The Trail Beckons

A hiking enthusiast's trail map to off-the-beaten path hiking spas

Take a direct route to bliss. Hiking not only burns calories, it lowers the risk of disease, increases bone density and enhances moods. On a leafy trail, far away from urbanity’s manic pace, mindfulness happens. Add in the ministrations of a well-tended spa, and you’ve got the stuff of transformation.  
Image above: Stokes Bay

The Further Flung

A 30-minute flight from Adelaide and its surrounding wine country, Kangaroo Island holds mind-boggling Flinders Chase National Park, and its bevy of natural wonders—such as the otherworldly Remarkable Rocks. Stretching 98 miles across, seven times the size of Singapore, the island draws wildlife buffs for its rich array of species, including many known only to this remote isle.

Wrapped with a plethora of hiking trails, the national park has just introduced its Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail, a five-day, 106-mile “hero’s walk,” which leads intrepid hikers on a marked ramble through the bush. While some walkers will pitch a tent at set campgrounds, others can opt for daylong hikes, then recover in the chi chi embrace of Southern Ocean Lodge and its cliff-side spa. Handcrafted concoctions inspired by local healing traditions and plants join forces with Australian brand LI’TYA to unravel the knots, while the lodge’s own rangers await to show you adjacent trails.

The Volcanic One

Is that a toucan in that tree? Yes. And, there’s probably a white-faced monkey watching, too, as you walk through Costa Rica’s dense tropical jungle to partake of the rivers, hot springs and waterfalls (composed of 97 percent crystalline rainwater) at Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa. Extending across 900-acres of rainforest, with plentiful hiking trails, this watery wonderland benefits from its prime position at the foot of Arenal, still an active volcano.

A Leading Hotels of the World, Tabacon plays up its exotic locale with eco-chic architecture and a variety of outdoor activities ideal for immersion. Like a veritable tree house, The Grand Spa, induces a sense of dreaminess as the sounds of wildlife provide Mother Earth’s own symphony. Hike to sites, such as the La Fortuna waterfall, then yield to repose with spa experiences born from the locale. Try the Muddy Treat, a body experience that employs volcanic soil.

The Classic

Who says summer camp is just for kids? Remember the thrill of ascending the highest hill? Find it again at Vermont’s New Life Hiking Spa, a cozy, friendly, affordable refuge in the Green Mountains. Open May to October, surrounded by nature’s largesse, this intimate country inn hideaway hosts only 40 guests at a time. Trek any of the nearby 21 trails with rousing guides, and you’ll regain your inner camper, and refuel your commitment to well-being.

Founded by visionary Jimmy LeSage in 1978, the all-inclusive hideaway includes all meals, daily guided hikes, fitness classes, lectures and a spa treatment for every three days of your stay. Commit to packages that range from 11-night weight-loss programs to two- to four-day mini-wellness adventures.

The Texas Tread

The Texas Tread McKinney Roughs Nature Park is the sort of place Texans kids go to learn to tie a knot, start a fire with sticks or paddle a canoe. Composed of four eco-systems, it holds ancient trees, swampland and the mighty Colorado River. Beside it lies Hyatt Regency Lost Pines, an eco-conscious resort comprising 405 protected acres of wilderness wedged between Austin and Bastrop.

With 18 miles of crisscrossing trails, the resort runs a robust hiking program through its unspoiled terrain. Watch for more than 250 varieties of birds as you trek. After exercise, reward your efforts at Spa Django, where treatment ointments hail from ingredients harvested from the spa’s own herb garden—from lavender to mint. Try The Herb Garden Journey, which provides three relaxing hours of sensorial ecstasy.;

The Work of Art

Take to the waters—after you hoof the verdant mountain tracks of Styria in southern Austria. A captivating state that brims with vineyards, pumpkin patches, fields of wildflowers, emerald hills and hot springs, it reigns as a bonafide “bad” or “bath” region, where health-seekers have soaked away ailments from arthritis to eczema for generations.

As awe-inspiring as the vistas themselves, Rogner Bad Blumau, a destination spa designed by Austrian painter/architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser, crowns two distinct mineral-rich springs. Said to be the world’s largest inhabitable work of art, visualized to mirror the nature that surrounds it, the undulating structure encompasses a dazzling array of pools, tubs, saunas and decks. Alternate water time with long hikes, which begin just through the spa’s back door. Yoga, a salt grotto, locally foraged cuisine and classic spa treatments enrich your stay.

The Big Sky One

Get your giddy-up on as you stride through unsullied landscape in the boondocks of Montana at The Resort at Paws Up. A rural patchwork of immense hawk-etched skies, rushing rivers, soulful barns and flower-flecked meadows, this upscale extravaganza of a dude ranch inspires the cowboy within. Ride horses, take part in a cattle drive or raft down the river. Even better, just mosey down any of the 37,000-acre resort’s 30-miles of trails, many shadowed by juniper and ponderosa trees. Join a guided hike on The Sunset Trail, which follows the Blackfoot River. Learn about animal tracks on The Jones Pond Trail, beloved by elk, deer and bear. Near Spa Town, challenge yourself on the Grizzlyman Fitness Trail—a one-mile course created to make you swing, balance and go for the burn. Later, soothe your trail-trammeled feet with the spa’s Bare Your Soles Pine Rosemary Sage Treatment—then prepare to foot it all over again.

Becca Hensley

Becca Hensley

Award winning travel writer Becca Hensley can’t resist the unexplored alley, that glass of champagne in an unknown bar or taking the train far beyond her planned stop. Travel Editor for Austin Monthly and San Antonio Magazine, her work appears in myriad magazines and newspapers including Washington Flyer, National Geographic Traveler, Toronto Star, Fodors, Dallas Morning News, Coastal Living, Smart Luxury Travel and more. Reared in Mexico, Europe and the US, she now resides in Austin.
Becca Hensley

Latest posts by Becca Hensley (see all)