Some of these trails have never been hiked in their entirety and some only a handful of times – it’s time to break trail across the world...
1. Great Divide Trail
This is undoubtedly North America’s gnarliest long-distance trail: 745-miles across the Canadian Rockies in Alberta and British Columbia – some of the least populated land on the continent. And no guesses why: this is a wild, remote country. Snow can, and does, fall at any time of year, heavy rain for days on end is common, and that’s before you add in the abundant population of grizzlies, black bears, biting bugs and, an animal no one wants to encounter, the wolverine. Towns with resupply points are also sporadic. While it is recognised as a trail, it isn’t officially recognised by Parks Canada, meaning there’s no signage, or in some case an actual trail…. Sounds appealing, doesn’t it?!
More information on the Great Divide Trail is online here.
2. Baker Historical Trail
To give its full, snappy name, the Sir Samuel and Lady Florence Baker Historical Trail, this 500-mile trek snakes through the African bush from Gondokoro in Southern Sudan (can you see issues already?) to Lake Albert in Uganda. It follows some of the route cut by the namesake Victorian explorers and abolitionists. Work began on waymarking the trail in 2013 and the aim is to finish in 2016. Only the Uganda section is currently open. It passes along the Nile, through thick bush-land, by stunning waterfalls and, hopefully, lions, elephants and leopards.
Go to the official Baker Trail website.
3. Greater Patagonia Trail
It was when we discovered that part of this trail had to be packrafted, that it made the list. The 1,500-km trail was conceived by walker Jan Dudeck and his girlfriend in 2013, and traverses the Patagonian Andes. He describes the trail as “a compilation of the most beautiful and diverse trails, neglected minor roads and cross country sections”. The addition of packrafting sections not only speeds-up the trip but also adds another element to the journey. Like all new long-distance trails, it’s there to be explored, to be modified, and added too.
Read more about the hike here.
4. Great Himalaya Trail
Here’s the chance to shape a trail, to break ground, to document what will be one of the most spectacular and challenging trails in the world. The proposed Great Himalaya Trail weaves its way 4,500km over the length of the Greater Himalaya range from Nanga Parbat in Pakistan, the ninth highest mountain in the world, to the 7,600-metre Namcha Barwa in Tibet. It crosses through Kashmir, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet, and over five technical mountain passes. Only a handful of people have ever hiked lengthy parts of it, no one has completed the whole trail.
Explore the GHT further.
5. Sierra High Route
Take one of the world’s greatest routes – the John Muir Trail named after the pioneer of national parks – and then add a couple of thousand metres. The Sierra High Route, that runs parallel to its more famous cousin, edges over spiky ridges, scrambly hill-sides and through flower-strewn meadowlands. Tellingly, only a third of the 195-mile trail is on maintained hiking trails. Very few people have ever done the entire route in one go, and when they did it often takes upward of a month. Kings Canyon National Park, Inyo National Forest and Yosemite National Park are all passed.
For free Sierra High Route trail maps, click here.
6. Larapinta Trail
“The Larapinta Trail is home to some of Australia’s most poisonous snakes,” states the website for this 223-km treks across the bush. Add in stifling heat, a multitude on insects and nosy dingoes and it becomes quite an adventure. The Larapinta Trail starts in Alice Springs in the east and weaves over the West MacDonnell Ranges mountain, through vast valleys and across arid plains to Mount Sonder. There are campsites along the route and can be completed in 15-16 days.
Find out more about the Larapinta Trail.