Four Hiking Holidays

Get outside and discover stunning vistas and peaceful trails 

There’s just something about spring; no other season brings quite the same measure of relief and revival, anticipation and eagerness, and exploring on foot is a stimulating way to discover the natural beauty and culture of just about any destination. Choose a route—and terrain—that suits your walking style, and enjoy the amenities along the trail. 

West Highland Way, Scotland 

Starting 11 kilometres outside Glasgow, Scotland’s first and arguably most popular long-distance route tracks northwest through moors and meadows before reaching the rocky Highlands. Misty mountains and green valleys are a highlight, as are the cozy villages and pubs where you’ll sleep, eat and sip local ales. Most people take about a week to cover the 154-km trek, but none of the stages are overly long (and, remember, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing). Several outfitters will shuttle your luggage from stop to stop, so you only need to carry a light daypack. That’s not cheating—it’s heaven. 

La Traversée de Charlevoix, Quebec

Woodsman Eudore Fortin loved the mountains and forests of his native Charlevoix so much, he wanted to share the region. So he blazed much of this 105-km trail himself. Bordering one provincial park, crossing another and skirting one of the biggest cliffs on the eastern side of the continent, La Traversée takes seven days to complete as you travel from hut to hut, though you can opt for a shorter section. The Rustic huts, complete with wood stoves and sleeping lofts, foster backcountry camaraderie with fellow hikers. Pay a little extra and ingredients for your evening meal will be waiting inside each cabin.

John Muir Trail, California

“Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer,” said pioneering naturalist John Muir, whose namesake trail spans more than 330 km of Sierra Nevada peaks and wilderness. Incorporating Yosemite, Sequoia and King’s Canyon national parks, the JMT is the crown jewel of American hiking. About a third of the route is above 3,000 metres, which means you’ll see bears and have to ford creeks. But the northern terminus is only four hours by car from San Francisco, and several companies can take you to and from various access points. The 24-km Ritter Range leg is ideal for a long weekend. 

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Most visitors gaze longingly at this spectacular mile-deep gorge from the rim. But you can descend through layers of rock dating back almost two billion years and spend a few nights amid the spires and mesas that preside over the Colorado River. Cabins and dorm beds at Phantom Ranch book quickly, so plan well ahead if you want a roof. Or tent it with Wildland Trekking, whose itineraries range from three to seven days. Guides provide camping gear and cook hearty meals so you can focus on the walking and the sense of wonder.