Finding breathtaking scenery is easy enough, but what about locations where you can experience the raw power of nature? The crater of an active volcano is one of those places on earth. You may think that this kind of mini hiking adventure is not for the faint-hearted, but you don’t need to be an adrenaline seeker to have a close encounter with fiery mountains. As long as you are comfortable hiking at an incline, some of these volcanos may even feel like a walk in the park, albeit with unusual features like lava, craters and calderas. While some of these volcanos are ideal for beginners, others may require climbing skills and gear, but either way, safety comes first! When planning an active volcano, it’s important to pay attention to guidelines and alert levels. With that said, hike these volcanoes around the world for a new adventure!
1. Mount Vesuvius, Bay of Naples
Mount Vesuvius is the infamous volcano that wiped out Pompeii and Herculaneum in A.D. 79. It is one of Europe’s and one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes because of how close it is to Naples and how many people live in the red zone (the area around a volcano that is most susceptible to damage). Vesuvius National Park offers several different trails for beginners and advanced hikers. Trail 5 goes up to the Gran Cono and understandably is the most popular and where you will get views over the Bay of Naples, and perhaps even a peek at the Apennines. Having said that, Trail 4 is the most manageable. Ideally, join the crowds making their way along the trail, you can’t miss them!
2. Mount Etna, Sicily
Unlike Mount Vesuvius, Mount Etna in Sicily isn’t as deadly for the locals that live nearby. Having said that, it is Europe’s largest active volcano, and it has a long history of erupting, longer than any other volcano, and erupts more frequently than other active volcanoes around the world. Parco dell’Etna’s varied landscape is stunning; visitors will find snowcapped mountain-tops to black lava fields and lush vineyards where you can taste superb wine. To reach Mount Etna and the trails, visitors take a cable car from Rifugio Sapienza.
3. Mount Ngauruhoe, New Zealand
To Lord of the Rings fans, Mount Ngauruhoe in New Zealand is also known as Mount Doom. This was the volcano featured as the in Peter Jackson’s movie franchise based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s books. To discover a piece of Middle-earth, make your way to New Zealand’s oldest national park and UNESCO dual World Heritage Area, Tongariro National Park for some volcano walking. Mount Ngauruhoe is then reached by hiking 12 miles along Tongariro Alpine Crossing, as you make your way to Mount Ngauruhoe, you’ll see glacial mass, lava flows, and crater lakes. If you love hiking this is one of New Zealand’s best trails.
4. Mount St. Helens, Washington
To get to the top of Mount St. Helens you’ll need a permit, but it’s worth it, and while it will require some effort on your behalf, no climbing skills are needed. There are over 200 miles worth of trails suitable for many skill levels, and even a wheelchair-friendly loop around Meta Lake. With an array of viewpoints and impressive formations, there is no shortage of things to feast your eyes upon, but none of it compares to what can be seen at the top of Mount St. Helens. The growing crater and horseshoe glacier around is said to be surreal, and the surrounding scenery encompassing Mount Adams, Mount Hood, and Mount Rainier is breathtaking. No wonder its considered one of the best volcanoes to hike in the world!
5. Poas, Costa Rica
There’s more than one reason to visit Poas National Park in Costa Rica, and it’s one of the most popular parks in the country mostly because of its fantastic scenery. Like much of Costa Rica, the quality of wildlife and greenery is high: look out in particular for the different bird species. Three well-marked trails lead to the mouth of Poas, one hike will take you through a forest, and there is also a paved path ideal for wheelchair access. One of the craters found in the park is over a kilometre wide, with gleaming turquoise blue water that reaches almost 330 metres deep. It’s best to visit during the dry season from January to April. None of the trails are particularly strenuous, there might be a handful of challenging moments, but other than that the hiking to Poas is very pleasant.
6. Mount Fuji, Japan
Droves of visitors flock to Mount Fuji in Japan every year to climb the country’s highest peak and volcano. It is one of three holy Mountains, and for many locals, it is a site of sacred pilgrimage. Every year from July to September, the trails and mountain facilities are opened, and Mount Fuji becomes a popular hiking destination. A lot of people opt to climb the volcano halfway, take a break and then climb again at night in hopes of reaching the summit for sunrise. If you are planning to hike Mount Fuji, you can expect plenty of crowds, but it’s one of the more spiritual volcano experiences in the world and worth the effort.
7. Mount Bromo, Indonesia
There are over 100 active volcanoes in Indonesia. The Tenggner massif in East Java is an active volcano complex that can be found in Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, and Mount Bromo is the most famous peak among the massif and easily accessible. At 2,329 it is not the highest peak, but the chance of seeing white smoke billowing from the mouth of the volcano makes it a favourite among visitors to the park. You can reach the summit easily without a guide, and it will only take you an hour or so on a well-marked path. Some people try to get to the top of Mount Bromo before dawn so they can watch the sunrise from there.
Is there are a volcano that you have been wanting to hike? Tell us about it in the comments!