How Sports Fans Can Take an Active Vacation

For some, vacation means relaxing by the pool or reading on the beach. For others, it means exploring a destination by foot, bike or paddle. Here 12 destinations that will get you moving no matter your skill level, from hiking the Canadian Rockies to kayaking Sardinia’s mythic coastline.
 

Where to take a hiking vacation

Skyline Trail, Alberta | Beginner/Intermediate The 44-kilometre-long Skyline trail is Jasper National Park’s best signature backpacking experience, and arguably one of the best in the Canadian Rockies. Whether you take two, four or six days to complete it, the main trail consists of a gentle ramble through the forest that leads to one of the trail’s many campgrounds. The picturesque route is mostly above the treeline and offers epic views of Maligne Range’s three major passes, complete with photogenic peaks, alpine tarns and glacial lakes. While elevation gain is more than 1,400 metres, it will be easy to catch your breath when you stop (and stop again) in the high ridges for glimpses of the spectacular indigenous wildlife on offer.

February 25, 2020
Skyline Trail, Alberta
   Photo: Ryan Bray

Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii | Advanced If sweeping mountain vistas, 90-metre waterfalls and sea cliff views of a crashing Pacific Ocean don’t inspire you to hump a pack then maybe the mythical trail tales surrounding the primeval Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park would encourage you to hike on. Considered one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders, it plays home to the Kalalau Trail: an intense, out-and-back 35-kilometre trek that will have you zigzag through green valleys and dicey footpaths all while scaling precipitous cliffs for good measure. It’s not designed for the faint-of-heart hikers, but the reward is sweet: the trail drops to sea level where a remote beaches and archaic seaside caves await. A permit is mandatory and available online.

Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii
   Photo: KalalauTrail.com

Best places to travel for rock climbing

The Frankenjura, Bavaria, Germany | Beginner/Intermediate Regarded as one of the top areas for climbing in Germany, Frankenjura’s verdant forest offers climbers a scenic challenge full of cliffs, limestone crags and free-standing towers. While that may sound intimidating, it’s actually highly recommended for rookie and intermediate climbers: 300 of its 10,000 routes are under a 5.9 (anything above a 5.9 is considered hard). Enjoy a post-climb stein at one of the local beer halls in nearby Nuremberg and Hallstadt.

The Frankenjura, Bavaria, Germany
   Photo: FrankenTourismus-FRS-Hub

El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California | Advanced Featured in the awe-inspiring free-climbing documentaries Free Solo and The Dawn Wall, El Capitan is an imposing granite monolith in Yosemite Valley. Visitors can free-climb or aid-climb and neither are for the inexperienced or weak of hand. While it’s accessible and there are many marked routes, even for the most seasoned, it’s challenging to climb its 914 metres from base to summit due to its 32 pitches and slippery cliff face.

El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California
   Photo: Robby McCullough (Unsplash)

Best vacation spots for runners

Hyde Park, London, U.K. | All levels Central London’s largest green space offers seemingly endless easy, groomed running trails, whether you take its 6-kilometre flat loop around the park or opt for a shorter dash through its grassy fields. Get your tourist fix and jog past Kensington Palace, home to Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, or tour the iconic Hyde Park concert area, where the Rolling Stones and U2 have performed on summer nights.

Hyde Park, London, U.K.
   Photo: Rishabh Agarwal (Unsplash)

Midnight Sun Marathon, Norway | All levels This iconic middle-of-the-night marathon takes place in the rugged Norwegian city of Tromsø, which is 350 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, and offers runners the surreal advantage of a 24-hour cycle of never-fading light. The relatively flat course attracts novice and elite runners alike, but this road race may not garner you a personal best, almost assuredly because of the otherworldly landscape that plays out in front of you, from fjords and mountains to the Norwegian Sea.

Midnight Sun Marathon, Norway
   Photo: Truls Tiller

Best ski resorts

Park City, Utah | All levels Both Deer Valley mountain and its bigger sister, Park City Mountain Resort, boast over 10,000 acres of light-as-air snow (commonly referred to as “the Greatest Snow on Earth”), top-tier dining and Olympic-worthy terrain. High-mileage intermediates can book a day in the Ski with a Championship program and experience Deer Valley’s long, languid runs alongside former Olympian Heidi Voelker. Finish the day at the Town Lift base and head to High West Saloon, the only ski-in gastro-distillery in the world, for a whisky flight with friends.

Park City, Utah
   Photo: Deer Valley Resort

Chamonix, France | Intermediate/Advanced A sophisticated mountain town revered for its variety of off-piste runs, skiers are vaulted by cable car to the inexplicable heights of 3,842 metres of the Mont Blanc massif: a mountain range in the Alps with 11 individual summits, some required mountaineering, and the promise of virgin powder tracks for brave summit skiers. Choose the grand Aiguille du Midi summit for 360-degree views of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps and a 20-kilometre ski run in the Vallée Blanche littered with glacial ice and jagged seracs. Snow permitting, the run takes you straight into town where you can après ski – you’ve certainly earned it.

Chamonix, France
   Photo: Krzysztof Kowalik (Unsplash)

Best places in the world to go kayaking

Sardinia, Italy | Intermediate Ideally suited for those who like to mix their adventure with ample R&R, sea kayaking off the wild Mediterranean island of Sardinia is almost as satisfying as their ubiquitous spaghetti ai ricci di mare. Known for its sea cliffs and dreamy white-sand beaches, the Italian island may not come immediately to mind for travelling paddlers – but its under-the-radar status means you have tourmaline waters and the spectacular Grotta del Bue Marino, full of prehistoric neolithic petroglyphs, all to yourself.

Sardinia, Italy
   Photo: Reiseuhu (Unsplash)

Veracruz, Mexico | Advanced If you’ve been riding the rapids for years, it might be time to hit the whitewater hard with a run in the Rio Alseseca Watershed. Cutting through jungles and waterfalls, and with very accessible launch points both north and south of Veracruz, most of the river features Class III-VI rapids making it ideal for intermediate and advanced kayakers. Whether you dip your paddle into the gorges on the Big Banana of the Alseseca or take your skills to task in the famous S-turn rapid on the Roadside section, your freestyle runs will inspire plenty of “I can’t believe you did that” conversation for months to come.

Veracruz, Mexico
   Photo: Cavan / Alamy Stock Photo

Best cycling trips in the world

Green Mountains, Vermont | Intermediate Locals love their bicycles here: they’re sustainable, eco-friendly and take you deep into this New England region’s best assets from pastoral landscapes, bucolic farmlands and award-winning trails, but the Green Mountains are what serves up the fun with rural rides down through valleys and over the greens of the Appalachian Gap or the windy 14-kilometre climber up-up-up to the Middlebury Gap.

Green Mountains, Vermont
   Photo: Clay Kaufmann (Unsplash)

Piedmont, Italy | Advanced The Dolomites in northern Italy get all the attention, but that’s not the only region that is keyed in for cyclists looking to grind some gravel. Travel west to the foot of the Alps in Piedmont for big climbs in the Cottian Alps and fast descents. Cycle your way into the charming town of Fenestrelle, then fuel up with multi-course meals heavy on wild boar salami, gorgonzola and Barolo. Thirsty for more? The famed Colle delle Finestre climb is a 18.5-kilometre sweat that averages a 9 percent grade and gains 1,694 metres.

Piedmont, Italy
   Photo: Anatoli Nicolae (Unsplash)

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