The most dangerous hiking trails in the world

(CNN) – Adrenaline junkies often deride hiking as less of a mountainous experience like climbing or skiing.

But as these challenging paths show, putting one foot in front of the other isn’t always the easy choice.

To take these famous excursions, you’ll need more than just a heavy dose of savvy.

These routes are dangerous and only for experienced hikers. This means those who have the right equipment, the ability to pull themselves out of difficult situations and the willingness to plan for the worst and mobilize accordingly.

Whether you want to experience a classic English game Lake District or tackle the “world’s most dangerous hike” in rural China, this list has got you covered.

Striding Edge, Lake District, England

The Lake District’s notoriously choppy weather can make even the most intimidating trekking a challenge.

But Striding Edge—a steep area that leads to Helvellyn Peak, the third highest peak in the Lake District National Park—stands separate in this corner of England.

Hikers can choose to follow the trails that run along the side of the hills, but for those keen on the thrill, the hills themselves are where they are.

On a clear day, the views are dramatic, stretching all the way to Scotland.

This isn’t for beginners or the faint of heart: Walkers will need to be prepared for the dash, decent climbing skills for the final push to the top and know how to navigate properly if you enter the clouds.

Ice and snow make it deadly in the winter, so being prepared and ready to come back is a must.

Labyrinth, Canyonlands, Utah, US

The National Park Service cuts straight to the chase when it comes to the maze.

He describes the hike here as “very challenging,” warning of slippery rocks and steep inclines.

It is the most remote part of the Canyonlands, where visitors need to negotiate long trips on dirt roads before setting off into deep canyons, where rockfalls and flash floods are not uncommon and it is difficult to get water from the few springs in the area (fill up with enough fluid) for the trek Multi-day is a must).

Park Rangers ask all visitors to share their trails and stay connected as much as possible. Those who come to landscapes that feel totally timeless will be treated to and won’t be met by other people on their adventures either.

Huashan, China

On this path, hikers must follow planks installed in the face of the rock.

Maciej Bledowski / iStock Editorial / Getty Images

This epic hike to the southern peak of Huashan, one of China’s Five Great Mountains, is often described as the most dangerous hike in the world, and for good reason.

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To reach the summit, which is 7,070 feet high, hikers need to climb uneven steps and a series of stairs before tying themselves to a chain using belts and bombs to traverse the famous “wooden walk.”

This is as basic as it sounds – wooden planks screwed into the rock face that you follow up and down the mountain.

While many tourists only come in sneakers and T-shirts, this is not a place to arrive unprepared.

Proper hiking shoes, plenty of food and water, and a decent level of fitness are essential.

Tour of Sorapis, Italy

The Dolomites are home to a series of stomach ripples across ferrata (literally, iron roads) — pathways of mineral grades pierced into the rock during World War I, when Italian and Austrian forces fought pitched battles across the region’s limestone peaks.

Today, hikers seeking the thrill of climbing without fear of long falls flock here during the spring and summer months.

Giro del Sorapiss presents the biggest challenge of them all, starting at Rifugio Vandelli before heading high up into the mountains along the rocky, rocky faces and enjoying three separate rides across the ferrata.

Hikers will need belts to clip into the lines, as well as a helmet and an ideal guide who can provide the required equipment and show the way.

Drakensberg Grand Traverse, South Africa and Lesotho

Multi-day hikes give intrepid walkers the chance to test their skills to the limit, with changing weather and the need to carry ample supplies creating a real challenge.

The Drakensberg Grand Traverse is definitely one. An epic 230-kilometre (143 miles) trek that can take up to two weeks to complete, sets off by climbing a set of chained stairs to the Drakensberg Escarpment, before heading across the border with Lesotho and eventually back in South Africa.

This long-distance beast can be experienced alone, but hikers should be aware that the trail itself is more of a concept than a visual trail, which means anyone planning to head here will need all of the KZN Wildlife Drakensberg hiking maps, GPS, etc. Enough food and water for the entire flight.

Spring or fall visits are recommended, and avoid lush, hard-to-walk grass in summer and bitter winter days.

Cascade Saddle, New Zealand

the prize?  Endless vistas of snow-capped peaks.

the prize? Endless vistas of snow-capped peaks.

Ondrej / Adobe Stock

Located in the heart of Mount Aspiring National Park on the South Island of New Zealand, Cascade Saddle offers some of the best mountain scenery in the world.

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But after seeing a number of deaths earlier this century due to slippery rocks and treacherous conditions, the country’s Department of Environmental Conservation is keen to stress that this is a route “only for people with high-level navigation, skills and experience in the countryside,” warning those who do that. Be prepared to go back if things go wrong.

Completed over two days, with the option of camping or lounging in mountain huts along the way, this route includes wild scrambling, rocky outcrops, and hiking over ankle-broken Tsuki grass.

The bonus is endless vistas of snow-capped peaks, including the stunning Aspiring Mountain, also known as Maori Teetitia.

Kalalau Trail, Hawaii

The Kalalau Trail, a 22-mile “back and forth” trail along Kauai’s Na Pali Coast, isn’t just the most dangerous outing on Hawaii: it’s one of the deadliest hikes in the entire United States.

The forest trail splits into the coast, with the Pacific Ocean raging below.

You will need a permit to pass Hanakapiai Beach into Hanakoa Valley to camp either in the valley or on Kalalau Beach.

As poetic as it sounds, crossing the Triple Stream here can be brutal in the wake of heavy rain, when the water swells to extremely high levels.

Throw in a spinning path along Crawler’s Ledge which is a recipe for disaster for the inexperienced. Only those with a proper outdoor wit need to apply.

Huayna Picchu, Peru

Anyone who has seen the famous picture of Machu Picchu in Peru will have a look at Huayna Picchu. It’s the towering summit behind the famous lost Inca city, seen in countless Instagram posts and on postcards sent home from South America.

Reaching the summit, however, requires climbing the untitled “Stairs of Death” portion, a portion of the 500-year-old steps, with a steep drop into the valley below.

Throw in the sections of the ladder that make even the most hardy hikers nauseous and this is a route not to be underestimated. While many come unprepared, hiking boots and the help of a local guide are highly recommended. It may seem daunting, but the view of the castle below is well worth the three hour effort.

Kokoda Trail, Papua New Guinea

It takes up to two weeks to complete the Kokoda Trail.

It takes up to two weeks to complete the Kokoda Trail.

Andrew Peacock/Stone RV/Getty Images

At 96 kilometers (about 60 miles), the Kokoda Trail draws a path from just outside the papal capital, Port Moresby, to the village of Kokoda, via the Owen Stanley Range.

This is a secluded area, where the trek takes up to two weeks to complete thanks to raging floods and conditions that can become insidiously slippery thanks to ankle-deep mud and tree roots that grow slippery in the tropical heat.

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After the deaths of 13 Australians heading to the track in a light aircraft in 2009, authorities moved to make access to the track safer.

Permits are required and all visitors must walk with a licensed operator, in an effort to help local communities benefit from tourism. To prepare for sweaty days and bitter nights in this remote corner of the world, organizers recommend training for up to a year.

When walking down this verdant and brutal road, it is useful to remember that it was the scene of fierce battles between Japanese, Allied Australian and Papuan forces during World War II.

Daikrito Traverse, Japan

The Northern Alps in Japan are arguably the best and most challenging hiking in the country. The Daikiretto Traverse is undoubtedly the way to try for hikers looking for a proper adventure – an adventure as close to technical as a rope-free climb.

The crossing itself covers less than two miles but can take hours to complete and is best done as part of a longer guided trip through this beautiful range.

The path over the intersection uses chains and stairs, following a knife-edge ridge with drops of over a hundred meters on either side.

A high level of fitness and head-ups are essential. A helmet and gloves will make passing easier, and it should be noted that trying them alone, especially in winter, is unwise.

Mount Washington, New Hampshire, United States

Mount Washington is famous for being home to the “worst weather in the world” (at least according to the Mount Washington Observatory).

In January 2004, temperatures at the summit dropped to -47°F (-44°C), while also setting a record for the fastest winds ever recorded on Earth, a barely believable 231 mph (372 km/h) in 1934. It only surpassed it in 1996 on Barrow Island, Australia.

All this means that hiking here requires serious preparation. Conditions can turn at any minute, which means you’ll need to pack winter gear even in the height of summer.

The ascent is no joke, as hikers need to be in good shape to make it happen. Yes, it is possible to drive or take the famous cogwheel train to the top, but anyone well prepared and eager for the challenge should put their shoes on, fill their backpacks and do it on foot.

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