World’s Trippiest Hikes
There are hikes—those ambling walks in calm forests, along gently flowing streams—and then there are HIKES, Indiana Jones–worthy treks with such dangers as sheer cliffs, volcanic black holes and swinging bridges. For travelers who prefer the latter, these 9 are for you. Just remember to triple your trip insurance.
The Maze, Utah
Rangers ask that you bring plenty of “gear for self-rescue” if you attempt a trek in this ultra-remote corner of Canyonlands National Park: It's a full 46 miles down a dirt road from the nearest ranger station (four-wheel-drive required). Only 2,000 visitors come to the largely trailless sandstone and red rock canyon every year. Did we mention the temperature can climb to 116 degrees in July?
Kalalau Trail, Hawaii
Eleven miles isn’t very long for a day hike—but when the trail is full of seaside cliffs, muddy switchbacks and tempestuous (and rapidly rising) rivers, it’s hardly paradise-as-usual. The most popular portion of this Kauai trek, Crawler’s Ledge, will have you dangling over an oceanfront precipice, a killer Instagram moment—if you dare. Be sure to stay away when the trail is closed; air-lifting stranded tourists at their own expense is all too common.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Ireland
If you suffer from vertigo, do yourself a favor and stop reading. The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge sways 100 feet above the sea below, and the current bridge isn't too different from the version constructed nearly 350 years ago by local salmon fisherman. Still, it can be worth braving for a bird's-eye view of the local puffin colony. (We also love that you can reward yourself after your hair-raising jaunt at the Weighbridge Tea Room, which serves warm, buttery scones).
El Caminito del Rey, Spain
Among the most famous hikes in Spain, the one-way five-mile path of El Caminito del Rey takes just four hours to complete, but that doesn't mean it's easy: You'll scoot along narrow, cliff-hugging walkways, over rope bridges and towering canals (with no hand rails in sight). It's all worth it for what you see along the way, which includes juniper and eucalyptus trees and the occasional piece of Neolithic art.
Mist Trail, Yosemite, California
You’ll climb more than 2,000 feet on this trail, along slippery granite steps near the spray of Vernal Falls, to reach a series of postcard-perfect waterfalls. The National Park Service warns visitors that sprained ankles are common on this trek, so walk with care.
Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala
Nothing says danger like a cauldron of hot lava. Pacaya Volcano has been continually erupting for the last several centuries, with "lava fountaining" and "strombolian activity." That doesn't mean you can't visit it up close; every day hundreds of tourists make the half-day hike. We recommend booking one of the local guides, who have been known to bring marshmallows to toast. What's more badass than s'mores over a volcano?
Mount Hua, China
It’s rumored that hundreds of people have met their fate hiking 7,090-foot Mount Hua. Even the names of the glorious landmarks you'll see aren't for the faint of heart; among the scenic overlooks are "Hundred Foot Crevice" and, worse, "Thousand Food Precipice." But it's worth the trek, especially for Taoists, who have long believed that the god of the underworld lives in these hallowed peaks.
Huayna Picchu, Peru
The ancient Incas blazed trails up to the 8,920-foot peak of Huayna Picchu, overlooking Machu Picchu, so the high priest and local virgins could live up there. It’s now a slippery and steep hike that is harrowing with a capital H—only 400 people a day are allowed to attempt it, and they all have to be willing to use steel cables to help them along. Buy your tickets well in advance; it sells out quickly.
Trift Bridge, Switzerland
Teetering some 100 meters above the craggy ground, this is one of the highest suspension bridges in the Alps and takes 90 minutes to cross each way. It's only five years old and was constructed to be ultra-sturdy (made of steel cables and wood planks), but we'll take that with a grain of salt.
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