2. John Muir Trail: California, 210 miles
Running south through the High Sierras from Yosemite national park to the summit of Mount Whitney, the John Muir Trail is a footpath fit for a wilderness king. Muir spent his life advocating the preservation of wild places, and his eponymous trail runs along the crest of some of the most beautiful and pristine country in the US. Most hikers travel north to south in late summer and complete the trek in about three weeks. Other than the John Muir Hut on top of Muir Pass – around the midway point of the trail – there are no shelters along the route so a tent is essential. Hikers can stock up on food in a handful of small towns and remote resorts in the northern stretch of the trail, but a 100-mile wilderness section in the south requires fastidious meal planning – fitting 10-plus days’ worth of food into a bear-proof canister.
Top tip At 14,505ft (4,421m), Mount Whitney is the highest mountain in the lower 48 states. If you want to tackle the summit, you’ll probably find that having spent three weeks hiking along a trail that never dips below 7,000ft (2,000m) and crosses numerous 11,000ft-plus (3,000m-plus) passes, should see you acclimatised enough to give it a go.