Watch Your Step: World’s Most Dangerous Hiking Trails
Even though challenging, hiking could hardly be called dangerous. Yes, it can get physically demanding and exhausting, but it's not exactly a fight to stay alive. Unless you find yourself on the wrong trail.
We're bringing you some of the steepest, scariest, wildest hiking trails in the world. Just one wrong step could send you to your death in a split second.
Despite frequent accidents and fatalities, these trails continue to seduce curious hikers all over the world. One thing is for certain - you need to be a true daredevil to try your luck on these trails; and an experienced one at that.
1. The Kokoda Track, Papua New Guinea
Image from: AustralianGeographic
The Kokoda Track earned its bad reputation after 2009 when 17 people died either hiking or on their way to the trailhead, after heart attacks and a plain crash. Since then, Australian and Papua New Guinean governments have joined forces to modernize the trail and make it a little safer for the adventurers who still swarm for a risky hike.
The trail's pristine wilderness that attracts hikers is also its greatest threat. Don't even think about coming unprepared to a demanding 11-day track through the rough terrain. Dare to give it a go, and you'll have to face extreme heat during the day and freezing cold nights, heavy rain and even malaria. In fact, 80 to 100 hikers have to be evacuated by helicopter every year due to treacherous weather conditions.
2. Mount Washington, New Hampshire
Image from: CNN
At a first glance, Mount Washington seems like an easy task even the inexperienced hikers could tackle. Underestimating the trail, many have embarked on a hike completely unprepared wearing only T-shirts and flip-flops and were never seen alive again. Around 150 people have died on Mount Washington - just a 1.9-kilometre tall hill with extremely deceptive weather.
The temperature on the trail can change from the fresh 15 degrees to the freezing 37 degrees in one day, with unforgiving wind gushes and snow. It's no wonder Mount Washington was dubbed the "Home of World's Worst Weather." Even the experienced hikers were blown of the ridges, swept away in avalanches or succumbed to hypothermia. In other words, there's no guarantee you'll finish the hike unscathed.
If you decide to give it a try, make sure to come fully equipped and sheltered by warm clothes. A lightweight, durable Patagonia Men’s Torrentshell Jacket is an excellent choice because it protects you from snow and rain and keeps you dry in wet conditions.
3. The Maze, Utah
The Maze is described as one of the most dangerous hiking trails in the US for those who manage to reach it. Although Canyonlands National Park attracts 2,000 visitors a year, most of them don't go into the Maze. All visitors to the Park are advised to come prepared and be fully self-sufficient for three days or more. To put it bluntly, if an emergency happens, the rescue teams can't reach you for three days.
And that's only the route to the beginning of the Maze. Now imagine what awaits once you actually reach this sinister trail. As its name suggests, finding your way out of the Maze is not an easy feat. You'll have to go through dead-end gullies, watch out for falling rocks and extreme heat. Miraculously, there haven't been any fatalities yet but it might just be because few actually dare to tackle this trail.
4. Kalalau Trail, Hawaii
Kalalau trail is a 35-kilometre round trip to Kalalau Beach, one of the remotest, most stunning beaches in Hawaii. But this journey through paradise can easily turn into a nightmare. The trail bed is narrow with mudslides along a 90-metre cliff. And it gets especially slippery especially when it rains, which happens a lot in this area.
Several have met their death after falling over the edge into the rocky water, while many others nearly escaped the same destiny. In 2014, 121 hikers were left stranded for two days, waiting for the rescuers when a heavy rain obstructed their path. Still, locals and tourists can't resist the charms of the paradise island and continue to visit the trail.
This trail might surprise you with humidity and scorching heat, so make sure to stay well hydrated. Bring an insulated S'well Bottle and you'll have plenty of water during the hike, and keep it cold, too.
5. El Caminito del Rey, Spain
Built over a hundred years ago, El Caminito del Rey was originally a pathway for the workers at the hydroelectric plants Chorro Falls and Gaitanejo Falls and for the transport of the material. The walkway was made of steel and concrete installations pinned along the cliffs, 100 meters above the ground and water.
Back in the days, El Caminito was relatively safe. But, after a century without any repairs, it has fallen into decay. Some parts of the trail have crumbled and are completely missing, which is especially alluring to the thrill seekers who come to spider over the cliffs. Due to five deaths in 1999 and 2000, the trail was closed to the public but that didn’t stop the hikers to take their chances anyway. In 2015, the trail was completely restored and it’s now actually safe. But you still might not want to look down as you make your way through.
6. Mount Hua Shan, China
We’re moving on to the deadliest hiking trail on our list - Mount Hua Shan in China. Although there aren’t official statistics, around 100 people allegedly die on the trail every year. You’d think that tourists are intimidated by that horrifying fact, but it doesn’t deter the risk takers from flocking to the trail.
So, what’s the big deal? Why is this trail so dangerous? Well, imagine yourself on the side of a 2,000-metre tall vertical precipice, with an abyss below your feet and only tiny wooden platforms bolted onto the cliff to walk on. There are barely any handholds, and at some sections, you will have only the dents carved into the rock to hold on to. So, if you suffer from vertigo, you should probably skip this one.
7. Huayna Picchu, Peru
Image from: Ticket Machu Picchu
The Inca Trail is one of the most famous hiking trails on the planet. Every adventurer either has it on their bucket list or has crossed it off a long time ago. And even though this trail isn’t really among the dangerous ones, it takes a few casualties each year. But if you decide to follow the trail past the historical city of Machu Picchu and ascend to Huayna Picchu, you will be taking the "Hike Of Death."
The stairs are slippery, rotting and crumbling beneath your feet. And there are sections where you will have to hold on to old steel cables not to fall down. The trail is incredibly steep as well, and it will take you more than 300 metres above Machu Picchu in less than an hour. As you can imagine, the view is breathtaking; provided you manage to reach the top.
8. Mist Trail, California
Image from: Halfway Anywhere
Yosemite National Park is filled with natural beauties attracting thousands of visitors daily. Mist Trail alone, the trail leading up to the Half Dome receives around 3,000 visitors every day in the summer. Amazing vistas are scattered along the whole trail, with the most spectacular view unfolding below as you reach the top of the Half Dome.
What might deter you from this scenic hike, however, is the fact that not everybody finishes it alive. More than 60 people have died on the Mist Trail, due to various reasons. Firstly, the trail is not exactly safe, with a 120-metre vertical cliff to climb and only a steel cable to assist you while you do it. Plus, the rain makes the climb significantly more dangerous. Not only do the cables become slippery, the rock and metal fixtures on such heights literally become lightning magnets in a storm.
Once you find yourself on the trail, don't forget to bring along a comfortable and light backpack to store the food, water and all the necessary equipment. You can't go wrong with The North Face Borealis 28L Backpack perfect for any adventure.
9. Maroon Bells, Colorado
Maroon Bells are the home to some of the most stunning sites you’ll see in the US. But, this seductive beauty has tricked many to think the trail is easy to traverse. The trail is nicknamed "The Deadly Bells" with good reason. It is filled with death traps at every step, and one wrong move could cost you your life. Loose, rotten and unstable rocks, steep cliffs, gullies and treacherous weather quickly convince anyone that this trail isn’t a joke.
According to the US Forest Service, the Deadly Bells "kill quickly and without warning" and rarely give a second chance. The fact that this deceptive trail has claimed eight lives in five different incidents testifies to this. So, if you don’t have mountaineering experience, don’t even think about going on this hike.
Image from: Summit Post
Just writing about these deathly trails made our heart race and our palms sweat. But, although they have continuously proven fatal, it only makes them more appealing to the adrenaline junkies.
So, what do you think? Would you dare go on a risky hike on one of these trails? Let us know in the comments below.