10 of the World’s Most Dangerous Trails

10 of the World’s Most Dangerous Trails
The destination at the end of a dangerous hike is worthwhile, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Trails where steel cables are the only support, precarious knife-edge ridges... these hiking trails are certainly not for the faint of heart

Soham Deb
October 14 , 2020
10 Min Read

Everybody loves taking a nice walk through the forest or the beach. Some of us take this one step further and go on hiking trails to test our physical limits. The thrill of a dangerous hike gets the adrenaline flowing and the blood pumping. There are some hikes where if you miss a step, you might even plunge down and end up with a serious injury. Some of them make us want to give up halfway but when we push ourselves through and reach the top. 

Here are 10 hiking trails across the world which are not for the faint-hearted and should not be attempted by novice hikers.

The Maze, USA
A narrow pathway inside the Maze
A part of the Canyonlands National Park in Utah, the Maze is very tricky to navigate as the entire region is a labyrinth of dead ends. Hikers have to be rescued on a regular basis here. The interconnecting canyons and narrow passageways are very easy to get lost in. Though it makes up for an incredible experience, the sheer remoteness of the Maze confuses even experienced hikers. Moreover, water sources are hard to find. A map and a compass goes a long way in locating springs with potable water. Only about 2,000 people go for this trail every year which gives an idea about how remote it is.

Mount Huashan, China
Many consider this as the most dangerous hike in the world. Originally meant for pilgrims going to the temples at the top, the hiking trail on Mount Huashan 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 meanders its way through narrow wooden planks attached to the mountain. To reach the planks, hikers have to scale a steep vertical staircase dug into the rocks with only rusty chains for support. In some parts, the wooden planks disappear with only foot supports carved into the rocks which require careful manoeuvring. The view at the end of the route is stunning with panoramic scenery of the surrounding mountains.

El Caminito Del Rey, Spain

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Translating to ‘The King’s Path’, this is one of the most extreme hikes in Spain. Built more than a century ago to create a route to a hydroelectric plant, the two mile trail hangs above the ground at 100 metres. Narrow wooden paths take hikers across limestone cliffs. The path was closed to hikers from 2001 after five people fell to their death into the river below. After renovation, whereby fences were added on the path, El Caminito Del Rey reopened in 2015 and is now considerably safer than before, offering views of blue rivers and scenic valleys.

Drakensberg Traverse, South Africa
The most daunting part of this 40-mile trek inside Natal National Park is the beginning. You’ll have to climb two chain ladders to reach the trailhead which is a route well known for the stunning views on offer. Reportedly about 55 people have died at the Drakensberg Traverse before 1985 after which the numbers were no longer counted. You can imagine the danger one might come across in this trail as they encounter 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
Cascade Saddle offers stunning views of snow covered mountains
Hiking is one of the top activities to do in New Zealand and Cascade Saddle is a popular hiking trail in the country. The 11-mile trek takes almost two days to cover offering hikers some of the glorious views seen in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ film series. The dangerous part of the trail is the ground which is slippery and unstable, particularly when it is raining. Several hikers have suffered injuries, some have even died. A local coroner once said that there has been “far too many deaths” in the Cascade Saddle trail. The stunning alpine views do not help either as hikers can get distracted.

Kalalau Trail, Hawaii
This 22-mile coastal trail in Kalalau, Hawaii, will take you to one of the best beaches in the world. As you make your way through dense jungles watch out for the slippery waterfalls and stream crossings which have taken lives in the past. Frequent rainfall make this path even more treacherous and one wrong move can send you sliding over the edge of a rocky cliff after which even if you do not die you are most likely to be severely injured. If you plan on taking this hike, make sure that right weather conditions prevail. 

Angels Landing, USA

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Located inside Zion National Park in Utah, most of the 2.5 mile trail is quite easily navigable but the final half mile is what makes Angels Landing one of the most dangerous trails in the world. As you start off, you will notice the million years old layers of rock formations. The final half mile consists of walking a narrow and steep ridge that has dangerous drop offs on both sides. Chains and guardrails attached to the cliff are all that stand between the steep edge and you. Even with these safety precautions in place, the path is frightening, but if you can push forward all the way, you will be rewarded with some of the most picturesque views imaginable.

Huayna Picchu, Peru

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Often termed as the ‘Hike of Death’, this trail in Peru claims a few lives each year. Leading up from the famous Inca site Machu Picchu, the trail is made up of granite stairs rapidly gaining an ascent of 305 metres. Lack of proper footwear and equipment along with the fact that a part of the trail is crumbling away makes the hike a treacherous one. The stairs get extremely slippery when wet prompting the authorities to close it every year once the rainy season sets in.

Aonach Eagach, Scotland

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The six mile trail of Aonach Eagach in the Scottish Highlands is not for everybody. The knife-edge ridge is so thin that once you start your hike you cannot get back down without putting your life in jeopardy. The path is extremely rough and getting to the summit requires endurance and hard work along with some serious climbing chops. Attempt this only during good weather conditions as you do not want to be battling sharp winds while trailing on a knife-edge ridge. The views at the top will blow your mind.

Half Dome, USA
The tough 16 mile trail of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park will take you through some stunning views such as the Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls and the Yosemite Valley. Although people have lost their lives on the trail, hundreds of hikers climb it on a busy day. To reach the summit, you will have to climb steel cables which have been attached for assisting hikers up the rock wall. The cables get quite slippery during rains, and this coupled with frequent lightning strikes, make Half Dome a nightmare to climb. This hike should not be attempted unless you are physically very fit and agile.

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