4 Scenic Hikes & Runs Around the World

You can dream all you want, but only your feet will take you there.


Keeping fit while traveling isn't everyone's priority. But for some of us, it's only natural, and it's an essential cure for jetlag, boredom, and stress, and, obviously, a great way to cover a lot of ground and take in our exotic surroundings. Pub stop afterwards—guaranteed!

 

Oftentimes, a jog, hike, or walk around a new locale is just what you need when you touch down. I know it is for me, and I just have to fight the feeling of dozing off for a few moments in my hotel/tent. It's time to explore, and here are 4 regions around the world that encompass 13 countries—from the Alps to Hawaii to Scotland and Wales to Jamaica—where that good, long run or hike can reveal some of the best scenery of your life. Don't forget to send a postcard.


HAWAII

Check out the views from the Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run World Championships also known as the Crown Jewel of Trail Runs, this course welcomes 2,000 hardy runners. The hardy lot get to choose from one of four ways to see these insanely beautiful views: a half marathon (13.1 miles), a 10k, a 5k, and and an adventure walk. Held at the working Kualoa Ranch in Oahu, Hawaii, this course is definitely on my bucket list of top races to run just so I can get a glimpse of this scenery while embracing the equal possibility of a slow trek to my end if I cannot complete the course. Have you run it?


There is hardly a place in Hawaii that isn't ripe with scenery, but a few gems stand out for locals, including Kalalau Trail, Kauai's Napali Coast; Olomana Three Peaks Trail, Kailua, Oahu; and online guides galore have tips on the hikes that will take you to the heart of the volcanic isles' beauty, such as Unreal Hawaii and Exploration Hawaii. Find your own favorite hidden Hawaii beaches, and best volcano views. Every single day you're there. 


For a complete trail map system check out Every Trail.


Photo by Paul Bica on Creative Commons
Photo by Paul Bica on Creative Commons
Photo by Umberto Salvagnin-Antorno Lake, Italian Alps on Creative Commons
Photo by Umberto Salvagnin-Antorno Lake, Italian Alps on Creative Commons

THE ALPS - Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Germany, France, and Austria

Encompassing some of the most rugged and tallest mountain ranges across eight countries in Europe, the famous Alps give more than 120 million visitors of all ages the chance to explore. Peaks top out at 15,781 feet on Mont Blanc but there are hundreds of "four thousands," mountains higher than 4,000 meters. But it's not all high intensity trekking. Gentle routes are perfect for beginner trail runners and hikers and allow the gradual progression, despite their monumental appearance.

 

The best part about traveling this region is not only the scenery, but also massive trail system and hut to hut system that Europe has developed over the years. You're part of a greater community of explorers when you come here, rather than trekking out on your own like you are in some of the other places on this list. Tour the region by foot by bike or by motorcycle.


The Alps are a prime #SlowTravel, Genuine Travel region, where you have the trail markings, overnight accommodations, and endless stream of fellow hikers to have the trip of a lifetime with—whether it lasts for a weekend or 3 months. Some great outfitters can get you set up and even guide you on a tour, including Cyclomundo (which do bike tours of France, Italy, Spain, And Switzerland); Rick Steves; Trek Travel (which does bike tours all across Europe including the Alps); and Edelweiss Bike Travel (which hosts motorcycle tours across Europe and the Alps). 


But it's not just for big spenders. You can hike the Alps on a budget too! Or you can go somewhat like the old explorers did with jut a map, your backpack, food, and a popup tent. You'll see people young and old doing the same. This is guaranteed to be a region you want to return to many times throughout your life.


JAMAICA

If you're in the neighborhood, sign up for the Reggae Marathon in Negril and you'll be glad you did. Even though the temperature in early December, when the race is held, barrels toward the mid 70s by 6:30am, you've got the ocean breeze not far away, which is the closest you'll come to cool in the Jamaica besides diving into the ocean anyway. By the time you're done, you're beachside and sipping from a massive green coconut if you're lucky.

 

Last year was my first time doing an organized race, ever. In my previous visit to Jamaica, I was in the heart of Kingston, a wave of speeding drivers whizzing by; sing-song conversations plucking all around me; colors colliding in wardrobes, head wraps, and advertisements; and community coalescing behind worn-down, weathered open doors.

 

If you go rogue and just want to explore the area on your own, more power to you. But beware that most major roads have no sidewalks or the like, and drivers pretty much fly down the road when possible, so use that as a cue to stick to the side streets and smaller towns, and definitely go take a hike into the hills with a local guide, who can take  you to hidden waterfalls meant for movies. A few with the best ratings on Trip Advisor include Your Jamaican Tour Guide and Liberty Tours Jamaica, the latter of which will take you to off-the-beaten-path destinations based on your interests. They know where that hidden watering hole is that you need an Instagram picture of. Right. Now. Ya mon!


SCOTLAND & WALES

There's a bit of magic to be found from one corner of the United Kingdom. It's understated. It's shrouded in mists. And if you're going to one the the buzzing metropolises like London, England, or Glasgow or Edinburgh in Scotland, you must get out of the city buzz and explore the surrounding landscape, because its dramatic sweeps are worth every second of travel there. You'll easily find some of the best hikes in the United Kingdom if you just ask around.


The Scottish Highlands are hands-down one of my favorite places in the world. The area is rugged, it's isolated, it's wild. But the wildest things you'll encounter aren't any natural predators like snakes, wolves, or bears. Those don't exist here—only sheep and very annoying biting midges. Instead its the wild waters that crash along the coastline and the wild inside yourself that you'll see has been trapped inside you all along. ion just makes you want to pitch a tent, start a fire, and sip whiskey while telling wild tales.


Rent a car (aka Hire a Car) and drive along the newly finished North Coast 500 route—Scotland's answer to Route 66 in the US—which runs 500 miles of the Northern Highlands. If you start in Glasgow, you can easily make it to Inverness, the start of the route within a couple of hours.


Wales is a country that along with England and Scotland makes up the United Kingdom. Similar to Scotland, Wales has an unreal coastline of grass-covered mountains tumbling onto rocky shores. You'll instanly feel the Celtic history of the region. But there's plenty to do outdoors here that will get your adrenaline pumping, including kayaking, rock climbing, surfing, and more, but especially walking, hiking, and running in this birthplace of mountaineering. Try the Pembrookshire Coast Path. There are all kinds of B&B's and more unusual places to stay in Wales

Where are your favorite places in the world to get out and explore?