For those of us that are adrenaline-seekers and adventurers who want extreme hiking, learning about the hardest hikes in the world can be exciting! There’s an amazing feeling that comes after completing a dangerous and intense trip on one of these hiking trails.
The most dangerous and toughest hikes in the world are the Grande Randonnée 20, Half Dome Mountain, Pacaya Volcano Trail, Mount Huashan, Amphitheatre Trail, Caminito Del Rey, and the Skywalk Tianmen.
This list is made up of some of the steepest and most difficult terrains and landscapes that only those experienced hikers would want to challenge. Although most people would have a difficult time on these hikes, the views and feeling of accomplishment would definitely be worth it!
Hardest Hikes In The World
Grande Randonnée 20
Length: 111.8 miles
The Grande Randonnée 20 is probably the most exciting hiking route on the island of Corsica. The French long-distance hiking trail number 20 is definitely not for the faint of heart: It goes along the 165-kilometer ridge of the wooded Corsican mountains.
The path is high and quite steep, and it’s even unsecured in some places. This ascent is only recommended during the summer months when taut chains make the tour easier in some sections.
With a total length of over 100 miles, even experienced hikers need around 15 days to finish the entire GR 20. There’s no end to the surprises that you can experience on this extreme hike as beauty and danger lie very close together on the windswept peaks. In the summer of 2015, heavy rainfall caused a rockfall that unfortunately cost seven people their lives.
Half Dome Mountain
California, United States
Length: 14-16 miles
Half Dome is located in Yosemite Park in the United States and is 2693 meters high. In the past, it was considered impractical but today it’s open to hiking thanks to a system of wire ropes that help hikers to climb it.
As both an icon of Yosemite and a great challenge to all hikers, Half Dome Mountain receives thousands of people that reach the summit each year. The total round trip takes most hikers around 10-12 hours to finish the hike to Half Dome and back.
At the end of the hike, there are two metal cables that let climbers climb the last 400 feet of the ascent. There have been a few injuries and deaths since 1919, although it’s uncommon to happen if hikers are patient and remain on the inside of the cables.
Pacaya Volcano Trail
Length: 3.2 miles
The Pacaya south of Guatemala City is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. The glowing lava flows from the regular eruptions and often draws large crowds of hikers. Climbing up the frequently smoking Pacaya should not be underestimated as it’s one of the hardest hikes in the world.
In the morning and evening, it can get really cold which adds to the difficulty level of the trip. Often the volcano hurls ash towards the sky; then, it gets dark. The right equipment is essential for this type of extreme hiking: a weatherproof jacket, long trousers, and sturdy shoes protect you from cutting your legs on the sharp and angular lava stones.
Hikers should also carry a torch while on the trail to help light the way into the ash darkness. You should also watch out for the hot lava when hiking, which can lead to some melted rubber on your hiking shoes.
Length: 12.2 miles
You should definitely be comfortable with heights if you want to climb the 2155-meter-high Mount Huashan, the highest of China’s five sacred mountains. Pilgrims make their way to the monastery near the summit and people visit from all over the world to attempt this difficult hike.
It’s often described as one of the most dangerous hikes due to the narrow wooden boards that hikers must walk across. You can get a little queasy when you push yourself along the rock face on the 30 centimeters wide, not particularly trustworthy-looking wooden planks. Even with the metal rings hammered into it to provide additional support, the nervousness for most people will remain.
Drakensberg, South Africa
Length: 3.1 miles
Over 3050 meters high, the amphitheater is considered a path with one of the world’s most spectacular views. Located in the Drakensberg massif, it is a paradise for the most extreme hikers who are ready to take on the difficult paths.
One of the highest falls in the world, this climb requires hikers to travel over gullies and make use of chain ladders. These ladders have two different sections, one is around 10m high while the second is over 20m high and is bolted to the top of the mountain.
Even though the ladders are regularly checked, some hikers may struggle to make their way onto the ladder. For those people who aren’t able to make the climb, there’s a detour that goes over the Gully and takes a couple of hours.
Caminito Del Rey
Length: 5 miles
One of the most extreme hiking routes in Europe is not in the Alps, but in Málaga in southern Spain: Caminito del Rey means something like “little royal path” in German. The path got its name because King Alfonso XIII crossed it in 1921.
However, until recently, hikers may not have felt particularly majestic when they passed the Caminito Del Rey. The lack of handrails, crumbling ground underfoot, and a footbridge only a meter wide caused shaking knees and made the Königsweg one of the most dangerous hiking tours in the world. One wrong step and you could fall into the 100-meter-deep gorge.
A good level of fitness and professional equipment is still required when hiking because the almost eight-kilometer route includes a 2.9 kilometers catwalk through the air. That section of the hike takes most people a good four to five hours. The panoramic view that you get on this extreme hike is truly regal.
The Glass Trail Of Tianmen
Length: 3 miles
The “Skywalk Tianmen” is a path with a transparent glass floor that offers strong emotions on Tianmen Mountain slopes in the northwest of Hunan Province, China. One of the most beautiful mountains in the world, Tianmen Mountain includes views of Heaven’s Door, the glass skywalk, and the longest cable car ride in the world.
A little further on, the path continues with stairs that allow you to reach the Gate of Heaven. They are also particularly impressive and contribute to making the path perfect for the bravest.
This glass skywalk opened back in November of 2011 and has increased in popularity since that date. The actual walk over glass is only 200 feet long, but it gives such a thrilling experience that it’s become a must-see attraction for tourists everywhere.