30 Terrifying Trails

  • by
  • Drew Zieff

The Narrows, Longs Peak, Colorado

The “Keyhole” is the route of choice for most Longs Peak climbers, but it’s also no stranger to fatalities.

Half Dome Cable Route, Yosemite National Park, California

Crowded? Sure. But Yosemite’s Half Dome is dangerous indeed, with climbers occasionally loosing their grip on the cables and slipping off sheer granite cliffs.

Rover Run, Alaska

Rovers run smack dab into brown bears on this former ski slope; ironically the mauling bears are also responsible for attracting much of the tourist traffic here.

Via Ferrata, Italy

Hang off of the side of the mighty Dolomites, following the footsteps Italian soldiers who pioneered these death-defying routes out of necessity during the First World War.

Aokigahara, Japan

Nicknamed the Suicide Forest, this small patch of woodland doesn’t offer particularly difficult trekking, but it does see around 100 suicides every year, making it a spine-chilling yet popular tourist destination.

Racetrack Playa, California

Not exactly “terrifying,” but the “sailing stones” of Racetrack Playa move on their own accord – a longstanding mystery recently attributed to melting ice sheets. Racetrack Playa is home to a delightful and bizarre scientific phenomenon, one well worth seeing in person.

The Maze, Canyonlands Utah

It’s not hard to get lost in the aptly named, notorious Maze. Don’t expect to pull up in your air-conditioned car, check out The Maze for a few minutes and then grab a corn dog and a souvenir; The Maze is 50 miles away from the closest road.

The Trift Suspension Bridge, Swiss Alps

Swinging high in the wind, this suspension bridge is built for thrills, if not conveyance.

Peek-a-boo Gulch, Utah

Claustrophobic? Stay away from this blood red slot canyon, as the sandstone corridor is only 10 inches wide in places.

Barr Trail, Pikes Peak, Colorado

A long (13-mile) ascent takes you through some of Colorado’s most lightning prone wilderness – which is saying something in the Rockies.

Wendenstock, Swiss Alps

Wendenstock’s trails are notoriously tricky to navigate. Slick, dew-covered grass above hundred-foot cliffs means that every step must be taken with care and concentration.

The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Whatever you do, don’t get to close to the edge. A 650-ft drop in places might make this popular UNESCO Geo Park your last.

Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala

In 2010, a reporter covering the Pacaya Volcano was tragically (and ironically) killed by an explosion of molten rock. If hiking alongside lava flows sounds like fun, you might have a screw loose, but head to Guatemala to give it a try.

Mount LeConte, Tennessee

Scared of bats? Scared of heights? You’re in the right place. A 3,700-ft elevation gain combines with one of the biggest bat populations in the United States for a trying test of courage and strength.

Huashan, China

A hallowed Taoist mountain, replete with steep stone ladders and a treacherous traverse, Hua Shan calls to climbers and hikers as well as devout worshippers.

El Camino del Rey, Spain

Once used by rock-hopping hydroelectric dam workers, this hazardous route is in disrepair – making it a destination for the adventurous and the deranged.

Skyline/Muir Snowfield Trail at Mount Rainier, Washington

A beautiful 9-mile loop takes a difficult turn at the Muir Snowfield, a steep and precarious zone that’s taken the lives of more than 90 aspiring alpinists.

West Coast Trail, Vancouver Island, Canada

Over a hundred years ago, the WCT was built to facilitate rescues of storm-struck shipwrecks. Now, the wild trail is home to cougars and wolves, as well as near vertical climbs and stunning coastal views.

Angel Landing, Zion National Park, Utah

An iconic spire in Zion, Angel Landing is a destination for climbers as well as hikers; climbers stick to the cracks and crags while hikers rely on subsidiary chains to reach the summit.

Glass Skywalk, Tianmen Mountain National Park, China

Look down if you dare. Thousands of feet below this glass sidewalk, smaller peaks pale in comparison to the majesty of Tianmen Mountain.

Eyjafjallajokull, Iceland

The only thing harder than pronouncing this volcano’s name is climbing it. With few safety measures in place, you’ll rely on your wit and skill – unless your Icelandic is conversational.

Kokoda Trail, Papau New Guinea

Papau New Guinea’s biological diversity makes the Kokoda an exhilarating 60-mile journey; don’t forget to stock up your first aid kit with Malaria medication before you head out.

Stairs of Death, Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru

Ancient ruins don’t often receive renovations; so expect to encounter slippery climbing on these floating steps.

Devils Path, Catskill Mountains, New York

One of the east coast’s most hazardous trails, the Devil’s Path requires endurance, determination and perhaps even a bit of faith to conquer the hellish and harsh terrain.

Mount Pinatubo, Philippines

In 1991, Pinatubo erupted with cataclysmic force, provoking far-reaching environmental outcomes. Pinatubo’s still active, so if you decide to climb it, keep your ear to the ground for rumblings and grumblings.

Kalalau Trail, Hawaii

Gorgeous scenery, delectable wild fruit and waves with a penchant for drowning unaware travelers… Ah, Hawaii!

Preikestolen, Norway

If the Norse god Thor so much as sneezes while you’re on the top of this cliff, you’ll be in for quite the fall from grace.

Cascade Saddle, New Zealand

One look at the Cascade Saddle and it’s no surprise that Mt. Aspiring National Park has seen its fair share of hiker fatalities. While you need not worry about orcs and dark wizards on this New Zealand hike, we wouldn’t mind catching a ride on a giant eagle to the Saddle. Was that too nerdy?

Keshwa Chaca, Peru

Stride across what may very well be the last Incan rope bridge – quickly, now, just in case it all falls to the valley floor hundreds of feet below!

Share this Article