to explore the incredible Taktsang Palphug Monastery clinging to the side of a cliff that plunges to a 700-meter vertical drop. You can spend as long as you want exploring the monastery and the many lookouts along the trail. We could have taken all day viewing Bhutan’s most famous attraction from all different vantage points. There are trails that break off from the main track where you can see it from a different point of view and the tea house just a short walk down from the trail offers a great stop for lunch with a direct view of the complex.
Cindy – Free Two Roam
Our favorite hike this year was to the summit of Hartz Peak which is found within the Hartz Mountain National Park in the South-East of Tasmania. The Hartz Peak hike is around four kilometers one-way, and it can be quite tough at times.
It begins fairly easily as you walk across a flat boardwalk, wandering past glacial lakes, and enjoying the beautiful Tasmanian wilderness. But it slowly becomes tougher, as you tackle a four hundred meter climb before reaching the summit at 1254 meters above sea level. You’ll find yourself clambering over tree roots, traversing uneven terrain and scrambling over boulders.
But when you reach the top, all of your hard work is definitely paid back. You could easily sit all day up there just taking in the million dollar views over the gorgeous Tasmanian bushland, lakes and mountains. On a warm January afternoon, we had the perfect hiking conditions, and it made this hike truly spectacular.
John – The Hiking Society
My favorite Victorian hike would have to be the Mitchell River Walking Track located in Gippsland. This 2 day 40km return track takes in some spectacular views at the various peaks, especially at Billy Goat Bend overlooking the Amphitheater, and some beautiful gullies in amongst some rainforest area. With a few campsites at either end, Angusvale and the Echo Bend caravan park, the area is also home to the popular Den of Nargun; an Aboriginal site home to a mythical being called the Nargun who was said to drag those into his cave who dared to enter the surrounding lake.
A hike that can be done as a one-way track with a car shuffle included, you will gain 235m in elevation and while it doesn’t seem like much, the peaks and gullies will slow you down and will ensure you are hiking for a good portion of the day. And this is why I love it. It’s challenging, it has some amazing scenery and you will rarely see anyone along the track while you are there. Ensure you have plenty of food, water and a decent level of fitness and bushwalking experience is required to tackle this one.
Talek – Travels with Talek
Fox Glacier – New Zealand
The town of Fox Glacier on the western side of New Zealand’s south island is a hiker’s paradise, especially in January. You can hike on a glacier or through the pristine mountains and fields. The other must-do experience in the area is a temperate rain forest hike, geographically the opposite of walking on a glacier. The humidity here is almost 100%. Surrounding vegetation is thick with exotic insects. Giant ferns and other bizarre plant-life loom overhead. Everything is carpeted with a moist moss in every variation of green. It’s like walking in a film set of Jurassic Park.
During the day, this makes for a fascinating hike in alien-like surroundings. But if you go on a midnight forest hike, the glow worms put on a “light show” for you. Bring a flashlight, walk deep into the forest on the hiking trail then turn off the light. You will see thousands of lightning bugs twinkling in the total, absolute darkness like stars over a moonless desert sky.
Florencia – This Giant World
Tongariro Alpine Crossing – New Zealand
I can’t emphasize enough how amazing this hike was. I did it with one of my best friends in March and we started the 12-mile hike (19 km) at 7:00 AM. This hike is considered as the best one-day walk in New Zealand. My favorite aspect of it was traversing the spectacular volcanic geography because the views are just magical. Without having planned it, almost 1/3 into the hike, we decided to go up Mount Ngauruhoe (Mt. Doom in Lord of the Rings).
It’s a very challenging and unmarked ascent on a rocky surface where rocks easily dislodge. Once you reach the top, however, the joy will overtake you. Make sure to take a bit of time at the top to recharge energy with a snack. The views are absolutely incomparable. One of the most beautiful spots of the hike was the Red Crate – the highest point in the crossing. It took us approximately 10 hours to complete the entire hike and going up and the volcano. If you make it to New Zealand, definitely consider doing this hike!
Mario & Rebecca – A Walsh Life
Te Araroa Trail – New Zealand
What an epic list! If you loved it as much as I did share with a friend, family member or post it on social media! Have you done any of these hikes on the list? What was your favorite hike of 2017? Share with everyone in the comment section!
Check out my other big collaboration post in which Travel Bloggers and Influencers Share Their Favorite National Park!