10 of the most dangerous hiking trails in the world

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Everyone likes to take a nice walk in the forest or on the beach. Some of us go even further and hit hiking trails to test our physical limits. The thrill of a dangerous hike gets the adrenaline pumping and the blood pumping. There are hikes where if you miss a step you could even dive and end up with a serious injury. Some of them make us want to give up halfway, but when we push ourselves and reach the top.

Here are 10 hiking trails around the world that aren’t for the faint-hearted and shouldn’t be attempted by novice hikers.

El Caminito Del Rey, Spain

Translating to “The King’s Path”, this is one of the most extreme hikes in Spain. Built over a century ago to create a road to a hydroelectric plant, the two-mile trail hangs 100 meters above ground. Narrow wooden paths lead hikers through the limestone cliffs. The path was closed to hikers from 2001 after five people died in the river below. After a renovation, during which fencing was added to the path, El Caminito Del Rey reopened in 2015 and is now considerably safer than before, offering views of blue rivers and scenic valleys.

The Maze, USA

A hiker stands at the edge of a cliff enjoying a spectacular view of Canyonlands National Park Shutterstock

Part of Canyonlands National Park in Utah, the maze is very difficult to navigate as the whole area is a maze of dead ends. Hikers should be rescued regularly here. It is very easy to get lost in the interconnecting canyons and narrow passages. Although it is an incredible experience, the remoteness of the maze confuses even experienced hikers. In addition, water sources are difficult to find. A map and compass are very useful for locating drinking water sources. Only about 2,000 people use this trail each year, which gives an idea of ​​how remote it is.

Mount Huashan, China

The Mighty Boardwalk of Mount Huashan in Shanxi Province
The Mighty Boardwalk of Mount Huashan in Shanxi Province Shutterstock

Many consider this the most dangerous hike in the world. Originally intended for pilgrims going to the summit temples, the Mount Huashan hiking trail is now visited by tourists from all over the world for its “plank walk in the sky”. If you are afraid of heights, we suggest skipping this hike as it winds through narrow wooden planks attached to the mountain. To reach the boards, hikers must climb a steep vertical staircase carved into the rocks with only rusty chains for support. In some parts, the wooden planks disappear to leave only footrests carved into the rock that require careful maneuvering. The view at the end of the course is magnificent with a panoramic landscape of the surrounding mountains.

Crossing the Drakensberg, South Africa

The Drakensberg Grand Traverse hike is spectacular and has been named one of the toughest in the world
The Drakensberg Grand Traverse hike is spectacular and has been named one of the toughest in the world Shutterstock

The most daunting part of this 40-mile hike inside Natal National Park is the beginning. You will need to climb two chain ladders to reach the trailhead, a route well known for the stunning views it offers. About 55 people are believed to have died at the Drakensberg Traverse before 1985, after which the numbers have not been counted. You can imagine the danger one could encounter on this trail as they come across animal tracks and rock scrambles that make up the hike. But the views more than make up for one of the most dangerous trails in the world.

Cascade Saddle, New Zealand

A traveler at the edge of a cliff at Cascade Saddle
A traveler at the edge of a cliff at Cascade Saddle Shutterstock

Hiking is one of the main activities to do in New Zealand and Cascade Saddle is a popular hiking trail in the country. The 11-mile trek takes nearly two days to provide hikers with some of the magnificent views seen in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ film series. The dangerous part of the trail is the ground which is slippery and unstable, especially when it rains. Several hikers suffered injuries, some even died. A local coroner once said there had been “far too many deaths” on the Cascade Saddle Trail. The great alpine views don’t help either as hikers can get distracted.

Kalalau Trail, Hawaii

Overlooking the Kalalau Valley on the east side of the island of Kauai, Hawaii
Overlooking the Kalalau Valley on the east side of the island of Kauai, Hawaii Shutterstock

This 22-mile coastal trail in Kalalau, Hawaii will take you to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. As you make your way through dense jungles, watch out for slippery waterfalls and stream crossings that have claimed lives in the past. Frequent rains make this path even more dangerous and one wrong move can cause you to slide over the edge of a rocky cliff, after which even if you don’t die, you could be seriously injured. If you plan to do this hike, make sure good weather conditions prevail.

Angels Landing, United States

Angels Landing at Zion National Park with Navajo Sandstone Mountains and Cliffs
Angels Landing at Zion National Park with Navajo Sandstone Mountains and Cliffs Shutterstock

Located inside Zion National Park in Utah, most of the 2.5 mile trail is fairly easily navigable, but the last half mile is what makes Angels Landing one of the best trails. most dangerous in the world. Initially, you will notice the layers of rock formations that are millions of years old. The last half mile involves walking on a steep, narrow ridge that has dangerous drop offs on both sides. Chains and railings attached to the cliff are all that stand between the steep edge and you. Even with these safety precautions in place, the path is scary, but if you can make it to the end, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most scenic views imaginable.

Huayna Picchu, Peru

Often referred to as the “hike of death,” this trail in Peru claims a few deaths each year. Starting at the famous Inca site Machu Picchu, the trail is made up of granite stairways that quickly gain a 305-meter ascent. The lack of proper shoes and equipment along with the fact that part of the trail collapses make the hike dangerous.

Stairs can become extremely slippery when wet
Stairs can become extremely slippery when wet Shutterstock

forcing the authorities to close it every year once the rainy season sets in.

Aonach Eagach, Scotland

Mist comes over the ridge of Aonach Eagach in the Scottish Highlands
Mist comes over the ridge of Aonach Eagach in the Scottish Highlands Shutterstock

The six-mile trail from Aonach Eagach in the Scottish Highlands is not for everyone. The knife-like ridge is so thin that once you start your hike, you can’t get back down without putting your life in danger. The path is extremely rugged and getting to the top requires stamina and hard work, as well as some serious climbing chops. Only attempt this in good weather, as you don’t want to struggle with high winds while dragging on a sharp ridge. The views at the top will blow your mind.

Half Dome, United States

The Half Dome at sunset
The Half Dome at sunset Shutterstock

Half Dome’s challenging 16-mile trail in Yosemite National Park will take you to breathtaking views such as Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls, and Yosemite Valley. Although people have lost their lives on the trail, hundreds of hikers climb it on one busy day. To reach the top, you will have to climb steel cables that have been attached to help hikers climb the rock face. The cables get quite slippery during the rains which, coupled with frequent lightning strikes, makes Half Dome a nightmare to climb. This hike should only be attempted if you are physically very fit and agile.

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