Want to shake up your hiking routine? Try a route with aliens or boiling pools of foul-smelling mud.
The world is full of strange and mind-boggling places to hike through. From a conspiracy theorist’s dream camping spot to a network of paths that’s underwater half of the year, these odd treks highlight just how weird hiking can get.
So plug your nose, slip on a snorkel and adjust your tinfoil hat – the world’s most bizarre trails are waiting to be explored.
The Wave, Arizona
Mesmerizing, dizzying and just plain bizarre. The Wave sandstone rock formation lures thousands of hikers into the steamy Arizona desert every year with its surreal multi-coloured swirls. About 190 million years of rain and wind erosion helped form this stunning sight.
To get here, you need to hike for about five kilometres through jagged, sun-scorched terrain, where the wind is fierce and the shade is scarce. There isn’t any marked trail to follow. Instead, hikers must watch out for a series of landmarks to find their way. Permits are also needed for this day trek.
Boiling Lake, Valley of Desolation (Dominica)
There’s a good chance you’ll smell the lake before you see it. Depending on the wind, a rotten-egg stench will violate your nose about halfway through the 13-kilometre jungle trek to Boiling Lake. Then you’ll notice wisps of steam in the distance.
Eventually, a 60-metre-wide cauldron of bubbling water appears, surrounded by a swath of volcanic destruction. Step over piping-hot rocks and pools of boiling mud as you explore this fascinating flooded fumarole.
The small island of Dominica is located is located between Guadeloupe and Martinique in the eastern Caribbean.
Tikaboo Peak, Nevada
It’s the trail of choice for fit conspiracy theorists. Located off a dirt road in the Nevada desert, this steep two-kilometre trek to the top of Tikaboo Peak provides hikers with the best possible view of the infamous Air Force Flight Test Center. Also known as Area 51.
Once you get to the peak, you’ll be able to make out the hangers, runway and radar buildings of Area 51 about 26 miles in the distance. It helps if you bring a telephoto lens.
Alien fanatics often spend the night on the peak and watch for unexplained lights in the night sky. The strangest part of this hillside hike might be the people you meet at the top.
Homhil, Socotra Island (Yemen)
It’s like you just wandered into a Dr. Seuss book. Socotra Island is covered in unusual plants that aren’t found anywhere else in the world. From the umbrella-like dragon’s blood trees to the desert rose, which resembles a giant turnip with pink flowers, this is a truly amazing environment to trek in.
Although all of Socotra Island is stunning (and strange), the Homhil protected area is an especially unique place for hiking. More than 90 species of endemic plants have been recorded in the area, seven of which are found only in Homhil itself.
You’ll need to hike for about an hour and a half to get here unless you want to challenge a sketchy dirt road in a four-wheel-drive vehicle. There are also plenty of trails throughout Homhil as well.
Grüner See, Styria (Austria)
Grab your boots in the summer; slip on the flippers come winter. Grüner See (which means ‘Green Lake’) is a popular park and hiking spot that sits at the base of the snow-capped Hochschwab mountains in Austria. But when the ice starts to thaw in the spring, runoff floods the park. Trails, benches and even a foot bridge are submerged beneath several metres of water.
That’s when the divers take over. The water is clean and crystal clear, allowing for great views of the flowers and alpine grasses in full bloom beneath the surface. The lake stretches about 400 meters long and 100 meters wide. But in July, the water starts to recede. Hikers usually get their park back by early winter.
What’s the strangest hike you’ve ever been on? Let us know in the comments below.
Do you prefer the trails less travelled?
Join like-minded trekkers by signing up for the S&TT e-mail list. Every week, you’ll get:
- Profiles of little-known hiking destinations
- Gear reviews for backpackers and hikers
- Feature articles on strange and off-beat hiking
Plus we’re 100% spam-free (and proud of it)