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Don’t Look Down: The World’s Most Dangerous Hikes


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Nonie Kerr



Adventure seekers are always on the lookout for experiences that test their limits and offer a rush of adrenaline. For those who crave excitement and breathtaking views, there’s nothing quite like embarking on a dangerous hike. These treks, scattered across the globe, offer a unique blend of natural beauty and heart-pounding thrills.


In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the world’s most dangerous hikes, where even the most experienced hikers tread cautiously. From sheer cliffs and narrow paths to steep ascents and unpredictable weather conditions, these trails are not for the faint of heart. So, if you’re willing to push your boundaries and embrace the challenge, fasten your hiking boots and get ready for an adventure like no other.


But before we dive into the details, it’s crucial to remember that attempting these treks requires proper preparation and caution. Make sure to research and understand the risks involved, equip yourself with the necessary gear, and, if possible, seek guidance from experienced guides or local authorities.


Now, let’s explore some of the world’s most dangerous hikes that will test your endurance, courage, and provide unforgettable memories.


Mount Hua (China)

Situated in the Shaanxi province of China, Mount Hua, also known as Huashan, is famous for its breathtaking scenery and treacherous trails. This sacred mountain has been a place of worship for centuries and is believed to be home to several Taoist temples.


Ascending Mount Hua is not for the faint-hearted. The most treacherous section of the hike is the plank trail, where hikers must navigate narrow wooden planks bolted onto the cliff face. With steep drops of several hundred meters, this section requires nerves of steel and careful footwork.


One of the most challenging peaks to reach is the South Peak, known as the Peak of the Immortals. Hikers must ascend a steep set of stairs carved into the mountainside, known as the Heavenly Stairs. The stairs are not for those with a fear of heights, as they wind precariously close to vertical drops.


However, the breathtaking views at the top are worth the effort. On a clear day, hikers can enjoy panoramic vistas of the surrounding landscapes and even catch a glimpse of the Yellow River winding its way through the valley below.


To ensure safety, Mount Hua has implemented safety measures such as handrails and harnesses along certain sections of the trail. However, it is essential to exercise caution and adhere to these safety precautions to avoid accidents.


For those seeking an even greater challenge, there is an option to hike the entire circuit of Mount Hua, which includes ascending and descending multiple peaks. This full-day adventure will test your physical endurance and mental fortitude, but the sense of accomplishment upon completion is unmatched.


If you’re an adventurous soul with a craving for adrenaline, Mount Hua’s dangerous trails will provide an unparalleled hiking experience. Just remember to prepare adequately, stay focused, and take in the awe-inspiring beauty of this iconic mountain.


El Caminito Del Rey (Spain)

Nestled in the stunning landscape of the El Chorro Gorge in southern Spain, El Caminito Del Rey, also known as the King’s Pathway, offers an exhilarating and perilous adventure. Originally built as a maintenance walkway for workers in the early 20th century, this once-dangerous trail has been restored and reopened in recent years to thrill-seeking hikers.


The hike begins with a heart-pounding walk across a narrow suspension bridge, suspended high above the Guadalhorce River. As you venture farther along the trail, you’ll be greeted with dizzying cliffs, exposed ledges, and sections where the pathway is carved into the rock face.


Perhaps the most iconic and hair-raising part of El Caminito Del Rey is the wooden boardwalk section, which clings to the side of the sheer cliffs. The narrow boards provide a precarious footing as you traverse the gorge, with a sheer drop below adding to the adrenaline rush.


While the breathtaking views of the surrounding cliffs and the turquoise waters of the river below may leave you in awe, it’s important to stay focused and cautious. Safety measures, including the mandatory use of helmets and safety harnesses, have been implemented to reduce the inherent risks of this treacherous pathway.


As you make your way along the trail, you’ll encounter various scenic highlights, including the Gaitanejo Dam and the Gaitanes Gorge, which offers a spectacular display of nature’s power and beauty. Be sure to take your time, absorb the surroundings, and appreciate the incredible feat of engineering that created this exhilarating hiking experience.


Due to the popularity of El Caminito Del Rey, it’s necessary to book your visit in advance and adhere to the guidelines provided. The number of visitors per day is limited to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all.


Embarking on the El Caminito Del Rey hike is a thrilling and unforgettable adventure for those seeking an adrenaline rush. From the heart-stopping heights to the stunning natural beauty, this trail promises to leave you with lifelong memories and a newfound appreciation for the magnificence of the Spanish countryside.


Huayna Picchu (Peru)

No visit to the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru is complete without a hike up the iconic Huayna Picchu mountain. Rising sharply behind the archaeological site, Huayna Picchu offers a challenging adventure and awe-inspiring views of the surrounding mountains and the ancient citadel below.


The hike up Huayna Picchu is not for the faint of heart. The narrow and steep trails can be daunting, with sections of sheer drop-offs and exposed stairways carved into the mountainside. Hikers must navigate through tight passages and make their way up steep stone steps while holding onto chains or ropes for support.


One of the most adrenaline-pumping sections of the hike is referred to as the “Death Stairs,” a series of steep steps leading up to the summit. These stairs are steep and uneven, adding an extra layer of challenge to the ascent.


While the hike can be physically demanding, the reward at the top is well worth the effort. From the summit of Huayna Picchu, hikers are treated to breathtaking panoramic views of the entire Machu Picchu complex, nestled amidst the lush green mountains and mist-covered valleys.


Due to the popularity of Huayna Picchu, only a limited number of visitors are allowed per day, and it is required to book tickets in advance. This helps to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone, as the narrow trails can become crowded during peak times.


As with any adventurous hike, it’s essential to come prepared with suitable hiking gear, including sturdy footwear with good traction and plenty of water and snacks. It’s also crucial to take your time, go at your own pace, and be aware of your surroundings at all times.


Huayna Picchu offers an extraordinary opportunity to immerse yourself in the ancient history of Machu Picchu while challenging yourself physically. It’s a chance to connect with nature, test your limits, and ultimately be rewarded with unforgettable memories and a sense of accomplishment.


Angels Landing (USA)

Situated in Zion National Park in the southwestern United States, Angels Landing is renowned for its thrilling and nerve-wracking hike. This iconic trail takes you to a breathtaking viewpoint perched on a narrow ridge, offering panoramic views of the dramatic and rugged landscape below.


The adventure begins with a moderately strenuous hike along the West Rim Trail, but the real challenge begins as you approach the final stretch. Known as the “Walt Disney steps,” this section of the trail consists of a series of steep switchbacks carved into the sheer rock face.


As you ascend higher, the path becomes narrower and more exposed, with sheer drop-offs on either side. Holding onto chains bolted into the rock becomes essential for stability and balance, adding an extra layer of excitement to the hike.


The final leg of the journey is the narrow spine of Angels Landing, only a few feet wide in some places. With sheer cliffs on both sides, it’s not for those who have a fear of heights. However, for the brave and determined, reaching the summit of Angels Landing offers a stunning 360-degree panorama of the surrounding canyons, rock formations, and the Virgin River winding its way through the valley below.


Due to the popularity of Angels Landing, it’s advised to start early in the morning to avoid crowds and to ensure a more enjoyable experience. The trail can become congested during peak times, making navigation and safety more challenging.


It’s important to come prepared with proper hiking gear, including sturdy boots with good traction and plenty of water to stay hydrated. Given the exposed nature of the trail, it’s recommended to check weather conditions beforehand and avoid hiking during storms or high winds.


Angels Landing rewards those who are willing to confront their fears and push their limits with unparalleled views and a sense of accomplishment. It’s a thrilling and unforgettable adventure that showcases the natural beauty and grandeur of Zion National Park.


Aonach Eagach Ridge (Scotland)

Nestled in the stunning Scottish Highlands, the Aonach Eagach Ridge offers a challenging and exhilarating hiking experience for adventure enthusiasts. Known for its narrow and exposed ridgeline, this hike is not for the faint of heart.


The Aonach Eagach Ridge stretches for about 10 kilometers and requires a combination of hiking and scrambling skills. The hike begins with a steep ascent, followed by a series of narrow and exposed sections with sheer drops on either side. The ridge offers breathtaking views of Glencoe Valley and the surrounding mountain peaks.


One of the most famous sections of the hike is known as the “Devil’s Ridge.” This portion requires careful footwork and a head for heights, as hikers navigate along razor-edge ridges and negotiate steep descents. The exposure and dramatic landscape make for an adrenaline-fueled journey.


The weather conditions in the Scottish Highlands can be unpredictable, adding an extra challenge to the Aonach Eagach Ridge hike. It’s important to check the forecast and come prepared with appropriate clothing, including layers, waterproof gear, and sturdy hiking boots with good grip.


Given the technical nature of the hike, it’s advisable to have prior hiking experience and be confident in your abilities. For those without experience or who prefer a guided adventure, there are local guides available to accompany hikers along the ridge and ensure safety.


Descending from the ridge can be equally challenging, with steep slopes and loose scree. It’s important to take your time, watch your footing, and use hiking poles for stability if necessary.


The reward for conquering the Aonach Eagach Ridge is a sense of accomplishment and the opportunity to soak in the awe-inspiring beauty of the Scottish Highlands. From the rugged mountain peaks to the deep, green valleys below, this hike offers a truly immersive experience in the wild and untamed Scottish landscape.


Remember, the Aonach Eagach Ridge should only be attempted by experienced hikers who are comfortable with exposure and demanding terrain. Safety should always be the top priority, and it’s essential to assess your own abilities and take appropriate precautions when embarking on this thrilling adventure.


Kalalau Trail (Hawaii)

Nestled along the rugged Na Pali Coast of Kauai in Hawaii, the Kalalau Trail offers a breathtaking and challenging hike through some of the most stunning coastal landscapes in the world. This 22-mile round-trip journey takes hikers through lush valleys, towering cliffs, and secluded beaches.


The Kalalau Trail begins at Ke’e Beach and winds its way along the rugged coastline, offering mesmerizing views at every turn. The trail is known for its steep and narrow sections, with muddy and slippery terrain during wet weather. It requires a good level of physical fitness and endurance to navigate the challenging terrain.


As you hike along the trail, you’ll be treated to panoramic vistas of the endless blue ocean, cascading waterfalls, and towering cliffs that seem to reach for the sky. Along the way, there are several camping areas where you can set up for the night, immersing yourself in the peaceful solitude of this remote paradise.


One of the highlights of the Kalalau Trail is reaching the iconic Kalalau Beach at the end of the hike. This secluded and pristine beach is nestled between towering cliffs and offers a perfect place to rest and rejuvenate after the challenging trek. Snorkeling, swimming, and simply basking in the beauty of the surroundings are popular activities here.


It’s important to note that the Kalalau Trail is not for novice hikers. The challenging terrain, unpredictable weather conditions, and remote location make it essential to come prepared with proper hiking gear, including sturdy footwear, plenty of water, and food. It’s also recommended to check the latest trail conditions and obtain the necessary permits before embarking on the journey.


While the Kalalau Trail presents its fair share of challenges, the experience of immersing yourself in the natural beauty of the Na Pali Coast is truly unparalleled. The opportunity to disconnect from the modern world and connect with nature on this remote Hawaiian trail is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that will leave you with memories to cherish for years to come.


Mount Huashan (China)

Mount Huashan in China is not only renowned for its stunning natural beauty but also for its treacherous and adrenaline-pumping hiking trails. Located in the Shaanxi province, Mount Huashan is known for its steep and narrow paths that lead to its five main peaks.


One of the most challenging sections of the Mount Huashan hike is called the “Plank Walk”. This section involves traversing a narrow plank trail that is bolted onto the vertical cliff face, with only a harness for safety. It requires a steady nerve and utmost concentration to maneuver across this precarious path.


Another highlight of the Mount Huashan hike is the infamous “Heavenly Stairs”. These steep steps carved into the mountainside can be quite grueling, especially for those with a fear of heights. However, the rewarding panoramic views of the surrounding valleys and peaks make the effort worthwhile.


Mount Huashan is also home to several temples and shrines, adding a spiritual element to the hike. Along the trail, hikers can visit the Taoist temples and seek blessings before continuing on their journey. These cultural elements provide a unique and enriching experience amidst the challenging hike.


It is important to note that Mount Huashan requires careful preparation and planning. Hikers must be physically fit, well-equipped with appropriate hiking gear, and mentally prepared for the demanding and sometimes dangerous nature of the trails. Additionally, it is advisable to visit during weekdays or off-peak seasons to avoid crowds and enhance safety.


Despite the challenges, the unparalleled beauty of Mount Huashan and the exhilaration of conquering its perilous trails make it a bucket-list destination for adventurous hikers. The experience of standing atop its peaks, surrounded by stunning landscapes and a sense of accomplishment, is truly awe-inspiring and unforgettable.


Trolltunga (Norway)

Trolltunga, meaning “Troll’s Tongue” in Norwegian, is a jaw-dropping cliff formation that juts out horizontally over Lake Ringedalsvatnet in Norway. The hike to reach Trolltunga is as awe-inspiring as the natural wonder itself, offering adventurers a thrilling and challenging experience.


The trail to Trolltunga is approximately 28 kilometers round trip and starts from the town of Skjeggedal. The hike begins with a steep ascent, taking hikers through lush forests and rocky terrain. It then opens up to breathtaking plateaus, offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains and fjords.


What makes the hike to Trolltunga particularly challenging is its length and the ever-changing weather conditions. Hikers must be prepared for steep and sometimes muddy trails, as well as potential changes in temperature and precipitation. It’s important to pack appropriate outdoor gear, including sturdy hiking boots, layers for varying weather, and plenty of food and water.


As you approach Trolltunga, you’ll encounter more rocky and exposed sections. The last stretch leading to the cliff’s edge can be vertigo-inducing, as you traverse a narrow path with steep drops on either side. However, the reward at the end is well worth the effort.


Standing on Trolltunga itself offers an incredible sense of accomplishment and the chance to capture unforgettable photos. The cliff jutting out 700 meters above the lake provides a unique vantage point to take in the surrounding beauty of glaciers, mountain peaks, and the stunning blue waters below.


Given the popularity of Trolltunga, it’s essential to plan your hike in advance and be mindful of the weather and trail conditions. During the peak summer months, the trail can become crowded, so starting early in the day or hiking during off-peak seasons is advisable for a more peaceful experience.


The hike to Trolltunga is not for the faint-hearted, but for those seeking a memorable adventure and the chance to witness one of Norway’s most iconic natural wonders, it is an experience that will truly take your breath away.


La Ciudad Perdida (Colombia)

Deep in the lush jungles of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Colombia lies La Ciudad Perdida, or “The Lost City.” This ancient archaeological site, believed to have been built by the indigenous Tayrona civilization, offers a remarkable and physically demanding hiking adventure.


The trek to La Ciudad Perdida is a multi-day journey, typically spanning four to six days, covering roughly 44 kilometers round trip. The trail takes you through dense rainforests, across rivers, and up challenging ascents, offering glimpses of local flora and fauna along the way.


What sets this trek apart is not only the physical challenges but also the opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich indigenous culture. Throughout the hike, you’ll encounter indigenous communities, learning about their history, customs, and way of life, as well as the significance of this ancient city to their heritage.


Reaching La Ciudad Perdida is a momentous achievement. Climbing a complex network of over a thousand stone steps carved into the mountainside, you’ll walk through ancient terraces and encounter ceremonial sites, mesmerized by the remnants of this once-thriving civilization.


The final destination, La Ciudad Perdida, is a series of terraces and stone structures that spread across a vast area. As you explore the site, you’ll gain a sense of wonder and admiration for the Tayrona people who built this intricate city and their connection to the surrounding landscape.


It’s important to note that the hike to La Ciudad Perdida is physically demanding, involving long days of hiking, sometimes in hot and humid conditions. It’s crucial to be prepared with appropriate hiking gear, including sturdy hiking boots, plenty of water, insect repellent, and lightweight clothing.


To preserve the historical site and respect the indigenous communities, a limited number of visitors are allowed each day, and it’s necessary to travel with an authorized tour operator. This helps to ensure the sustainability and protection of this sacred place.


The journey to La Ciudad Perdida is not just a physical challenge but also a transformative cultural experience. It offers a unique opportunity to unravel the mysteries of an ancient civilization while exploring the vibrant beauty of Colombia’s natural landscapes.


Mount Everest Base Camp (Nepal)

Standing at an awe-inspiring altitude of 5,364 meters (17,598 feet) in the heart of the Himalayas, Mount Everest Base Camp is a pinnacle for adventure enthusiasts and mountaineers alike. The journey to this legendary base camp in Nepal is not only a physical feat but also a life-changing experience.


The trek to Mount Everest Base Camp begins with a flight to Lukla, a small mountain town situated amidst the towering peaks. From there, the multi-day hike takes you through picturesque Sherpa villages, tranquil monasteries, and breathtaking valleys, gradually ascending in altitude.


As you make your way through the Khumbu region, you’ll witness the majestic beauty of snow-capped peaks like Ama Dablam and Lhotse. The trail traverses suspension bridges, rocky terrain, and steep ascents, demanding mental and physical resilience.


Reaching Mount Everest Base Camp is a momentous achievement. Standing in the shadow of the world’s tallest mountain, you can feel the grandeur and challenge that mountaineers face on their quest for the summit. The sheer scale and beauty of the surrounding peaks and the Khumbu Icefall add to the humbling experience.


Throughout the trek, you’ll encounter Sherpa culture and hospitality, immersing yourself in their warm traditions, colorful prayer flags, and tranquil monasteries. Sherpas serve as guides and porters, sharing their deep knowledge of the mountains while ensuring your safety and comfort along the way.


The journey to Mount Everest Base Camp requires adequate preparation and acclimatization to the high altitude. It’s crucial to invest in proper trekking gear, including warm clothing, sturdy boots, and a good quality sleeping bag. Following a steady pace, staying hydrated, and listening to your body are essential for a safe and enjoyable trek.


As you approach Base Camp, you’ll experience a mix of exhilaration and awe, surrounded by the immense beauty of the Himalayas. Standing at the edge of the mighty Khumbu Glacier, you’ll have a sense of the remarkable achievements of adventurers who have summited Mount Everest.


The opportunity to stand at Mount Everest Base Camp, the gateway to the world’s highest peak, is a dream for many. It’s an experience that will test your physical limits, nurture your spirit of adventure, and leave an indelible mark on your memories.



Embarking on a dangerous hike is not for everyone, but for those who seek adventure and the thrill of pushing their limits, these treacherous trails offer an unparalleled experience. From the steep cliffs of Mount Huashan in China to the narrow ridges of Aonach Eagach in Scotland, these hikes challenge physical endurance, mental fortitude, and provide breathtaking views of nature’s wonders.


Each of these dangerous hikes offers its own unique blend of natural beauty, cultural significance, and adrenaline-pumping moments. Whether it’s traversing the plank trail on Mount Huashan, navigating the narrow paths of El Caminito Del Rey, or reaching the iconic Trolltunga in Norway, these trails leave hikers with a profound sense of accomplishment.


It’s important to remember that undertaking these treks requires proper preparation, physical fitness, and a respect for nature. Safety should always be prioritized, and hikers should be equipped with the right gear, knowledge of the trail conditions, and an understanding of their own limits.


Yet, despite the challenges and risks, these dangerous hikes offer an opportunity to connect with the natural world in a deep and meaningful way. The views from the summits, the encounters with ancient civilizations, and the connections made with fellow adventurers along the way make these experiences truly unforgettable.


So, whether you’re drawn to the spiritual allure of Mount Huashan, the breathtaking nature of Trolltunga, or the rich cultural heritage of the Lost City in Colombia, embark on your next adventure with caution, preparation, and a sense of curiosity. Take the plunge, challenge yourself, and witness the beauty and allure of these dangerous hikes that are sure to leave a lasting impact.


Remember, the world’s most dangerous hikes are not just about conquering nature; they are about discovering the depths of your own courage and resilience while immersing yourself in some of the most extraordinary landscapes our planet has to offer.