Throughout the pandemic, we'll keep publishing news to help you navigate the state of travel today (like whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus), as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it's safe to start going more far-flung.
A series of recently launched and soon-to-be-finished trails around the world are leading to places you might not picture for a typical hike in the woods. We’re talking about routes that pass through First Nations lands and surf spots in British Columbia, Lord of the Rings–themed scenery in Spain’s Sierra Norte, and every single national park in Italy. Thanks to the hard work of crews and land managers in the following remote locales, these long walks are all about getting off the beaten path.
El Camino del Anillo, Spain
If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, then you’ll especially appreciate the vision behind this 76-mile trail through the Sierra Norte, an hour north of Madrid. With a resemblance to the fictional Middle-earth landscape and a name that translates to the Ring Road, the circular route has been five years in the making and was completed in 2020. It also features Tolkien-inspired sights along the way, including the town of Buitrago del Lozoya, which resembles Bree, the village of hobbits and men. A good alternative to Spain’s other pilgrimage routes, like the popular Camino de Santiago, you can hike it on your own or sign up for a seven-day guided outing through the El Camino del Anillo Foundation (from $328), which can help book lodging along the way.
England Coast Path National Trail, England
When it’s completed later this year, the England Coast Path will be the longest marked and maintained coastal path in the world. Its roughly 2,800 miles will connect multiple existing trail networks along the country’s jagged seaside cliffs, from swimmable beaches near Cornwall in the southwest to Victorian towns on the eastern Yorkshire coast. Macs Adventure offers intel for a self-guided, multi-day treks on the stretch that intersects with the 630-mile South West Coast Path, and get help arranging logistics, like luggage transfers and lodging through Hillwalk Tours (from $623).
ʔapsčiik t̓ašii, Canada
A previously uncharted section of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, on the west coast of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, is the site of this soon-to-launch paved trail. Built in partnership with the Tla-o-qui-aht and Ucluelet First Nations, ʔapsčiik t̓ašii (pronounced “ups-cheek ta-shee”) means “going in the right direction on the trail” in their indigenous language. When it’s completed in early 2022, the 15-mile route will connect the surf towns of Tofino and Ucluelet. Running parallel is a rugged expanse of coastline that offers access to offshoot trails, a shorefront that includes Long Beach and First Nations landmarks.
The National Famine Way, Ireland
A new 100-mile interactive historic walk called the National Famine Way opened last fall on the Emerald Isle to commemorate a group of emigrants who, in 1847, were evicted and forced to walk from the north-central town of Roscommon east to Dublin during the Great Famine to board ships for North America. Bronze sculptures and signage along the pathway tell the stories of their historic plight. The trail starts at the National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park and follows the Royal Canal all the way to Epic the Irish Emigration Museum in the capital.
Sentiero dei Parchi, Italy
The Italian Alpine Club recently announced plans for a new trail that will traverse all 25 of Italy’s national parks. Called Sentiero dei Parchi, or “path of the parks,” the route, when finished, will be over 4,000 miles long and will cross the mountainous regions of the country, including the northern Dolomites, as well as the coastal villages of Cinque Terre and the southern island of Sicily, connecting many existing trail networks. The trail was announced in 2020 and is expected to be completed by 2033.