So … you wanna be a hiking trail tiger? You want to go hiking but usually don’t go further than a Sunday stroll through the park? And want to see if hiking is something you would like to do with a pack on your back? Unless you want to be the next Cheryl Strayed, I would definitely recommend to prepare well for setting off on your first big hiking adventure. Sure, you can probably reach 4.200 meters on the Inca Trail or do river crossings in Iceland without practise, but if you will enjoy it, is questionable. When we started planning our multi-day treks, we made sure to hike a lot during other trips as well as around our hometown. If you are wondering if hiking long distances or doing strenuous mountain treks is for you, you might want to start out easy and read our recommendations of the best destinations for newbie hikers:
1. Veluwezoon National Park – The Netherlands
What can I say, our country is flat. As flat as a dime (“plat als een dubbeltje”) according to a Dutch proverb. However, when you just don’t have time and/or the money to travel to the mountains every weekend, the Veluwezoom National Park makes up for a great practise playground for newbie hikers. There are various set hiking trails but you can also just try to get lost and find you own way back, if you want to practise your navigational skills. The park is 50 square kms so not that big, however surrounded by nature on each side (all part of a big natural area called Veluwe) you can easily get lost here for a day or two. If you want to practise altitude, I’d suggest you go to the Posbank and hike the black route (“Kammenroute”) across the heath field or the yellow route (“Beekhuizen route”) that starts for the visitors center. This last one is about 8 km and when we were practising for our Inca Trail hike, we used to do this one every second week or so with our packs on …
2. Hadrian’s Wall – England
We haven’t done much hiking in England but one trail we loved exploring was along Hadrian’s Wall. We were lucky enough to have a sunny day, which always makes it a bit more special and we hiked a part of it while we were on our way back home from Scotland. Since it has been a couple of years already (and way before we had this blog) I don’t remember the exact location we walked but since the wall runs all the way from the east to the west, you can easily park your car anywhere nearby and just start hiking. And end in a small pub with a high tea or a pint … just the way we like it!
3. Southern Poland
Somehow, Poland still has the image of being “dark and grey” among a lot of people. When I tell people I’m traveling to Poland (I’ve been 3 times over the past years) they are like “ooohkay … and what are you going to do there?” followed by raising their eyebrows. Poland is actually great for hiking, or at least the area where we spent our time: the Tatra Mountains. We heard about a really popular lake called Morskie Oko (no joke, love the name!) and so we drove up here for a stroll. Even though it was extremely busy, the hike was gorgeous and the lake even more so. The hike up is about 2 hours on an easy trail, however if you want to push a bit further you can easily make it up to the second lake, which is a bit more of an effort. Tip: go as early as you can, as this is one of Poland’s most popular tourist destinations…
4. Marlborough Sound – New Zealand
As we said many times before, New Zealand is a true hikers paradise. With about 950 mountain huts spread out all over the country, you can easily find a hike that suits everyone’s abilities. If you want to go for a gentle stroll or try a multi-day hike for the first time, give the Queen Charlotte Track a try. This 71 km long trail is relatively easy and it’s also quite wide in most places so no scary climbs or steep drop offs. Most of the time you are walking along the coast with jawdropping vistas all over the area. Not a bad place to spend some time for sure…
We went camping but did have our luggage transported as we combined it with a day of mountainbiking and seakayaking. You can book all kinds of package tours that will gladly transport your luggage and arrange your stay. Visit the Queen Charlotte Track website for more information and planning your trip.
5. Saimaa region – Finland
Our next suggestion for newbie hikers is to go to Finland. In the land of 1.000 lakes you can always find a place to go hiking. Last summer I spent a couple of days in the Saimaa region and even though I didn’t get to do a lot of hiking, it showed me there are so many nice places to be explored on foot. A highlight definitely was a visit to the Linnansaari National Park. The trails are easy and in most places you won’t even see anyone else. The good thing about hiking in Finland is that there’s everyman’s right so you have a lot of freedom when you are an outdoor lover. For more information about the everyman’s right and regulations, I suggest to visit the Outdoors Finland webpage.
6. Mullerthal – Luxemburg
Another one of those places you may not quickly consider for hiking, is the small country of Luxemburg. However they have a superb network of trails, from the long distance Mullerthal Trail to various short hikes all over the country. We camped here last summer and hiked various sections of the Mullerthal Trail, as well some other tracks in this region. The rockformations in this valley are just amazing and can best be explored on foot. If you want to practise mountain hiking with a pack, then this is definitely the region for your to go to! Check the Mullerthal website for more information and keep an eye out on our blog as we are visiting Luxemburg again sometime in the near future!
7. Pajottenland – Belgium
Want to go hiking but without having to think too much along they way? Then Pajottenland in Belgium is the right place for you! Last year a 760 km long walking network opened here which is really easy to navigate. Just make sure you have a map and think about how long your hike should be. Then connect your starting and ending point and voilà, you have designed your own hiking route. The paths are very easy, well marked and you will find lots of great restaurants and breweries along the way. And if you are tired of hiking, just head over to Brussels which is closeby and has something to offer for everyone!
8. Newfoundland – Canada
It might not be one of the most famous places of Newfoundland, but Terra Nova National Park is totally worth a visit. The park is located only 3 hours driving from the island’s capital St. John’s and can easily be seen in a day or two. If you are not used to hiking in bear environment, going here will be a great first time for you. Although there are said to be bears, we didn’t see any and apart from a huge pile of bear squat on one of the trails, we didn’t see any signs either (which doesn’t mean they’re not there!). We hiked some of the shorter tails that we not too demanding but still brought us to the most stunning places …
Ofcourse there are many other places in the world that are perfect for hiking so this list is nowhere near complete and just reflects our personal choices…
Which places do you think should have been added to this list?
May is hiking month on we12travel. During this month we’ll share our passion for walking/hiking with you.
Some of the previous posts include: