The 5 Most Dangerous Hiking Trails in America
The Maze, Utah
Located in Canyonlands National Park, Utah, The Maze is a minimum 3 hour drive from the nearest ranger station. Thirty square miles of interconnecting canyons and high cliffs make it difficult to navigate, even for experienced hikers. Experienced outdoorsman Aron Lee Ralston fell down a rock face in the park and was trapped for five days; his experience was shown in the movie 127 Hours.
It is an inhospitable yet beautiful place, full of rock towers, portholes and arches. With only 2,000 visitors each year, it is ranked as one of the most inaccessible places in the entire United States. (Image courtesy of Kari Grigsby)
Kalalau Trail, Hawaii
The Kalalau Trail in Kauai, Hawaii is an 11 mile (one way) trek to one of the most pristine beaches in the world, and this trail is the only way to get there. There are three major stream crossings and hiking is discouraged when the water is high. At around the 7 mile mark is a particularly difficult section affectionately named “crawler’s ledge.” Many hikers have to inch along, particularly after a good rain, or risk falling 300 feet to the ocean. Two people have died in the past 3 years alone, drowning while trying to cross the streams. However, if hikers survive, they are rewarded by reaching the beautiful Kalalau Beach. (Photo courtesy of Emily Berkson)
Mist Trail, California
In California, there is one trail that you cannot die without doing, although you may die while attempting it. The Mist Trail is 14.2 miles up the Half Dome. The final 400 feet are a vertical climb using steel cables that are bolted into the rock. In the past twenty years, there have been 60 deaths. It may not seems like a lot over time, but the risk is still great, especially when a lightning storm comes rolling in. There are beautiful waterfalls at the bottom of the trail and breathtaking 360 degree views from the top of the Half Dome. It’s up to you to decide if it is worth the risk. Just remember, you need a permit to climb and the lottery is held every March. (Photo courtesy of the National Park Service)
Barr Trail, Colorado
The Barr Trail on Pikes Peak is 12.6 miles long (one way) and increases in altitude by 7,500 feet. Fred Barr originally built the trail for his burro train business and he first hiked the entre trail to the top of Pike’s Peak on Christmas Eve 1918. At around 14,000 feet, Pikes Peak attracts the most amount of lightning in the state due to the moist air from the south swirling with the strong winds from the plains. Since 2000, 48 people have been struck by lightning with hikers and campers making up 20 of those people. So if you choose to hike Barr Trail, make sure you get off the mountain by 11 AM when the lightning storms hits. (Photo Courtesy of Larry Marr)
Devil's Path, New York
Devil’s Path is a 25 mile long hike through the Catskills Mountains in New York. Over the course of the trail, hikers must summit 5 mountains and then drop down sharply in the notches, a total of 14,000 feet of elevation change. The many waterfalls and algae can make the rocky climbs treacherous so be sure not to rush the hike. Take your time and enjoy the beauty of the Catskills. But don’t look at the breathtaking views for too long, or you could miss the black bear coming out of the woods to steal your food. (Photo courtesy of Alex Davis)
Summer is upon us and with great weather, comes great adventures. If you are looking for a serious adrenaline rush, try checking out one of these five hiking trails that have been deemed the most dangerous in America.