7 Tough Trails That Make Hiking a Serious Workout

Staying fit while traveling usually means hitting the hotel fitness center or going for a run using a map provided by the concierge. If you plan your next trip wisely, the location may provide all the physical activity you could ever want thanks to tough trails that run along mountains, canyons, and other rugged terrain. You’ll also get to check out some fantastic views while hiking.

Though some might be tempted to brush off hiking as effortless, the activity can pose a substantial challenge to even the most active guys. According to Backpacker Magazine, a 180-pound man sporting a 40-pound backpack scorches around 600 calories per hour. It’s all about finding the right trail because the more difficult the terrain, the harder you’ll have to work.

The next time you’re in need of a little time away, head for one of these seven hikes. You may actually return from vacation fitter than when you left.

1. Besseggen Ridge (Jotunheimen National Park, Norway)

people hiking Besseggen ridge overlooking the lakes in Norway

Besseggen Ridge in Norway | Source: Tina Stafren/Visit Norway via Facebook

One of the most popular hiking trails in all of Norway, Besseggen Ridge also happens to be one of the most difficult. According to Visit Norway, this trail can take up to seven hours to hike thanks to a 2,953-foot elevation change and rocky footing that will require you to use your hands at least a few times. Your efforts will be rewarded with stunning views, particularly when you’re high up between the Gjende lake and the Bessvatnet lake. National Geographic said the best way to get started is by taking the ferry that sets out from a mountain lodge on the other side of the Gjende lake.

2. Mount Katahdin (Baxter State Park, Maine)

view of the lake and mountains at Baxter State Park in Maine

View of Baxter State Park | Source: Baxter StatePark via Facebook

The Appalachian Trail features quite a range of paths, but Mount Katahdin is one of the most difficult. According to REI’s official blog, this rocky climb ascends 4,162 feet over 5.2 miles and features metal rungs for particularly difficult areas. Make sure to allow plenty of time to linger at the top because the scenery is pretty fantastic. And be mindful of both the weather and trail closings, both of which you can track on the Baxter State Park website.

3. Tararecua Canyon (Copper Canyon, Mexico)

view of mountains in copper canyon

Copper Canyon in Mexico | Source: iStock

The confusing thing about Mexico’s Copper Canyon is it’s actually comprised of six canyons in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains. While you have plenty of options, head for Tararecua Canyon. MSN Lifestyle recommended heading for this 40-mile path in the spring or fall for a true wilderness experience. The area features a number of hot springs, which are typically a fun stop for visitors.

4. Devil’s Path (Catskill Mountains, New York)

view of the Pepacton Reservoir and Catskills Mountains

Sun setting over the Catskills | Source: iStock

The name says it all for this destination. NewYorkUpstate reported this climb features 14,000 feet in elevation change over the course of its five, yes five, peaks. The story said to expect the entire journey to take about three days, which you can break up with a stay at Devil’s Tomb Campground. Amenities are pretty sparse, but ReserveAmerica said you’ll have access to an information center, picnic tables, and firewood.

5. Inca Trail (Machu Picchu, Peru)

HIking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru

Man hiking the Inca Trail | ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP/Getty Images

Even folks who are relatively new to hiking probably recognize the name of this famous path, which offers great views of the surrounding ruins. Though the trail is only about 25 miles long, the high altitude leaves many huffing and puffing so hard that they require a total of four days to make it to Machu Picchu. In fact, one reporter for Bloomberg who completed the trek said he lost four pounds along the way. The toughest part is probably Huayna Picchu. According to Outside Online, this path ascends 1,000 feet in less than a mile. It can be dangerous if you aren’t careful, so take your time and take rest breaks when needed.

6. Angels Landing (Zion National Park, Utah)

Angel's Landing in Zion National Park

Angels Landing in Zion National Park | Source: iStock

Thrill seekers looking for a real challenge should head to Angels Landing for a one-day trip while visiting Utah. According to ZionNational-Park this 5-mile trek typically takes about five hours due to tough terrain that ascends 1,488 feet. As challenging as the route is, it’s pretty well maintained and features chains and rails to help you along the way. Still, it’s not for the faint of heart. The Salt Lake Tribune listed some important reminders that all hikers should look over.

7. GR20 (Corsica)

view over the Island of Corsica on a sunny day

View of Corsica | PASCAL POCHARD CASABIANCA/AFP/Getty Images

Rounding up our list is Corsica’s rocky, steep, incredibly long, but also stunning GR20. Unlike many other hikes that can be done over the course of a few days, GR20 pretty much is the vacation at 104 miles. Lonely Planet reported the trek takes about 15 days and showcases everything from forests to snow-topped mountains. Because the excursion takes so long, you’ll need to plan on staying in the modest huts along the way. According to The Guardian, these stays are a little more than mattresses, but they also keep this vacation affordable.

Follow Christine on Twitter @christineskopec

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