Recently a number of us at TMI have been talking about the great iconic long-distance trails of the mountain world. The obvious ones include the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, the Great Inca Road (or Gran Ruta Inca), and the Great Himalaya Trail, but there must be numerous others. Millions of people visit and trek these trails each year. The Appalachian Trail alone gets something like 3 million visitors annually, and Machu Picchu along the Gran Ruta Inca gets an average of 2500 visitors every day. In the Andes and Himalayas, the trails are still part of active trade and transportation networks that have been used for thousands of years.
I’m sure there are people who feel that any trail in the mountains is a great trail, but some mountain trails are truly iconic. Their names elicit a deep-seated human response. Many of these trailsare known as much for their cultural, spiritual, and historical values as they are for their hiking challenges and spectacular mountain scenery. Whatever the reason, these trails attract more people each year than almost any other single aspect of the mountains.
I did a quick survey of all the long distance mountain trails (100 miles or more) I could find on the internet, and here’s the list I came up with:
Appalachian Trail (US)
Pacific Crest Trail, (US)
Gran Ruta Inca or Inca Trail (Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile)
Sendero de Chile (Chile)
Great Himalayan Trail (Nepal)
Tour du Mont Blanc loop trail (Switzerland, Italy, and France)
Rim of Africa Trail (Western Cape of South Africa)
Camino de Santiago (crossing the Pyrenees between France and Spain)
I somewhat arbitrarily defined “long distance” as at least 100 miles (160km). Are there other “Great Mountain Trails of the World” out there; mountain trails that are popular, draw significant numbers of visitors, and have an important economic impact on local communities? We are putting together an initiative around mountain trails this year and would be interested to know of other Great Mountain Trails of the World.