Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to explore some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes our planet has to offer. Here are my top 5 favourite hikes that hold a very special place in my heart.
Half Dome, Yosemite
- Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA
- Length: 17.7 km (11 miles) round trip
- Elevation: 8,842 feet
- Time: Approx. 10-12 hours
- Trailhead: Happy Isles, Yosemite Valley
- Best Time: Start early in the morning to avoid crowds on the cables
The number one spot is firmly held by a heavyweight: Half Dome. This is an iconic hike that I felt I needed to do as soon as I found out about its existence. I was on a plane to San Francisco only a few weeks later! This is a full-day effort that combines slopes, switchbacks, steps, and the final boss: the cables section. The views from the top are unreal, but this is one of those “it’s about the journey, not the destination” hikes for me.
Panorama Ridge, British Columbia
- Location: Garibaldi Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada
- Length: 29 km (18 miles) round trip
- Elevation: 6,932 feet
- Time: Approx. 8-10 hours
- Trailhead: Rubble Creek Parking Lot
- Best Time: Begin early in the day to get it done before sunset
A Canadian classic takes number two… Panorama Ridge. This is one of the most surreal viewpoints, but the hike itself is gorgeous too, as you pass through forests, meadows, and beside turquoise lakes before a short scramble-ish section to the top.
Roy’s Peak, New Zealand
- Location: Wanaka, South Island, New Zealand
- Length: 16 km (10 miles) round trip
- Elevation: 5,177 feet
- Time: Approx. 5-6 hours
- Trailhead: Roy’s Peak Track Car Park
- Best Time: Catch the sunrise for an unforgettable start
Roy’s Peak offers a blend of peaceful solitude and jaw-dropping vistas. You pass through grassy slopes full of sheep and along alpine ridgelines. There are impressive look-outs all the way up, and if you can go at sunrise you’ll be wowed by the show.
Salkantay Trek, Peru
- Location: Andes Mountains, Peru
- Length: 74 km (46 miles) point-to-point
- Elevation: 15,090 feet (highest point)
- Time: Approx. 4-5 days (multiple days)
- Trailhead: Mollepata
- Best Time: Embark during the dry season (April to October)
This one feels like a bit of a cheat, since it’s a multi-day hike. But so what – my list, my rules! The trek takes you from high-altitude passes to lush rainforests, ending at the awe-inspiring Machu Picchu – a masterpiece of human ingenuity set against breathtaking natural beauty. A once-in-a-lifetime experience, made extra special because I was able to do it with my parents 🙂
Fairyland Loop, Bryce Canyon
- Location: Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, USA
- Length: 12.9 km (8 miles) loop
- Elevation: 2,000 feet (approx. cumulative ascent)
- Time: Approx. 4-5 hours
- Trailhead: Fairyland Point
- Best Time: Start in the morning to catch the sunrise glow on the hoodoos
Fairyland Loop makes the list because it is just so unique, and every step has unbelievable sights to take in. The hike winds through a maze of towering hoodoos, painted in shades of red and orange that seem unreal. The landscape feels straight out of a fairytale!
Angel’s Landing, Zion
- Location: Zion National Park, Utah, USA
- Length: 8.7 km (5.4 miles) round trip
- Elevation: 1,488 feet
- Time: Approx. 4-5 hours
- Trailhead: The Grotto
- Best Time: Start early to beat the crowds and catch sunrise
Let’s give a nod to Angel’s Landing – a trail that’s not for the faint of heart. The narrow path and chain-assisted climb lead you to a viewpoint that’s simply jaw-dropping. As you look down at the Virgin River below and across the vast expanse of Zion Canyon, you’ll feel like you’re standing on the edge of the world. This is another one that’s about the thrill of climbing for me (like Half Dome), with the legendary chain section.
Mount Batur, Bali
- Location: Bali, Indonesia
- Length: 5.5 km (3.4 miles) round trip
- Elevation: 5,633 feet
- Time: Approx. 2-3 hours to reach the summit
- Trailhead: Toya Bungkah
- Best Time: Start in the early hours to witness sunrise from the top
Ascending this active volcano in the pre-dawn darkness is an experience like no other. The sky gradually shifts from velvety black to fiery orange as you reach the summit. My favourite part was the monkeys that came out to join us for breakfast at the top!
That’s a wrap… for now! I’m sure this list will continue to evolve as I tick off more and more bucket list destinations!