Not every adrenaline junkie likes to jump out of planes or surf tsunamis. Some people prefer to get their kicks from the much slower-paced – but no less dangerous – hobby of extreme hiking.
Simply put, some hikes are just dangerous. Popular hiking trails in developed countries are usually safe enough because the country can afford to throw money into safety features like handrails or non-slip staircases.
However, that’s not always the case – and in developing countries, most trails (save for the most well-traveled) don’t come equipped with luxuries like fences to stop you from tumbling several thousand feet down a mountain.
In this article, we’ll talk about some of the most dangerous hiking trails in the world. The reward? Beautiful views, a sense of accomplishment, and wicked bragging rights.
The Maze, Canyonlands, Utah
The Maze certainly lives up to its name. It’s a series of long, twisting, and thoroughly confusing pathways with innumerable dead-ends that takes you through the extreme heat of a remote desert.
Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) the large number of people who have been injured or gotten heatstroke here has led to an increased presence of park rangers to make sure nobody gets (too) lost.
Caminito Del Rey, Spain
There are some famous pictures of Caminito del Rey that you may have seen, showcasing the insanity of this trail which travels alongside a sheer cliff face. Parts of it are in complete disarray and have fallen to the ground beneath.
Mount Hua Shan, China
This trail is very famous – perhaps not by name, but by photograph. Several photos of one of the more ridiculous (and beautiful) parts of this trail have surfaced on the internet.
Here, climbers have nothing but a chain hammered into the vertical cliff wall and a foot-long platform to shuffle their feet along as they trek to the summit of the mountain. At one point, the foot supports completely disappear, leaving hikers to pull themselves along using divots and chains.
Via Ferrara, Italy & Austria
This hike is a combination of vertical climbs, loose ropes, swinging wooden footbridges and cables that hang over a beautiful view of the valley beneath. Only the most well-equipped hikers should attempt this trail, as you’ll need a special type of caribeaner to navigate the cables.
The Huashan hike isn’t so much a trail. Rather, it’s a climb up a vertical cliff face. Hikers have to lock themselves onto a chain that hangs above rickety wooden stairs built into the cliff face.
In case that wasn’t clear enough, Huashan is dangerous. A lot of people die here every year.
Huayna Picchu, Peru
Despite being one of the most popular trails in the world, the hike up to Machu Picchu in South America remains one of the most dangerous. In fact, its popularity could be the reason that so many people get injured: every year, underprepared tourists get over-confident and underestimate the difficulty of the hike, leading to preventable injuries.
Written by Nigel Ford