In a digitized world, more global travelers want to take a break from technology while enjoying close contact with nature. Few activities guarantee Zen moments like hiking; fortunately, there’s an ever-growing variety of inviting destinations where expert-led hikes are among the most popular activities.
Better yet, an assortment of upscale resorts and tour providers are offering opportunities to hike in style, with gourmet treats, relaxing spa services, and comfy accommodations taking the sting out of a lung-busting, yet rewarding, hike.
When you’re looking to commune with nature, yet don’t want to sacrifice any conveniences, seek out these opportunities to enjoy some of the best hikes in the world.
NEW YORK STATE
Considered a hiker’s paradise, the Adirondacks cover more than six million acres and have 2,000-plus miles of marked hiking trails, making this America’s largest trail system. Whiteface Lodge, an all-suite luxury resort tucked into the woodlands above Lake Placid, evokes the Gilded Age style of the Adirondacks’ historic Great Camps. The property, which features striking design elements of stone and timber, provides easy access to signature hiking destinations, such as the High Falls Gorge and Whiteface Landing. Families are well-served, thanks to complimentary resort amenities such as a 56-seat movie theater, a game room with a two-lane bowling alley, a fishing pond, and a kids camp.
Mohonk Mountain House, a historic resort in the famed Hudson Valley (some 90 miles north of New York City), is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2019, making it one of the oldest family-run hotels in the U.S. Situated in the center of the Shawangunk Mountains, the property sits next to the glacier-formed Lake Mohonk, providing guests of all ages with ample opportunities to engage with nature. Options range from a relaxing mindfulness hike, to an intense survivalist hike during which participants learn valuable tools and techniques, to a “foods of the forest” hike that teaches guests how to sustain themselves with nature’s bounty.
Health-minded Caribbean travelers flock to BodyHoliday, an all-inclusive wellness resort that offers a pair of exhilarating hiking experiences as part of its luxury services. The Mount Gimie hike encompasses a 3,117-foot climb to the summit of the tallest mountain in the West Indies, with breathtaking views of lush tropical rainforests. Those looking for a less-demanding experience opt for the En Baus Saut hike, in which guests venture into the interior of the island and through the Edmund Rainforest, where they hike into a waterfall to enjoy a refreshing swim.
Japan’s first glamping retreat, Hoshinoya Fuji, offers individual cabins carved into the mountainside, with ample opportunities to detach from the modern world, as epitomized by its “digital detox” program. When not spending time on the Cloud Terrace—a series of connected platforms positioned along the red-pine slope that extends from the cabins—guests can enjoy mountain-trekking tours in which expert guides lead the way towards panoramic views of imposing Mount Fuji and scenic Lake Kawaguchi.
Adventure travelers and nature lovers looking to visit Oman in style flock to Alila Jabal Akhdar, a luxury resort nestled 6,000 feet above sea level in the Al Hajar mountains. Guests are encouraged to explore nearby hiking trails, which extend past farmlands filled with walnut trees and pomegranate bushes. Thrill seekers opt for challenging via ferrata treks that lead to jaw-dropping scenery, such as Al Khutaymi, the site of a hidden village within a cave.
The Alila Experience’s Cave Adventure Via Ferrata in Oman is for the adventurous
Credits: Alila Jabal Akhdar
For such a densely populated country, India offers a surprising number of world-class hiking destinations, perhaps none more notable than the Himalayan city of Shimla. Well-heeled travelers gravitate to Wildflower Hall, an Oberoi Resort, the stately former residence of a British lord, where guests lose themselves in nature via guided walks through the surrounding landscaped hill slopes.
Nearby, The Oberoi Cecil presents guided nature walks in the village of Annadale. After descending through rhododendron and cedar forests, hikers pause for a relaxing picnic lunch beside a bubbling stream.
Exodus Travels takes travelers to the snowy peaks of the Himalayas
Credits: Exodus Travels
Spread across more than 4,000 acres in Tecate, Rancho La Puerta—one of Mexico’s most acclaimed wellness resorts—offers hiking-focused activities for all fitness levels, and employs a concierge with whom guests can take hiking lessons. In addition to challenging hikes, serious trail runners and marathoners can take to the foothills of Mount Kuchumaa to train across numerous trails at different altitudes.
Located in Park City, the Montage Deer Valley resort presents a variety of easily accessible hikes. And visitors looking to take their brushes with nature to another level can opt for a Montage Expedition. These intimate, personalized adventures see resort guests take a private plane to Yellowstone or Canyonlands National Park, where expert tour guides lead hikes past myriad highlights.
Nature lovers flock to the city of St. George for the outdoors-focused Red Mountain Resort. Positioned in the heart of southwestern Utah’s Red Rock Country, the resort sits in close proximity to neighboring Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. It offers a range of customizable hiking experiences, as well as spa treatments and wellness workshops designed to help recovery after a long day on the trails.
Hiking through Uganda with Intrepid Travel
Credits: Damien Raggatt - Intrepid Group
Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the adults-only Ventana Big Sur resort sits on 160 acres of rolling meadows and towering redwoods along California’s scenic Central Coast. Guests revel in daily guided walks, plus dedicated adventure hikes and Big Sur excursions.
Devotees of The Ranch Malibu—one of America’s most lauded and influential wellness retreats—swear by its daily regimen that pairs nutrition-focused, plant-based meals with rigorous fitness classes and guided mountain hikes. The knowledgeable staff and revitalizing atmosphere attract visitors from around the world, and for those who have already had the signature Malibu experience, The Ranch offers similar retreats in the Dolomites of Northern Italy, where guests hike along alpine trails with professional guides.
Accessible only by boat, seaplane, or helicopter, the Sonora Resort attracts nature lovers to its home in B.C.’s Discovery Islands. Guests hike alongside the property’s ecological guide and pass through old-growth cedars—some more than 800 years old—while learning about ancient remedies and local history. Once back at the resort, vacationers keep an eye out for orcas, dolphins, sea lions, and more.
Adrenaline junkies looking to take their hikes to another level are attracted to the famous granite spires of the Bugaboos, found in the Purcell Mountains of southeastern B.C. CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures delivers hikers by helicopter; for takeoffs and landings, participants huddle as a group and hold on tight, due to hurricane-force winds created by the rotor. Hardcore types tackle the Skyladder Via Ferrata, a half-day vertical journey up Mount Trundle (no climbing experience necessary), while others can simply admire shale ridges and alpine meadows.
Tierra Hotels—a trio of boutique, all-inclusive lodges, each inspired by nature—provides guided hiking excursions through some of Chile’s most scenic locales. Located on the edge of the famed Torres del Paine National Park, Tierra Patagonia offers guided hikes both inside and outside the park. From its base in the northern Atacama desert, Tierra Atacama lets guests hike through the striking Valle de la Luna. Situated off the coast of northern Patagonia, Tierra Chiloe—the newest of the three—delivers a quiet environment for peaceful hikes, not to mention penguin and dolphin spotting.
SCOTLAND AND IRELAND
Wilderness Scotland and its sister company, Wilderness Ireland, offer guided walking trips with highlights such as Scotland’s North Highlands Coast, West Highlands Way, and Speyside Way, and Ireland’s Dingle Way and the mountains of Connemara and Mayo. Participants choose between hill walks, coastal walks, and valley hikes, and a grading system ensures the right difficulty level. Wilderness Scotland also offers self-guided walks in which guests go at their own pace with the freedom to explore along the way, while being assisted via baggage transfers and 24-hour support.