Not all hiking trails are created equally, some aren't even created safely, and others aren't "created" at all. Despite these facts, as humans, we love to test our limits and push our adrenaline to the extreme. While most of us take our experience into account, there are some of us who might not realize just how dangerous a stunt can be, especially if we think with our egos rather than our brains.
Some of the hardest hiking trails are located as close as our own backyards (as in the US), while others are halfway around the world. Many of these even require the help of a pro or the guidance of a trail master. Incline, steepness, rock scrambles, altitude, and even mountaineering all play a hand in making it to the summit of one of these - which shouldn't even be attempted if you're not prepared to do it safely.
20 Mount Huashan In China
This is barely even a hiking trail, as it consists of (narrow) wooden planks that are built around the mountain and in some places, nothing more than divets that require careful maneuvering. The trail was historically used by locals to reach the temples that lie at the top... Not by tourists for a thrill.
19 El Caminito Del Rey In Spain
This trail is well-known by those who live for their adrenaline rush. The trail wasn't always open to hikers but now, they're free to hike it at their own risk. Its original purpose was to create a path to the hydroelectric plant but it remains a frequently-walked path.
18 Angel's Landing In Utah
Angel's Landing has quite a reputation in Utah due to the lives it's claimed over the last few years. Many don't realize that despite the short distance, it's dangerous due to its height and the fact that there's nothing preventing someone from falling over the edge of this trail.
17 Drakensberg Traverse In South Africa
This trail is pretty chaotic from the start. As opposed to most trails that begin steadily and increase gradually, hikers must make use of a chain rope in order to traverse the trail. From there, they encounter tough rock scrambles and untamed trails that are rougher than most.
16 Maroon Bells South Ridge In Colorado
Maroon Bells is another trail that's deceiving from the ground. There are several paths that require familiarity with the steepness and curve of the mountain, which is knowledge a casual hiker wouldn't have. With steep rock scrambles and a crumbling rockface, danger can strike in a matter of seconds.
15 Via Ferrata Through Italy And Austria
The picture does this trail more than enough justice. While these hikers look psyched to be hiking this trail (if you can call it hiking) it's truly a hair-raising experience. This mountain is so sharply defined that hikers must grip onto the sides in order to make it around, then up, to the summit. Luckily, the trail is well-maintained.
14 Rover's Run Trail In Alaska
While Rovers Run might not feature challenging climbs or crumbling rock faces, it does feature one dangerous thing: Brown bears. One of the more aggressive breeds, these bears don't hesitate to protect themselves or their young. One wrong turn, and you could become prey rather than a hiker. Be wary of the signs posted.
13 The Maze In The Canyonlands Of Utah
The Maze makes for an incredible desert experience, but good luck navigating it, if you do end up finding it. This area is prone to flash floods and rockfalls, which could prove severe if you don't know exactly where you are or how to navigate back - these trails are full of dead ends.
12 Stairs Of Death In Peru, Inca Trail To Machu Picchu
Macchu Picchu is a breathtaking destination and one that's popular for visitors of the region, but not everyone plans accordingly when they attempt the Inca Trail. These granite stairs give way to an altitude gain of roughly 1,000' in just under a mile. A few people each year lose their lives attempting to climb it.
11 Mount Washington In New Hampshire
Do not be fooled by Mount Washington's summit of less than 6,000'. Hikers have lost their lives in an attempt to reach the top of this mountain, many ill-prepared and caught in storms (231mph winds recorded once) that seemingly came out of nowhere. It goes by the nickname of the world's deadliest small mountain and is also gained the name of "home of the world's worst weather."
10 Taghia Rock Wall In Morocco
Morocco is a beautiful destination but if you're planning on attempting this hike in the Atlas Mountains, you probably shouldn't be afraid of heights. The plunge below is from a sheet cliff, one that requires balance in order to scale just to get across the summit of this rock.
9 Cascade Saddle In New Zealand
New Zealand is home to many outdoor extreme sports, and hiking could definitely be considered one of them. Cascade Saddle gives way to absolutely stunning views, but it also requires a minimum of a four-day hike. The ground is unstable and slippery, and a coroner in New Zealand once said the mountain has taken far too many lives.
8 Devil's Path In New York
Some of the state's best hiking lies in the Catskill and Adirondack mountains, but the higher up you go, the more problems you're likely to run into. Devil's Path is adequately named, as the rock scrambles here are deceptive and treacherous, especially for those who are inexperienced in climbing.
7 Aonach Ridge In Scotland
Aonach Ridge is not for the faint of heart. This (literal) ridge rises high above Scotland in the Highland scrambles. While the view is beyond words, the effort it takes to get up to this summit requires hard work, endurance, and serious climbing skill - not to mention adapting to the ever-changing weather.
6 GR 20 In Corsica
Most people don't think of hiking when they think of Corsica, but the GR 20 is prone to weather that changes instantaneously, and the hike down is far more terrifying than the hike up.
The descent requires cables and careful footing, definitely not for a beginner to hiking or mountaineering.
5 Kalalau Cliffside Trail In Hawaii
Hawaii is home to plenty of hiking trails that are perfectly safe (or as safe as they can be), but Kalalau requires a bit of extra care to ensure a proper summit ascent. The edge of this cliff is rocky and follows unsteady ground, meaning hikers are more prone to slipping, injuring themselves, or, worse, falling.
4 Kokoda Trail In Papua New Guinea
New Guinea is home to lush forests and dense greenery, along with a few hiking trails. Kokoda Trail is one of them, but it's definitely not for beginners.
The nickname for this trail is 'StairMaster in a steam room', and many have lost their lives to any number of things, including malaria, freezing nightly temps, extreme heat, and constant downpours.
3 Pacaya Volcano Trail In Guatemala
This trail isn't even open to hikers anymore but somehow, a few slip through the cracks each year. Aside from the obvious danger of this being an active volcano, the summit is a trek to an altitude of 8,000'. Furthermore, even if you make it, there's no saying how long the hot, ashy ground will hold you up near the crater.
2 Half Dome In Yosemite, California
Half Dome is a popular hike in Yosemite despite the gnarling nature of its ascent and descent. Both are demanding, as hikers are required to hook themselves to cables in order to get up this rock wall.
Thunderstorms, and with them, the threat of lightning, make this trail slippery and nightmarish to climb.
1 Striding Edge In The UK
Striding Edge is exactly what it sounds like. A narrow trail along the summit of a mountain creates this trail, and one must practice perfect balance and coordination in order to navigate it, especially after wet weather. There's one tip for this one: Don't look down.