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Plan a Fantastic Walking Vacation

6 ideas for trips in U.S. national parks, England, the Amalfi Coast and more

Hikers on the Skyline Trail at Mt. Rainier

Wolfgang Kaehler / Getty Images

Yes, you can take a bus or driving tour of a beautiful area, but traveling at 2 to 3 miles an hour is the most immersive way of enjoying and appreciating a new place. Here are some wonderful walking destinations along with accompanying tours for people of different interests and activity levels.

Mount Rainier Inn-Based Hiking Tour

This tour with Wildland Trekking dives deep into fantastic Mount Rainier National Park, home to wild rivers, ancient forests, rich wildlife habitat and the most glorious display of mountain wildflowers in the national park system — all with the awesome, 14,410-foot, glacier-clad Mount Rainier towering above. The trip includes hikes to Paradise Meadows, Reflection Lakes, Narada Falls, Sunrise, and a section of the famous Wonderland Trail, which circles the park.

Trip length: 3 days

Cost: $1,915

Includes: 2 nights’ lodging at historic national park hotels, all meals, certified Pacific Northwest guide, transportation to and from hikes, park entrance fees and permits

Daily walking: 3 to 8 miles (difficulty rating: 2/5)


Walking Trip in Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks

 known as the Queen's Garden, due to the shapes of the rock formations.

iStock

Award-winning Country Walkers, which has been providing authentic travel experiences for decades, now offers a six-day walking trip that explores these two iconic national parks in Utah famous for their dramatic red rock scenery and improbable hoodoos. Your guide will lead you through the wonders of Bryce Canyon and Zion, while explaining the human history of the area, where Native Americans lived for thousands of years, leaving behind their dwelling sites and other artifacts.

Trip length: 6 days

Cost: from $3,548

Includes: 5 nights’ lodging, 5 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 4 dinners (with local wine or beer), local transportation, guide, travel assistance, walking poles

Daily walking: 2 to 8 miles


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Hikers enjoying the stone cottages beside the lane in the Cotswold village of Snowshill, Gloucestershire UK

Cotswolds Photo Library / Alamy Stock Photo

Explore England’s Cotswolds (self-guided)

In the Cotswolds, a lovely region in central-southwest England, you’ll find picturesque agricultural fields bordered by classic rock walls (and well stocked with sheep), thatched-roof villages, and historic buildings made of native limestone that seems to glow. You can travel at your own pace on this self-guided walking tour from the reliable local company, Active England, which offers a series of six diverse day hikes. Highlights include the honey-stoned town of Broadway and its namesake tower, the historic market town of Chipping Campden, afternoon tea, walking on a Roman road, and a ready supply of local pubs.

Trip length: 6 days

Cost: from $1,040

Includes: 5 nights’ lodging, all breakfasts, luggage transfers, walking poles, route instructions and GPS, emergency support

Daily walk: 3 to 7 miles (walk at your own pace)


The Path of the Gods trail, Amalfi coast Campania, Italy

Stefano Politi Markovina / Alamy Stock Photo

Walk Italy’s Amalfi Coast (self-guided)

Tour operator Macs Adventure’s self-guided walking holiday along Italy’s Amalfi Coast features the region’s impossibly steep slopes, which plunge from the mountains to the sea and support a string of lovely villages along the ocean and dotting the hillsides. Explore the charming towns of Amalfi, Ravello and Positano and the famous Isle of Capri as you stroll along peaceful seaside promenades, wind among the region’s lemon groves and terraced hillsides, and walk the Sentiero deli Dei (“Footpath of the Gods”), perhaps Italy’s most stunning trail.

Trip length: 8 days

Cost: from $1,465 per person

Includes: 7 nights’ accommodation, 7 breakfasts, baggage transfers, detailed route maps and notes, Macs Adventure Smartphone App

Daily walk: 3 to 8 miles (considered a “moderate” activity level)


Backpacker hiking the Milford Track, Fiordlands National Park

Constanza Flores / Alamy Stock Photo

New Zealand’s Milford Track

This guided walk of 33 miles is offered by a local company, Ultimate Hikes New Zealand. Its focus is the Milford Track, which traverses the heart of Fiordland National Park, home to glacier-carved valleys, biologically rich and strikingly beautiful rainforests (including remarkable tree ferns), rushing rivers, 1,900-foot Sutherland Falls (one of the world’s highest), a series of swinging bridges, dramatic Milford Sound and exotic birdlife (including the kea, “the clown of the mountains”).

Trip length: 5 days

Cost: from $1,709

Includes: 4 nights’ lodging in private lodges, all meals and snacks along the trail, scenic cruise on Milford Sound, guides

Daily walk: 1 to 13 miles (rated “easy to intermediate”)


Appalachian Outdoor Adventure Highlands tour

Courtesy Road Scholar

Nature Hiking in the Southern Appalachian Mountains

This Road Scholar trek takes you to this natural — and strikingly beautiful — region, where you’ll hike a section of the famous Appalachian Trail, among other routes, accompanied by knowledgeable guides. You’ll stay at a no-frills retreat center in Hayesville, North Carolina, that will be your base for day hikes exploring local history and nature. The area is particularly beautiful in spring and fall.

Trip length: 6 days

Cost: from $899

Includes: 5 nights’ lodging at the lakeside Hinton Center (private room and bath), 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 5 dinners, all local transportation, guides

Daily walking: 4 to 8 miles (activity level is considered “spirited”)

Before You Go

1. “Practice” walking. Several professional health organizations and government agencies have recently combined to develop a walking-based fitness program that can help you get in shape for a long trek.

2. Pack light — in a lightweight pack — but don’t forget: sunblock; UPF shirts and hats; clothing (including socks) made from wicking fabrics; calorie-dense snacks; a large refillable water bottle; comfortable walking shoes such as trail runners (not heavy boots); and a basic first aid kit, particularly to treat “hot spots” on your feet (you’ll want to cover those rubbed areas immediately with moleskin or first aid tape).

3. Consider bringing walking poles for balance. Look for lightweight poles that are both adjustable and collapsible.

4. Download a wayfinding app, such as AllTrails or Gaia GPS.

Bob and Martha Manning have authored several books about walking, including Walking Distance and Walks of a Lifetime in America’s National Parks.

Also of Interest​

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