Written by SEAN JANSEN
It's a dream for many avid hikers to complete an iconic trek like the Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, or any other magnificent long distance thru-hike.
But let's face it– the time needed to get from end to end, coupled with the necessary time for training, doesn't always fit in your time off.
That's why we rounded up these shorter thru-hikes that don't scrimp on scenery or a fun challenge, but can be squeezed into your annual vacation.
Patagonia O Circuit, Chile: 68 miles, 6-10 Days
Patagonia is practically synonymous with wild, untamed treks and this trail doesn't disappoint despite the short mileage count.
The Patagonia O Circuit in Torres del Paine National Park circumnavigates some of the most iconic spires in the world – the Cordillera del Paine, sometimes known as Cleopatra's Needles.
This rugged and stunningly gorgeous trail will only stoke the flame of your yen for backpacking. In addition to the carved Andes massifs, you'll see the glacial lakes that give the park its name.
Paine isn't a Spanish word, instead, it means "blue" in the indigenous Tehuelche (Aonikenk) language.
What to Know: The weather is as unpredictable as it comes. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Practice setting up camp in a hurry and how to keep yourself and your gear warm and dry.
The West Coast Trail, British Columbia: 47 miles, 7-10 Days
For superb views of the city, take the glass funicular up to Ljubljana Castle, where you can also dine in two of the city’s top restaurants – Gostilna na Gradu and Strelec.
Creek crossings, log hopping, tide dodging, and rain soaked West Coast Trail has all the punch of a thru-hike on one small stretch of Canadian coastline in British Columbia.
It's a great way to test-drive your technical skills if you're training for longer, gnarlier hikes in the future.
What to Know: The weather and sea are unpredictable in the Pacific Northwest. Like with other Pacific hikes like the Oregon Coast Trail, be prepared with rain gear and a tide chart.
John Muir Trail, California: 211 miles, 14-18 Days
This has long been one of the gold-standard thru-hikes in the United States, despite the fact it only takes a fortnight or so to complete.
In use for thousands of years before the titular Scottish conservationist first started writing his famous essays from the trail, this trek was originally known as Nüümü Poyo to the Paiute tribe.
Today, hikers can tackle the heart of California's Sierra Nevada range, either by starting at the highest peak in the continental U.S. and ending in magnificent Yosemite National Park, or vice versa.
What to know: A permit is required to hike, along with a bear canister. The John Muir Trail is patrolled daily by backcountry rangers, which offers peace of mind to more inexperienced thru-hikers.