Hiker: Cheryl Strayed, author
In Her Words: The Overland Track in Tasmania, Australia, is a 40- to 50-mile-long trail (depending on where you finish) that goes through some of the wildest and most beautiful natural terrain on the planet (or so I hear). The trail is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Plus, it's in Tasmania! I've always wanted to go there.
Length: 40 miles (50 miles with the hike around Lake St. Clair)
Why You Should Go: While exploring the World Heritage-listed Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, you’ll experience solitude, untouched terrain, and an array of landscapes including highland mountains, rain forest, alpine lakes, and eucalyptus groves. Plus, because the wombat, platypus, and Tasmanian devil, the largest carnivorous marsupial on the planet, call Australia’s southern island state home, this area is a biodiversity hotspot offering countless opportunities for watching wildlife.
Many hikers take six days to savor the trail, but itineraries vary since the presence of huts means you can go light; plus, side-trip options abound. Two favorite add-ons: scrambling up Tasmania’s highest peak, 5,305-foot Mount Ossa, and hiking around Lake St. Clair—Australia’s deepest lake—to end the hike instead of riding a ferry across to the finish.
When to Go: Tasmania Parks and Wildlife requires hikers to make reservations and travel north to south during the prime season of October 1 and May 31. Winter weather can be rough, but the trail is open.
About Strayed: Cheryl Strayed, now an accomplished speaker and writer, started out as the most unlikely hiker in this group. At age 22, she lost her 45-year-old mom to cancer, an event that set her on a dark path of heroin use, divorce, and promiscuity. Unable to cope, Strayed escaped to the Pacific Crest Trail, and even though she’d never really backpacked before, she pushed on from California to Oregon to complete a 94-day, 1,100-plus-mile exploration. She shared the details of her physical, emotional, and spiritual journey in Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, an inspirational tale that speaks to so many of us who have found peace, beauty, and ourselves by spending time in nature.