In reality, it is impossible to name the greatest hiking trail in the world, because every outdoors lover has his or her own favorite. In addition, what are the criteria to be nominated as the best hiking trail? Scenery, level of experience and fitness required, safety, frequent signposts, or services? Karen Berger decided to choose 80 routes around the world for her book The Great Hiking Trails of the World, and here, she picks the best ones from random categories.
Here are Karen Berger’s best hiking trails by category:
Classic alpine experience: The Haute Route in France and Switzerland.
A classic route, indeed, that connects two legendary Alpine towns Chamonix (France) and Zermatt (below the Matterhorn peak in Switzerland).
Bragging rights: The GR-20 in Corsica, France.
Regarded as the toughest hike in Europe.
History: The Alta Via in the Italian Dolomites.
A spectacular mountain range between the Mediterranean and the Alps in northern Italy. The guides at Holimites (www.Holimites.com) have more.
Pilgrimage: The Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
When someone refers to Camino without specifying the exact route, the default is the route from the French Pyrenees to Santiago. It is not, however, the most spectacular or even the most interesting, because majority of the trail travels across the plains in northern Spain. For variety, you can pick any of nine other Camino routes.
Culture: The Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.
A new road has been built that has affected the route, but in villages pedestrian pace of life goes on as it always has.
Summit credibility: Mt. Kenya in Africa.
The second-highest peak of the continent.
Weird and tough: Laugavegurrin, Iceland.
The route across Iceland’s volcanic terrain. Weather can change from summer to winter in a few seconds.
Mountain wilderness: The John Muir Trail in North America.
A series of 12,000 foot passes and Yosemite Valley.
Mountain hospitality: The Presidential Traverse in the White Mountains of New
Hampshire, USA. Europe-style mountain refuges and services.
The steps of prophets: The Israel Trail.
The length of Israel plus the Negev Desert, along the Mediterranean Coast, and through the Galilee.
Karen Berger has hiked more than 17 000 miles in all parts of the world, but for the book she has also included trails recommended by seasoned colleagues. The book Great Hiking Trails of the World covers 80 routes, 75 000 miles in 38 countries and 8 continents. The book is only available as a hard cover edition that just fits on your coffee table.