Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Long walks / pilgrimages of the world

I have discovered that walking is one of the most powerful ways for me to truly experience a country and its people - the longer the better. I love the simplicity of life, the experience of community with other long distance hikers and the spiritual journey. There is an incredible freedom that comes with choosing to pare back ones possessions (as Peace Pilgrim said "Anything that you own that you don't absolutely need is a burden." and this becomes very evident when you have to carry it on your back day after day). I will gradually expand this list as I discover more long walks in different countries...


Generally, all tracks require you to be self sufficient, with food, tent, maps and compass and good navigation and survival skills. Trails may be unmarked and/or overgrown in areas. Long tracks go through remote country. You will often need to arrange food drops in advance and be very aware of water resupply opportunities.
Costs: You will usually require camping permits for national parks you pass through at about USD$3/day plus food costs. Also, arranging food drops can be a significant cost, depending on how remote they are.

  • Bicentennial National Trail - 5330kms from Cooktown in north Queensland to Healesville near Melbourne. It's one of the longest trails in the world.
  • Bibbulman Track - 1003kms Along the south west coast of West Australia
  • The Overland Track - 73kms in Tasmania. I have included it because, although short, it is one of the most beautiful tracks in the world.
For more long walks in Australia, see John Chapman's list and the Wikipedia list.

New Zealand

Te Araroa - 3000km route from Cape Reinga in the North of New Zealand to Bluff in the South
New Zealand's Trail. Takes in spectacular New Zealand landscapes, from beaches to volcanoes to forests to cities.


Walking the Appalachian trail transformed my view (positively) of the USA. I reckon it's the best country for long distance walking, in nature. Locals are friendly and supportive. It's often possible to resupply on route by hitching a short distance off the trail.
Costs: Generally, there are no fees or permits required on for thru hikers on the long trails but check first. So, all you will need to spend money on is food and replacing worn gear (eg shoes) and an occasional hostel if you want to take a break off the trail and have a shower. Budget about USD$10/day if you are doing a full long trail.
  • Appalachian Trail (AT) 3,500kms in Eastern United States, from Georgia to Main National park Free camping Walk between March and October. Can walk without any advance food resupply arrangements - by hitching off the trail into a town every week or so.
  • Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) 4,286 km bordering the Sierra Nevada mountain range, west side of USA. USA/Mexico border to Canada, passing through 25 national forests and 7 national parks. There is also a corresponding bike trail that runs parallel to the Pacific Crest Trail for 4,000 km.
  • Continental Divide Trail (CDT) 5,000 km between Mexico and Canada following the Continental Divide along the Rocky Mountains and traversing Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. The "Triple Crown" is the achievement of hiking the full length of the 3 trails - PCT, AT and CDT.
  • John Muir Trail 358km in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, from the Yosemite National Park to Mount Whitney. Best time to visit is from July to September, though snow may still linger on the higher passes. Free camping. Carry own tent and food.
  • For more long walking trails in the USA, see the Wikipedia list


Camino de Santiago de Compostella Pilgrimage - 800 kms from France to Santiago de Compostella in Spain. Many alternative routes and possible starting points much further afield. Lots of road walking through towns and villages. Lots of relatively cheap pilgrim accommodation available and meals.


Bruce Trail - 850km from Niagara to Tobermory, with side trails extending out to 250km.


Israel National Trail - 990kms.


Shikoku Pilgrimage - 1,400km Accommodation in small, family-owned inns for 4,000-8,000 yen per night (depending on if you’d like food with your stay).

United Kingdom

Cotswold Way - 162km from Chipping Campden in the north to the city of Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Other Countries

Wikipedia has an extensive list of long distance trails by country.

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