11 of the Most DANGEROUS Hikes in the World

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Knife-edge ridges that border on lunacy rather than adventure, treacherous trails, and spectacular views. These 11 most dangerous hiking trails are not for the faint-hearted…

Hiking can be walking through a forest or strolling along the beach. It can be putting one foot in front of each other even up a mountain. Hiking is about the view and we all know the higher you go the more spectacular it becomes.

Hiking can also be about challenging yourself and a little bit of thrill seeking.

What factors make a hiking trail dangerous?

  • Where it is situated?
  • How long it will take to complete?
  • How well it is maintained?
  • How many people died on the hiking trail?
  • The difficult rating of the hiking trail.

Here is a list of the 11 most Dangerous hikes in the world that will get that adrenalin pumping

Most Dangerous Hikes in the World

Number 11: Huayna Picchu, Peru (Stairs of Death)

Huayna Picchu (meaning “young peak”) is one of the most popular destinations at Machu Picchu. It towers over the lost city of the Incas at 2692 m (8 835 ft.) above sea level. The trail loops around the mountain where architectural vestiges such as narrow staircases, tunnels, terraces and altars can be found.

Hiking conditions are recommended during the dry season from May to September.

The trail is very steep in some places and not for the faint-hearted.

Stairs of Death

By Evan Sanchez

The Huayna Picchu Loop Trail is dangerous because of where it is situated as well as getting Altitude sickness.

DifficultyDistanceMaintenanceWhy DangerousPeople died
Moderate - challenging5 kmOriginal Inca stairsMountain / very steep6

It is recommended to not just start with this trail but to first acclimatized.

The Only Peru Guide.com provides a guide on how to cope with Altitude sickness when approaching The Huayna Picchu Trail Loop Trail.

Number 10: Via Ferrate, Italy and Austria

A Via Ferrate means “Iron Path” and is a protected climbing route, built with a steel cable rail fixed to the rock, metal steps, ladders, suspension bridges and zip wires.

Via Ferrate date back to the nineteenth century, but they are often associated with the First World War, when several were built in the Dolomite mountain region of Italy to aid the movement of troops. Over 1000 via ferrate currently exist in the European Alps.

Iron Path

The Sentiero Ferrate Ivano Dibona is a challenging high alpine route along the Zurlon ridge, the main crest on Cristallo, a mountain group in the Italian Dolomites.

The 27-meter long bridge was used in the movie “Cliffhanger”.

Cliffhanger Bridge

By Par Rüdiger, CC BY-SA 3.0

Via Ferrate, Italy and Austria

DifficultyDistanceMaintenanceWhy DangerousPeople died
Moderate - challengingDepends which route you takeSome are, some notMountain / very steep / highUnknown

Number 9: The Bright Angel Trail, Arizona

The Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, is home too much of the immense Grand Canyon, with its layered bands of red rock revealing millions of years of geological history.

There are a lot of hiking trails but the most famous would be The Bright Angel trail or better known as “The Death Zone”

Death Zone

By Hermann Luyken – Own work, CC0

On the Bright Angel Trail about 200 people are yearly rescued, primarily during summer when temperature is the highest.

The Bright Angel Trail, Arizona

DifficultyDistanceMaintenanceWhy DangerousPeople died
Challenging15.28 kmMaintainedWeather hot64

Cramps, scorching thirst, and hallucinations are but a few of the symptoms you will experience before your head explodes and you die!

Number 8: Angels Landing, Zion National Park, Utah

Angels Landing, known previously as the Temple of Aeolus, is a 1 488 ft. tall rock formation in Zion National Park in southwestern Utah, United States.

The trail cut into solid rock on the spine – the fin-like summit ridge – after the construction of Walter’s Wiggles, a series of 21 switchbacks that connect the spine to the West Rim Trail.

Angels Landing

By Ronnie Macdonald from Chelmsford, United Kingdom, CC BY 2.0

Angels Landing where the “Selfie” will get you killed!

'Selfie' Killer
Wolfpack306, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Angels Landing is a very popular hike and in 2019 it was estimated that up to a 1000 people per day do the hike in peak season.

Angels Landing

DifficultyDistanceMaintenanceWhy DangerousPeople died
Moderate but exposed to scrambling4.02 kmMaintained - cablesCrowded/mountain15

Number 7: Half Dome, Yosemite, California

Rising to nearly 1502 m (5000 ft.) above Yosemite Valley and 5068 m (8800 ft.) above sea level, Half Dome is a Yosemite icon and a great challenge to many hikers.

Half Dome
By Brian W. Schaller, FAL, via Wikimedia Commons

Hiking to the top of Half Dome is a very popular but extremely strenuous day hike and does require permits.

Half Dome
Half Dome

Out of a total of about 1,200 deaths since the park’s establishment in 1890, 53 have involved incidents with waterfalls.

Half Dome, Yosemite, California

DifficultyDistanceMaintenanceWhy DangerousPeople died
Extremely strenuous27.35 kmMaintained - cablesMountains/waterfalls/steep/distance134

Number 6: Cascade Saddle Track, New Zeeland

Cascade Saddle Track is a beautiful Alpine out and back trail located near Wanaka, Otago, New Zealand. This is a multi day hike with spectacular views of glaciers and valleys. It has an elevation gain of 2769 m (9084 ft.).

This trail is only for experienced hikers.

Highway of Death

Matukituki Valley by Psychoticfish, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

“This Highway of Death” has been under review by the Department of Conservation, Wanaka police Search and Rescue, New Zealand Mountain Guides and Alpine Cliff Rescue to make it more “safe”.

Cascade Saddle Track

DifficultyDistanceMaintenanceWhy DangerousPeople died
Challenging & Technical48.1 kmWell markedAvalanche/alpine/slippery30

Number 5: The Maze, Canyonlands, Utah

The Maze, is the wildest and least visited area of the Canyonlands. Only accessible by 4×4 and visitors must be prepared for self-sufficiency and proper gear or equipment for self-rescue.

The Maze is known as a “thirty-square-mile puzzle in sandstone” and considerate to be in the top 10 most dangerous hikes in America.

The Maze
By au_ears CC BY-SA 2.0

Two-thirds of all deaths were the result of a fall — roped and not roped.

The Maze

DifficultyDistanceMaintenanceWhy DangerousPeople died
Moderate to TechnicalNoCanyon/alone/rock falls/flash floods/heat20

Number 4: Drakensberg Traverse, South Africa

The Grand Traverse of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park is a formidable experience for the adventurous hiker.

It’s a World Heritage site with exceptional beauty and extraordinary views. The Drakensberg Grand Traverse is a point-to-point trail. It is usually done in 15 days and includes 3 peaks.

The first peak Mount Aux Sources summit is 3283 m (10 768 ft). The second peak Champagne Castle summit at 3377 m (11 079 ft) and the third peak Mafadi summit at 3450 m (11 318 ft.) above sea level.

The Grand Traverse
By Cwawebber – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Champagne Castle summit at 3377 m.Champagne Castle Peak

People often get lost in the mist, can’t find water or die from hyperthermia on this death -defying hike.

Drakensberg Traverse, South Africa

DifficultyDistanceMaintenanceWhy DangerousPeople died
Hard202 kmNone, 38 non marked waypointsMountain/ steep/exposure55 before 1985, no longer counted

Number 3: Kalalau, Hawaii

The Kalalau Trail follow in the footsteps of the ancient Hawaiians. It is a difficult and challenging hiking following along Na Pali Coast on the North Shore of the island of Kauai.

The narrow trail, three major stream crossings that can rapidly rise when raining as well as rock falling and strong riptides make the Kalalau Hike a very dangerous one.

Na Pali Kalalau Trail waterfall

Na Pali Kalalau Trail waterfall Kauai, Hawaii by dronepicr, CC BY 2.0

Kalalau Trail

Kalalau Trail by Matt Wright, CC BY 2.0

There have been numerous Kalalau Trail deaths due to basic things like not respecting the Kalalau Trail crawlers ledge and subsequently plummeting hundreds of feet.

Kalalau Trail

DifficultyDistanceMaintenanceWhy DangerousPeople died
Hard and Challenging35 kmNone and difficult to followMountain/ wet/steep/exposure100

Number 2: El Caminito de Rey, Spain

El Caminito del Rey is a walkway, pinned along the steep walls of a narrow gorge in El Chorro, near Ardales in the province of Málaga, Spain.

The King’s Little Pathway as it is also known is over 100 years old and 100 m (350 ft.) high.

El Caminito del Rey

MichiNerja, CC BY-SA 3.0 ES

El Caminito del Rey has been known in the past as the “world’s most dangerous walkway” following five deaths in 1999 and 2000 when it was closed and restored in 2015.

El Caminito de Rey, Spain

DifficultyDistanceMaintenanceWhy DangerousPeople died
Moderate 7.7 kmYesMountain/ exposure/narrowUnknown

Number 1: Huashan, China

The “Death Trail” is the most dangerous hiking trail in the world because of its narrow passes made only of wooden planks and carved rock faces.

Death Trail

Mount Huashan is one of China’s great mountains and has been a place of religious importance since at least the 2nd century BCE when a Daoist temple was established at its base.

Mount Huashan

CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

At the top of the trail at an altitude of 2160 m (7086 ft.) there is an ordinary tea house, once the former Taoist temple.

Death Trail, China

DifficultyDistanceMaintenanceWhy DangerousPeople died
Hard and challenging 2160 mNoMountain/ exposure/narrowUnknown
At least a 100 falls per year

These 11 most dangerous hiking trails are spectacular with phenomenal and panorama views. However, hiding in their mist a dangerous “selfie” killer.

A word of warning: Do NOT venture too close to the ledge, many has tried and many has died!

“When you’re young the future is a mountain to climb. Once there though you realize all the beauty was in the climb itself.”

Dean Cavanagh

 

 

Which one of these dangerous hiking trails would you take?

 

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4 thoughts on “11 of the Most DANGEROUS Hikes in the World”

  1. Cikizwa says:

    Nice trails but some are a no-go area for me…..I like trying new stuff but I’m very cautious about my safety, where there are safety measures I’d try them out but those that a deadly i will not even think twice.
    El Caminito de Rey, Spain this one I’d go for.

    The death trail in china no thank you.

    1. Cornelia says:

      Hi Cikizwa, thank you for taking the time to comment. I have to say that El Caminito de Rey, looks super awesome and I would also like to walk there especially now that they have fixed the path. I think if you use hiking safety measures perhaps you can try one of those other 10 dangerous hikes.

  2. Liane says:

    Wow number 5, The Maze! The view is incredible and would love to see the canyon in person.

    These hiking trails look super dangerous, not sure I’m quite that adventurous. Would love to see a show where people go hiking these trails, so I can see how they do it, before I try! Haha. Amazing though, thanks for all the info😁👏

    1. Cornelia says:

      Hi Liane, who wouldn’t want to get lost in a Maze?! The view is spectacular and the canyon is very beautiful.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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