How to

21 April 2016

5 Amazing Hiking Locations - Beginner Edition

It doesn’t matter where in the world you are, or whether you’re on holiday or a business trip, nothing beats a good hike. As long as you’ve got the appropriate gear to hand, if you get far enough away from the urban sprawl, you’ll happen upon a good route eventually. The terrain could be flat, hilly, rocky, sandy, almost anything (not icy though, if you’re seeing that then you’re on some kind of expedition/fight for survival, act accordingly).

Which are the best, though? The trails that you would almost travel to that part of the world just to experience? It is, obviously, completely subjective; we all look for different things and have different levels of stamina. That in mind, these 5 locations, scattered as they are across the globe, aren’t the absolute best, but if you happen to be in any of these places you’d be a fool not to seek them out. A fool I say! Now lace up your boots and get reading.

All of these hikes are beginner level, you’ll still need the correct gear, but prior experience/tolerance is not necessary.

Huchuy Qosqo – Peru

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Obviously, the most famous hiking route in Peru is the Inca Trail, but it has a reputation for being tough, even for experienced hikers. It also requires permission, and time. If you want to spend a day or two drinking in the Andean landscape without any of that rigmarole, Huchuy Qosqo is where you want to be.

Situated less than 50km north of the city of Cusco, the trail leads you through a sizeable Incan archaeological site, following an ancient route from Cusco to Pisca. It winds through canyons, offering views of high peaks and low lakes, as well as all the ruins. All told it’s 17km long, so you might want to consider giving it 2 or 3 days instead of just the 1, if you want to really drink it all in. What you can be sure of though is that, by comparison to the Inca Trail, it’ll be all but deserted.

Bernese Highlands – Switzerland

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The Bernese region of Switzerland is about as picturesque as it’s possible to get. If you’ve ever seen a James Bond film, or an advert for Swiss Air, you probably saw at least a sprinkle of footage from that landscape, with its striking blend of green foothills and high peaks. Even looking at it on a map, the idea of finding accessible hiking routes might seem nightmarish, but it’s actually remarkably simple.

Just drop anchor in one of the more popular villages or towns dotted around the region (Grindelwald, Zweisimmen, Wengen) and you’ll find yourself surrounded by different one-day routes, leading past waterfalls, glaciers and other landmarks. Pick one for each day or string a few together for a long route, but either way, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Kamikōchi – Japan

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Nestled right in the heart of the aptly named Japanese Alps, Kamikōchi is the jewel in the crown of the incredible landscape which lines the central island of Honshu. Shadowed my Mt. Hotaka in the north and Mt. Yake (an active volcano) in the south, it cuts a gorgeous route right through the middle of these two huge peaks.

The route follows the Asuza River, beaching at times to allow weary walkers to either get off their feet or dip them in the water. If you follow the river far enough, it leads to Lake Taisho, which is a marvel unto itself. In terms of access, it’s a day trip deal, there are no camping sites or even accessible routes for private vehicles, you have to take a train or a shuttle bus, and the walking routes are only open between mid-April and mid-November, but trust me, it’s worth the runaround.

Pukaskwa National Park – Canada

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Come on, how could we ever have a list of best hiking locations that didn’t include Canada? Located in
Thunder Bay, Ontario, a little bit south of the town of Marathon, Pukaskwa National Park is nothing short of magnificent. It’s a 725 square mile haven of woodland, rivers, and the coastline around the hulking Lake Superior.

Given how massive the park is, there are a whole range of different places to camp and trails to follow, but for the beginner hiker, our pick would be the ‘combination’ route which passes through the southern headland trial, Manito Miikana and Bimose Kinoomagewnan, running at a little over 6km to complete. You’ll get a series of staggering views of Lake Superior, Pulpwood Harbour, and the (much) smaller Halfway Lake.

Wester Ross – Scotland

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The broad, rolling hills and high peaks of Wester Ross are about as Scottish as Scotland gets. There are some remarkably tough peak climbs dotted around the area, but given that this is a beginner hiking guide, let’s focus on something a bit less punishing.

Starting from the Applecross peninsula, there are a series of short, easy hikes to be found, with the best of them being the Coral Beaches walk, which is more or less exactly as it sounds. It gets a bit marshy near the end of the trail, but you can complete it in less than 2 hours at a normal pace. If it isn’t snowy, you should try the longer Sgurr a Chaorachain route, which summits one of the Corbett hills and offers amazing views of the coast and valleys.

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop.