Hiking, running, and biking are fun, adventurous activities no matter where you are. However, if you have a bucket list or some adventurous travel in your future, consider checking out these five places as some of the most amazing in the world for any running, biking, or hiking adventure. Some can be done on a weekend — some it will take months to complete, but each one is absolutely worth it.
- The Te Araroa in New Zealand is a diverse trail covering over 1,800 miles. Te Araroa means “the long pathway” in Maori and winds the hiker through coastal sand, mountain ridges, and jungle. There is no way to simulate a hike like this by walking on a treadmill. The Te Araroa Way stretches from Cape Reinga in the North of New Zealand to Bluff in the South. Walking the length of the trail can take five months, but is easily broken up into sections. Day trips and week long trips are common to access parts of the trail.
While the trail winds through the wilderness, it also connects towns and cities and promotes social and cultural experiences. The boundaries of the trail are the natural boundaries of New Zealand, beginning and ending at the sea.
- The Long Trail in Vermont is the oldest long-distance hiking trail in the United States. Built by the Green Mountain Club between 1910 and 1930, it runs 272 miles (with 185 miles of side paths) north to south through the Green Mountains of Vermont. From Massachusetts to the Canadian border, the trail crosses over Vermont’s tallest peaks and through its alpine beauty. It is, as described by the Club, steep in some places, muddy in others and rugged in most.
The state of Vermont also has many opportunities for runners and bikers. Most roads throughout Vermont are one or two lane roads and offer many opportunities to climb and descend through the beauty of the Green Mountains. Bike tour companies also abound and are available to guide those who would like extra help putting together a trip. Running in the dark is fun and generally safe in the Green Mountains but a headlamp is always recommended.
- The Big Island of Hawaii presents some of the most beautiful opportunities for running, hiking, and biking anywhere in the world. The entire island is circled by one road that is safe for biking and will take the adventurer on a trip through a variety of weather and scenery. Starting on the Kona side of the island a hiker, runner, or biker is transported through lava fields and desert land. Once headed south, the mountain climate of the Ka’u coffee and cacao fields winds its way over Kilauea (an active volcano) where you can see lava in the crater. This leads you back down the other side of the volcano and into the rainforest of Puna.
In Hilo, visitors are given a glimpse of real Hawaii, void of large buildings and anything resembling Honolulu. The warm waters of Onekahakaha are an ideal place to rejuvenate tired muscles and just down the coast, at Richardson Beach, snorkeling is at its best. Continuing back to the north and then west of the island, the road goes through Honoka’a and then to Waimea where there are beautiful fields like no other on earth. These plentiful and fertile grounds grow the best vegetables, fruits, and cattle in the world.
- The El Camino de Santiago is known as the Route of St. James and is a Christian pilgrimage from St. Jean Pied de Port, France to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. The trail is 500 miles in length and can be run, hiked, or biked. The journey takes travelers over the Pyrenees Mountains, past vineyards, and through forests of Eucalyptus trees. There are many hostels and places to eat and stay along the way, but in order to get into them, one needs a Pilgrim Passport. While the traditional route, the Camino Frances (the French Way), is 500 miles, according to Outside Online, there are other routes and starting points.
- The Pacific Coast from Oregon to California. If you want a challenge as a hiker, biker, or runner, take Highway 101 from Astoria, Oregon to Crescent City, California. There is no more scenic pathway or challenging trail. For the biker or runner, just running the road itself is a challenge, but the many, many paths and trails will take you down to the beach or up into the mountains (and those ginormous redwood trees). Seeing the whales migrating north to Alaska or south back to Hawaii or Baja is amazing as is the contrast between the enormous boulders in the water against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. The winding roads and switchbacks of the Highway itself take you away from the coast and back again over and over, placing you in the woods one minute and on a cliff overlooking the ocean, the next. Don’t miss the opportunity to travel this road by bike, foot, or even car.