10 Amazing International Thru-Hikes You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Many of the world’s most famous thru-hikes are in the U.S. but Americans by no means invented ridiculously long walks in the woods. Long distance trails pepper the globe and are testament to the fact that perhaps there is something inherently human about traveling the distance between two far-flung points on the map on your own two feet. Here are a few of our favorite thru-hikes from around the world. And if you like these, check out our previous post on our favorite lesser-known thru-hikes in the U.S.: Secret Thru-Hikes that Aren’t the AT or the PCT.

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1. Greater Patagonia Trail
Chile and Argentina
As you might expect from a thru-hike in such a remote corner of the globe, this 800 mile trail is known for being underdeveloped and isolated as much as for its stunning beauty. The route traverses the Patagonian Andes along the border of Chile and Argentina and requires so much orienteering, logistical planning and endurance that only a handful of intrepid trekkers have ever completed it.

2. Sentiero Italia
If you want to see the real Italy, skip Rome, Florence, and Venice and instead opt for a 6,000 km walk from the Northeastern port town of Trieste near the Slovenian border to the southern tip of Europe’s most famous boot. The Sentiero (or Grand Italian Trail) takes hikers into the Italian Alps as well as through the Apennine Range and to the islands of Sicily and then Sardinia. Few places in the world combine such spectacular scenery with unparalleled history and cooking lessons.

3. Tokai Nature Trail
Everyone you know is going to Japan to ski, so why not skip the lines and go for a long walk instead? On the relatively easy 1000+ miles of Tokai Nature Trail from Tokyo to Osaka, you experience Japan’s mountainous terrain and unexpected biodiversity. Or you can miss out entirely by covering the same distance in a high-speed train in under three hours.

4. Te Araroa
New Zealand
Thru-hikes seem to be a great way to experience a long, skinny country and the Te Araroa in New Zealand is no exception. The trail begins at Cape Reinga in the north and ends up 1800 miles later at Stirling Point on the South Island. Along the way, you’ll spot everything New Zealand has to offer including beaches, seals, penguins, rainforests, active volcanoes, mountains, glacial lakes, and maybe the occasional Hobbit.

5. The Sir Samuel and Lady Florence Baker Historical Trail
South Sudan and Uganda
 South Sudan is admittedly one of the most dangerous and unstable regions on the planet right now. But African Explorer and Anthropologist Julian Monroe Fisher has headed up an effort to establish a hiking and mountain biking trail that can attract tourists and potentially play a part in stabilizing the political climate. The route, which begins in the South Sudanese capital city of Juba and ends near Lake Albert in Uganda, follows the Bakers’ routes along the White Nile into Uganda is named for the British couple whose expedition in what is now South Sudan covered much of the same terrain and helped end much of the area’s slave trade in the 19th century.

6. Greater Himalaya Trail
International NGO’s in the area are attempting to string together a trail that would stretch the length of the Greater Himalaya range, passing through Kashmir, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet and would result in one of the longest and highest hiking paths in the world. Today, one of the only officially finished sections of the GHT is the 1050 mile trek through Nepal’s highest peaks to the country’s western border with Tibet. Parts of the path are open to trail runners and mountain bikers although if you’re planning on doing it on foot, plan for about a five month walk.

7. Kungsleden
 Located in the extreme north of Sweden, Kungsleden or “The King’s Trail” makes one of Western Europe’s largest remaining wilderness areas accessible to both hikers and cross-country skiers. Be prepared for colder temperatures regardless of the time of year but also be prepared to spot glaciers, tundra, Sweden’s highest peaks, and potentially the Northern Lights.

8. GR 20
Europe’s Grande Randonnée or “GR” footpath is comprised of over 100 different numbered hiking paths that cover thousands of miles throughout France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain. GR 20 which crosses the steep mountains of the Mediterranean island of Corsica is only about 180 km long but is considered to be among the toughest of the GR network. The trail is often difficult and rocky but the views of glacial lakes, towering mountains, and the coastline make it worth the effort.

9. West Highland Way
United Kingdom
Scotland’s premier long-distance hiking trail starts near Glasgow and heads north through the highlands to Fort William, the second largest town in the Scottish Highlands. The 100-mile route is commonly walked in seven to eight days and passes by such seemingly fairytale-inspired places as Loch Lomond, the swamps of Rannoch Moor, the Devil’s Staircase, and Aonach Eagach before ending up near Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis.

10. Slovenian Mountain Trail
Slovenia’s steep and rocky mountains are likely not the first peaks that come to mind when you think of the Alps, but the Pohorje, Kamnik-Savinja, and Karavanke ranges and the Slovenian Mountain Trail that winds through them provide some of the best and least crowded scenery on the continent. The trail starts in the alpine town of Maribor and ends in the coastal village of Ankaran which is just across the Italian border from Trieste so you can tack on the Sentiero Italia for 6000 km of added fun.

Originally published at blog.gociety.com on June 6, 2016.

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