A thousand shades of imagination, a few boxes overflowing with memories and the blink of an eye to blur all the cruelties of life in a minute: my catharsis resides in these small moments when I let my mind wander. Imagine walking onto a path, surrounded by lush trees and a gentle breeze carrying the sweet scent of wildflowers. The sound of your footsteps on the soft earth is the only noise as you enter the forest. Where with each step, the stress of everyday life fades away, replaced by a sense of freedom and tranquility, some projects seem a little less difficult, deadlines a little further away than usual, and time a little slower. Where breathing quietly in peace is a joy, not a luxury. And they say escapism is bad? Oh, if only!
Yes, this is the magic of hiking: the opportunity to escape the mundane and enter a world of natural wonder and awe. Every step you take transports you to a place where the beauty of the journey is as important as the destination. Hiking is an experience that allows you to connect with nature and, in doing so, connect with yourself. It is an opportunity to slow down, take a deep breath and appreciate the simple things in life.
In this article, we will explore the pleasures of solo hiking and highlight some of the most amazing hiking trails in the world. We will also discuss the difference between hiking and trekking, and the importance of wearing proper hiking shoes.
Hiking vs Trekking
Before we dive into the pleasures of solo hiking, let’s clarify the difference between hiking and trekking. Hiking and trekking are two great ways to enjoy the outdoors and explore nature, but they differ in difficulty, duration and equipment needed. Hiking is generally considered a leisure activity that consists of walking along established trails, usually for a few hours at a time. It can be practiced by people of all ages and fitness levels. It can be done in a variety of environments, including national parks, forests and mountains. It is a great way to explore the natural beauty of an area, get exercise and enjoy the fresh air. Hiking trails are often marked with signs, maps and arrows to help hikers find their way around the terrain. Routes can vary in difficulty from easy to moderate to difficult, and hikers can choose the one that best suits their fitness level.
On the other hand, trekking is a more demanding activity involving multi-day treks through remote areas, often with backpacking and camping equipment. Trekking requires more planning, preparation and fitness than hiking. Hiking routes tend to be more rugged and less developed than hiking routes, and may require some off-trail navigation. Hiking can be practiced in a variety of terrains, including mountains, jungles, deserts, and glaciers.
Investing in a good pair of hiking shoes is always essential for a safe and enjoyable hiking experience. Hiking shoes provide support, stability and protection for the feet and ankles. They also have good grip, which is important for walking on uneven terrain. When choosing hiking shoes, make sure they fit well and are comfortable. Comfort is key when it comes to hiking shoes. Footwear should fit well and be comfortable right out of the box. Make sure they have enough room in the toe box for your toes to move freely. They should also have a cushioned insole and good arch support. Consider buying shoes with a moisture-wicking lining, which will help keep your feet dry and comfortable. Last but not least, it’s important to break in your hiking shoes before you go hiking. Wear them around the house or on short walks to get your feet used to the shoes. This will prevent you from getting blisters and ensure that the shoes are comfortable for long hikes. There are many hiking shoes on the market, each with its own features and advantages. Here are some of the best hiking shoes, according to customer reviews and expert recommendations: Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX, Hoka One One Sky Kaha, La Sportiva TX4, Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator. Ultimately, the best hiking shoes for you will depend on your personal preferences and the type of hiking you plan to do. It is important that you try on several pairs and choose the ones that are most comfortable and supportive for your feet.
The Joys of Solo Hiking
The pleasures of solo hiking are numerous and unique. One of its main advantages is the possibility of enjoying solitude and self-reflection. Hiking alone allows you to disconnect from the world and focus on the present moment. In addition, hiking alone can be a great way to build confidence and endurance. It requires you to trust yourself and make decisions independently, which can be empowering. Another advantage of solo hiking is that it allows you to push your limits and challenge yourself. And it allows you to explore new trails and discover hidden treasures that you might not have found if you had hiked with other people.
There are countless hiking trails around the world, but here are some of the most amazing ones to consider:
Wiliwilinui Hiking Trail
The Wiliwilinui hiking trail, located on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, is a popular spot for solo hikers looking for a challenging and scenic hike. The trail is named after the Wiliwili tree, native to Hawaii, which can be found along the trail. The trail averages 6.5 km, takes 2-3 hours to complete and offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, Diamond Head and downtown Honolulu. This is a moderate trail. It starts with a steep climb up a paved road, which quickly turns into a dirt road. The first part of the trail is shaded by trees and can be slippery, so appropriate footwear with good traction is recommended. As you ascend, the vegetation becomes sparser. When you reach the top of the trail, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the entire island of Oahu. Whether you are a local or a visitor to Hawaii, the Wiliwilinui Trail is a must hike for those who want to enjoy the natural beauty of the island.
Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail
The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is a 70-mile hiking trail located in western Pennsylvania in the United States. Most hikers take between 4 and 6 days to hike it. However, some experienced hikers can complete it in 2 to 3 days, while others can take up to 10 days. The trail can also be divided into shorter sections for day hikes or overnight backpacking trips, ranging from 15 to 20 km each. The trail begins in Ohiopyle State Park and ends at Conemaugh Gorge near Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The trail is open year-round and offers hikers the opportunity to explore the natural beauty of western Pennsylvania, with forests, streams, and scenic views. The trail is also home to a variety of wildlife, including black bears, deer and wild turkeys. In addition to hiking, the Laurel Highlands area offers other outdoor activities such as fishing, boating and horseback riding.
The Superior Hiking Trail
The Superior Hiking Trail is a true gem for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a unique opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of Minnesota’s North Shore. The Superior Hiking Trail is a 499-kilometer trail that stretches from the south end, on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, to the north end, on the Canadian border. The trail follows the ridgeline above Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world, and offers stunning views of the lake and surrounding forests. The length of the route varies depending on the section of the trail you choose to hike, with most people opting to hike sections that can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. The trail is known for its demanding terrain, with steep climbs and descents, but also for its breathtaking views and diverse ecosystems. Hikers can encounter a variety of wildlife, including moose, wolves and black bears.
Inca Trail, Peru
The classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is actually a 4-day, 3-night hike covering approximately 42 kilometers (26 miles). There are also alternative treks to Machu Picchu, such as the Short Inca Trail, which is a 2-day hike covering about 10 km (6 miles), and the One-Day Inca Trail, which is a shorter hike covering about 7 km (4 miles) and takes approximately 6-7 hours. These shorter hikes are a great option for those who are short on time or want to enjoy the beauty of the Inca Trail without committing to the full 4-day hike or are physically unable to do so. It was built by the Incas and used as a pilgrimage route to the sacred city. Today it is a very popular hiking route and one of the most famous in the world. The trail takes hikers through varied landscapes, such as forests, valleys and high altitude mountain passes. It also passes several ancient Inca ruins, including the beautiful Wiñay Wayna, a complex of terraces and buildings that once served as a rest stop for pilgrims.
Torres del Paine W Trek, Chile
The Torres del Paine W Trek is one of the most popular hiking routes in Chilean Patagonia, offering breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks, glaciers and turquoise lakes. The trek usually lasts between four and five days, covering a distance of approximately 80 kilometers. However, those who are short on time or prefer a more leisurely pace can take several day hikes that offer a taste of the park’s beauty. One of the most popular day hikes in Torres del Paine is the trek to the base of the famous Towers of Paine. This is a hike of about 18 kilometers (11 miles) round trip that takes about 7-9 hours to complete. There is also the French Valley, about 16 kilometers (10 miles) round trip, which takes about 6-7 hours to complete. Whichever day hike you choose in Torres del Paine, you are sure to enjoy breathtaking views and unforgettable experiences in one of the most beautiful natural areas in the world.
Yoshida trail (Mount Fuji), Japan
The Mount Fuji hiking trail is one of Japan’s most popular destinations and attracts hundreds of thousands of hikers each year. The summit of Mount Fuji offers spectacular views of the surrounding landscape, including the Pacific Ocean and the cities of Tokyo and Yokohama. Hikers can also watch the sunrise from the summit, a popular activity. The trail starts from the 5th station of the Fuji Subaru line, located at an altitude of 2,300 meters. The most popular route is the Yoshida trail, which takes hikers to the summit and back in one day. The trail is about 14 kilometers and can be completed in 5-10 hours, depending on the hiker’s pace and fitness. The ascent is divided into four stages, each with its own characteristics. The first is a gentle walk through the forest. The second is steeper and more difficult, with rocky terrain and higher altitude. The third stage is the most difficult, with steep slopes and rocky terrain. The fourth and final stage is a relatively easy walk along the crater rim to the summit. Last but not least, hikers should be prepared for altitude and low temperatures, as well as crowds in high season.
The Platteklip Gorge Trail (Table Mountain), Cape Town, South Africa
Table Mountain is one of the most famous landmarks in Cape Town, South Africa, and climbing to the top is a popular activity for locals and tourists alike. There are several hiking trails to the top, ranging from easy to difficult, but all offer stunning views of the city and the Atlantic Ocean. One of the most popular day hikes is the Platteklip Gorge Trail, about 3 km long and lasting approximately 2 to 3 hours. The Platteklip Gorge Trail is a steep, rocky ascent. The trailhead is at the lower Cable Station, easily accessible by car or public transportation. From there, hikers will follow the trail through the gorge, passing through a rocky landscape and climbing over boulders. As they ascend the trail, they will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the city, the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding mountains. The Platteklip Gorge Trail offers a unique perspective of Cape Town and is a great option for those who wish to enjoy the beauty of Table Mountain without committing to a longer hike.
Gorkhey to Rammam Hiking trail, India
Gorkhey to Rammam is a popular trekking route in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, India. The Gorkhey to Rammam route is moderately difficult, with several steep ascents and descents. It is approximately 10 km long and takes about 8 hours to complete. The trail begins in the small village of Gorkhey, located at an altitude of about 1,500 meters. The trail offers breathtaking views of the Kanchenjunga mountain range, the third highest in the world. The Kanchenjunga range consists of five peaks, the highest of which rises to 28,169 feet. As hikers proceed along the trail, they pass through several hamlets where they can interact with the locals and learn about their way of life.Approaching Rammam, hikers are greeted by the river of the same name, which flows through the village. Rammam is a small village located at an altitude of about 1,200 meters. The best time to hike the route from Gorkhey to Rammam is from October to December and from March to May, when the weather is cool and dry.
Milford Track, New Zealand
The Milford Track is a 53.5-kilometer hiking trail located in the stunning Fiordland National Park on New Zealand’s South Island. It usually takes about four days to complete, but there are shorter hikes that allow you to enjoy its beauty. One of them is the day trip to Key Summit. This hike is approximately 7.6 kilometers (4.7 miles) round trip and takes about 3 to 4 hours to complete. The hike begins at The Divide, a popular starting point for the Milford Track, and takes you through a lush beech forest before ascending to the alpine setting of Key Summit. From the summit, you can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, valleys and lakes. Another popular day hike on the Milford Track is the Mackay Falls hike. The track winds through lush rainforest and passes several beautiful waterfalls before arriving at the breathtaking Mackay Falls. The Milford Track is known for its breathtaking scenery, which includes glacier-carved valleys, crystal clear lakes and majestic waterfalls. Hikers along the track may encounter a variety of animals, including kea parrots, mountain goats and the endangered kiwi.
West Highland Way, Scotland
The West Highland Way is a popular long-distance trail in Scotland, stretching 154 kilometers (96 miles) from Milngavie, outside Glasgow, to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands. Although it is usually covered in several days, some sections can be completed in one day. One of the most popular routes on the West Highland Way is from Rowardennan to Inversnaid. This is a demanding 14-kilometer (8.7-mile) route that takes between 5 and 6 hours to complete. The trail takes hikers through beautiful woodland and along the eastern shore of Loch Lomond, Britain’s largest freshwater loch. Hikers will pass by impressive waterfalls and rocky cliffs, and may even spot the elusive red squirrel. For those looking for a shorter hike, Balmaha to Rowardennan is a beautiful walking route that takes hikers through beautiful oak forests and along the shores of Loch Lomond, offering stunning views of the surrounding hills and mountains.
Pacific Crest Trail, USA
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a world-renowned hiking trail that runs 4,265 km from the U.S.-Mexico border in California to the U.S.-Canadian border in Washington. The trail traverses three western U.S. states: California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT offers hikers the opportunity to enjoy a variety of landscapes, from the arid deserts of southern California to the lush forests of the Pacific Northwest. There are many shorter sections, as the entire route is too long. One popular section of the trail is the John Muir Trail. This section takes hikers through some of the most scenic areas of the Sierra Nevada, such as Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. Another popular section of the PCT is the Oregon Trail. This section of the trail takes hikers through the rugged Cascade Mountains and offers stunning views of Mount Hood and other peaks.
Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim, Arizona, USA
The Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim hike in Arizona, USA, is a challenging but rewarding day hike that takes hikers from the North Rim to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The route is approximately 24 miles long and can take between 10 and 14 hours. The route offers breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon’s unique geology, which includes layers of colorful sedimentary rocks and imposing rock formations. Hikers will also encounter a variety of flora and fauna along the trail, including mule deer, elk and California condors. It is important to note that the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim trail is strenuous and potentially dangerous, so it should only be done by experienced and well-prepared hikers. It is also important to be prepared for extreme weather conditions, as temperatures can vary greatly throughout the day and the weather can change rapidly.
Mount Toubkal Hiking Trail, Morocco
Mount Toubkal is the highest mountain in North Africa and is located in the Toubkal National Park in Morocco. The trail to the summit is approximately 12 km long and takes between 7 and 9 hours to hike. The trail to the summit of Toubkal starts in the village of Imlil and follows a steep, rocky path to the refuge at the base of the mountain. The refuge is a popular place for hikers to spend the night before continuing to the summit. From the refuge, the trail continues to the summit, at 4,167 meters above sea level. Toubkal offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape, including the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert. It is also home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, such as Barbary macaques and alpine flowers.
Hiking alone is a great way to enjoy nature and adventure. Whether you choose to hike for a few hours or several days, it’s important to be prepared and wear appropriate footwear. By exploring some of the world’s most amazing hiking trails, you’ll be able to challenge yourself, find solitude and create indelible memories. So grab your gear, hit the trails and enjoy the journey!