Hiking is a relatively new joy for me. City travel had always been my preference but now I also like to get out of the city and into the countryside to hike.
It wasn't until I was in the mountains of the Zugspitz Arena in the Tyrolean Alps near Innsbruck that it came to me. There are all sorts of experiences to be had hiking.
Well, of course I knew this but it was then, walking along a wide, well-groomed path that I realized just how different one hike can be from another. From Canada to Europe, from Patagonia to the Lake District, hiking has its own unique flavor and each of them is wonderful.
Hiking in Germany – Bavaria
Bavaria is probably the most traditional area of Germany you can visit. Think chalets with balconies and carved wood railings. Think of mountains and the famous Neuschwanstein Castle. There is hiking almost everywhere in Bavaria but for hiking and more I'd suggest Tegernsee, a small spa town about 50 minutes south of Munich and 90 minutes east of the castle. It offers plenty of circular hikes around lakes and in the mountains. And for the end of the day there are the spas and some fabulous restaurants including the Michelin 3-star Restaurant Überfahrt.
Hiking in Hawaii – Kauai
Solo hiking in Kauai is safe in terms of wild animals. The only potential problem is wild boars and I’m told they’re inclined to stay away from you. They have no bears and no snakes. And every trail I was on has some people on it – not lots but enough that if something happened to you, a person would be by in about 10 minutes who could help. The greatest danger I found hiking in Kauai is how slippery it can get if the red soil/clay is wet.
On a hike along the ridge of the Waimea Canyon, my first really slippery climb up, a man, shirtless, moving like a billy goat with two hiking sticks said to me “you’ll need this” and passed me one of his sticks without stopping. It was like he dropped out of the sky just to take care of me! Kauai is a great place for hiking.
Hiking in Hong Kong – Urban Hiking
Hiking is a popular activity in Hong Kong – though I'm sure it ranks far behind shopping.
Nevertheless, when I looked to see if there was a Meetup group I might want to join to connect with locals when I was there, hiking showed up as number 1. So I joined a group and off I went. I made a couple of mistakes.
- I scheduled my hike the day after arriving from Toronto. I needed more time to recover from jetlag.
- I didn't take into account the impact the change in climate would have. I went from a cool, dry spring to very hot and humid overnight.
Yet, with the caveat of giving yourself time to acclimatize to Hong Kong's weather and time zone, I would recommend hiking there. You can read about my hike here.
Hiking in Scotland – The Isle of Skye
I loved the Isle of Skye. There is a sense of separation from the mainland in the culture. It's quiet and beautiful despite the number of tourists that visit every year. And the hiking is safe and possible even for those at a beginner level. You definitely need hiking shoes at a minimum though hiking boots are better. You can expect rain so rain gear is important as well. For details on where to stay, where to hike and how to get around read: The Spectacular Isle of Skye Without a Car.
Hiking Australia – The Blue Mountains
Hiking the Blue Mountains, or bushwalking as it’s called in Australia, is available to all levels of hikers. What you see in the photo below is just a smidgin of the Great Dividing Range that runs over 3,500 km along the eastern coast of Australia from Queensland through New South Wales to Victoria. Hiking trails are well marked, especially around Katoomba where the Three Sister is. Yet, according to posters put up by the local authorities, more than 130 people get lost in the bush of the Blue Mountains every year and some don’t make it out at all. It's advisable to stay on the path. Click here for more on where to go, stay, eat and hike.
Hiking in Canada – The Bay of Fundy
In Canada we hike through the woods. Occasionally we have a view or come across a waterfall and then we stop and marvel at the beauty. I'm reminded of an architectural theory I once read that suggested that the best view from a home should not have a massive window in a convenient place. If the house is designed that way, the view eventually becomes commonplace and overlooked. The idea is to force the looker to pause, to really take in and enjoy the view. That's what we have in Canada. Beautiful woods rich with the smell of flora, and only the occasional view making each all the more delightful.
Hiking in Austria – Zugspitz Arena
The magnificent Austrian Alps is the big attraction in Zugspitz Arena. There the hiking trails are wide and well groomed. There are no rocks or roots to trip over. It's civilized and the paths are designed to take you from one place to another, from a lake for swimming to a restaurant for lunch to another for a beer. And along the way, there are wonderful views of the stunning Alps.
Hiking in Chile – Patagonia
There are two main options in Patagonia: the W and the circuit. Each can be done a number of ways. The W trails were designed and built less than twenty years ago for the average hiker. Before then you had to be an expert climber to go. The hiking involves fields, wide trails, narrow trails through woods, and very rocky portions near the top. There are major rewards in hiking Patagonia such as the Towers as shown below.
Hiking in the United Kingdom – the Lake District
Walking (hiking) in the Lake District is where I first discovered that I liked hiking. The first day I was puzzled by it – did I like it? But the next day I awoke eager to go again. This surprised and delighted me. There are over 100 different trails in the Lake District (many people make it their mission to complete them all) at various levels making it a great destination for multigenerational families, serious hikers and yes, casual hikers / solo travelers like me. The paths are very well marked and the views are breathtaking.
Reader's Recommendations for Places to Hike
- Solo Travel Destination: The West Highland Way, Scotland
- Solo Hiking: A Pristine Corner of Lake Michigan
- Backpacking Solo: Hiking Alone Means Less Margin for Error
- Solo Travel Destination: Lisdoonvarna, Ireland
- Solo Travel Destination: Grand Canyon