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Every adventure seeker loves a challenge, and these treks sure do deliver. Extreme heat, knife-edge ridges, wild animals, treacherous cliffs, and altitude sickness are only a few risks adrenaline addicts can expect on the world’s most dangerous hikes. But is it worth the ultimate price?

1. Mount Everest, Nepal

Rear view of tourist while trekking to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. Everest Base Camp Trek is undoubtedly the adventure of a lifetime and one of Nepal's best trekking destination.
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Possibly the most famous dangerous trek, this iconic Himalayan hike tops the list of the most dangerous in the world. With a peak of over 29,000 feet, hiking Mount Everest has many dangers. At 6,000 feet above sea level, hikers can begin to feel the effects of that thin mountain air. By 10,000 feet, altitude sickness can really kick in, causing nausea, fatigue, and shortness of breath.

It only gets worse when you reach the Khumbu Glacier, where you risk life-threatening high-altitude pulmonary or cerebral edema. Those who succeed throughout the duration spent at altitude only need to worry about extremely volatile weather and plummeting to death from the world’s tallest mountain.

2. Huayna Picchu, Peru

Young tourist climbing Huayna Picchu (Machu Picchu, Peru)
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Also known as the “Hike of Death,” Huayna Picchu is the peak behind the Inca’s lost city. This ancient 5,000-year-old Inca staircase carved out of granite is steep, climbing approximately 1,000 feet into the sky in less than a mile with sheer drops below. In some sections, hikers must cling to old steel cables.

And if that wasn’t scary enough, your footing is crumbling rocks and slippery stones. And thick clouds and heavy mist make it difficult to see. But on a clear day, the danger is worth the effort. The summit offers the best view of Macchu Picchu.

3. Mount Hua Shan, China

Dangerous walkway via ferrataat top of holy Mount Hua Shan in Shaanxi province near Xi'an, China
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There are many ways to climb Mount Hua Shan, and almost all are treacherous. However, the epic plank trail to the South Mountain, with wooden platforms bolted onto the mountainside, is considered the most dangerous hike in the world. To reach the summit (at over 7,000 feet), hikers must scale uneven steps and multiple ladders before reaching the plank walk. The plank hovers thousands of feet above solid ground, and hikers must hook into an iron chain parallel to the board.

The hike only gets scarier when the platform disappears entirely, and hikers must use divots carved into the rocks to cross. While there are no statistics, the rumor is that 100 people die hiking Mount Hua Shan every year.

4. Aonach Eagach Ridge, Scotland

The Ridge on Aonach Eagach, Glencoe, Scottish Highlands
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One of Scotland’s many Highland treks, Aonach Eagach, is a six-mile point-to-point route considered the longest and most exposed ridgeline in Britain. It crosses two Munros (mountains over 3,000 feet) and offers some of the best views in the country. Aonach Eagach also provides a thin knife-edge trail with steep slopes on both sides.

In some sections, hikers have no choice but to scramble, and there are no shortcuts off the ridge if the weather turns bad (which, in Scotland, is highly likely). Hikers caught in the elements often try to leave the ridge before reaching the peak (and the easy way down), resulting in several yearly accidents.

5. Kalalau, Hawaii

Kalalau, Hawaii
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The 22-mile out-and-back Kalalau Trail along Hawaii’s famous Na Pali Coast lets hikers get up close and personal with isolated jungles and steep volcanic slopes. And it rewards them with a pristine beach at the end. But the paths aren’t pure paradise. The Kalalau Trail is one of the most deadly hikes in the U.S.

Three major stream crossings can rise rapidly during heavy rainfall, leading to brutal hiking conditions. Falling rocks are also a significant concern. Three-quarters of the way through the trek, hikers meet Crawler’s Ledge, which may make even the most experienced hikers a little queasy, especially in the rain. While the trail has led to several deaths and countless accidents, swimming at the trail end’s remote beaches proves just as dangerous as the hike.

6. Half Dome Via the Mist Trail, California

Rainbow at Vernal Falls via The Mist Trail, Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada, California
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Any hike requiring permits and clip-in cables to complete safely includes an element of danger. One of the most challenging hikes in the U.S., the 14.5-mile Mist Trail is one of the most popular routes up Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Every year, up to 3,000 summer hikers accomplish the feat. Still, it’s worth noting that some tricky areas could lead to severe injury or even death if you’re unprepared. Five thousand feet elevation gain over 18 miles is no joke.

First, the “mist” from Vernal Falls can sometimes feel like a rainstorm. Next, the hike past Nevada Falls can feel grueling. Hikers on the last 400 feet of the ascent rely on steel cables to help them reach the top. This is where tragedy is most likely to occur. Hikers need to be in excellent shape, and environmental factors, like rain and lightning, only increase the chances of tumbling to the valley floor.

7. Bright Angel Trail, Arizona

Mules on Bright Angel Trail in Grand Canyon.
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This hiking trail is so dangerous that the park service created a special scouting crew solely to help hikers in trouble. The 9.5-mile round-trip trail is tough, partly due to temperatures regularly reaching 110 degrees, resulting in countless heat-related rescues each year.

While the Grand Canyon trail has rest stations, including water sources, hikers are easily deceived by how easy the path is to access and how easy the descent is to accomplish. However, hiking back up is another story. The canyon traps heat, and temperatures can be 20 degrees hotter deep in the canyon. Despite warnings about hydration, resting, and starting the hike too late in the day, many hikers ignore them, making this one of the most treacherous hikes in the world.

8. Rovers Run Trail, Alaska

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Rover’s Run in Anchorage’s Bicentennial Park has no cliffs, treacherous climbs, or incremental weather. This trail belongs on the list of most dangerous hikes for a different reason–it’s a favorite spot for brown bears, especially during the summer salmon season. Bear encounters (including maulings) occur.

Additionally, other dangerous wildlife is lurking nearby. For example, moose, known to charge intruders, are frequently spotted in the area.

9. Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala

Pacaya Volcano - Afternoon view of the barren lava flows near Antigua, Guatemala
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Hiking an active volcano is not for the faint of heart. Guatemala’s Pacaya Volcano became active in 1965. Since then, multiple eruptions have caused nearby evacuations and even deaths. And the hike to the 8,000-foot peak can be dangerous even without eruptions; hikers have made it to the top only to slip in due to crumbling grounds.

Due to these fatalities, the national park service closed the peak to the public. However, extreme adventure seekers still access the trails to the top from nearby farms.

10. El Caminito del Rey, Spain

El Caminito del Rey, Spain
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El Caminito del Rey, known as “Little King’s Path” in Malaga, hangs 100 meters high on sheer cliffs. The steel and concrete path, built in the early 20th century between the waterfalls of El Chorro and Gaitanejo, allowed materials and maintenance workers to access a local hydroelectric plant.

Over time, it’s grown into the ultimate destination for adventure seekers. Once considered the most dangerous hike in the world, the old path has been restored. Now, hikers seeking the unique experience of trekking across walkways hanging over 100 meters up on a sheer cliff face can feel that little bit safer.

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