The best way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city is retreating to nature. Spending the day (or several) hiking in the countryside or the mountains gives us the chance to forget about work, our busy schedules and our worries while we connect with the natural wonders of the world. There may be hundreds, if not thousands of gorgeous places to hike across the globe, however, it’s hard to beat the following phenomenal trails where you can take in jaw-dropping views of mountain peaks, cross through lush forests and marvel at crystal clear lakes, accompanied only by your thoughts, the chirping birds and the rustling leaves.
Kalalau Trail – Hawaii
Hawaii boasts some of the world’s most spectacular scenery and one of the best places to admire this is the Kalalau trail on Kauai Island. The 18km trail travels from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Beach along the Na Pali Coast, an unspoilt stretch of cliffs and green valleys rising from the Pacific Ocean. Our local experts at Hawaii Hideaways provided these useful tips for hiking the trail:
- The trail requires good physical condition, especially because it can often be muddy and slippery from rainfall. Be sure to bring good and sturdy hiking shoes
- Don’t take this trail if you have knee injuries or anything that may be affected by the sometimes steep inclines and more than 240m of elevation gain
- The hike will take, on average, 6-8 hours to complete the 13km roundtrip. A lot of people stop to camp on Kalalau Beach—keep in mind this requires a permit
- You do not need a permit to hike to Hanakapi’ai Falls, but anything after that requires a permit, even if you don’t plan on camping
- Do not attempt to cross the Hanakapi’ai Stream during bad weather or if it is flooding.
An excellent place to stay in the area is at their Ka Hale Kaiola luxury beachfront home. The house has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a gourmet kitchen, vaulted ceilings, hardwood floors and air conditioning. The Tommy Bahama furnishings add to the great plantation style of the house. A large covered porch with Brown Jordan patio furniture looks out across the ocean. The beach is accessed by going down the staircase off the lanai and across the beautifully landscaped front yard. Then you’ll find yourself on the beach ready for a swim! For more information about this home or other properties located on the island, contact Hawaii Hideaways here and you can learn more about the archipelago in our Hawaii Pocket Guide.
Routeburn Trail, Glenorchy – New Zealand
“To those who have never walked the Routeburn Track, it’s hard to describe the feeling of purity that the environment injects you with,” says Touch of Spice founder Jacqui Spice. “There is an overwhelming amount of beauty in the trees, rivers, waterfalls, wildlife and the overall views that make the hike seem surreal. You will finish with an appreciation for New Zealand’s native elements and its preserved history.”
The 40km trail is well maintained which makes it achievable for all fitness level. Generally speaking, it is trekked over three days and two overnights, but this is flexible of course. You can take your time while you enjoy the exceptional mountain scenery, cross over rivers and past tumbling waterfalls on rope bridges, listen to the birds’ songs and see some of the locations where The Lord of the Rings movies were filmed. Plus, on the way, there are information boards along the track that tell you stories of nature’s history and how New Zealand’s indigenous people, the Māori, thrived in this environment. Jacqui suggests that if you are walking without a guide, the overnight huts need to be booked well in advance due to their popularity. A guided tour with transport, huts, all meals & snacks, backpacks, and raincoats starts from $1,375 NZD per person for three days/two nights.
Touch of Spice has the ideal base for exploring the area: Wyuna House. This four bedroom, five bathroom home can sleep up to eight trekkers. This luxurious lodge is clad in local schist and cedar with timber floors, walls, and ceilings, and sits harmoniously amongst its picturesque setting. Large bay windows take in the view throughout the property where you can look out to Mount Aspiring National Park which the Routeburn track crosses over.
Zermatt Lakes Trail – Switzerland
It’s not surprising that there are some phenomenal hiking trails in the Swiss Alps. Andy Castle, our Switzerland expert at Ultimate Luxury Chalets, recommends a stunning hike from the resort of Zermatt to Blauherd (2571m), the perfect place for mountain lovers to venture during summertime in Europe. The relatively easy route, without major climbs and descents, takes about three hours and is accessible by taking the funicular from Zermatt to Sunnegga. Once the train surfaces from the beginning passage underground, you are treated to exceptionally beautiful panoramic views.
You’ll walk through some of the most magnificent scenery of the Alps, passing Lake Stelli, Lake Grindji and Lake Grün as well as the moraine of the Findelen glacier, all the while with excellent views of the majestic Matterhorn. You won’t even feel the time passing and soon enough you’ll have reached the end at Riffelalp where you can take the Gornergrat Railway back to Zermatt.
If you would like to continue gazing at the breath-taking Matterhorn, then Ultimate Luxury Chalets‘ “Grace Chalet” is ideally positioned. This elegant, spacious chalet sleeps up to 12 and has floor to ceiling windows on all three levels, the south facing ones showcasing the Matterhorn and surrounding mountains. The stylish and comfortable open-plan lounge features a French stone open fire-place and adjoining bar area, opening up to a large outside living space. It also has a luxuriously-seated cinema, a games room with a pool table, a spacious glass-fronted wellness centre including a sauna, massage room, a large pilates/yoga space and an outdoor hot tub. Read more about this and the other fabulous properties of Ultimate Luxury Chalet here, plus get inspired for your trip with our Switzerland Pocket Guide.
Hohe Tauern National Park – Austria
The Alps are not only about ascending to its highest peaks; the vast mountain range has many fantastic hiking options on its mid-levels, such as on the Austrian side in the Hohe Tauern National Park, a favorite of our experts at Schloss Klog Castle.
The Hohe Tauern National Park is the largest nature sanctuary in all of the Alps, extending 1,856 km² over three Austrian provinces. Enjoy over 350km of marked hiking paths and alpine trails which crisscross through the beautiful Rauris Valley into Taxenbach and the SalzburgerLand region. A particular highlight is the Rauris Valley, dubbed the “Secret Jewel Hohe Tauern National Park.” Here you are truly lost in nature as you walk through deep green forests, past trickling streams and waterfalls, catch sight of powerful birds of prey in their nature environment and learn about the mineralogy and the gold-mine era. Most of the paths are suitable for inexperienced or casual hikers, whereas avid mountaineers and mountain-climbers can get their thrills on its higher peaks.
At the end of the day, you can take a well deserved break lounging on the grounds of Schloss Klog which showcase Austria’s beautiful nature. This refined Baroque castle has been owned and maintained with care by the Barons of Mayr-Melnhof since 1872. It offers a special window into Austrian Aristocratic life and is an idyllic place to stay in the heart of the country’s lake district. Learn more about this and our other Austrian experts here and learn more about this diverse country in our Austria Pocket Guide.
Gallatin National Forest – Montana
The diverse landscape of mainland United States has so many awe-inspiring places, but one of our prefered places to get away from it all is Montana, the “Big Sky State.” While one of the most famous parks in the US, or maybe even the world, is Yellowstone National Park in the neighboring state of Wyoming, Montana hiking is just as beautiful, but it attracts fewer fellow hikers – even more appealing. In fact as you amble on the wilderness trails of Gallatin National Forest, taking in exceptional views of the mountains, trickling streams and virgin forests, you might only pass fluttering birds, frisky foxes and meandering moose. But, beware of the grizzlies…
Despite the name, you shouldn’t have any dangerous close encounters with bears staying at the nearby gorgeous Grizzly Creek Ranch. A rustic yet very comfortable retreat, it can accommodate up to 30 guests. You’ll have exclusive use of the six different homes on the complex, including a wonderful dining and event hall, a recreation barn, yoga and massage cabin and more. Guided hiking can be arranged for Gallatin National Forest, Yellowstone, or you mightn’t even need to leave the property of the vast 2,000 acre ranch. For more information and to book see Mountain Homes’ profile here, discover more about what to do in the state in our Montana Pocket Guide.