Travel the globe to trek these three paths for breathtaking views of nature at its finest.
Itching to go on a multi-day hike, but don’t feel like camping in the woods? You’re not alone. After all, carrying and pitching a tent, dealing with bugs, and having to use a hole in the ground as a bathroom isn’t everyone’s idea of an ideal vacation—especially if it’s raining, windy, or snowing outside.
If you’re not as hardcore as some of your outdoorsy friends, hut-to-hut hiking, where you can crash at small lodges (typically with 40 to 100 other hikers), may be the perfect fit for you. Some huts are more elaborate than others, but most provide a roof, a bunk bed with a mattress, a flushable toilet, and a stove. Prices to stay generally range from $10 to $85 per night, depending on the amenities available.
While there are well-worn hut-to-hut paths all over the globe, we’ve narrowed down the field to three outstanding favorites. Here are three of the best trails in the world, which are located in New Zealand, Switzerland, and right here in the US. Grab your backpack, shoe sac (for your dirty hiking boots) and sleep mask and hit the hut-to-hut trail!
1. The Presidential Traverse in New Hampshire, US
At your own pace, conquer the seven peaks in the White Mountains (named Pierce, Eisenhower, Monroe, Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and Madison) over 19.8 miles (31.9 kilometers) as you hike as high as 6,288 feet (1,917 meters) in elevation. Stay at any of the eight Appalachian Mountain Club huts in the range, which are located either above the trees, near spectacular lakes or alongside waterfalls. Each hut offers wooden bunks and hearty food, such as pastas and stews. When the weather is clear during this hike, you’ll have amazing views of an 800,000-acre national forest, the Atlantic Ocean, and even Canada. To make the most of the daylight hours, book your trip between late May and early August.
2. The Haute Route From Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland
This difficult hike takes you just below the summits of 10 of the 12 highest peaks in the Alps (the highest part of the path reaches 9,800 feet or 2,964 meters). The 124-mile (200-kilometer) trek may take 10 to 12 days, but if you’re up for the challenge, this remote journey takes you through a winter wonderland of giant glaciers and awe-inspiring snow-capped mountains. Sleep in huts each night, which are open from mid-June through early September. Some huts offer impressive, staffed kitchens that serve four-course meals featuring salad, cheese, steak, and fine wine. Just make sure that you reserve a bed ahead of time, because they go fast!
3. The Milford Track from Glade Wharf to Sandfly Point in South Island, New Zealand
This four-day hike, which takes you through beech-tree forests, is dotted with green ferns and mosses and covers 33.2 miles (53.5 kilometers). Peak season is late October to late April, because that’s when it’s warmest (if you go later in the year, during New Zealand’s winter, snow can make it impossible to pass through certain parts of the trail). Rain gear and insect-repellant are a must, since the weather can be wet. You’ll also want to carry linens (including a quick dry towel) and cookware, because the three huts along the trail don’t provide those. To cool off, make sure you stop for a swim in the Clinton River on Day One of your trek. Then put your damp bathing suit in a Pack-It 2-Sided Cube, so you can separate it from your dry belongings.
Hiking is one of the best ways to connect with nature. If there’s a particular path you know and love, share it below in the comment section!
Jane Bianchi is a freelance writer who has worked for a variety of national magazines, including Seventeen, Family Circle, and Good Housekeeping. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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