Hiking offers adventurers a low-cost way to explore. One of the prevailing trends in travel this year is the continued surge in hiking and outdoor recreation. Coupled with beautiful scenery and friendly trail neighbors, it’s a fantastic way to vacation.

As gear improves and new trails open, it’s now even easier to spend long periods of time hiking all over the world. But what's new in hiking this season? Here's all you need to know from new trails, to the latest hiking gear and classic trails no one should miss. 

8 of the world's most epic hikes  

New long-distance trails for 2022

As more people head to the trails, new routes are being opened to accommodate trekkers and provide access to natural areas across the globe.

Jennifer Pharr Davis, co-founder of the new Appalachian High Route
Expert hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis, co-founder of the new Appalachian High Route © Jennifer Pharr Davis

Appalachian High Route: a new way to hike the highest peaks in the Southeast

If you’re looking for a seemingly endless mountainscape, thick forests and impressive biodiversity, head to the peaks of the Southeast on the new Appalachian High Route. Envisioned by famed speed hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis and Jake Blood, co-founder of the North Carolina High Peaks Trails, the new 343-mile loop connects a series of pre-existing trails in the region for a multi-day hike through the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Tennesse

A new US hiking trail completes the original vision of the Appalachian Trail

A bit of hiker traffic on the Transcaucasian Trail near Ushguli, Svaneti, Georgia
A bit of hiker traffic on the Transcaucasian Trail near Ushguli, Svaneti, Georgia © Meagan Neal / Transcaucasian Trail Association

Thru-Hike Armenia: hike the length of Armenia on the Transcaucasian Trail

A new section of the Trans Caucasian Trail offers hikers a 513-mile trekking option through Armenia. Traversing the length of Armenia, the trail passes through unique terrain from volcanic mountains to rolling green hills. Along with the natural resources, hikers will also find archeological sites, ancient monasteries and remote villages along the way.

Tower-house trails: trekking in Georgia

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Hiking Glacier National Park, Montana
The scenic route through Glacier National Park, Montana © Galyna Andrushko / Shutterstock

Montana Trail 406: From the American Prairie Reserve to Glacier National Park

A new 1662-mile route traverses Montana’s distinct terrain. Connecting a series of previously established trails like the Continental Divide Trail, off-roading trails and roads, the Montana Trail 406 offers a new way for hikers to see the best parts of the state.

Hiking the Montana Trail 406
Hiking the Montana Trail 406 © Race Bannon

The trail connects well-known areas like Glacier National Park and the American Prairie Reserve with secluded hot springs, a historic ghost town and less visited National Forests across the state.

Two incredible itineraries to explore Montana’s Glacier National Park

Hikers trek above a field full of colorful flowers in the Swiss Alps
Hikers trek above a field full of colorful flowers in the Swiss Alps © R. Tyler Gross / Getty

From the Jura Mountains to the Alps, the new ViaBerna trail shows off Switzerland’s natural beauty 

Discover alpine lakes, picturesque village and dense forests hiking 186 miles across Switzerland. This new trail offers a physically challenging way to not only experience the country’s dramatic landscapes, but also a slew of cultural sites from castles to medieval villages.

Switzerland debuts a stunning multi-day hike just in time for summer: your guide to ViaBerna

Hiking the coast on The Baltic Trails
Hiking the Baltic Coastal Trail © Latvian Country Tourism Association

The Baltic Trails: Long-distance hiking in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

The Baltic Trails offer two new gorgeous long-distance hiking routes in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

The two trails are The Baltic Coastal Trail, an 882-mile trek, and the Forest Trail, which spans over 1330 miles. While both traverse all three countries and pass through multiple Unesco World Heritage sites the topography is markedly different. Head to the Baltic Coastal Trail for maximum time alongside the radiantly blue waters of the Baltic Sea or head to the Forest Trail for more greenery and sweeping forest views. 

Explore the forests of the Baltics on a new cross-border hiking trail

Everything necessary for travel, exploring and adventure
Everything necessary for travel, exploring and adventure © Agustina Camilion / Getty Images

Trends in Long Distance Hiking Gear

We spoke with long-distance hiking expert, Tyler “Mac” Fox of Halfway Anywhere and he shared three gear trends he’s been seeing this year in the thru-hiking community. 

How to pack like a pro for a backpacking trip in 2022

Sunhoodies: Wearing long sleeves in the summer can actually keep you cool 

If you’ve been out on the trail this summer, you’ve probably noticed an impressive amount of hikers wearing long sleeves. This year, the sunhoody has taken over the trail as the best top to wear during the warmer season. These long sleeve shirts are crafted with UV protection in mind and offer a lightweight and breathable option that covers exposed skin from the sun.

No, you shouldn't stack rocks on your next hike. Here's why.

Fanny packs: The easiest way or easy to grab essentials while you hike 

Hip pack, waist pack or fanny pack - whatever the name - this is the newly-cool-again bag that every thru-hiker seems to be wearing on the trail. Lightweight construction and the ability to wear the pack facing forward keep it comfortable while also wearing a backpack. The true utility of these fanny packs while hiking is the ease of grabbing a snack, your water filter or a cell phone for photos.  

I walked the Portuguese Way of the Camino de Santiago. Here's what it was like

Dog guarding items in the campaign sitting near a tent in the mountains
Dog guarding items in the campaign sitting near a tent in the mountains © Fly_dragonfly / Getty Images / iStockphoto

Materials over brand names

Long have brand names been a driving force in gear selection for long-distance hikers. Yet, as designs and materials for hiking gear advance at an accelerated pace, discerning hikers are focused more on the materials than the name of the company making the product. The result is a cottage industry that has popped up specializing in niche gear trends such as ELP Ultra backpacks or innovations in insulating layers.

Explore this beautiful Italian region on a new coast-to-coast hiking trail  

Revisiting classic trails 

It’s not just new trails that are opening but “old” trails that are finding new life this year. 

Trekking one of the many great hikes of New Zealand
Trekking one of the many great hikes of New Zealand © Getty Images

The Great Walks: The Best Way to Experience New Zealand

New Zealand reopening to international tourism means the Great Walks are finally within reach for non-locals. These famed walks offer hikers miles of wilderness trails to meander through the country’s best landscape. Choose from one of the 10 Great Walks to explore the mountains, beaches or forest scenery of the country. 

Can I hike New Zealand's Great Walks? Your guide to the newly-reopened treks plus a new hike coming soon

The Appalachian Trail is a classic American trail that continues to gain popularity

The 2194-mile-long trail stretching from Georgia to Maine is one of three long-distance hikes that are considered the “Triple Crown” of US long-distance hiking. This year, the trail’s popularity continues to surge with a 10% increase in self-reported thru-hikers as of June this year. The multi-month journey is increasingly becoming a bucket list goal of distance hikers who want to experience the varied landscapes, local towns and terrain of the East Coast.

How one first-time hiker conquered the Appalachian Trail

The stunning, sweeping vistas along the ancient Trans Bhutan Trail
The stunning, sweeping vistas along the ancient Trans Bhutan Trail © Trans Bhutan Trail

The Trans Bhutan Trail: an ancient route is reimagined as a hiking trail

The 250-mile Trans Bhutan Trail is officially opening for international visitors this September. The route is an ancient trail that was used for commerce, travel and pilgrimages until its closure in the 1960s. Reopening the route for recreation means adventurers will get to experience Bhutan’s natural treasures by foot - from sweeping Himalaya views to dense, verdant forests. Walking from the country’s border with Tibet to its border with India is also an opportunity to connect with the country’s history and culture as over 400 historic, cultural and sacred sites dot the landscape.

In Bhutan a historic Himalayan route opens to hikers for the first time in 60 years

Trails to keep your eyes on 

As long-distance hiking continues to gain popularity, new routes and trails are being developed across the world. These four routes in particular are in various stages of scouting, design and building.

A huge mountain rises above a tiny village in the foothills: Zagros Mountains
Hike with nomadic tribes on their migrations across the Zagros Mountains © Bulgac / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Zagros Mountain Trail: Long-distance hiking in Kurdistan

There’s never been a route in Iraqi Kurdistan dedicated to long-distance hiking before. The new 137-mile Zagros Mountain Trail through Kurdistan will utilize historic pilgrimage routes, pass remote mountain villages and weave past caves, rivers and mountainsides. When completed, it will be one of the most unique ways to explore the region.

8 of the best mountains for first-time climbers

Lost Sierra Route

A new network of trails in California – the Lost Sierra Route – aims to connect wilderness to local mountain towns. The 600-mile trail will snake its way through dense forests, wide open basins surrounded by 10,000+ foot peaks and around 15 towns in the region. While it could take years to complete the entire trail, sections are scheduled to begin to open as early as next year. 

California's 10 best hiking trails  

Hiking the mountains of Nepal
Hiking the mountains of Nepal © AlexBrylov / Getty Images

Tokpegola Heritage Trail: Connecting trekking to community in Nepal 

A new heritage trail is being developed along the Tokpegola region in Nepal. The 14-day route brings trekkers to over 60 high-altitude lakes in a gorgeous alpine wetland ecosystem. “The route’s aim is to align ecotourism opportunities with Indigenous practices along the wild landscape so that local community can champion sustainable tourism in the region” notes, Jason Shah, a sustainable tourism consultant who has collaborated with local organization Dhokpya Learning Grounds to identify homestays and camp-stops for the entire 14-day trek.

Nepal's 10 best treks will lift you onto the roof of the world

Thru-hiking along the Camino Real: A new long-distance trail in Mexico

Zelzin Aketzalli is a thru-hiker on a mission to establish Mexico’s first long-distance hiking trail. She’s currently in the research process of creating a route that follows the historic Camino Real through Baja California. Once complete the route will traverse 684 miles along the historic route through sandy desert and past old mission sites and the sparkling blue waters of the Pacific. 

The quest to revive Oaxaca’s centuries-old mountain trails one hike at a time

Epic hikes around the world

This article was first published January 2021 and updated July 2022

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