Five of The World’s Most Dangerous Hikes

Hik­ing is usu­al­ly reserved for peo­ple who enjoy a peace­ful trek out into nature, not those seek­ing out an adren­a­line rush. Sure, some of the more ardu­ous trails can you leave you huff­ing and puff­ing on the way to the top, but few of them are treach­er­ous enough that just attempt­ing them could put your very life in jeop­ardy. These dan­ger­ous hikes, how­ev­er, are going to take more than just a good pair of shoes and some bug repel­lant if you want to make it out alive.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_HuaSouth Moun­tain, Mount Hua Shan, China
There are five spires lead­ing to the top of Mount Hua Shan, all of which pose a for­mi­da­ble threat for hik­ers and pil­grims hop­ing to make their way to the tem­ples above. The trail to the South Moun­tain is con­sid­ered the dead­liest in the world. Hik­ers must hook into a chain run­ning along the boards built into the side of the rock, hov­er­ing thou­sands of feet in the air and rough­ly 200 feet across, after mak­ing their way up to a ver­ti­cal stair­case. Try­ing to scale the boards with­out buck­ling in is tan­ta­mount to sui­cide. At cer­tain points on the trail, the boards dis­ap­pear entire­ly and hik­ers are forced to dig their toes into small div­ots in the rock in order to keep from falling to their doom.

If you’re feel­ing adven­tur­ous, go ahead and give it a shot. Hope­ful­ly, you won’t be one of the esti­mat­ed 100 hik­ers who meet their end here every year.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/deltamike/The Maze, Canyon­lands, Utah
One of the tough­est hikes in the world is right here in our own back­yard. Odd­ly enough, the Maze in Canyon­lands Nation­al Park hasn’t man­aged to snuff out the life of any hik­ers yet, but this can large­ly be attrib­uted to staunch patrols and great pub­lic out­reach by rangers. If you were ever to sneak in unen­cum­bered expect to face down dead-end gul­lies, an end­less labyrinth of red stone tun­nels that all look alike, 100-plus degree tem­per­a­tures, rock falls and the poten­tial for rag­ing flood­wa­ters with no escape. Only the most expe­ri­enced climbers are per­mit­ted to enter the Maze, so don’t be a fool and turn into the only one who has nev­er come back out.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/fabulousfabs/Drak­ens­berg Grand Tra­verse, South Africa
Per­haps the worst part of the Drak­ens­berg Tra­verse is that there real­ly is no set path to choose from. Two chain lad­ders you’re encour­aged to cross at your own risk mark the begin­ning of the trail, then you have to nav­i­gate a hap­haz­ard­ly spaced col­lec­tion of rocks and tracks and hope you’re head­ing in the prop­er direc­tion. The real dan­ger, though, is expo­sure to the heat.

There are few if any, spots to stop and rest where you’ll find reprieve from the South African sun. With­out suit­able amounts of water and food on hand, which only add to your pack weight, you’re like­ly to suf­fer from heat­stroke before mak­ing it to the top. Once you’re up, though, the views from the Amphithe­ater are out of this world.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mr__fox/Aonach Eagach Ridge, Scotland
The Aonach Eagach Ridge is one of Scotland’s most promi­nent tra­vers­es and a pop­u­lar hike among scram­blers. It’s also con­sid­ered the nar­row­est ridge on the Scot­tish main­land and is home to numer­ous acci­dents each year and the occa­sion­al death. Steep scree dots the land­scape mak­ing the trip down­ward treach­er­ous in the event the weath­er turns on you high above, which isn’t at all unusu­al for this area.

Tech­ni­cal scram­bling is a neces­si­ty to make it from one end of the four-mile hike to the oth­er and there are no short­cuts to get off the ridge in case of an emer­gency. Once you start, your only way down is at the oth­er end.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/20980483@N04/Maroon Bells, Elk Moun­tains, Colorado
Nick­named the “Dead­ly Bells,” the twin 14ers have claimed the lives of many unas­sum­ing hik­ers and climbers through­out the years. The 12-mile hike is home to decep­tive­ly steep paths and gul­lies as well as tum­bling rocks that are liable to crum­ble under­neath you and send you tum­bling down the moment you lose your focus. Once you rise above 11,000 you begin enter­ing climb­ing ter­ri­to­ry where it begins to become more and more tech­ni­cal in approach.

The insta­bil­i­ty of the rocks com­bined with weath­er pat­terns that turn on dime have giv­en the Maroon Bells a rep­u­ta­tion as being one of the most unpre­dictable hik­ing and climb­ing trails in not just the U.S., but the entire world. Stick to the pre­scribed path and pay close atten­tion to the weath­er if you’re going to make an attempt, but don’t step foot on the trail until you’ve got some expe­ri­ence under your belt.