Most Dangerous Hikes In The World – Do You Dare These 9 Trails?

Updated: April 3, 2023
Most dangerous hikes in the world

These most dangerous hikes in the world will provide a challenge and adrenaline rush for even the most hardened adventurers.

If you don’t have the stomach for heights or live life on the cautious side, these aren’t for you!

9 Most Dangerous Trails In The World

From rough weather to sheer drops, these are the most dangerous hiking trails across the globe.

1. Khimloga Pass, India

India trails

Trails in India are beautiful but can be dangerous (picture by: Fredi Bach)

Based on the number of annual fatalities, this could well be the most dangerous hike in the world. Other than the dangerous terrain, most of the route is above 5000m. This means hikers risk falling victim to altitude sickness.

The trail starts at Sankri village in the Uttarkashi district. It takes about 9-10 days to get to Chitkul which is where the trail ends.

In 2022 alone, 10 trekkers died on this trail. Another 12 were injured and two went missing. Those are some unnerving numbers!

At the end of 2022, authorities banned trekking here following the high number of deaths. It is unclear whether this deadly trail will re-open any time soon.

See more hikes in India.

2. Drakensberg Traverse, South Africa

Drakensberg south africa

The Drakensberg Mountains, South Africa

This trek through South Africa’s stunning Drakensberg Mountains begins with a hair-raising climb up chain ladders. This is a 65 km/40-mile hike that should be left to experienced trekkers.

Prior to 1955, the death count for this trail had already reached 55. Since then, park rangers have stopped counting.

In many cases, people fell from steep ridges but hikers often underestimate how cold these mountains get. Multiple deaths in the Drakensberg can be credited to Hypothermia

The trail is extremely isolated. If things go wrong, there is no place to get help. Your best chance of rescue is by helicopter.

See more hikes in South Africa.

3. Cascade Saddle, New Zealand

Hike to Cascade Saddle

Hike to Cascade Saddle (Photo by: Eli Duke)

More than 12 people have died on the Cascade Saddle hike in the past 15 years. This is more fatalities than any other hike in New Zealand.

Sudden storms and avalanches are just a few factors you need to consider on this trail. Snow and ice-covered sections also make the pathway extremely dangerous. You need trekking expertise and the right equipment before you even think bout attempting this 5-day hike.

Regardless of the tempting views, Inexperienced hikers are advised to steer clear of this one. There are plenty of other great hikes in New Zealand to choose from.

4. The Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Half Dome Trail

USA’s Half dome trek is not an easy trail. You need to navigate 25km /16 miles and make an ascent of almost 4,500 ft. Most consider this the toughest of Yosemite’s trails.

Not only is the Half Dome a difficult hike, but it is also dangerous. The last 400 ft to the top is climbing up a near-verticle rock with only a thin cable to hold on to. Looking down can send chills through the spine of even the most experienced mountaineer.

Yosemite’s search and rescue service responds to around 100 distress calls every year on the Half Dome. 20 hikers have died while attempting to reach the top of this huge rock.

Yellowstone regularly has afternoon thunderstorms. This turns the polished granite slippery and makes it near impossible to find a foothold. Several unfortunate hikers have been struck by lightning on or near the top of the Half Dome.

5. Mount Huashan China

Mount Huashan, China

Mt. Huashan China (phot credit: Clint)

With a vertical drop hundreds of meters down, taking the wrong step on Mount Huashan would result in a very long fall. I have my doubts that the rumors of 100 people falling to their deaths each year are true. This isn't the hardest hike in the world,  but it may just be the scariest!

Surprisingly, Mount Huashan is a popular day trip. You will need to rent a harness for around $5 at the entrance and attach yourself to the cables running along the cliff face. The narrow plank road and dodgy ladders can barely accommodate one person. What makes it worse is you will also be dodging foot traffic coming from the other direction.

Even more shocking is that monks have been making this treacherous climb for centuries, without any kind of safety equipment! The trail is a pilgrimage route to temples carved in the rock at the summit at 7000 ft.

6. The Maze, Utah

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park

Found in Canyonlands National Park, The Maze gets its name from the seemingly endless amount of dead ends. The biggest risk of hiking The Maze is getting lost. Every year authorities undertake rescue missions for hikers who have wandered astray.

There are cairns (piles of rocks) to guide the way but they are far apart and regularly get washed away. Even experienced hikers can get confused. It’s advisable to take a compass and map as GPS is not always reliable in this area.

If you are not good with directions, pick a different hike in Utah!

Summer temperatures can reach 44 ℃ ( 110℉) and, with few water sources, dehydration is a real risk. What’s more, you need to look out for flash floods and rockfalls, both of which can be fatal.

7. Kalalau Trail, Hawaii 

Kalalau Lookout, Hawaii

Kalalau lookout, Hawaii

This 18km/ 11-mile trail runs along the north coast of Kauai island. It is the most popular of the hiking trails on Kauai. This scenic trek to Kalalau beach is also rated as one of the most dangerous hikes in the USA.

The scariest trek of this hike is a narrow cliffside path with a 4 000ft drop into the ocean below. There are no handrails or barricades so best you tread carefully!

The real danger of this hike is that trails become slippery and treacherous after heavy rains. The small rivers can also rise significantly and become dangerous to cross.

Despite its dangers, we rate the Kalalau trail as one of the best hikes in the world. Only take this trail if you are an experienced hiker. 

8. Huayna Picchu

inca trail to machu picchu

Huayna Picchu is the cone-shaped mountain in the background.

Although I wouldn’t say the hike itself is particularly dangerous, the stone steps up to Huayna Picchu are very steep. If you don’t have a head for heights, the 305m ascent is going to be a bit of a nightmare!

You can climb Huayna Picchu as an optional extra after hiking to Machu Picchu. The main risk on this hike is altitude sickness.

There have been a few deaths but none of them were recorded on Huayna Picchu itself. Most Fatalities related to Machu Picchu were people falling down the cliffside. These could have been prevented by being more careful and following safety instructions.

9. Caminito Del Rey, Spain

Caminito Del Rey Hike Spain

Terrifying walkways on Caminito Del Rey

'The Kings Little Pathway'  is a concrete trail winds through limestone cliffs near the village of El Chorro. The route has been used for over 100 years to access the hydroelectric dam.

Caminito Del Rey was once known as the most dangerous of all hiking trails in Spain. for years, the trail saw very little maintenance. Those brave enough to walk the disintegrating concrete pathways faced the risk of the ground literally falling out beneath them!

Fortunately, the government re-built these walkways in 2019. You can now navigate the cliffs with a lot more peace of mind on boardwalks with railing.  The steep drop down is still too much for some people to handle.

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About the author 

Alison Macallister

With a degree in Nature Conservation and experience working with wildlife including the Big 5, Alison used to work as a guide for a 5-star safari reserve in South Africa. Today she is a full time traveller and editor for Mountain IQ. She has travelled and hiked extensively in South America, including many solo hikes in Patagonia, the Cusco region of Peru, Ecuador and Chile.

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