There are many hikes around the world that are considered extremely dangerous due to their challenging terrain, unpredictable weather conditions, and the level of expertise needed to complete them safely. Whether you’re an experienced hiker looking for an adrenaline rush or just have your curiosity peaked, here are some of the most dangerous hikes in the world that most definitely are not for the timid:
Mount Huashan Plank Walk, China: This hike involves walking on narrow wooden planks bolted to the side of a steep cliff on China’s Mount Huashan. These planks are often only a foot wide, leaving very little room for hikers to balance. The planks are secured by chains, and hikers need to wear safety harnesses. The weather on Mount Huashan can change rapidly. Fog, rain, and strong winds are expected, reducing visibility and making the planks even more slippery. The trail is not for the faint-hearted and requires a good level of physical fitness and courage to defeat.
El Caminito del Rey, Spain: Known as “The King’s Little Pathway,” this hike takes you along a narrow and crumbling walkway attached to steep walls of a gorge high above the Guadalhorce River in southern Spain. It was initially built for workers to maintain a hydroelectric power plant. While safety improvements have been made, parts of the trail are still quite precarious due to a lack of barriers, missing sections, collapsed walkways, and crumbling concrete. Even with areas that have been restored it still remains a rugged and remote hike with limited access points for emergency services.
Drakensberg Traverse, South Africa: This is a challenging hike through the Drakensberg Mountains, involving high altitudes, steep and uneven terrain, river crossings, and unpredictable weather. The terrain can be rugged and a lack of markers can make navigating the area challenging, making it a dangerous option for inexperienced hikers. In addition, the region is home to various wildlife species, including snakes and large mammals. Hikers need to be cautious and knowledgeable about local wildlife to avoid dangerous encounters.
Kalalau Trail, Hawaii, USA: This trail traverses the Na Pali Coast on the Hawaiian island of Kauai hugging the cliffside with steep drop-offs to the ocean below. It’s known for its narrow paths, steep drop-offs, rocky and uneven paths, and unpredictable weather. Flash floods and falling rocks are also potential hazards on this trail.
Aonach Eagach Ridge, Scotland: This is one of the most challenging ridge hikes in the UK and is recommended for experienced hikers with the proper gear. The Aonach Eagach Ridge is a narrow and exposed mountain ridge lacking safety barriers with steep drops on either side. The ridge is made up of rocky terrain, and loose rocks are common. Hikers need to be cautious to avoid dislodging rocks that could potentially fall on others below. In addition, the weather in Scotland can change rapidly – fog, rain, and strong winds are common, reducing visibility and making the rocky terrain slippery.
Mount Huemul Circuit, Argentina: This hike takes you through the remote Patagonian wilderness with difficult river crossings, steep climbs, challenging and unpredictable weather conditions, dangerous wildlife, and limited access to facilities or emergency assistance. The trail is not well-marked and requires navigation skills to complete. A portion of the hike also involves walking on glacial terrain, which requires proper equipment and knowledge to navigate safely.
Cerro Torre, Argentina: The Cerro Torre trail takes hikers through Patagonian terrain with extreme weather, high altitudes, and technical climbing sections. It involves sections of rock and ice climbing that require specialized gear and advanced mountaineering skills. It’s considered one of the most challenging and dangerous treks in the region and is also prone to avalanches. Inexperienced climbers could find themselves in life-threatening situations.
The Maze, Canyonlands National Park, USA: The Maze is a remote and rugged area in Canyonlands National Park in Utah known for its complex and confusing terrain. The area’s extreme temperatures, rugged terrain, and possibility of flash floods make it challenging. Some parts of the trail also require technical canyoneering skills, including rappelling and rope work. The physical demands of navigating this terrain can lead to exhaustion and accidents. It’s one of the most remote areas in the country making it easy to get lost, and there’s limited access to water and facilities, making it a challenge for even experienced hikers.
Remember that tackling dangerous hikes requires thorough preparation, including physical fitness, proper gear, navigation skills, and knowledge of the local conditions. It’s often recommended to go with experienced guides or groups, especially if you’re not familiar with the area. Because of the lack of conventional medical care or emergency services in these areas, taking a Wilderness First Aid course or Wilderness First Responder course before embarking on one of these dangerous hikes can be incredibly beneficial and just may save your life.