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10 Awe-Inspiring Hikes You Need To Do In Your Lifetime

Have you ever gone on a hike and felt so connected to the area that it might seem as if you were born there or lived in that location a long time? Maybe it has to do with the fact that many hikes are tied to the local culture. For example, in South America, hiking to a peak with a religious monument or statue at the top is a pilgrimage the whole family does, both young and old. Hikes are way more than physical exercise. They are a right of passage. A way to retrace history and follow in the footsteps of those who have come before you. The trails we cover are forms of expression that are meant to inspire and leave us in awe. That’s what all of these hikes below will do, while leaving you with memories that will last forever. Here are 10 hikes that you need to do in your lifetime:

1. Stawamus Chief, Canada

Located an hour and a half from Vancouver in Squamish, “The Chief”, as locals call it, is a challenging hike, but rewards you with sweeping views of Garibaldi Provincial Park below you. The Second Peak is the most popular of the three peaks. Be ready to use ropes and ladders to help you in your ascent.

Stawamus Chief, Canada

2. Villarrica Volcano, Chile

Looming large over the resort town of Pucon, Villarrica is one of the most active volcanoes in Chile. It last erupted in March 2017. Have no fear though! There are people whose sole job it is to monitor the activity of the volcano. With the help of a guide, you can hike to the peak of the volcano and watch it bubble up. It’s a full day adventure and the hike will leave you sore for days. The best part is sliding down the side of the volcano on the way down!

Villarrica Volcano
Photographer: Jennifer Morrow

3. Cat Cat Village in Sapa, Vietnam

At the border with Vietnam and China, Sapa is world famous for its rice fields and one of the most stunning hikes in the region goes through Cat Cat Village. Only 30 minutes from Sapa city center, this hike will lead visitors through rice fields, waterfalls, and if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of water buffalo grazing. The area is centuries old and is a must for any adventurer.

Cat Cat village, Vietnam

4. Big Bend National Park, USA

The United States has an abundance of natural beauty and hikes. Many immediately think of Yosemite, Yellowstone, or The Grand Canyon when they think of national parks in the US. One of the most overlooked and beautiful national parks is Big Bend. Situated on the border of Texas and Mexico, Big Bend offers 800,000 acres of desert, mountains, and rivers. It has been described as otherworldly and simply breathtaking. It is one of the most bio-diverse locations in the country. No trip to Big Bend would be complete without hiking the Lost Mine Trail. The 4.8 roundtrip mile hike is beautiful, but best of all, it is isolated. A hiker’s dream.

Big Bend National Park, USA
Big Bend National Park. Photographer: Yinan Chen

5. Mountains Of The Moon, Uganda

This hike, which happens to be the tallest peak in Uganda at 5,109 meters (16,761 feet), is found in the Rwenzori National Park. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A special place to say the least. It takes several days to arrive at the mountain’s peak, with only 700 hikers attempting the adventure in 2017. It is necessary to hire a guide to complete the trek.

Rwenzori Mountains
Photographer: Jørn Eriksson

6. Monserrate, Colombia

Monserrate towers over Bogota, standing at 3,152 meters (10,341 feet). It is important for not only its massive size but for religious reasons as well. The hike takes about an hour and a half to reach the top, but the views are well worth it. On the way down, be sure to take the cable car for a fun experience.

Montserrate Trail, Bogota, Colombia
Montserrate Trail, Bogota, Colombia

7. Fiordland, New Zealand

New Zealand is a beautiful country, full of mountains and other natural wonders. However, Fiordland is known to be one of the most dramatic landscapes in the country. Carved by glaciers over 100,000 years ago, the area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Milford Sound is thought of as the 8th Wonder Of The World. The area has three main hiking trails, Milford, Kepler, and Routeburn Tracks. Each track leads you to the tallest waterfall in New Zealand, Sutherland Falls. Fiordland is a hiker’s paradise and is surely not to be missed!

Milford Sound
Milford Sound

8. Painters Way, Germany

Named after the numerous amounts of painters that would come to the area and search for inspiration for their work, Painters Way is now part of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains Trail. The hike, near the city of Dresden, is a natural wonder of Central Europe. The most famous part of the hike is Bastei Bridge for its incredible views. Be ready for a serious hike, though. The trail is 14 kilometers (8.6 miles) and takes you by waterfalls and caves. The best time to do the hike is in fall. The foliage becomes just as dramatic as the backdrop!

Elbe Sandstone Mountains Trail
Anyone any idea who that red character on top is?

9. Mount Damavand, Iran

Mount Damavand, a volcano north of Tehran, is actually the tallest peak in Iran at 5,760 meters (18,897 feet) and one of the tallest volcanoes in Asia. It is a hiker’s dream as it rarely shows up on tourist’s radar. A local guide is needed to hike the volcano. According to those that have hiked Mount Damavand, the last 300 meters of the volcano is said to be the hardest as sulfurous gases from the volcano make it difficult to breathe or see. Certainly worth the challenge for those brave enough to try the ascent!

Mount Damavand, Iran
The view from Mount Damavand. Photographer: ninara

10. Great Ocean Walk, Australia

The iconic coastline walk in Southern Australia covers 104 kilometers through Great Otway National Park. While the hike is fairly easy, you’ll encounter many different habitats, wildlife, and historical sites along the way. You can do hour, day—or for serious hikers—multi-day hikes that take you from one end to the other. The whole trail takes about 8 days to complete. The best time to go is in summer, December to February, when you can take refreshing swims in the ocean.

Great Ocean Road Walk Great Ocean Road Walk map

Suggested next reading: Baños, Ecuador: An Adrenaline Junkies Paradise

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