“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.”
– T.S. Eliot
– T.S. Eliot
Did you know that one of the most dangerous adventures in the world is hiking? You must be wondering how can hiking be dangerous; it’s just a long, long walk, with a little ups and downs in the mountains. The hikes that we are talking about here are not meant for the fainthearted. Imagine yourself walking through dangerous holes, on old, rotten planks that are supported by rusted cables that sway sideways as the wind grows stronger, and below lies a deep, deep creek that causes dizziness the moment you look down. It seems as if you are flirting with death! These are some hikes that only daredevils and people with immense guts would attempt. While others may call it inviting death, passionate hikers call it ‘truly living.’ If you too are one big adventure-seeking hiker, who needs a dose of adrenaline every now and then, then take a look at some of the most scariest and challenging trails that you may want to consider for your next adventure hike.
World’s Best and Terrifying Hiking Trails
Put on your hiking boots, and of course, your BRAVEST hat, because you will definitely need it here!
Mt. Hua Shan Plank Path, China
This trail definitely tops this list, with it being the most dangerous, challenging, and nauseating hike in the world, that you can ever imagine. This route will guarantee full thrill and adventure, that can make even the most experienced hiker think twice. It consists of wooden planks and platforms that are bolted onto the sides of a cliff. The path is about a couple of hundred feet long, and 2,000 feet above the ground. It has a religious history that dates back to centuries. This path leads to a temple at the top. If you go there, you’ll be provided with safety harnesses at the base of the cliff to clip into the wires and chains along the path that will prevent you from falling down. Looking at people’s thirst for adrenaline, there was a brave soul that traversed the whole path without any harness or safety equipment! So, watch your step, and dare you not look down here!
El Caminito del Rey, Spain
Also called the King’s Little Pathway, this is a crumbled walkway that is pinned along the walls of El Chorro. This vertigo-inducing trail is about 2 – 3 feet wide, and 350 feet above the river. It is mostly made up of wooden planks supported by steel rails, which have now rusted and deteriorated over the years. Also, there are sections where about 10 feet of planks are missing. After two hikers fell to their death in 2000, it was officially closed. However, some adrenaline junkies do manage to get around the fencing. It was made more than a hundred years ago for the workers at hydroelectric power plants to cross between the falls, and transport various materials. A German trekker, Daniel Ahnen, crossed this trail without any clipping or safety equipment. Another gutsy, man we must say!
Huayna Picchu, Peru
The Inca Trail that leads to Machu Picchu can be one daunting trek. Also called the ‘Hike of Death’, the real danger here begins when you have to pass through the mythical city. It consists of a staircase that was carved out of granite. This route involves climbing many steep and narrow stairs that appear to be coming out of and floating from the wall that runs about 1,000 feet above. Making it more challenging are the slippery and rotting rocks covered with clouds and mist. It is said that going up is easier here than coming down. The thrill factor here is that, it is steep and can prove fatal if you step on a wrong place. In one day, only about 400 people are allowed to climb, to avoid the congestion. Of course, this is for the people prefer taking the stairs every time. Okay, maybe that wasn’t so funny! But would you dare to climb these?
The Maze, Canyonlands, Utah
The Maze in Utah is one of the most remote areas that is visited by around 2,000 people each year, not because of the beauty, but for the challenge, because it is very difficult to reach. It is almost impossible to navigate this labyrinth of red rock, as it is full of dead ends. There’s always the danger of rockfalls or flash floods lingering over this place. Remember James Franco in 127 Hours? Yes, that’s what the scene is exactly like over here. This trail is not for those are afraid of heights and small spaces. Also make sure that you have some great sense of direction; it is called the Maze for a reason!
The Kalalau trail, located along the Na Pali Coast in Hawaii, is a spectacular beauty, with mountains on one side and an underdeveloped beach on the other. Looking at it from far away may seem like a simple trek, but the 11-mile hike in this paradise-like place can quickly turn nasty. The major crossings can be really dangerous during the rains, as it leads the trail to swell. The waterfalls here lead to rockfalls, which is also a main concern. The hikers hitting this trail must be careful of the crumbling ledges and crashing ocean waves. It seems that all the fun attitude of Hawaii can turn deceptive at times.
Maroon Bells South Ridge, Colorado
Although this trail boasts of some scenic beauty, you cannot take it for granted even though many people complete the hike safely. This place is full of loose rocks, steep paths, and many places where you can get lost, literally. The climb here is easy, till you reach above 11,000 feet on the east slope, after which it gets rough as you go higher and higher. It got its ‘deadly’ tag after eight people died in five separate accidents after these beautiful cliffs became deceptive, which took their lives without any warning.
Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon, Arizona
This 9.5-mile trail in Arizona has also claimed the lives of many people, mostly because of the soaring temperatures, which usually reaches around 110°F (43°C). It is huge, which is why it is one of the most sought-after achievements for some people. The number of deaths and injuries here have led the park service to create a special scouting crew for rescuing people. There are about 200 rescues every year, even though this trail has some rest stations along the way, unlike other Grand Canyon trails. It seems an easy trek at first, but it turns sour soon enough. Despite the warning boards put up everywhere, people don’t carry enough water, or many even start their hikes quite late in the day.
Mist Trail, California
At Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, Mist Trail is one of the most popular trails among people here. Although about 3,000 hikers come back safely from there each year, there are certain tricky spots that may leave you injured if you are not well prepared for this hike. The most challenging part is climbing up with the help of steel cables that become really slippery during the rainfalls. It is an 8-mile long trail, that also includes a few hundred feet of granite staircase. There have been a few accidents here, mainly due to wet rocks.
The Narrows, Longs Peak, Colorado
This is one of the most popular, but deadliest peaks in Colorado, mainly because of rock slides, lightning, and narrow ledges. The trail is comfortable until you reach a section known as the ‘Keyhole’. Hikers here need to go through narrow ledges and stay on the path that is painted as bull’s-eye for indications. One of the most famous mountaineer, Agnes Vaille, died here after falling 150 feet down onto a rock field.
The Himalayas, also known as ‘the abode of snow’, is home to the highest peaks in the world. It has been a challenging and the most difficult mountain to climb for over decades now. It consists of some picturesque sites, like the Pangong Tso lake, that stretches over to China as well. Many trekking and hiking expeditions are held here every year, for both amateurs and experts, depending on their experience.
Glass Skywalk, Tianmen Mountain National Park, China
The Tianmen Mountain National Forest Park in China has some spectacular and scenic beauty, but nothing can beat the death-defying ‘Glass Skywalk’. It is a path made of glass, which is built on the side of a cliff. This path is about 4,700 feet above sea level, and 200 feet long. This walkway along the cliff is amazingly scary, so scary that the people who thought of building this incredible sidewalk have still not found anyone to keep it clean. Hikers here are asked to wear cloth slip-ons over their shoes so that view remains clean. Mind you, don’t look down! It may scare the hell out of you!
Pacaya Volcano National Park, Guatemala
Yes, volcano! Ever thought of getting up and close with a volcano? You must think people are crazy to be venturing into volcano-prone areas. Pacaya is one volcano that is extremely moody, and has been active since 23,000 years now. It’s not as dangerous as you may think though. You can watch the volcano erupting from a distance. However, the climb can be dangerous even when the volcano isn’t erupting, as it is pretty steep. You’ll obviously need to keep a tab on the current situation there. So before you hit this hot place, make sure you do your homework well in advance.
These are the most dangerous and thrilling hiking trails in the world that you should definitely visit once in your lifetime for that amazing experience that you won’t get anywhere else.
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