Nothing brings you back down to earth quite like the humbling views from the peak of a mighty hike. Exploring dense Peruvian cloud forest, gigantic Norweigan boulders and the barren desert landscape of Utah as these sky-high trails lift you above the clouds and leave you feeling, quite literally, on top of the world.
Consider the trail less travelled on your next hiking adventure, the view’s worth it.
Bryce Canyon, USA.
Stretching across southern Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park is synonymous with crimson hoodoos (the spire-like rock formations) that wouldn’t look out of place on Mars. Difficulty level varies for hiking this natural wonder that reaches 9,000 feet, so take the hike at your own pace.
Elevation to this altitude can cause a light-head so rest often. And with average temperatures in Utah soaring above 80°F be sure to take plenty of water.
Kjerag Hike, Norway
Hailing 3,556 feet above sea level, Kjerag boasts the highest peak in the Lysefjord district. And even more impressive, wedged right in the middle is the Kjeragbolten boulder. Feel brave enough to conquer the boulder and you’ll be rewarded with superb views over the mountain plateau, as well as an awesome picture.
The hike trip is around 11km and will take 6-10 hours. Expect tricky conditions and the use of a wire in some sections.
Huayna Picchu, Peru
The mystical Machu Picchu, more specifically the Huayna Picchu climb, provides sobering vistas of the ancient city from a different angle.
The trail reaches an altitude of 1,180 feet and requires a moderate level of fitness to climb its slippery steps (as well as flexibility to squeeze through its tight spaces).
Although there is no technical climbing skill needed, some sections of the trail will need to be completed on your hands and knees. Railings and cables are in place in the trickiest areas. For less confident but equally enthusiastic hikers there is a shorter trail option.
The Yosemite Valley is double the height of the Burj Khalifa, at 4,800 feet expect an trialsome walk with a roundtrip of 22.7km via the Mist Trail.
Before reaching the cables on Half Dome’s steep granite rock formation you’ll pass the spectacular Vernal Fall and Nevada Falls, where steel cables and wooden planks are in place to assist hikers to the summit during the summer months.
Fellow hikers will be dotted along the trails, but Half Dome isn’t a place where they flock. Permits are required to take on the trails and will be allocated using a lottery system. You can apply here.
There’s more than one route to the summit of Helvellyn, the third highest point in England. Routes push off from Glenridding and will take you on the bank of Ullswater.
Top elevation is an enormous 3,117 feet.
Difficulty level depends on the route you choose and the Lake District’s (adverse) weather conditions. Fancy a challenge? Opt for Striding Edge and Scafell Pike which are the sharp topped ridges to the East side. This is a popular trail for hikers from all over the world, wanting a piece of the action they travel far and wide to take in the dramatic views over the colossal landscape.
Crypt Lake, Canada
The Crypt Lake hike takes you on an epic adventure around Waterton Lakes National Park.
A tight ascent through a cave (01:37) onto a sheer cliff face kicks off the hike. It’s enough to send even the most self-assured hiker weak at the knees.
The park has been granted a UNESCO world heritage site and with good reason; the trail provides breath-taking landscape views. But it’s not for the faint-hearted, you’ll need to crawl, scramble and climb to complete the hike.
The old cliche “the best view comes after the hardest climb” often proves true in life, not least when it comes to hiking. Elevating altitude will play havoc on your body. Oxygen in the air is thin and improper training can put you in a spin. Make sure you work on your cardiovascular fitness weeks before setting-out and research the area to avoid nasty surprises en-route.
But, most importantly, allow time to stop and take in the beauty.
It might just stop you in your tracks.