World’s most dangerous hiking trails

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(CNN) — Hiking is often derided by adrenaline junkies as inferior to more hardcore mountain experiences like mountaineering or skiing.

But as these challenging trails show, putting one foot in front of the other isn’t always the easy option.

To undertake these famous hikes, you’ll need more than just a hefty dose of gumption.

These routes are dangerous and are for experienced hikers only. That means people with the right gear, the ability to get themselves out of difficult situations and the willingness to plan for the worst and pack accordingly.

Whether you want to try a vertiginous English Lake District classic or tackle the “world’s most dangerous hike” in rural China, this list has you covered.

Striding Edge, Lake District, England

The Lake District’s notoriously changeable weather can make even the most bucolic of walks a challenge.

But Striding Edge – a sharp point leading to the summit of Helvellyn, the third highest peak in the Lake District National Park – stands out in this corner of England.

Hikers may choose to follow the trail that runs alongside the ridge, but for thrill seekers, the ridge itself is where it’s at.

On a clear day, the views are sensational, stretching all the way to Scotland.

This is not for beginners or the faint of heart: walkers will need to be prepared to run, have decent climbing skills to make the final push to the top and know how to navigate properly if the clouds move in.

Snow and ice make it deadly in the winter, so preparation and a willingness to return are essential.

The Maze, Canyonlands, Utah, United States

The National Park Service cuts right to the chase when it comes to the maze.

He calls the hiking here “very challenging,” warning of slick rocks and steep drops.

It’s the most remote part of the Canyonlands, requiring visitors to negotiate a long drive over dirt roads before venturing into deep canyons, where rockfalls and flash floods are not uncommon, and water is hard to come by from the area’s few springs (packing enough fluids is essential for a multi-day trip. ).

Park rangers require that all visitors share their travel plans and stay in touch as often as possible. Those who arrive will be treated to landscapes that seem utterly timeless and unlikely to encounter others on their adventures.

Huashan, China

On this trail, hikers must follow wooden planks bolted into the rock face.

On this trail, hikers must follow wooden planks bolted into the rock face.

Message Bladowski/iStock Editorial/Getty Images

This epic trail up the southern peak of Huashan, one of China’s five great mountains, is often referred to as the world’s most dangerous hike, and for good reason.

To reach the summit, which is at 7,070 feet, hikers need to scale a series of uneven steps and stairs before attaching themselves to a chain using harnesses and carabiners to traverse its famous “plank walk.”

This is as basic as it sounds — wooden planks are strapped to a rock face that you follow both up and down the mountain.

While many tourists arrive in just sneakers and a t-shirt, this is not a place to come unprepared.

Proper hiking boots, plenty of food and water, and a decent level of fitness are essential.

Giro del Sorapis, Italy

The Dolomites are home to a series of stomach-churning via ferrata (literally, iron paths) — metal belt paths carved into the rock during World War I, when Italian and Austrian soldiers fought fierce battles on the region’s limestone peaks.

Today, hikers seeking the thrill of climbing without the fear of long falls flock here in the spring and summer months.

The Giro del Sorapis offers the biggest challenge of them all, starting at Rifugio Vandelli before heading high into the mountains and taking in three separate via ferratas.

Hikers clipping the line will need a harness, as well as a helmet and ideally a guide who can provide the necessary equipment and show the way.

Drakensberg Grand Traverse, South Africa and Lesotho

Multi-day hikes offer intrepid walkers the opportunity to test their skills to the limit, with changing weather and the need to carry sufficient supplies creating a real challenge.

The Drakensberg Grand Traverse certainly presents one. An epic, 230 kilometer (143 mi) journey that can take up to two weeks to complete, it begins by climbing a set of chain ladders up the Drakensberg Escarpment before heading over the border with Lesotho and finally returning south. Africa.

This monster of a long distance can be attempted solo, but hikers should be aware that the trail itself is more of a concept than a visible path, meaning anyone planning to hike here will need a KZN Wildlife Drakensberg hiking map, a GPS and plenty of food. And water remains for the entire trip.

A spring or fall visit is recommended, avoiding the lush, hard-to-walk grass of summer and the bitter days of winter.

Cascade Saddle, New Zealand

The prize?  Endless views of snow capped peaks.

The prize? Endless views of snow capped peaks.

Ondrej/Adobe Stock

In the heart of Mount Aspiring National Park on New Zealand’s South Island, Cascade Saddle offers some of the best mountain views in the world.

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But after a number of deaths earlier this century due to slippery rocks and treacherous conditions, the country’s Department of Conservation is keen to emphasize that the route is “only for those with navigation and advanced backcountry skills and experience,” warning those who do the route. . Be prepared to back off if things get hairy.

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Completed in two days, the route includes hikes over wild intrusions, rocky outcrops and ankle-cracking tussocky grass, with the option of camping or bunking up in mountain huts along the way.

The reward is endless vistas of snow-capped peaks, including the spectacular Mt Aspiring, also known by its Maori name of Tititea.

Kalalau Trail, Hawaii

A 22-mile “out and back” on Kauai’s Na Pali Coast, the Kalalau Trail isn’t just Hawaii’s most dangerous hike: It’s one of the deadliest in the entire United States.

With the Pacific raging below, forest trails tear along the coast.

You will need a permit to go beyond Hanakapia Beach to Hanakoa Valley to camp in the canyon or at Kalalau Beach.

While it looks beautiful, the trio of stream crossings here can be brutal following heavy rains, when the water reaches extremely high levels.

Throw in a vertiginous path along a crawler’s ledge and it’s a recipe for disaster for the inexperienced. Only those with the right outdoor smarts need apply.

Huayna Picchu, Peru

Anyone who has seen a picture of Peru’s hugely popular Machu Picchu has glimpsed Huana Picchu. It’s a towering peak that sits behind the famous lost city of the Incas, seen in countless Instagram posts and on postcards sent home from South America.

Reaching the top, however, requires scaling the vaguely titled “Stairway of Death,” a section of 500-year-old steps with sheer drops into the valley below.

Throw in ladder sections that make even the most hardened hikers uncomfortable and this is a route that should not be underestimated. While coming unprepared, hiking boots and the help of a local guide are highly advisable. It sounds daunting, but the view of the fort below is worth the three-hour effort.

Kokoda Trek, Papua New Guinea

The Kokoda trek takes about two weeks to complete.

The Kokoda trek takes about two weeks to complete.

Andrew Peacock/Stone RF/Getty Images

At 96 kilometers (about 60 miles), the Kokoda Track charts a route from the outskirts of the Papuan capital of Port Moresby to the village of Kokoda, crossing the Owen Stanley Range.

It’s a different terrain, with afternoon floods, raging currents and conditions that can be treacherously slippery in the tropical heat with ankle-deep mud and tree roots that take up to two weeks to complete.

After 13 Australians died in 2009 on the track in light aircraft, authorities have moved to make the path safer.

Permits are required and all visitors must walk with a licensed operator to benefit local communities from tourism. To prepare for sweaty days and bitter nights in this remote corner of the world, organizers recommend up to a year of training.

While trekking this lush and wild route, it pays to remember that it was the scene of fierce battles between the Japanese and allied Australian and Papuan forces during World War II.

Daiquiretto Traverse, Japan

Japan’s Northern Alps serve as some of the country’s best and certainly most challenging hiking. And the Daiquiretto Traverse is undoubtedly the route to try for hikers looking for the right adventure — one that’s as close as you can get to technical climbing without the need for ropes.

The traverse itself covers a distance of less than two miles but can take hours to complete and is best undertaken as part of a longer guided trek through this beautiful range.

The route up the traverse uses chains and ladders following a knife edge with drops of over a hundred meters on either side.

The head is essential for high levels of fitness and height. A helmet and gloves will make the passage easier, and it should be noted that attempting it alone, especially in winter, is inadvisable.

Mount Washington, New Hampshire, United States

Mount Washington is known for having “the worst weather in the world” (at least according to the Mount Washington Observatory).

In January 2004, the temperature on the summit plunged to a bitter -47º Fahrenheit (-44º C), while it also set the record for the fastest recorded wind on land, a barely believable 231 mph (372 kph) in 1934, which was only was surpassed in 1934. 1996 on Barrow Island, Australia.

All that to say is that hiking here requires serious preparation. Conditions can turn at any moment, meaning you’ll need to pack winter gear even in the height of summer.

Climbing is no joke, hikers need to be in great shape to achieve it. Yes, it is possible to walk or take the iconic cog train to the summit, but anyone who is well-prepared and up for a challenge should pull on their boots, pack their backpacks and do it on foot.

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