10 of the Deadliest Hiking Trails in the World
Dangerous hiking trails, which skirt cliff edges and narrow walkways, are as heart wrenching as they are rewarding. They test people physically, demanding stamina, as well as mentally, demanding that they face the adrenalin rush of being so unnaturally high. They’re definitely not for those who fear heights!
If you think you’re ready to complete a deadly hiking trail, here are some of the deadliest in the world.
1. El Caminito del Rey, Spain
Sometimes called “the world’s scariest footpath,” El Caminito del Rey is a three-kilometre cliff-side path 100 metres above a gorge. Five people died trying to complete it in 2000, so helmets are now compulsory for anyone brave enough to try it. The wooden walkways had to be renovated in 2015, costing $3.36 million, making them stronger and safer.
2. Via Ferrata, Italy
Deep in the Dolomites is Via Ferrata, a mountain trail that includes metal ladders, bridges and cables cemented into the rocks. In Italian, the name of the route literally translates as “fully equipped road,” but it won’t be built up any further for fear of damaging the mountains, so this is as equipped as it’s going to get.
3. Aonach Eagach Ridge, Scotland
The narrowest scramble in the UK, Aonach Eagach Ridge has unbelievable views of Glen Coe. To attempt this trail, hikers need to be confident moving on Grade I ground without a rope. At the summit is Am Bodach, reaching 943 metres high.
4. West Coast Trail, Vancouver
Built in 1907 to allow the shipwrecked to be rescued, this backpacking trail is open from May to the end of September each year. It’s 75 kilometres long and follows the coast of Vancouver Island. Backpackers who complete it may be lucky enough to see cougars, orcas, and eagles during their trip.
5. Mount Huashan, China
Part of a holy site, Mount Huashan is one of China’s five tallest mountains. It’s a cliff-side climb where it’s really advisable you watch where you step. Some of the walkways are a little bit tattered, and many had to be reinforced since tourism made the trail more popular. If you reach the top, there’s a lovely Chess Pavilion for a quick game. If you have the energy, that is.
6. The Appalachian Trail, East Coast USA
The Appalachian Trail will take hikers through 14 different US states and is a massive 3,500 kilometres long. It covers the Smoky Mountains, barren and rocky landscapes, forests and many more terrains. Some people complete the trail in 46 days, but for some it can take a whole year. By far the most varied trail, it requires a lot of stamina.
7. The Maze, Canyonlands, Utah
Completing the Maze can take around 3-7 days and only about 2000 people attempt it each year—this isn’t a large number compared to many other trails. Anyone who tries this route needs to be more than competent with a map, as they will be required to navigate through various interconnecting canyons, which are much like—you guessed it—a maze.
8. Huayna Picchu Trail, Peru
This is one of the most famous and popular trails because it leads up to Machu Picchu. Originally built by the Incas, it includes steep cliff faces, steel cables, and rocky steps. Only 400 people a day are allowed to complete the trail to protect the original stones.
9. Taghia Gorge, Morocco
This gorge climb is 800 metres long, can reach 3000 metres in height, and ends at the extremely remote Taghia village. There are many routes available on this overhanging red limestone rock, and the best time to visit is generally between April and October. Go during the cooler months to avoid sunstroke.
10. Maroon Bells, Colorado
Maroon Bells is the kind of panorama people write home about—a beautiful lake framed by two giant 14,000-foot mountains. The easiest route is a class 4 exposed scramble, but it’ll be worth it for the Instagram post.
If you’re up for more than a few thrills on your next hike, get one or all 10 of these hiking trails on your bucket list. If you’re looking for more heart-pounding off-the-beaten-path adventure, you’ll want to read about this journey to the end of the world.