Our world is filled with the most amazing natural wonders, ones so spectacular that it’s hard to keep ourselves away from them, no matter how dangerous they are. Actually, the danger aspect seems to be what draws many people to them, as they tend to revel in the challenge that rough, demanding terrain and weather conditions creates for them. Some of the most hazardous means for enjoying – or challenging – everything nature has to offer come in the form of hiking trails, and, oddly enough, it’s man that creates many of these hazards. Listed here are 25 of the most dangerous hiking trails in the world, and many of them wouldn’t even exist if it were not for the interference of man. Such examples can be found in trails that only exist due to the very narrow wooden planks that have been secured into sheer cliff faces – thousands of feet above the ground I might add.
Many of the trails mentioned here have claimed lives, some dozens of them, but people just keep coming back for more. You might think they’re oblivious to the dangers, or just plain stupid, but the reality is that the reward is often worth the risk. While they’re certainly treacherous, these trails also traverse some of the most stunning landscapes on the planet, providing such expansive views that one feels humbled and inspired all at once. If you have the skills, experience, and stamina – plus the courage – to do so, then these risky trails may be worth a hike.
1. Huayna Picchu Trail, Peru
This trail leading to the famed site of Machu Picchu is so narrow, steep, and tricky that it’s completely closed throughout stretches of the rainy season.
2. The Maze, Canyonlands, Utah
Known for its remoteness, the Maze forms a labyrinthine series of cuts, gullies, and dead ends that are as confusing as they are precarious.
3. Mount Hua Shan, China
The most terrifying aspect of this trail is that it wouldn’t even exist in places without these floating boards.
4. El Caminito del Rey, Spain
Spain’s equivalent of the Hua Shan trail in China is by no means any less treacherous.
5. Bright Angel Trail, Arizona
Between the extreme heat and the pure upward trek back, many hikers on this trail find themselves in need of aid from area park rangers.
6. Mount Washington, New Hampshire
If the sudden extreme cold doesn’t get you or you’re not sweep off a ridge by powerful winds, then you should be fine.
7. Via Ferrata, Italy and Austria
This high alpine trail is so sheer and unyielding that the simple snap of a cable is all it would take to send you plummeting thousands of feet.
8. Longs Peak, Colorado
Don’t let the serene beauty of this mountain fool you – someone dies scaling its upper summits every year.
9. Mist Trail, Half Dome, California
From the possibility of lightening striking the cables along the upper trail, to the sleek and steep nature of the path, you might want to avoid any chance of rain here.
10. Aonach Eagach Ridge, Scotland
The trail along the top of this ridge is so thin, and the surrounding landscape so unruly, that once you start the hike you HAVE to finish it just to get back down without risking your life.
11. Drakensberg Traverse
This jagged, expansive stretch of terrain, with its steep cliffs and rocky outcroppings, can take the breath away – in some cases permanently.
12. West Coast Trail, Vancouver
Not only can this trail be tricky just to traverse, but hikers also have to worry about run-ins with bears and cougars.
13. Peek-a-boo Gulch, Utah
If narrow, confined spaces freak you out, then you’ll probably want to avoid this hike – especially since the chance of getting stuck here is no joke.
14. Kalalau Trail, Hawaii
While the views are certainly stunning, the chances for mud and rock slides, plus the often narrow, cliff-side trails, make this a serious hike.
15. Abrams Falls, Tennessee
The danger in the hike to this waterfall centers on hikers who venture along the slippery rocks of its summit or risk a swim in the powerful current at its base.
16. Huckleberry Mountain, Montana
A hungry bear stocking up on food for winter is a dangerous thing, and with estimates of one bear for every square mile, hiking here almost promises a taste of that danger.
17. Mt. Rainier’s Muir Snowfield, Washington State
The unexpected and often extremely harsh storms that sweep across this expanse, creating a snowy nightmare, have claimed countless lives – even during warmer months.
18. Maroon Bells South Ridge, Colorado
Nicknamed the Deadly Bells for a reason, hikers here are often beguiled by an unassuming but often highly unstable terrain, one where the ground can give way quite suddenly.
19. The Wendenstöcke
From narrow, treacherous paths that are easy to lose sight of, to vertical cliff faces, this over 9,000 foot climb requires great skill and stamina – not to mention guts.
20. Kokoda Trail, Papua New Guinea
If you’re not threatened by the possibilities of malaria, crumbling paths, or heat stroke, then there’s every reason to give this hike a try.
21. Cascade Saddle, New Zealand
Many hikers have died here in recent years, mostly during their climb back down due to slippery or loose rocks.
22. Rover’s Run Trail, Alaska
With a long rap sheet of attacks from brown bears and moose, a hike along this otherwise straightforward trail is worth rethinking.
23. Angel’s Landing, Utah
Known as one of the steepest and narrowest hiking trails found anywhere across the globe, falls along this trail happen annually.
24. GR 20, Corsica
Hiking along this rugged trail takes you across some of the most uneven and vertical terrain found anywhere, with special chains offering the only real support in some spots – provided they don’t break.
25. Knivskjellodden (North Cape), Norway
The expansive ocean views offered at the summit of this rocky hike often lure people close to the edge – a little too close.