10 Scariest Hikes In America

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Thanks to cheap flights and the desire to go viral on social media encourages many people to take on hikes that they are not prepared for.

In this article, we list 10 of the scariest (and dangerous) hiking spots in the United States.

Let’s get to it.

Angel's Landing, Zion National Park

This trail is one the most popular even though it is considered the scariest hike in America. While it is not particularly strenuous, there are sections where the trail is so narrow you are walking a tightrope of trail that requires chains. The trail is busy and so you might be crossing this tightrope section of the trail while facing chest to chest.

Mount Ranier

You can’t visit Seattle without seeing Ranier. And while it requires climbing skills to ascend the mountain summit, there are plenty of hiking trails.

But what makes the mountain scary and dangerous is the slippery rocks and constantly changing weather.

Do not go on a day hike here without knowing the weather, wearing proper clothing and boots plus carrying your 10 essentials.

A photo of home destroyed by a tornado to promote family survial bunks plan

Knife Edge Colorado

The Knife Edge is on the Capitol Peak trail is a stretch of trail with 2000 foot drops on both sides. Yet, before you even get to this scary spot, you will encounter a false summit known as K2. Many hikers consider K2 even scarier than the Knife Edge.

However, people like to make this trek because the summit has stunning views including the Continental Divide.

Half Dome Yosemite National Park

One of the most recognizable features of Yosemite National Park. It is a 17-mile round-trip hike with over 8,000 feet of altitude gain.

This would be a challenging hike on its own. But what makes it scary is the final bit which is almost vertical and the only reason why you can hike the summit is that the park rangers put up a set of poles and cables for you to hang on to climb.

Huckleberry Trail Glacier National Park

The trail itself is not scary nor that difficult. What makes this trail dangerous is that it is home to more grizzly bears than any other trail in the US.

While I would still worry more about ticks, grizzly bears are still apex predators. Make sure to carry bear spray, make noise, and keep food out of your tent.

I also would not hike anywhere, including to go potty, without a buddy. One of the most tragic stories I ever read was about a man who was on a family rafting trip who went to relieve himself and accidentally got between a momma bear and her cubs.

Also read our article about staying safe in bear country.

Abrams Falls, Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

What makes this dangerous is that the Great Smoky Mountains get a lot of rain. As a result, the waterfalls and streams can make them swollen and dangerous.

Thus be very careful on water crossings and standing near the falls.

A photo of a primitive shelter advertising for wilderness survival skills

Chinitna Bay, Lake Clark National Park, Alaska

There are 3 reasons why this is a dangerous hike:

It’s very remote. I live in Texas and have been to Big Bend. But Alaska is so vast, it makes Big Bend seem like a small city park in New York City.

Rough seas with fluctuating tides make travel by boat a sea-sickness adventure and most pilots won’t bother flying seaplanes. Instead, they land on the beach.

And there’s a large population of brown bears who will be happy to remind you who runs the place.

Barr Trail, Pikes Peak, Colorado

This trail is the most popular foothill up Pikes Peak. It is 13 miles that is scary, not because of any treacherous terrain or dangerous wildlife but because of the weather.

Specifically, lightning storms.

The climate around Pikes Peak causes excessive amounts of lightning bolts and there is no cover on most of this hike. Thus make sure you avoid this trail in the afternoon when thunderstorms tend to pop up.

Mount Denali National Park

The tallest mountain in North America is spectacular.

But as with everything involving a tall mountain, it can become dangerous if you are not prepared.

You have the weather, bears, moose (which historically kill more people than bears), and the terrain.

But if you are prepared, you will be able to witness some of the most beautiful spots in the world.

The Maze, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

The longest series of slot canyons in the United States and probably the world are here.

Very pretty but easy to get disoriented and there isn’t much water.

One of my friends spent 2 years planning a hike through here. This type of preparation is common and why that most hikers (plus attentive park rangers) can traverse this system without harm.

Venturing into the great outdoors can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to be prepared for anything.

Even if you’re an experienced hiker, there are always things that can go wrong. A little preparation can make all the difference.

Make sure you have your 10 essentials of hiking packed in your backpack before hitting the trails.

Make sure to dress properly and wear hiking boots with good traction. Bring trekking poles to help with balance and reduce the stress on your knees.

Train beforehand so that you are in proper shape before taking on a hike. Besides drinking water don’t forget your electrolytes. Running low on electrolytes happens more quickly than actual dehydration. Plus it’s tastier to drink Gatorade or similar powders than plain water.

And if it’s a difficult hike, consider hiring a guide to make sure you stay safe. Know your limits and don’t take on more than you can handle.

Hiking can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to be prepared for anything that could go wrong. Make sure you have your 10 essentials of hiking packed in your backpack before hitting the trails. Dress properly and wear hiking boots with good traction. Bring trekking poles to help with balance and reduce the stress on your knees. Train beforehand so that you are in proper shape before taking on a hike - especially if it is a difficult one. Drink plenty of water (and electrolytes) and know your limits! If all of this sounds like too much work or information overload, consider hiring a guide who can keep you safe while enjoying some beautiful scenery.

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