What are the scariest hiking trails in the world? I was wondering about that while checking my pictures of Angels Landing. I did some research and share the scariest hikes I found in this article.
Angels Landing (Utah, VS)
The hike to Angels Landing in Zion National Park is probably the scariest hike I’ve ever done. The first part is relatively easy, you just have to climb a lot through lots of switchbacks. However, the last part of the trail is very scary! At some points, the trail is very narrow, with cliffs that are 300 to 400 meters deep. On this part of the trail, you’ll find some metal poles with chains, so you can hold on to that if you get scared.
To make it even worse, the trail to Angels Landing is extremely popular, so it will be crowded as well. If you plan to hike to the top, make sure to go in the morning as early as possible or later in the afternoon. The trail is definitely worth it, you’ll be rewarded with an amazing view of Zion Canyon.
Mount Huashan (China)
The trail of Mount Huashan is known as the scariest hiking trail in the world. You’re connected to the trail with a harness and walk on a couple of wooden planks along a mountain with a very steep cliff. At some points, you can’t even walk on the planks, but you have to put your feet in holes they drilled in the mountain. You’re also not the only one hiking this trail, you might walk in a group of 30 to 50 people. I wouldn’t do this hike, would?
El Caminito del Rey (Spain)
One of the most spectacular hikes in Europe is El Caminito del Rey (close to the city of Málaga in Spain). This also one those hikes while you hike directly along a cliff, through a canyon called ‘El Chorro’. The hike was known as one of the scariest hiking trails in Europe, it was badly maintained and there were even a couple of people who died hiking this trail. It has been closed for years, but they opened the trail again in 2015. It’s much safer now and attracts a lot of tourists. You’ll hike over many wooden bridges and the views are stunning.
Huayna Picchu (Peru)
When you visit Machu Picchu in Peru (after hiking the famous Inca Trail), you can also buy a ticket to climb the mountain Huayna Picchu. This is the steep mountain you see in all of the pictures of Machu Picchu. Only a certain amount of people a day is allowed to climb up and for good reason: it’s quite a scary hike.
You have to climb 250 meters on very steep old steps, which they also call the ‘Stairs of Death’. The steps can be very slippery and there are no handrails, so be careful! “The best views come after the hardest climb” is one of my favorite hiking quotes. And it totally makes sense when you reach the top of Huayna Picchu. From the top, you’ll have a fantastic view of Machu Picchu, and you don’t have to share it with thousands of people.
Via Ferrata (Italy & Austria)
Via Ferrata is not just one trail, it’s more a collective name for hikes where you have to follow steel cables along a mountain wall. You can find lots of those trails in Italy and Austria. You have to be well equipped to go on one of these hikes, so bring some climbing equipment before you go. Have you never done anything like this? You can also go on an organized tour, for example, this one on Get your Guide.
Kalalau Trail (Hawaii, USA)
Unfortunately, I had to skip the island of Kauai during my trip to Hawaii because of a lack of time. However, I would still love to visit the island someday, and the Kalalau Trail is one of the reasons. The trail follows the famous Nā Pali Coast, you hike through the jungle, see a gorgeous waterfall, and there are some amazing viewpoints. Why is this one of the scariest hiking trails in the world? When it rains, it pours, and there will be a lot of water flowing on the trail. It’s very dangerous to cross those streams because if you slip, you’ll fall down a very deep cliff. This is also the reason why they have to close this trail sometimes.
Pacific Crest Trail (California, Oregon and Washington, USA)
Officially, the Pacific Crest Trail is not known as one of the scariest hikes in the world. However, when I hiked this trail, I experienced multiple scary moments. Besides the fact that there are a lot of rattlesnakes (that’s why you always should carry hiking poles), you find yourself on narrow paths along steep mountain cliffs. To make it even scarier, there might be snow and ice on those trails, so you have to walk very carefully. So be prepared if you want to do a long-distance hike like the Pacific Crest Trail.
These are in my opinion the scariest hiking trails in the world. What is the scariest hike you’ve ever done?
In need for some hiking inspiration?
I love checking these books when I need some hiking inspiration:
I’ve written a ton of blog posts about my favorite hikes in the world. You might like to read one of these articles:
– The best day hikes in the world
– Hiking Camí de Ronda | Costa Brava, Spain
– Blue Basin Overlook Trail: a beautiful hike in Oregon