From New Zealand to Japan, and all the way to Hawaii! Once again, we’ve asked our ambassador and experienced trail runner Nick Walker to sort through his archive, but this time for the Most Scenic Hiking Trails in the WORLD!
1. KUALOA RANCH TRAIL, OAHU, HAWAII
Kualoa Ranch in Hawaii was one of the most memorable trails I’ve ever run! Due to its spectacular natural landform and it’s beachside location in the heart of Hawaii, Kualoa Ranch has been the backdrop to movies such as Jurassic Park, The Lost TV series, Godzilla and King Kong. It literally feels like you are running through a movie set in its stunning prehistoric location and the trail wraps around the Hakipu Valley which give you endless views of the beautiful Pacific Ocean. I raced this trail at the XTERRA World trail running championships which offer the distances of 10- or 22K where I did the 10K, which was one of the fastest 10K trail race I’ve ever run. I ended up coming 3rd and it is a career highlight, even though I suffered from a severe heat stroke as I underestimated the distance but also because of the humidity of the tropical Hawaiian climate.
Here are a few tips if you’re planning on running at Kualoa Ranch:
- Still run with a camel pack- even if you fill your camel pack with 500mL of water/electrolyte (tailwind/SOS hydration).
- Run with a gel, cos’ you might dehydrate/burn through energy fuels faster than expected.
- Wear good gripped shoes as the scenery is muddy, slippery and lots of tree roots.
- Wear as minimal clothing as possible in this race as it is still very humid, even in December which is when the race is.
- Work on your core before the race as the course is very slippery so you’ll need a strong core not to slip and to maintain balance.
2. WAIHEKE ISLAND, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
The Waiheke Island 21k half marathon trail is a scenic yet once again difficult course which is located half an hour by Ferry from the coast of Auckland Harbour in NZ.
The trail run begins at the Waiheke Island Sports Grounds and the trail makes it’s way through vineyards, before climbing up Mt Maunganui where you get spectacular views of the historic Man O War Bay. You cross through farms, single rainforest trail, coastal trail and roads which circuit around the island. Don’t underestimate the hills on this island, aside from the UTA 22K and the Waiheke Island 21k, this is definitely one of the toughest trail half’s I’ve ever done! However, it’s also one of the most beautiful due to it’s untouched coastal scenery along the trails with views of the ocean and ever-changing terrain from vineyards to beaches, to rainforests and fire trails.
To prepare for Waiheke Island 21K trail:
- Carry at least 2L of water/electrolyte in your camel pack (tailwind recommended).
- Wear a trail shoe with a good drop and strong grip due to the changing terrain.
- Wear sunscreen and a hat if it is sunny as you’ll be exposed to the sun for most parts of the route.
3. MT FUJI, HONSHU ISLAND, JAPAN
Mount Fuji, located on Honshu Island, is the highest mountain peak in Japan at an astonishing 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft). An active stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707–08, Mt Fuji lies about 100 kilometers (60 miles) south-west of Tokyo and can be seen from the city on a clear day. Mt Fuji’s exceptionally symmetrical cone, which is snow-capped several months a year, is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and photographs, as well as visited by sightseers and climbers (for a full recap, check out my own blog post).
This trail run/hike was one of the most memorable trails I have ever done as you are literally running/hiking on an active volcano, which is pretty damn cool! The walk makes it feel like you’ve traveled to another planet as it had a Mars atmospheric feel about it with the red soil near its peak and absolutely no life forms, except for the thousands of other explorers who hike Mt Fuji each year. Before you reach the clouds at about 2,000m above sea level, the views are endless of Tokyo and it’s surrounding areas. Once you get above the clouds, the peak looks so close, yet it is still a fair hike to the top…
Tips for running/hiking Mt Fuji:
- It is best to climb Mt Fuji in a group, and if you are to run Mt Fuji, at least do it with one other person.
- You can only climb Fuji from July to September which is climbing season, due to rough weather conditions other parts of the year.
- Carry a camel pack with at least 2L of water
- If you are to run Mt Fuji, listen to your body! I got altitude sickness above 3,200m so I decided to hike and not run and rest at the 8th station (there are 10 stations. No matter how fit you are-altitude can affect you and it can be dangerous if you don’t know your own limits!
- Bring gels, Chief Bars and trail mixes for your stomach, and waterproof thermal gear, beanie and gloves for your body as the weather conditions can change up around the peak.
- Wear good gripped trail shoes, as when you approach the peak, the cloud cover the mountain and can set in along with rain.
- Bring a mobile phone, there is phone reception for most of the way.
- Bring hiking poles, which come in handy; particularly as you reach the top and on the steep downhill.
- Bring some money for food along the way. The higher you go, the more drinks and food cost…