My Top Hikes
I’ve been fortunate to do many overseas walks “off-season”, as that’s when I’ve been traveling for work or to attend a conference. It’s meant some trails have been impassable due to snow, but also that I’ve avoided peak times. Some of my favourite hikes, when I’ve walked all day and barely seen another soul, would be a very different experience in the height of summer.
- Freycinet Peninsula, Tasmania (Jan 2017). A varied multi-day walk, from bays and beaches with crystal-clear water to mountain peaks with great views.
- Dragon’s Back, Hong Kong (Oct 2016). A popular and scenic walk 45min from Kowloon (HK), that takes you up into the hills with views over the coast
- Trolltunga, Lofoten Islands in Norway (Oct 2016). A long but interesting walk, ending up at a rock jutting out 600m above the valley below.
- Reinebringen, Norway (Oct 2016). Every walk in the Lofoten Islands was great – but the view from Reinebringen after a short & steep climb was just breath-taking.
- Havasu Falls, Arizona (Feb 2016). An amazing walk along Havasu Creek, with turquoise water and a series of spectacular waterfalls.
- Half Dome in Yosemite, California (Feb 2015)
- Mulu Pinnacles, Malaysia. A gruelling climb rewarded by a view of the unique Pinnacles (which is combined with a tour of the spectacular Mulu Caves).
I’d love to hear your recommendations or favourite hikes in the comments 🙂 Especially those walks that are not so well-known!
My recommended hikes around Sydney
There are many walks (including overnight hikes in the Blue Mountains and other areas around Sydney) that are within a few hours of Sydney, by car or public transport.
- The Spit to Manly (Sydney). A sometimes busy but almost iconic Sydney walk past bays, beaches and some expensive Sydney real estate…
- Bouddi coastal walk (90min north of Sydney). Beautiful central coast walk, with the pristine Maitland Bay being the star attraction
- Coast Track (Otford to Bundeena, 1.5hrs south of Sydney and best done by train and ferry). A long day-walk that takes in multiple beaches, coastal cliffs and swimming holes.
- Ruined Castle, Blue Mountains (Katoomba, 2hrs west of Sydney. Accessible by train). A great view from a relatively short and varied walk.
- West Head (an hour north of Sydney). There are lot of walks to choose from, with many taking you to secluded and shaded beaches.
- Wollangambe Canyon, Blue Mountains (Mt Wilson, 2hrs west of Sydney). It’s half walking and half-swimming, making it a good option on hot summer day.
For a comprehensive list of walks, try Wildwalks (focussed on walks in the greater Sydney area with detailed track notes), Trail Hiking Australia (largest collection of walks across Australia) and Aussie Bushwalking (user-contributed walks across Australia as well as some overseas).
Best Hikes in Australia – what do others say!
I’ve compiled the list below over time, as I discover hiking recommendations. Some I’ve done, many end up as ideas that are added to my wish-list!
- 18 of the best day walks in Australia (Australian Geographic).
I‘d agree with all of these, although some are hard to get to. I’ve done Grand Canyon (NSW), Coomera Circuit (QLD), the Canyon Walk (NT), Wineglass Bay to Hazards Beach (Tasmania), Pinnacles Desert (WA), Mt Warning (QLD), Mt Gower (Lord Howe Is, NSW), Bluff Knoll (WA), Sealers Cove Track (VIC), Kata Tjuta (NT) and Bouddi Coast Walk (NSW).
- Top 10 Australian mountains to climb (Australian Geographic).
A good range of peaks, scattered across Australia. I have a few on my To Do list and about half I’ve done: Mt Warning (QLD), Mt Gower (Lord Howe Is, NSW), Mt Kosciuszko (NSW), Walshs Pyramid (QLD), Mt Ngungun (QLD) and Cradle Mountain (Tasmania)
- Australia hiking trails: Ten spectacular places you can only reach on foot (Traveller.com)
Some great walks here – gave me the idea of visiting Barn Bluff (Tasmania), and I’ve been to Zoe Falls (QLD) and Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse (VIC). Not quite sure how Mt Kosciuszko (NSW) made it on the list – it’s a pretty dull walk with a less-than-spectacular view!
- Tasmania 60 Great Short Walks (Parks Tasmania; mobile app available)
An essential list if you’re visiting Tasmania – from half an hour to some solid day walks, there’s a range of walks across a range of environments across Tasmania. (If that’s not enough, TasTrails suggests 93 trails across the state.)
So, what are the “Best Walks in the World”?
What are the “world’s greatest walks” according to others? These lists have often provided me with the ideas or inspiration I need to find a challenging hike when I have the opportunity to travel overseas. It’s by no means exhaustive, but should give you at least a few ideas to inspire you!
- The world’s greatest walks (Australian Geographic).
I’ve done none of these – most are multi-day walks that require a big time commitment.
- World’s Best Hikes: 15 Classic Trails (National Geographic)
Some classics (like the Grand Canyon Rim2Rim which I’ve done) and many I’ve never even heard of, like Mountains of the Moon in Uganda.
- Summit for the weekend (Lonely Planet)
Peaks you can do in 1-2 days, without a porter… covers mountains in almost every continent. Only ticked off Toubkal in Morocco… and getting to the base of Half Dome in Yosemite.
- World’s 10 Scariest Cliff Walks (SmarterTravel)
Some look genuinely scary; I’ve only done the Kalalau Trail (Hawaii), which is definitely not scary. Many Australian walks involve rock-scrambling that involves more risk than a cliff walk, many of which you are secured with a safety harness.
- Don’t look down: a glimpse at the world’s scariest hikes (The Guardian)
Similar theme as the previous article, but these hikes all look a lot more scary than the previous ones. I’ve only done Mountain Torq on Mt Kinabalu, a via ferrata route. It was a little scary, but very safe.
- Climbing the Americas: our guide to some of the best mountains (Lonely Planet)
Some classic peaks in north and south America… I’ve only managed Mount Whitney so far…
- Top 10 walks in the UK (Lonely Planet)
Most of these are multi-day paths – although it includes the UK and Welsh versions of the Three Peaks challenge, which I hope to do next UK trip
- Choice tramps: New Zealand’s top five hikes (Traveller)
Hopefully I’ll eventually get to all of these… NZ has some fantastic hiking!
- Eleven of the world’s best walks you can do in one day (Traveller)
Some great ones here – have done Cradle Mt in Australia (Tasmania) and the Narrows in the US (Utah). All of these walks look awesome!
My Wish List
I seem to discover more hikes each year than I have time to complete… here’s my (current) Top 10 I’d like to get to over the next few years.
- Mt Anne (Tasmania). Either as an overnight hike travelling relatively light, or a long day-walk.
- Overland Track (Tasmania). A “classic” Tasmanian hike: I’ve hiked up to Cradle Mountain many times as well as Barn Bluff, but have never found time to do the entire track. Being such a popular walk, I’m going to hope for a few days of good/stable weather in the off-season.
- Maria Island (Tasmania). A combination of peaks and coastal walking on Maria Island National Park.
- Mt Feathertop (VIC). Victoria’s second-highest peak, 1922m, with three access tracks (the most popular being the the 22km return trail from Harrietville).
- Tabletop Track (NT). A 39km, 3-day circuit that should be possible in one long day, next time I happen to be in Darwin! Managed to get here in July 2018!
- Routeburne Track (NZ). A classic NZ walk, which seems another ideal track to undertake in one long day. Transport (some form of car shuffle of public transport) makes this a bit of a logistical challenge.
- Tongariro Circuit (NZ). Amazing scenery (not that you can really go wrong on any NZ walk) – can be done as a 1-day return walk or 2/3 day circuit.
- Mount Kilimanjaro (Kenya). The highest peak in Africa. Although the nearby and less-busy Mt Kenya (4,985m) is be an equally attractive alternative!
- Patagonia – any walks, really. I’ve yet to make it to South America.