The Most Dangerous Hiking Trails in the U.S.

There are many reasons why people love to hike. 

Exercise and physical benefits, being outdoors, getting a thrill from nature, enjoying the beautiful views– there are so many wonderful benefits to hiking anywhere in the United States.

However, no matter how brave you think you are, it is important to consider the trail you’re embarking on when hiking. Research and preparation is everything when it comes to taking on nature.

There are a substantial amount of dangers that could appear on hiking trails that are less thrilling than one may think.

We put together a list of the most dangerous hiking trails in the United States. We aren’t outright recommending that you avoid these trails altogether.

We do, however, recommend arming yourself with the knowledge provided to be as cautious as possible when hiking these trails. We also don’t recommend braving these dangerous trails if you’re a beginner hiker.

Check out our list of the most dangerous hiking trails in America below!

The Most Dangerous Hiking Trails In The United States

Some of these dangerous hiking trails are pure nightmare fuel.

Mount McKinley – Alaska

Alaska isn’t known for having the most benign wilderness, but it is known for having one of the most beautiful landscapes in North America.

Denali National Park and Preserve‘s Mount McKinley is beautiful. However, it should absolutely not be underestimated.

The dangerous hiking trail up Mount McKinley will expose one to treacherous weather conditions. The very real risk of altitude illnesses and Grizzly bears that populate the area also exists.

Less than half of attempted climbs are finished on Mount McKinley and over a hundred hikers have perished in the last hundred years.

If you want to take a casual (read: safer) trip around the peak via bus routes and safety stations, those accommodations are readily available.

Mount Washington – New Hampshire

The weather of New Hampshire is fairly diverse. However, taking on the summit of Mount Washington at any time of the year could be a significant feat.

Even during the hottest summertime days, this peak of Mount Washington stays pretty regular at a freezing 27-29 degrees.

Like Mount McKinley, over a hundred climbers have perished while braving this summit. Weather-related hardships like avalanche and exposure are usually the culprits.

The kicker? Some have even perished from being literally blown off a cliff by 230 mph winds.

Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon – Arizona

When one thinks of ultra-dangerous terrain, Arizona definitely comes up first if not close. From rattlesnakes to scorpions to scorching temperatures to literal jumping cacti, Arizona isn’t an easy state to hike in.

Despite this desert’s unique beauty, one should not take hiking in this stake lightly– especially on Bright Angel Trail.

Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon truly takes the cake for being one of the most dangerous hiking trails in the sunny state.

The temperature in this area typically caps at over 111 degrees and most of the trail is steadily uphill. Heat and excursion? Talk about a cocktail for exhaustion or dehydration.

Hundreds of people need to be rescued from this trail annually. Heatstroke and dehydration have led to the need for rescue crews to operate during hiking hours.

Angel’s Landing – Utah

Despite the pretty name, Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park isn’t so gentle.

This brutal red rock trail is preceded by a pleasant mostly paved trail for casual hikers. After getting past Walter’s Wiggles, the bulk of the trail is full of tight caverns of rocks.

There are also steep ridges and portions of the trail that are littered with support chains to help surpass the steepest parts.

Braving this terrain is more than worth it, though. You’ll be greeted by breathtaking view unlike any other at almost six thousand feet in the sky.

The Maze – Utah

Utah makes the list again with the off-putting Maze in Canyonlands National Park. This almost extraterrestrial landscape of remote rock is almost three hours away from the nearest ranger by vehicle. And there are absolutely no water or food sources.

Should you want to explore The Maze, it is strongly suggested that you pack enough food and water. The probably of getting lost is high, as there are numerous dead ends and dangerous spots of falling rock.

Somehow, there have been no reported deaths in The Maze… yet.

Kalalau Trail – Hawaii

Na Pali Coast Wilderness Park is the home of the Kalalau Trail, a beautiful jungle trail that spans nearly twenty-two miles around.

Despite its incredible beauty, this trail isn’t the safest. Sharp volcano rocks and major streams to be crossed make this trail far from a walk in the park.

Just as well, falling rocks and flash floods are a common problem on this trail. The trail is so dangerous that single day permits have been banned. Visitors are responsible for purchasing camping permits instead.

Somehow, the Kalalau Trail hasn’t claimed many lives compared to the nearby beach.

Mount Rainier – Washington State

This treacherous dangerous hiking trail stands at over 14,000 feet. While incredibly beautiful and a well-renowned natural sight to see, Mount Rainier is a force to be reckoned with.

Mount Rainier is a fully active volcano. Because it is near the coast, the peak often has dangerously unpredictable and strong weather patterns.

Nearly four hundred climbers have died on or near Mount Rainier because of avalanches, falls, hypothermia, and drowning.

Barr Trail – Colorado

The Barr Trail of Pikes Peak in Colorado gets its name from the notorious hiker who braved a twelve-mile journey at 14,000 feet and survived.

This is no easy feat. From extremely probable exposure to altitude sickness, Barr Trail is a very dangerous peak to attempt. Did we mention the nearly 8,000 feet of vertical terrain?

Not only that, but the weather of this mountain is very unpredictable. Very extreme lightning and hailstorms are common dangerous occurrences on the peak.

How was our list of the most dangerous hiking trails in the United States? Tell us what you think, along with your own story about dangerous hiking trails, in the comments below!

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