Let the Trail Blazing Commence

Training for a demanding hike is serious business. But once you get a look at how awe-inspiring the world's most picturesque hikes actually are, you might just find yourself rising to the challenge.

Every hike, from the moderate day treks to the bigger, plan-on-being-gone-for-five-months type of trails, require planning. You'll want to know what you're in for, how to pack, and what mind-blowing highlights you can expect to cherish forever.

Here, we present 10 excursions that you're sure to love every step of the way.

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Tour du Mont Blanc

The Location: France, Italy, and Switzerland

The Difficulty: High (104 miles, 7–10 days)

The Reward: Boasting the highest peak in Western Europe (15,700 feet), Mont Blanc stretches across French, Italian, and Swiss territories. The Alpine excursion, which circles the mountain, is a classic beloved for the three distinct cultural experiences of each territory.

The Sweet Tip: The vast landscape—pristine forests, bucolic meadows, snow-frosted mountains—is dotted with small villages and inns, which makes packing for this journey less intensive than you would expect.

Sierra High Route

The Location: California

The Difficulty: High (195 miles, 30 days)

The Reward: Traversing the Sierra High Route is not for the faint of heart—in fact, some call it the hardest hike in America. The route was established as an alternative for seasoned hikers who found the parallel John Muir Trail too crowded. Instead, adventurers opt for rugged terrain that requires as much rock climbing as it does hiking. But, for the professionals, the glacial basins and serenity make it worthwhile.

The Sweet Tip: If this strenuous hike sounds like the adventure you need, we suggest reading The Sierra High Route: Traversing Timberline Country by Steve Roper, who pioneered the route.

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Laugavegurinn

The Location: Iceland

The Difficulty: High (34 miles, 4 days)

The Reward: In the first seven miles of this expedition through the Icelandic wilderness you pass by 20 waterfalls—and that's just a taste of what you'll experience throughout your four-day journey. Hikers also make their way through lava fields, glacial streams, roaring hot springs, and mountains in varying hues of colors including pink, green, and yellow.

The Sweet Tip: There are huts across the trail for accommodations, but they do require booking ahead. The beauty of this trail makes it incredibly popular in the summer months. (The breathtaking valleys even inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to model some of the worlds in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings after them.)

Bay of Fires

The Location: Australia

The Difficulty: Moderate (16 miles, 4 days)

The Reward: If challenging terrain isn't your thing, consider this beach-lined trail along the east coast of Tasmania. Miles and miles of white sand beaches, secluded coves, and kayaking on the Ansons River are all part of the Bay of Fires package, which trekkers have to embark upon accompanied by an official Bay of Fires Walk group.

The Sweet Tip: October–May is the season to tackle this stunning route.

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The Narrows

The Location: Utah

The Difficulty: Low (16 miles, 1 day)

The Reward: Most of this hike, located in Utah's Zion Canyon, takes place in the river that runs through it. You'll mostly be sloshing through the cool river with water up to your ankles, but it occasionally gets waist-deep—which is really all part of the fun.

The Sweet Tip: The best time to take this trip is in the late summer and fall. The water will be warm, and there's little chance of closures due to flash flooding.

The Lost City Trek

The Location: Colombia

The Difficulty: High (28 miles, 3-6 days)

The Reward: Getting to Ciudad Perdida, or the Lost City, requires a three-to-six-day journey managing steep climbs and slippery mud roads through Colombia's Sierra Nevada mountains, but the lush surroundings make it all worth it. Plus, the final destination is an archaeological site that's been hidden in the jungle for more than 1,000 years. So.

The Sweet Tip: The Lost City has been dubbed the "the new Machu Picchu," but the site is actually six centuries older.

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The King's Trail

The Location: Sweden

The Difficulty: Moderate (275 miles, 14 days)

The Reward: Located in Sweden's northernmost province, Lapland, the King's Trail offers spectacular mountain scenery, an easily managed terrain, and a vastly unspoiled and secluded surrounding. Note: there are cabins and huts sprinkled across the hike for a night's rest.

The Sweet Tip: The King's Trail runs through four national parks and a nature reserve.

The Snowman Trek

The Location: Bhutan

The Difficulty: High (216 miles, 25 days)

The Reward: Trekking the high planes of Bhutan, a landlocked Buddhist kingdom in Southeast Asia, is not easy—but the journey into the sacred heart of the Himalayan Mountains is a beautiful way to experience the secluded Buddhist culture. The high-altitude trek passes through multiple monasteries and small villages untouched by the outside world.

The Sweet Tip: One glimpse at Paro Taktsang (also known as the Tiger's Nest), a revered cliffside temple, should validate your decision to take on this rigorous expedition.

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Inca Trail

The Location: Peru

The Difficulty: Moderate (26 miles, 4 days)

The Reward: The Inca Trail ends at the ruins of the lost city of Machu Picchu on the fourth day of your excursion. The dramatic stretch of terrain is one of the most celebrated in the world due to the vastly different experiences it offers. One day you're navigating the snowcapped Andes mountains, another day you're blazing through the vibrant Amazon jungle.

The Sweet Tip: The best time to hit this path is during Peru's dry season, which runs from May to September.

Sentiero Azzurro

The Location: Italy

The Difficulty: Low (8 miles, 1 day)

The Reward: This panoramic hike, known as the "Blue Path," is an easy walking trail along the coastal Cinque Terre, hiking southeast from Genoa down to Portovenere. If beginners are looking for an option to ease into more strenuous hikes, this is it.

The Sweet Tip: The Cinque Terre consists of a string of seaside villages that make up the Italian Riviera. This hike passes through all five towns known for their bright colors and outstanding vineyards.

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