A Walk On The Wild Side: 40 Daring Trails Around The Globe For The Adventurous HikerBy Sachin P
Not every hiking route is made equal. Some are the complete opposite of safe, while others are not even “built” at all. However, despite these scary realities, some daring hikers still choose to push their luck and test fate all in the name of adventure.
While the majority of us consider our past experiences or those of others before choosing to do something risky, like embarking on a dangerous hike, some people are wired differently. The more perilous something sounds, the better.
The hiking destinations featured in this listicle fall squarely into that category. Many of them need the assistance of a professional. Making it to the peak of one of them requires a combination of factors and skills. So, without further ado, let’s jump in and marvel at these incredible trails.
Via Ferrata – Italy, and Austria
The Italian phrase “via Ferrata” translates to “iron way.” It’s a fitting term for this hiking destination within the Dolomite Mountains. Although the trail’s elevation may add a certain degree of risk, the sights are incredibly beautiful. Hikers occasionally need to traverse suspension bridges.
Some sections are constructed using wires and ropes. Despite the fact that there are cables installed to save you if you fall, you still risk getting wounded as you descend. If you’re taking a trip around Europe and love hiking, we highly recommend Via Ferrata. There’s nothing like it.
Rover’s Run Trail – Alaska, USA
We only have one piece of advice for anyone visiting Rover’s Run: visit when the bears are hibernating. Although the trail itself isn’t hazardous, the park it’s located in an area that is home to brown bears. As you may know, these vicious animals can charge at you if they perceive a threat.
Brown bears are very active during the summer, especially since that’s when salmon populations are at their highest. Luckily, Rover’s Run is a brilliant place to hike in the winter. The short, level track is also ideal for taking along your four-legged buddies.
Drakensberg Traverse – South Africa
The first half of this trek represents the most challenging part for hikers. They must ascend two chain ladders at a certain point, and the entire route is difficult since it’s mostly made up of rugged terrain. Fortunately, to the seasoned hiker, that’s nothing out of the ordinary.
There have also been reports of severe weather, dangerous wildlife encounters, as well as a bandit attack on a party of hikers in 2016. It can take more than a week to finish a hike here. So, if you choose this place, ensure you have enough food and other essential supplies.
Maroon Bells – Colorado, USA
The Maroon Bells in Colorado’s Elk Mountains are technically two distinct mountain peaks. These two summits are a part of the Rockies and rise above 14,000 feet in altitude. They are primarily made up of a brittle and fragile sort of rock.
At the trail’s entry, a sign warns that it “kills without warning.” We don’t know about you, but that would have us second-guessing ourselves. Additionally, the two peaks are frequently known as “The Deadly Bells.” Frankly, we’re not so sure that we’d hike here.
Kalalau – Hawaii, USA
This trail is particularly hazardous because of its location near Kalalau. It features many scary drop-offs and skirts a cliff’s edge. Its surroundings are also vulnerable to ﬂooding. You will need a permit to access some places because they are so dangerous.
Permits are used by the park service to guarantee that only knowledgeable hikers will enter particular regions. The phrase “deceptively gorgeous” is used to describe Kalalau by many travel publications. This sounds quite apt since the place is as lovely as it is deadly.
Mount Pinatubo – Philippines
The second-largest eruption of the 20th century took place in Pinatubo. Travelers who choose to go on this trip run the chance of coming face to face with another eruption. The trek is only reasonably tough. Plan for two hours of off-road motoring if you’re up for the task.
That’s just to reach the trailhead. Although there is a crater lake along the hike, swimming is not advised. The water there is boiling hot and corrosive due to the volcano’s eruption. However, the gorgeous blue hues can be appreciated from a distance.
Bright Angel Trail – Arizona, USA
The Bright Angel Trail can be extremely treacherous. Hikers are more exposed to hazards the deeper they go into the canyon. It’s frequently described as Arizona’s most dangerous hiking trail. The National Park Service even established a specialized rescue crew just for this hiking trail.
They are there to assist hikers who get heatstroke because, in the scorching Arizona heat, cases have become so frequent. Make sure to arrive equipped if you attempt to trek the Bright Angel trail. Take many stops along the way, and carry far more water than you believe you’ll need.
Grande Randonnée (GR) 20 – Corsica
The GR 20 trail can be found on Corsica, an island located off the coast of France. It stretches the entirety of the island from North to South and is surrounded by some breathtaking sights. However, the track is regarded as risky and not recommended for novices.
The route is extremely dangerous due to inclement weather and steep drops. The heavy storms that are a common occurrence in the area in the middle of summer, as well as the terrible winter, can make trails treacherous and difficult to navigate.
El Caminito Del Rey – Spain
The El Caminito trail was first constructed more than a century ago. It allowed access to the hydropower plant in the region and wasn’t initially meant for hikers and tourists. It’s regarded as one of the most difficult hiking routes in the world.
The walkway is relatively steep and constrained, and its deterioration over time has significantly raised the risk. Luckily, the Spanish government addressed this concern and rehabilitated it. Now, the trail is safe for the majority of average hikers like us!
The Maze, Canyonlands – Utah, USA
In addition to being among the most challenging hikes in the park, The Maze District in Canyonlands National Park is also the hardest to locate. Only experienced hikers can take their chances here, mainly because of how difficult it would be to receive assistance in an emergency.
Nevertheless, it draws tens of thousands of visitors every year. The majority of guests end up spending three to seven days in The Maze region. Additionally, whenever it rains, the area is susceptible to flash flooding, frequent rockfalls, and summertime temperatures that sometimes exceed 100 degrees. Only the brave can successfully conquer this feat.
Mount Huashan – China
The Mount HuaShan hiking route is frequently regarded as Asia’s most scary. A steel chain serves as the only guardrail along sections of the 7.5-mile-long trail. To make matters worse, the course is primarily a series of wooden boards nailed to the mountain!
It is one of the most well-known hiking destinations in the world, despite the risk involved. The peak itself, located just outside Huayin and revered by locals and visitors alike, is regarded to be holy by the local inhabitants. Would you trek this dangerous trail?
Angels Landing – Utah, USA
The small well-liked trail Angels Landing was built in Zion National Park in 1926. Due to its immense popularity, the destination is often a victim of overcrowding, which comes with its own risks. Only one individual can ascend the steep, tight stairway at a time.
That stairway is the final part of the hike before you reach the summit. Once you get to the top, it immediately becomes evident why the place is so famous. The view is spectacular, mainly because the mountain towers over Zion Canyon from over 1,500 feet at its highest point.
Longs Peak – Colorado, USA
Longs Peak is Colorado’s point of pride when it comes to hiking. Over the years, a number of people have fallen while hiking here because of the narrow footpaths. Additionally, the bad weather the area experiences hasn’t made things easier.
Despite its less-than-friendly reputation, it is acknowledged as having had a significant influence on the initial creation of Rocky Mountain National Park. The National Register of Historic Places even added this unique place to its list of important sites several years ago.
Denali – Alaska, USA
Denali, previously referred to as Mount McKinley, is located in Alaska. Like most of the trails on our list, it’s one of the most treacherous on the planet due to the lack of established routes on the peak. Nevertheless, scores of hikers try to climb it each year.
Hikers are required to obtain permission to climb. They are also advised not to go alone because falling is quite common, so having company significantly increases the chances of getting help in case that happens. How many friends do you have that wouldn’t mind accompanying you on this adventure?
Striding Edge – England
If you’re a beginner, you should avoid hiking Helvellyn mountain. As it approaches the mountain crest, it gets exceedingly narrow; one slip may hurl someone over the brink. Hikers must ascend carefully to the mountain’s peak after completing the final portion of the Edge.
A monument to Charles Gough, an English artist who perished while climbing the mountain in 1805, can be found along the Edge. Just look at how scary it seems, even in the picture. We doubt we’d be convinced to hike here. So, if you are visiting, exercise extreme precaution.
Pacaya Volcano Trail – Guatemala
If you would like to view amazing fauna as you hike, head to the Pacaya Volcano Trail. Even though it’s an active volcano and is rated as challenging, some adventurers find the challenge to be a part of the experience.
Although the sight of both the magma and the smoke is impressive, the rock itself may be rather slippery. Tour guides no longer accept parties to the top due to increased risk since scientists claim the area has been experiencing increased volcanic activity.
Kokoda Track – Papua New Guinea
The famous Kokoda Track travels across the Owen Stanley Mountain range in Papua New Guinea. A minimum of four days is required to finish this extreme course. We recommend making the trek a group activity like the people pictured below.
The landscape is mountainous and looks like ascending stairs. Also, the hot, muggy conditions make it extremely humid. Only skilled hikers are advised to attempt the 50-mile trail. The area is home to dangerous fauna like scorpions, and temperatures at nighttime can drop to below freezing.
Aonach Ridge – Scotland
Aonach Eagach mountain ridge in Scotland is another favorite for people who love hikes in Europe. It is also a great choice if you are a fan of rock climbing. There aren’t many exits along the lengthy trail once the hiker starts.
The ridge, which is 3,100 feet high, is extremely stony and precipitous in some places. Hiking here requires skills like scrambling, which is using one’s feet and hands to climb. The region is also subject to abrupt weather changes like rain which can make climbing difficult.
Huayna Picchu – Peru
Although Huayna Picchu is among the most famous excursions in South America, there are risks involved if you choose to hike here. Nearly 9,000 feet above sea level, this Peruvian peak offers a stunning view of the renowned Lost City of Inca. Additionally, you will encounter the “Stairs of Death.”
These steps are carved into the mountainside. From their entry point to the mountain’s summit, the stairs themselves extend for a distance of around 600 feet. For crowd control and ease of navigation, you need to buy a ticket to embark on this memorable hike.
Cascade Saddle – New Zealand
Lord of the Rings fans will love this one. The movies were filmed on location at Mount Aspiring National Park in New Zealand. Despite being incredibly gorgeous, this destination is rough and treacherous, and at least twelve hikers have lost their lives there.
If you opt to hike Cascade Saddle, we advise doing so in the summertime since snow and wet weather increases the risk of accidents. Also important to note is that summers in New Zealand are between December and February, so plan your trip accordingly!
Devil’s Path – New York, USA
The Devil’s Path in the New York Catskill Mountains has not been associated with any fatalities yet. However, this does not imply that the route is straightforward. It is approximately 20 miles long and features severe rises and steep valley descents.
There is even one 50-foot climb at a nearly vertical angle on the trail. In order to retain their footing when climbing this section, hikers have mentioned needing to hold onto tiny tree roots. If you’re a skilled hiker, you can make a weekend out of your trip by staying at their camp.
Taghia Gorge – Morocco
In reality, Taghia Gorge in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains entails more of an ascent than a trek. The course is not one that a novice can easily follow. Although it’s sturdy, the rock is quite steep. Definitely not a fun experience for anyone with a fear of heights.
Most of the climbs start at over 2,000 feet in elevation. Thus only experienced individuals should attempt them. In addition, getting to Taghia itself requires a 6-hour journey from Marrakech and a 2-hour walk across pathways and streams. Sounds like the ultimate adventure.
Yosemite National Park Mist Trail – California, USA
Even though Yosemite’s Mist Trail is among the park’s shorter routes, it’s also one of the most dangerous. It has many steep climbs and downhills, a few of which hikers must navigate using cables. Over 4 million people visit the route each year.
An estimated that 15 people have passed away while hiking here. Unexpected thunderstorms frequently occur in the area, making the steep slopes more slippery, mainly when handrails are absent. So, if you decide to visit this place, ensure that you’re prepped to a T.
Mount Washington – New Hampshire, USA
The terrain of Mount Washington is not particularly difficult, but the weather there is famously awful. It’s called “Home of the World’s Worst Weather,” according to the Mount Washington Observatory. Temperatures plummet, and winds of the greatest speed ever measured blow!
It resembles the speeds of a tropical cyclone. Even the brightest days can rapidly turn fatal. The top of the mountain actually owns the title of the second coldest place on earth! If this doesn’t deter you, we recommend being very cautious and adequately prepared for a storm.
Mount Ijen – Java, Indonesia
The mesmerizing volcano cluster that includes Mount Ijen is situated near Java, the largest island in Indonesia. From this location, visitors can view the other volcanoes and also the island’s renowned turquoise sulfur lake from a height of almost 900 feet!
Because of the poisonous gases produced by sulfur from the lake, hikers are advised to use respirators, which might make the strenuous descent all the more difficult. So, posing for a quick photo like the one seen here is actually not wise.
Snowman Trek – Bhutan
These stunning ranges boast a long trail made by yak herders in Bhutan. The reason why it’s featured on our list is that it’s very difficult to hike here. That’s mainly because, for the majority of the year, heavy rains make it too risky even for the most experienced hikers.
If you are ready to brave these kinds of conditions, we assure you that by the end of it, the blood, sweat, and tears will be worth it. If you have any doubts, just look at the picture above. Now, that’s the kind of view we know will stay with you forever.
Chadar Trek – India
Since it is situated in Northern India, this trek—also referred to as the Zanskar Gorge trek—is, in fact, the only way to cross the Zanskar river valley throughout winter. The famous river usually freezes completely due to the intense cold.
Hikers who are not accustomed to or prepared for such harsh weather run the risk of being adversely affected. Between January and February, temperatures can fall far below zero. So, invest in a lot of warm clothes before heading down there.
Fimmvörðuháls – Iceland
This 3,000-foot, 20-mile hike is among Iceland’s most treacherous and difficult. The trail goes across two glaciers which are both reported to conceal active volcanoes, earning it the nickname “where fire meets ice.” It’s so remote that you might run into an actual Northman!
One of this trail’s most attractive features is that it enables you to experience so much in a single day! That’s right. You can complete the trek in one day and see the best that Iceland has to offer in terms of volcanoes and stunning waterfalls.
Barr Trail – Colorado, USA
Colorado strikes again! Aside from Maroon Bells and Longs Peak, this state has yet another famous hiking destination; the Barr Trail. It is a component of the Pike National Forest in Manitou Springs and is known for being long and steep.
It also passes across three distinct ecosystems is what makes it so challenging. However, if you’re fit, you can easily do it in a day. Owing to its altitude, the region experiences a lot of lightning strikes, and occasionally, one of these bolts has been reported to harm a hiker.
Mount Triglav – Slovenia
Mount Triglav is the name of the tallest mountain in the Julian Alps, bordering Slovenia and Italy. Hikers must navigate a tricky, tight route and occasionally ascend extremely steep hills as they ascend this mountain. Without mountaineering equipment, this route shouldn’t be attempted.
The peak, which is nearly 9,000 feet tall at its highest point, is regarded as the “centerpiece” of Triglav National Park. Slovenians, particularly the few who reside close to the peak, claim that unless someone climbs it, they are not truly Slovenian.
Trift Bridge – Switzerland
Trift Bridge may not be ideal for those with a phobia of heights. This 330-foot-high suspension bridge that spans the Trift Glacier Lake in the Swiss Alps is 557 feet long. After taking a cable car over Trift Valley, it takes roughly an hour and a half of trekking to access the bridge.
The bridge has recently added reinforcing components. However, it is still susceptible to swinging during particularly heavy winds. A while back, a landslide happened in the area, and unfortunately, one woman was swept away as she was crossing the bridge.
Glacier National Park – Montana, USA
In Glacier National Park in Montana, there is a lovely but difficult hike called the Huckleberry Trail or the Apgar Trail. Although the views it offers are incredibly breathtaking, other creatures also find the region enjoyable, which is completely understandable.
According to some estimations, up to 600 grizzly bears consider Glacier National Park home, making it the contiguous United States’ largest bear habitat. Huckleberry Trail, as its name suggests, is abundant with fresh berries, which hikers are welcome to graze on.
Knivskjellodden – Norway
In reality, the northernmost point in Europe is Knivskjellodden on the Norwegian Island of Magerya. Visitors must climb about seven miles of a badly built path that is frequently coated with snow to get to Knivskjellodden. It’s absolutely unreachable for a large portion of the calendar year.
Since the island is located so far north, it gets very little sunshine during the winter, which makes the track challenging to follow. After October, it is not advised to travel there, so if you want to see the top of the European continent, we suggest you do it over the summer.
Abrams Falls Trail – Tennessee, USA
The Abrams Falls Trail is located in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was named one of the 10 riskiest walks in the nation by the Backpacker Magazine. The trail’s namesake falls have claimed the lives of over twenty individuals due to lousy weather, elevation fluctuations, and drowning.
It is well known that the current around the falls is quite powerful. Getting stranded in the water because of pebbles and other debris also happens often. About 100 people a day frequent the route during the summer and fall tourist seasons.
Camp Muir Snowfield, Mount Rainier National Park – Washington, USA
Those with hiking expertise often quip that Mount Rainier creates its own weather. In an instant, the weather can shift, increasing the risk of an already difficult journey. The peak is, in fact, an active volcano, which accounts for its impressive attitude.
Warm temperatures fall below freezing fast, and gusts have been known to go above 70 mph. According to the outdoor resource Outforia, Mount Rainier is the sixth-most hazardous park in the nation. Still, it sounds very fascinating. Definitely a bucket list destination.
Taung Wine Mountain – Myanmar
Some remote areas of Myanmar are still underdeveloped but still possess beautiful natural scenery. Though Taung Wine Mountain is a revered craggy mountain that’s difficult to climb, it offers unmatched spectacular views of the area’s lush paddy fields and limestone rock formations.
You’ll need to ride a motorcycle down the unlabeled dirt roads and follow a crooked monk’s route through a jungle that’s home to 39 different species of the world’s most poisonous snakes. After that, cautiously ascend a rickety curving metal stairway barefoot to the shrine at the summit.
Cuidad Perdida – Colombia
These ruins give Macchu Picchu a run for its money seeing as they are 650 years older. Commonly known as the Lost City, they are located deep within the Colombian rainforest. When you go, you must hire a local guide to make sure you don’t get stranded in the deep Colombian forests.
Even the remains themselves weren’t unearthed until the 1970s because of how dense this jungle is. You’ll need the grit to endure 28 kilometers of rugged, hilly, dense forests as well as smooth river crossings to get to the Lost City.
Red Cathedral, Death Valley National Park – California, USA
Any long trek has some level of risk, especially when done in one of the hottest regions in the States. Even the short Red Cathedral Trail, which is only three miles long, can cause heat exhaustion in Death Valley’s brutal 120+ degree climate. Also, there are deadly snakes to look out for!
The majority of day trekkers in the region rely on GPS, which is incredibly unreliable in this desolate environment. Although most of the Red Cathedral route is relatively simple, if you rely entirely on GPS, it’s easy to get lost in the maze.
Mount Storm King – Washington, USA
Most visitors think this modestly tall summit in Olympic National Park is harmless. But once you start the calf-burning 2,300-foot rise over the course of 1.5 miles, trudging across loose, powdery soil on an unmaintained track, you’ll see why Mount Storm King landed on this list.
You’ll complete the walk by climbing a succession of tattered braided ropes and ascending the ridge of grey rock with only air on either side of you. Though it sounds extremely dangerous, the view, as you can see, is nothing short of breathtaking.
Chesler Park Loop, Canyonlands National Park – Utah, USA
It takes a lot of courage and will to scramble up red granite ledges while tracing meticulously piled cairns for a distance of more than 10 miles in the relentless desert climate. The Needles sector of Canyonlands National Park promises this kind of adventure to anyone who’s willing to try.
Following the open, sand-covered path will put you at risk for heatstroke, demand you use all of your energy climbing up and down scenic ridges, and have you downing so much more water than you could imagine. We’re sweating just thinking about it!