From my very first trip abroad, I was never really interested in seeing famous tourist sites. I just wanted to connect with the culture and get outside the cities to experience the natural landscape and meet local people.
I remember being in Spain and asking a local friend if she’d hike the mountain behind the town with me. She looked at me so strangely and explained that people don’t really hike there. At the risk of getting funny looks, I always try to squeeze in a hike on my adventures!
Here are 5 of my favorite hikes thus far…
1. Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
This hidden gem lies just 20 minutes away from Interlakken by train. The name means “many springs” and it’s nestled into a deep valley where it is surrounded by several waterfalls dropping from the high cliffs all around. It is a dramatic scene, with the quaint little village and a big waterfall just steps from the town center and the Alps towering above.
2. Sedona, Arizona
As an artist, I take note everywhere I go on what the color local palette is. Sedona’s copper red, pure peach, and dusty sage is primo! My parents went backpacking and camping there as one of their first adventures together, but I’m afraid the word of the site’s unique offerings has since spread far too wide. Slide Rock is a natural water park of sorts, which now has to be closed at times for having up to 500 times as much e. coli bacteria as is deemed generally safe. This is a result of too many tourists in the water. I made sure to swim upstream from Slide Rock, in a hidden spot where the locals go to cool off in the hot Arizona summers.
3. Cassis, France
Cassis lies 30 minutes from Marseille on the Southeast coast of France. What makes this landscape special are the narrow, steep-walled inlets called Les Calanques which are formed from limestone cliffs. The white, rocky mountains are a blast to climb and strikingly gorgeous next to the clear aqua water. You can take a boat into the tiny hidden beaches, but you’re missing out on something special if you don’t work for that reward by hiking!
4. Yosemite, California
Classic. For a good reason! Yosemite National Park offers an astounding array of beautiful landscapes, from wooded lakes to gigantic trees to breathtaking waterfalls. My favorite view? On top of Glacier Point overlooking Half Dome and Yosemite Valley (preferably at sunset after a long day of hiking). Every family should spend at least a week in their lives camping in Yosemite, enjoying its many splendors, and praising John Muir for campaigning so strongly to protect it.
5. Amalfi Coast
Get going on the Path of the Gods and try to tell me it isn’t one of the most beautiful trails in the world- I dare you! Layers upon layers of jagged coastal mountains. Mountain goats with the chime of their little bells in the distance. Little boats dotting the blue water below. The promise of chilled limoncello at the end of the hike… This place is the stuff of dreams!
What is your favorite view you’ve hiked to? Tell me in the comments below!
Do you want to see the countryside and connect with nature on your trips, too? Take a look at our upcoming small group trips in off-the-beaten-path Italy!