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International Thru-Hikes: Hiking Abroad

Most people are familiar with the United States’ various long trails, but did you know the trail system here was the inspiration for hiking trails all over the world? These are international thru-hikes ranging in length from 50 miles all the way to gargantuan 2,000 milers, both island-traversing long trails and age-old pilgrimages.


Trail #1 – The Laugavegur Trail

Country: Iceland

Length: 34 miles

Duration: 4-5 days

Northern Terminus: Landmannalaugar

Southern Terminus: Þórsmörk

Best months: June – September

The Laugavegur trail is a world-renowned route with European amenities, rustic charm, and wildlands like the American West. The trail starts in the glacial highlands of western Iceland and gradually flows toward the coast. In 2012, National Geographic listed the Laugavegur as one of the 20 best trails in the world. The trail is interspersed with huts containing kitchens, showers, and other utilities. The weather on the route can be incredibly diverse, ranging from beautiful sunny days to cloudy ones with wind whipping down from the highlands. It’s a beautiful route if you find yourself in the North Atlantic. Add a day to hike the spectacular 16 miles from Þórsmörk to Skogar, which passes nearly one hundred waterfalls in the last ten miles.

Head abroad to hike Iceland's fabulous Laugavegur Trail, an amazing exhibition of the Land of Fire and Ice.

Trail #2 – El Camino de Santiago

Country: Spain

Length: 500 miles

Duration: 30-40 days

Western Terminus: Santiago de Compostela

Eastern Terminus: Pamplona

Best Months: April to September

The Camino is a spiritual pilgrimage stretching from several towns south of the Pyrenees Mountains west to its terminus at Santiago de Compostela and the shrine of Saint James. Along the way, the route is marked by scallop shells, a symbol of the apostle. The route winds its way through small villages, historic sites, and beautiful vistas. People have been walking this route since the first century, but its popularity exploded after it was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. Over 300,000 people were recorded walking portions of the pilgrimage in 2019. The lodging along the trail is upscale by US long trail standards; it is dotted with hostels, dormitories, and refugios.

The Camino is an international thru-hike like no other, a spiritual pilgrimage and cultural experience fused together.

Trail #3 – Te Araroa

Country: New Zealand

Length: 1,900 miles

Duration: 90-100 days

Northern Terminus: Cape Reinga

Southern Terminus: Bluff

Best Months: September – April (if traveling southbound)

Te Araora is the closest trail on this list to a North American thru-hike rivalling the Appalachian, Continental Divide, or Pacific Crest trails. It traverses both of New Zealand’s islands and opened in 2011 after a patchwork of tracks and walkways were linked together. Tramping (as the Kiwi’s refer to hiking) the whole route takes four to six months and is most often done from north to south. The North Island (Te Ika-a-Maui) is characterized by long beach walks and a patchwork of trails, roads, paddocks, and plenty of towns— as well as the city of Auckland— to travel through. The South Island (Te Waipounamu) becomes more rugged as you traverse the spine of the Southern Alps and the Richmond Ranges toward the end of your journey at Bluff. A chain of huts, small towns, and mountain vistas links your route south.

Te Araroa is a gargantuan international thru-hike, nearly 2,000 miles long.

Trail #4 – The Great Divide Trail (GDT)

Country: Canada

Length: 700 miles

Duration: 30-45 days

Northern Terminus: Kakwa Provincial Park

Southern Terminus: Waterton Townsite

Best Months: Late June – Late September

Our good friends to the North came up with the idea for the Great Divide Trail in the 1970s, but the idea largely faded until it was picked up again in the early 2000s. The trail is still partially incomplete and sometimes resembles more of a wilderness route than a well-marked long trail. The GDT picks up where the US Continental Divide Trail leaves off at the US-Canada Border in Waterton Lakes National Park. It traverses north through the backbone of the Canadian Rockies; past multiple provincial parks; and through Banff, Kootenay, Yoho, and Jasper National Parks. The trail stays at or below 8,500 feet in elevation, although that is still high relative to the surrounding peaks. The Great Divide is a major undertaking and wilderness route but an adventure in every sense of the word.

Canada's Great Divide Trail is barely international, but certainly a thru-hike.

Trail #5 – The Sinai Trail

Country: Egypt

Length: 340 miles

Duration: 40-45 days

Terminuses: Various

Best Months: February – May; September – November

The Sinai Trail is an experiment between eight Bedouin tribes attempting to share their culture and lands with the outside world. In 2015, they established the first portion of the Sinai Trail, with 155 miles linking multiple villages. Today, it stretches 340 miles and wanders through wadis (dry valleys), low plains, winding canyons, and interior highlands. Typically, the trail is done with a Bedouin guide, someone who knows the land, the route, and the people. They bring your gear along on camel as you wander from village to village and oasis to oasis. It’s important to note this route is as much about the hiking as it is about the culture; men and women should wear long pants and shirts with sleeves, and in holy areas a head scarf is appropriate for women. Additionally, alcohol is strictly forbidden, but be prepared for Bedouin flower tea served with camel milk.

Experience Bedouin culture and beauty on the Sinai Trail, one of the world's newest and best thru-hikes.

Hiking desert and mountains of the Sinai Trail in Egypt

by: Ben Shaw

Iceland: RRT on the Laugavegur Trail

In August of 2016 a group from RRT explored the ring road around Iceland and hiked the Laugavegur from Landmannalaugar to Skogar. Here is a sample of what they saw:


Back Country Baking in Action: ICELAND

Back Country Baking in Action: ICELAND

By: Olivia Eads





During my recent adventure in Iceland, I decided to test out a few techniques in the field! Before we get to the processes and the final products created, here are a few tips that I learned through these experiments:

– make a recipe you know well and has turned out before

– measuring out liquids is difficult without a container that has specific regiments

– don’t have the fuel line attached when you depressurize the stove

– small flat rocks are rare unless near a sedimentary or slate/schistose rock formation

– figure out beforehand how you will clean your hands




basic yeast dough

  • 1 rounded tsp rapid rise yeast
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup flour

Mix salt and flour together in a plastic bag before going into the back country.

  • 2 tsp vegetable oil**
  • ½ cup warm water

3 Tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

Mix those two together in a plastic bag prior to adventure.

1/8 cup walnuts

2-3 Tbsp softened butter

Heat water until it is a little more than body temperature, then add sugar. Dissolve sugar then add yeast. Mix dry ingredients along with vegetable oil to the yeast mixtures then allow to proof (double in size.) Once proofed, butter hands and create little balls, cover in cinnamon sugar, throw into cooking pot. Throw the excess butter and cinnamon sugar into the pot along with walnuts. With depressurized fuel, bake ~20 minutes (check at 10 minutes and stir) at low temperature. Enjoy!


** I used butter instead of oil for my recipes because it was easier to carry in my pack and already planned on using it for other recipes.**


bake1Dough mixed, a little too cold for rapid rising.








bake2Heating up water to create a warm environment for the dough to rise. ~2 mm of warm water kept in the pot and the green silicon bowl placed on top then covered to proof.






bake3Creating dough balls and coating each individually with butter.







bake4After coated in butter, toss around in cinnamon sugar.







bake5Place balls into the pot.








bake6Be prepared for messy hands!!!







bake7Breaking apart the hard chunks of cinnamon sugar. Add the rest of the butter and sugar mix to the balls in the pot.







bake8Add the walnuts to the baking mixture. Allow a few minutes to settle and proof a bit 5-10 minutes.







bake9At a very low temperature, start baking! I fried the dough balls keeping the lid on to allow some circulation of heat. Stirred after 10 minutes and continue baking.





bake10Remember: first ‘test’ bites are really hot…







Finished product!















Where did they all go? Gone!

I messed up on this recipe a bit. Added too much water to the dough and the dough fell apart rather easily because of that. That’s why a measuring utensil would be nice in practice. Also, a bit of aluminum foil wrapped around the pot would have been nice to get more heat circulating around the dough. However, my ceramic pot has plastic handles on the lid/grips. Since those would melt, I decided to fry them at a low heat and it worked out pretty well. It was relatively cold in Iceland. Due to that fact, the butter was never really soft so I had to use body heat to make it soft. Afterwards the butter was very cold and stuck to my hands. It was hard to get off with cold water too. Moving on…




I will not add this recipe into the blog as I was not a fan. Suppose that’s why one should test the recipes before going out into the field. However, for viewing pleasure, here is the steam baking process documented!

bake15Rehydrate the blueberries!







bake16MELT THE BUTTER! Again, I used butter instead of oil for these recipes because it was easier for me to backpack with.






bake17Melting all nice like.







bake18Add the butter to the rehydrated blueberries. Also line the pot with flat rocks and add water just below the rocks. Start boiling that while the next few steps take place.






bake19Adding the dry mixture to the wet!







bake20Mix, mix, mix, until just combined. *Sorry, I’m not sorry for the proximity of my feet to the muffin batter.







bake21Fill silicon baking dishes with batter. Once the water is at a boil, put the baking dishes on top of the rocks and cover.







bake22Time to kick back, relax, and wait. These puppies take about 20 minutes to bake.






Almost dobakle23ne!















The problems that I ran into with this recipe could have easily been avoided had I made the muffins previous to going on the trail. However, I was lazy and found a recipe with as few ingredients as possible and called it a day… Not sure why I didn’t use my simple muffin recipe I use frequently, but oh well. These guys turned out quite dense because there was too much flour. Also the recipe could have a used a little more sugar and baking powder to get sweeter, fluffier muffins. Overall, both were a great success. Baking is a great addition to the trail for very happy campers!