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The 10 Best Backpacking Trips on Earth

Trek your way around the world.

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

Don’t get us wrong, a quick overnight in your local state park can be an experience you’ll never forget, but it can’t hurt to set your sights on the greatest backpacking trips in the world. From eating cheese and sipping espresso in the Swiss Alps to camping on the Great Wall of China and hiking along the rugged coast of Kauai, the world is full of stunning backcountry that needs to be explored. With the right plan, budget, and experience, knocking one (or all!) of these amazing trips off your bucket list is totally within reach. So check out these adventures and start planning now!

1. Machu Picchu, Peru

Photo: Sachith Siriwardane

This is a great alternative to the the Inca Trail, the traditional and more famous route to Machu Picchu. This route is more challenging, more remote, and less crowded. Win-win-win. Learn more. 

2. The Great Wall of China

Photo: Kyle Obermann

Stay with local villagers and find yourself exploring the wall all by yourself. Like the Salkantay route to Machu Picchu, this is a less popular and more rugged version of the other more well-known Great Wall hikes. Learn more.

3. The Routeburn Track, New Zealand

Photo: Crystal Brindle

One of New Zealand's nine Great Walks, the Routeburn Track provides everything you'd want from a backpacking trip; jaw-dropping scenery, challenging terrain, and even a roof over your head at the end of the day. There are several options for huts to sleep in depending on how long you plan to be on the trail. Learn more.

4. The “O” Circuit in Torres del Paine, Chile

Photo: Ian Glass

When it comes to the most iconic trips on this list, the towers of the Cordillera Paine give Machu Picchu a run for its money. There's a good reason this trek is so famous and recognizable. Learn more.

5. Everest Base Camp, Nepal

Photo: Colton Stiffler

Besides being an unforgettable adventure and cultural experience, hiking to Everest Basecamp counts for some serious bragging rights and certainly a few good stories. After twelve days in the Himalayas, you'll never be the same. Learn more. 

6. The John Muir Trail, California

Photo: Austin Trigg

If you've ever explored the Sierra Nevada and wished you could just stay there for weeks, this is your chance. You'll hike alongside some of California's most treasured alpine icons like Mt. Whitney and Half Dome. It takes a lot of preparation, but it'll be worth it. Learn more.

7. The Tour du Mont Blanc, France, Italy, and Switzerland

Photo: Katie Yarborough

Does sipping espresso and snacking on fresh bread and cheese sound like your ideal post-hike routine? Who wouldn't want that?! Not to mention, you'll be enjoying your dinner looking over some of the most gorgeous mountains on the planet. Learn more.

8. The West Highland Way, Scotland

Photo: Eric Bennett

What the Scottish Highlands lack in epic mountains or towering peaks, they more than make up for in charm and magical scenery that changes with each day on the trail. Learn more.

9. The Na Pali Coast, Hawaii

Photo: Jason Horstman

The Kalalau Trail is located on the north shore of Kauai, one of the most remote and rugged of the Hawaiian Islands. People often reference the movie Jurassic Park when describing this hike. The trail winds through lush green forest of ferns and tropical flora, along rocky cliffs above the Pacific, to a quiet valley with a sandy beach. Learn more. 

10. Mount Assiniboine, Canada

Photo: Talia Touboul

Summertime - or anytime, really! - in the Canadian Rockies is tough to beat. Hike through fields of alpine wildflowers, along crystal blue lakes, and over stunning passes. Just be sure to bring bear spray and it's best not to hike alone! Learn more.

Cover photo: Ian Glass

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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