Long-Distance Hiking Trails Around the World, Ranked by Difficulty

Across the world, there are a number of long-distance hikes that offer adrenaline junkies and casual walkers everything from mountain edges to rolling valleys. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced trekker, there’s a trail that’s fit just for you – regardless of what that may be. The hardest part is often choosing the right trail for your interest and experience level.

From the jungles of Brazil to the mountains of Nepal, here are the best long-distance hiking trails around the world, ranked by difficulty for both beginners and expert walkers.

  1. Patì Valley
  2. Lantau Trail
  3. Laugavegur
  4. Virgin Narrows
  5. Salkantay Trek
  6. El Circuito
  7. Larapinta Trail
  8. Kokoda Treck
  9. West Coast Trail
  10. Annapurna Circuit
  11. Great Himalaya Trail

Beginner Long-Distance Hiking Trails

Patí Valley

An ideal walk for beginners, the Patí Valley route from Vale do Capão to the village of Guiné is a great place to test your walking skills at a comfortable pace. Just one day in length, this walk is packed with high-plateau views, unique vegetation, and mountains that will make you think you’re in a nature documentary. The walk is considered very easy and is ideal for beginners, with very few steep sections and simple footing. If you’re looking to get started in the walking game, this is a great place to start.

  • Where: Chapada Diamantina, Brazil
  • Distance: 15 Kilometres
  • Days: 1
Stars on the Patí Valley Trail, Lencois, Bahia, Brazil

Stargazing on the Patí Valley trail | © easydayout/Flickr

Lantau Trail

Conveniently located just a short ferry ride from Hong Kong Island, Lantau Trail is a beautiful oasis, seemingly isolated from the bustling metropolis of Hong Kong. This circular trail is divided into 12 parts, allowing walkers to pick and choose whether they tackle the entire trail or just a section. Most of the trail is very simple and ideal for beginners, with a few tougher sections that can be avoided depending on your ability.

  • Where: Hong Kong, China
  • Distance: 70 kilometers
  • Days: 3 – 12 days


Beginner-Moderate Long-Distance Hiking Trails

Laugavegur

Widely considered Iceland’s most iconic walk, Laugavegur is home to the famous rainbow-coloured mountains and valleys you’ve likely seen all over Instagram. Complete with stunning glacier peaks, bubbling hot springs, and glacial rivers, this trek is the best place to experience Iceland’s bizarre geothermal geography. While the trail can be a bit challenging, especially depending on the weather, with an experienced guide you’ll complete the walk with no problems.

  • Where: Landmannalaugar-Thórsmörk, Iceland
  • Distance: 55 kilometers
  • Days: 4 days
A waterfall on the Laugavegur Trail, Iceland

Just one example of the incredible natural beauty of the Laugavegur Trail | © HandsLive/Flickr

Virgin Narrows

Easily one of the United States’ most amazing slot canyons, the walk through the Virgin Narrows is a must for any budding long-distance walker. The photography opportunities are endless, transporting you into what seems like the world of Indiana Jones. The bright orange sandstone walls and boulder-strewn rivers are the definition of natural beauty and you’ll find yourself wanting to return again and again. While this trek is short, it does come with its challenges, like river crossings and rapidly changing weather.

  • Where: Zion National Park, Utah, USA
  • Distance: 26 kilometers
  • Days: 1-2 days
The Virgin Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah

The iconic orange rock on the Virgin Narrows | © Ryan Hallock/Flickr

Moderate Long-Distance Hiking Trails

Salkantay Trek

The Salkantay trek is one of the lesser-known routes to the increasingly popular site of Machu Picchu. While most travellers opt for the Inca Trail, the Salkantay Route offers a unique, naturally stunning option with significantly fewer tourists. From the bright blue waters of Humantay Lake to the peak of Salkantay Mountain, this is one trek that will push you to your limits. This walk is considered more challenging and, thanks to the high altitudes, shouldn’t be attempted by beginners or those without training.

  • Where: Cusco, Peru
  • Distance: 74 kilometers
  • Days: 4-5 days
The Salkantay Trail in Peru

The lesser-travelled Salkantay Trail is incredible! | © Helder Ribeiro/Flickr

El Circuito

If you’re looking for a challenging walk through some of Patagonia’s most breathtaking landscapes, El Circuito is the place to be. Hiking the circuit of Torres del Paine theoretically isn’t tough, but the wilderness adds nearly all of the challenge. The weather is unforgiving – wet, cold, and windy. And without the proper gear, you’re in for a nightmare. That being said, with the right guide, you’ll forget all about the hard parts and bask in the glory of this beautiful Patagonian park.

  • Where: Torres del Paine, Chile
  • Distance: 130 kilometers
  • Days: 7-10 days


Challenging long-distance hiking trails

Larapinta Trail

Reaching the trails of down-under, the Larapinta Trail in Australia is as beautiful as it is challenging. Packed with otherworldly rock formations, termite mounds, starry nights, and the climax: panoramic views from the top of Mount Sonder – this trek is not for the faint of heart. While the trail is separated into 12 parts and is accessible by vehicle, it’s a long and arduous hike for anyone attempting to complete the entire trail. While guides do make the challenge more manageable, you’ll still need to train your mind and body for this trip of a lifetime.

  • Where: Alice Springs, Northern Australia
  • Distance: 223 kilometers
  • Days: 12-16 days


Kokoda Track

Rich in history, beautiful birds, and culture, the Kokoda Track is one of the most challenging, yet rewarding treks for long-distances walkers. Once the site of fighting between Australian and Japanese troops, the only fighting you’ll see here today is hikers attempting to make it through torrential rain, extreme humidity, and steep, slippery trails. This fascinating jungle trail is famously difficult, but beautiful and rewarding for those who complete it.

Difficult Long-Distance Hiking Trails

West Coast Trail

Don’t let the map deceive you – this trek may be in well-developed Canada, but it’s a wild, challenging, and skill-testing trek, even for experienced hikers. There are no settlements through the Pacific-battered route, meaning you’ll need to be completely self-sufficient. You’ll cross rivers, climb ladders, avoid bears, and fight inclement weather. But there are dozens of rewards as well, such as untouched beaches, caves, forests, and cliffs – not to mention the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever see.

  • Where: Vancouver Island, Canada
  • Distance: 75 kilometers
  • Days: 5-7 days
A bridge in a green forest on the West Coast Trail, Vancouver

Lush green forests on the West Coast Trail | © Wallace Howe/Flickr

Annapurna Circuit

The Annapurna Circuit, also known as the “teahouse trek” is a long and spectacular trek through the remote mountains of Nepal. While the circuit itself is isolated, this trek does offer the unique comfort of teahouses, a luxury you’ll need after long days hiking through vastly changing mountain landscapes. From barren moonscapes to lush paddies, this trek is rewarding not only for the sheer distance you’ll travel, but for the amazing and varied people you will interact with along the way.

  • Where: Besisahar-Naya Pul, Nepal
  • Distance: 300 kilometers
  • Days: 17-24 days
A suspension brige on the Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

A suspension bridge on the Annapurna Circuit | © Doug Letterman/Flickr

Expert long-distance hiking trails

Great Himalaya Trail

If you’re a long-distance hiking expert looking for the ultimate test of skill, character, and commitment, the Great Himalaya Trail is your ultimate challenge. Spanning over 1,700 kilometers, completing the entire trek in one trip will take you nearly 5 months. Divided into ten connecting sections, each two to three weeks in length, you’ll find yourself pushing yourself for days on end. The views are amazing, the accomplishment massive, and the experience is something you’ll find with no other long-distance walk.

  • Where: Kanchenjunga Base Camp-Hilsa, Tibetan border, Nepal
  • Distance: 1,700 kilometers
  • Days: 150 days

From beginners to experts, long-distance walking is a hobby and adventure that allows you to experience a country or region in an intensely fulfilling way. Whether you’re just starting with the hobby or looking for harder places to tackle, know that every trip (both easy and hard ones) are an experience to be proud of.

Best long distance walks in the world

Here a table for summarizing the walks we talked about above.

WalkWhere DistanceDays
Patì ValleyChapada Diamantina, Brazil15 kilometers1 day
Lantau TrailHong Kong, China70 kilometers3-12 days
LaugavegurLandmannalaugar-Thórsmörk, Iceland55 kilometers4 days
Virgin NarrowsZion National Park, Utah, USA26 kilometers1-2 days
Salkantay TrekCusco, Peru74 kilometers4-5 days
El CircuitoTorres del Paine, Chile130 kilometers7-10 days
Larapinta TrailAlice Springs, Northern Australia223 kilometers12-16 days
Kokoda TrekKokoda, Papua New Guinea96 kilometers6-10 days
West Coast TrailVancouver Island, Canada75 kilometers7-10 days
Annapurna CircuitBesisahar-Naya Pul, Nepal96 kilometers6-10 days
Great Himalaya TrailKanchenjunga Base Camp-Hilsa, Tibetan border, Nepal1,700 kilometers150 days

Hiking/Trekking Phrases and Words

Alpine zone
The area near the peaks
Cairn
A structure made of rocks used to mark a trail
EMS
Emergency Medical Service
Hut
Permanent backcountry shelter
NPS
National Park Service in U.S.