The Five Best Places to Take a Hike3 min read
Take a hike! We really mean it. That’s because hiking is great for your mind and body. Lacing up and hitting a trail not only gives you an opportunity to catch amazing views, breathe fresh air and take in the sounds and smells of nature, but it’s also a great form of exercise.
Hiking can be a powerful workout that gets your heart pumping. And it’s for that reason that it can lower your risk of heart disease, improve your blood pressure and blood sugar levels, boost your bone density, build up strength in your leg muscles, strengthen your core, improve your balance and help you control your weight.
If this were a late night infomercial, this is where we’d say “But wait! There’s more!”
On top of all of those wonderful health benefits, hiking is also touted to boost your mood. Research has shown that hiking, like other forms of exercise, releases the feel-good chemicals known as endorphins. The result is less stress, better self-esteem, improved sleep and decreased feelings of anxiety and depression.
If you’re a world traveler and a hiking enthusiast, here are the best places around the world to combine your passions, while improving your health.
El Choro Inca Trail
Over the course of three or four days, this South American trail will take you from the highlands to the lowlands of the Central Andes. The trek starts just outside of La Paz and from there you gradually descend into the Cloud Forest landscapes of North Yungas. This gives you the chance to really experience a dramatic change in ecosystems.
Tour du Mont Blanc
The Tour du Mont Blanc, a.k.a. TMB, passes through parts of Switzerland, Italy and France and is considered one of the classic long distance walking trails in the world. It typically takes about 11 days to cover the more than 100 mile trail. Start points usually include France’s Les Houches in the Chamonix valley or Les Contamines in the Montjoie valley,Italy’s Courmayeur, and either Champex or a point near Martigny in Switzerland. While this trek is often described as physically taxing, it provides views you’ll never forget.
Tongariro Northern Circuit
Can you think of anything more adventurous than hiking around an active volcano? That’s exactly what this trek involves – the Tongariro Northern Circuit encircles the cone of Mount Ngauruhoe in New Zealand. Although it’s currently resting, this mountain is the most active volcano in New Zealand, with 61 eruptions since 1839. You can spend four days on this circuit or you can opt to spend just one day following the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
This track Down Under stretches for more than 600 miles along Western Australia’s coast. It runs from Kalamunda, east of Perth, and then to the historic town of Albany. It passes through the heart of the scenic southwest of Western Australia, taking hikers through karri and tingle forests, down mist-shrouded valleys, over giant granite boulders and along coastal heathlands. You can spend one day strolling the Bibbulmun Track while taking in the sights and sounds of the environment or you can spend an epic eight weeks making an adventure of a lifetime along this trail.
This climb is for the experienced hikers and mountain climbers. Mount Kilimanjaro is more than 19,000-feet tall and is often called the “world’s tallest walkable mountain.” It normally takes hikers about five or six days for the climb. Be careful – if you try to climb too high too quickly, you could end up with altitude sickness. Despite the challenges associated with the altitude, the path is actually a rather gentle gradient and not technically challenging. If you take on this adventure, you will be rewarded with views of layers of differing vegetation as well as a spectacular overall view.
Photo from bloomberg.com.