In this age of planes, trains and automobiles, very few individuals in the industrialized world still rely on walking as their primary means of transportation. Comprehensive systems of international airports, trains stations and access-controlled highways have made transportation as quick and seamless as possible. In the end, all of this infrastructural development leads to a romantic nostalgia of the old means of transportation, our own legs.
To satisfy this yearning, we as humans have taken to building long-distance hiking footpaths
throughout our woods, countryside and coasts for recreational travel. Although these paths originated some millenia ago, the recent resurgence of the long-distance greenways movement began in the United States, with the construction of Vermont’s Long Trail
Long-distance trails are typically at least 50 km long, and require one overnight stay to complete the hike. Individuals who complete long-distance trails in one single journey earn the recognition of “thru-hiker”, whereas those who complete the equally amazing feat of hiking the trail in parts are labeled “section-hikers.” In recent years, a movement has begun to build long-distance trails across entire countries, connecting hundreds of geographical regions with one single footpath. Below, we feature some of the world’s most prominent cross-country trails and explain their geographical importance.
Length: 735 km (1700 km)
Connecting the two independent nations of North and South Korea, the Baekdu-Daegan Trail is a lasting symbol of some Koreans’ hope for reunification. The approximately 1700 km footpath extends from Jirisan National Park
in South Korea to the sacred Baekdu-san
mountain in the isolationist North. The pilgrimage to Baekdu-san is a desired passage for hiking-crazed Koreans, but remains impossible due to the current political situation between the two countries. For now, the 735 km section of the trail in South Korea remains open and hikable, with a great system of huts and lodges catering to hikers all the way to the “finish line” at the Demilitarized Zone
Winter hiking in South Korea.
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