Going on a hike isn’t as easy as just putting one foot in front of the other. Depending on where you go, you might have dangerous variables like a steep and narrow path, wild animals, guerrilla fighters, or heat. But if you love the thrill, then we say go for it!
Just be careful, as some of these trails can leave you severely injured, or worse…dead.
Huayna Picchu, Peru
The Huayna Picchu, also known as the “Hike of Death,” takes a few casualties every year. It’s made of an old Inca staircase carved out of granite, and it climbs about 1,000 feet in less than a mile.
Plus, you have to deal with rotting, crumbling rock, slippery stones, and exposed corners—some areas require holding on to a steel cable. Going up is the “easy” part. Then you have to come down a steep slope.
Caminito del Rey, Spain
This narrow cliffside walking route is located in Spain’s Malaga mountains. It was once used by power station workers and was known at the time as the “world’s most dangerous pathway.”
This is because several people fell to their deaths over the years until the local authorities reconstructed the path and improved its safety standards—to a certain degree, anyway.
Angel’s Landing, United States
Angel’s Landing, formerly known as the Temple of Aeolus, is a very narrow and long rock formation in Zion National Park, Utah. Its name was given because of a point at the peak that is so small that “only an angel can land on it.”
Although they have support chains for the last narrow, rocky steps, the trail is still not considered safe.
Mount Huashan, China
Don’t do this trail if you’re afraid of heights. Only a few have merited entry into the ancient temples at its summit. The trail has narrow wooden boards attached to the side of the mountain, with rusty chains for hikers to hold onto. But in some sections, the boardwalk disappears altogether with just carved out rock instead.
Drakensberg Grand Traverse, South Africa
This 300-kilometer trail is also known as the “Dragon Mountains” by Afrikaners and as the “Barrier of Spears” in Zulu. The worst part is the beginning of it, where you have to get up two questionable chain ladders to get to the cliff. Just pray it doesn’t get windy, otherwise it’s quite the drop.
Kalalau Trail: Hawaii
This trail has an amazing panoramic view of the surrounding canyon…if you ever make it there. Their mantra is “Don’t look down.”
The trail goes down a steep ocean cliff 4,000 feet above a deadly tide. There are no rails to hold onto. Plus, you have to deal with slippery mud.
Mount Pinatubo, Philippines
This is one of those trails where it’s not the actual hike that’s dangerous, but the variables that can’t always be predicted. The hike is easy enough, but you never know when the neighboring volcano will just erupt again.
More than 72 people have fallen victim to this hike. The last eruption released 15 million tons of sulfur gas onto the mountain.
Kokoda Track, Papua New Guinea
This trail is known for its 2009 accident where 13 people died in a plane crash on their way to the trail, while four more hikers died on the trail. The trail takes 11 days to get through. Hikers have faced malaria, extreme heat, frigid nights, and daily soaking rain. The trail also has ankle-deep clay muck, slippery roots, and waterfalls.
Devil’s Path, United States
Located in New York state, the Devil’s Path was named by Dutch settlers who thought only a demon could get across the rocky, serrated summits.
Hikers climb over 4,000 feet of elevation gain, half a dozen major peaks, and uneven traverses. If exhaustion doesn’t take you out, you might be able to complete the whole thing in a single day.
Keshwa Chaca (Q’eswachaka) Rope Bridge, Peru
This is a hand-woven rope bridge that spans 220 feet across the Apurimac canyon, 60 feet above the Apurimac River. It doesn’t mean it’s safe or sturdy enough to cross, however. It is mostly kept as a way to honor traditions and ancestors, as it’s thought to be the last Incan rope bridge in Peru. Incans used natural grass fibers to craft it.
The Maze, United States
The Maze, as the name suggests, is made up of interconnecting canyons that are incredibly easy to get lost and disoriented in.
Only about 2,000 hikers visit every year, and many run into dead ends and find it hard to navigate the narrow passageways. This means many hikers need to be rescued from the labyrinth on a regular basis.
Aonach Eagach Ridge, Scotland
This trail is considered to be one of the most daunting ridge walks in Britain, thanks to its exposed scrambles and ascents and descents high above Loch Leven. Don’t try it unless you’re an experienced hiker.
Cascade Saddle, New Zealand
The Cascade Saddle is made of an 11-mile, two-day trip through a beech forest and alpine meadows. At least 12 people have fallen to their deaths while descending due to the rocks being wet and slippery. However, if you make it to the top, you’ll get beautiful Lord of the Rings views.
Maroon Bells South Ridge, Colorado
Maroon Bells South Ridge has a brutal hiking trail that leads to a 14,000-foot peak. Many have died or gotten injured trying to climb the exposed rocks of the vertical alpine trail. However, the view of shadows over Maroon Lake, the surrounding peaks, and the forested mountain valleys below might just be worth it.
Yosemite’s Half Dome, United States
This trail was once believed to be completely inaccessible due to its almost 9,000-foot elevation. Today, however, the summit can be reached through an 8-mile trail that is tiring and includes lots of switchbacks and hundreds of feet of granite stairs.
The top is the hardest part, with the final 400 feet going almost vertically straight up and nothing but two metal cables holding you.
Via Ferrata, Italy And Austria
When soldiers had to climb the mountain during the Second World War, they had a much harder time. Today, hikers are offered walkways, bridges, and even ropes and cables to use while on the cliff faces. However, you still have to know what you’re doing if you don’t want to fall off.
West Coast Trail, Canada
This is a 48-mile trail along the Pacific coast has some of the most rugged terrain in the world. High tide on the seaside sections can leave you stranded or carry you into the sea. The woodland section is made of narrow wooden ladders, rickety bridges, and boardwalks. If you stay overnight, you might even encounter wolves, cougars, and grizzly bears. No hiker has completed the trail with no injuries.
Rover’s Run Trail, Alaska
This is probably the physically easiest trail on our list, with no steep drop-offs, technical climbs, or extreme weather. Instead, the area is filled with brown bears, especially in the summer.
Many hikers have encountered them by the rivers as it’s filled with salmon, and many maulings have been reported. The trails sometimes have to close when there are signs of masse bear activity.
Table Mountain National Park, South Africa
There are various trails that can be explored like Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head. Their elevation and high cliffs give beautiful views of Cape Town’s City Bowl and the South Atlantic. However, the park warns that “…more people die on Table Mountain than Mount Everest” most years due to falls, and even murder sometimes.
Ha’iku Stairs, Hawaii
This dangerous path is made of 3,922 metal stairs rising 2,800 feet. They were originally built in 1942 to make a radio tower to send transmissions to Navy ships. They were forbidden to the public after a fatal rockslide killed eight people and injured 42 in 1999, and a tram was built instead, but that also got damaged in 2015 by a storm.
For now, it is still illegal to climb the stairs.