Walk on the Wild Side
Check out our international sampling of the best hike-and-imbibe tours.
Savoring your favorite tipple doesn’t have to be a sedentary sport—especially because vineyards, distilleries and breweries are now offering hiking packages that promise to exercise your taste buds at the same time.
Spirits Hike: Whisky Trail, Scotland
On the Speyside Whisky Trail, offered by Hillwalk Scotland, you can choose between a dozen available hiking itineraries that take you through this malt whisky capital of the world. On all, you’ll trek along the remnants of an old railway to see Scotland’s famed rolling hills, open moorland and forest paths. Stops at Glenlivet and Glenfiddich, as well as other smaller distilleries, are included to ensure you see, smell and taste the bottled goods. Be sure to take in the views at Cairngorms National Park, and visit Ballindalloch Castle, the “Pearl of the North,” which dates back to 1546. On your 5–8 day trip, you can stop at between 3–8 distillers each day.
Opt for the Scotland Malt Whisky Trail, if you’re keen on building your own adventure. In addition to choosing between a dozen different hiking trails, you can also decide how many you hit and where you stay. Start at Benromach—where you can see the mash tun, burnished copper stills and watch the distillers in action—and head all the way to Strathisla, where you’ll experience the history of these distilleries (some dating as far back as 1786) firsthand. Don’t forget to stop at Speyside Cooperage, the only operating cooperage in the U.K., to get the chance to craft your own mini-cask.
Fitness level: Beginner
Hike time: 3–8 hours per day
Wine Hike: Lavaux Vineyard Terraces, Switzerland
On the northern shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland, the Lavaux area consists of more than 702 acres of terraced vineyards—the largest vineyard region in the country. Established by Benedictine and Cistercian monks in the 11th century, the Lavaux Vineyard Terraces were named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007, beckoning oenophiles and hikers alike to hit its trails.
Trekkers can bask in the region’s “three suns”—the sun in the sky, the reflection of its light on the lake, and the retention of its heat within the stone walls running through the vineyards—while zigzagging through picturesque medieval villages and vineyards. For moments of respite while en route, stops at pubs offering traditional bites paired with local bottlings is encouraged.
The hike can broken up into various days, but for the ultra adventurous, opt for the full 21-mile Grand Traversée de Lavaux, which takes hikers from Ouchy in Lausanne to Chateau de Chillon. Along the way, you’ll learn about the region’s history as well as its local grapes, sample Swiss wine and cuisine at Michelin-starred Auberge de l’Onde, and visit historical castles like the Vinorama and the Château de Glérolle in Rivaz.
For those seeking a leisurely experience, opt to walk from the cobblestoned St-Saphorin, a village with roots tracing back to 53 AD, to Lutry, another medieval town. Sample St-Saphorin’s Chasselas (“The King of Lavaux”), considered by many to be one of the best whites in Switzerland, or indulge in other bottlings and bites along the seven-mile route.
Fitness level: Intermediate
Hike time: 3 hours per day
Beer Hike: The Bend Ale Trail, Oregon
Located in the high desert of Oregon, three hours southeast of Portland, the Bend Ale Trail offers a walking tour of nine craft breweries within a few square miles of one another, plus a short list of must-visit pubs.
The stop-and-sip itinerary includes everything from the Deschutes Brewery—which overlooks the Deschutes River and is the fifth largest craft brewery in the country—to the bare-bones tasting room at Boneyard Beer, a refurbished former auto body shop. At each, you’ll sample the booze, learn about hops, tour the kettles and chat with the beer-obsessed master crafters.
If you’re feeling ambitious enough to visit all nine on the trail, pick up a “passport” and get stamped at each. The person with all nine stamps wins a secret prize. (You can also download the free Ale Trail app, which contains the virtual passport, a map of the breweries and suggested stops along the way.)
Visitors of The Bend Ale Trail can also opt to bike instead of hike, or choose one of several other mobile transportations to get from one hot spot to the next. There’s a 16-person bike, electronic bikes, horse-drawn carriages, pedicabs, trolleys and shuttle busses.
Fitness level: Beginner
Hike time: 3–4 hours per day
For more information, visit Visit Bend.