When you think of thrilling experiences, you probably don’t immediately think of extreme walkways or epic trails, but there are some crazy paths out there. From planks affixed to the side of a rock face to transparent walkways that peer out to a river and moving traffic—you wouldn’t believe people actually walk on these things.
Thrill seekers from all over have found an interesting hobby and frankly—it’s terrifying. Take a look at some of the most extreme examples of terrifying trails; hopefully you’re not afraid of heights.
This set of routes throughout Italy’s Dolomite Mountains more closely resembles climbing trails than typical walkways. The network of pathways is characterized by a steel cable that visitors latch onto, usually with climbing equipment, which helps when the bridges and footholds turn to pure rock face. The routes vary in length, difficulty and altitude (some routes take climbers up more than 3,000 feet), but none of them should be underestimated—experts say overconfidence is the leading cause of deadly accidents here.
El Caminito del Rey, or the King’s Little Pathway, is a narrow walkway set against the walls of a deep gorge that’s been called “the most dangerous path in the world.” Originally constructed in the early 1900s as a route for hydroelectric power plant workers, the meager trail fell into severe disrepair over the course of the century. By the year 2000, following four fatalities in the previous year, the pathway was closed to the public and has been under construction for more than a decade. The site is reportedly set to open this year with fortified paths and safety measures.
Set in the Anhui province of China, Huangshan is a mountain famous for stunning vistas, wild granite spires and a walkway that is as terrifying as the mountain is beautiful. With a total elevation of 6,115 feet, the treacherous walkway affixed to the rock face gets dizzyingly high at points and the meager handrails don’t offer much comfort.
A sheet of glass lines the walkway of the recently opened addition to the Tower Bridge in London. The addition puts visitors 140 feet above the River Thames and gives them a good look at the traffic rushing by below. The ‘walking on air’ sensation is sure to bring on a case of vertigo and maybe a new element to the typical fear of heights.
Set alongside the tallest mountain in the Swiss Alps—Mount Titlis, this incredible bridge is a whopping 1,640 feet up from the ground below. Said to be the highest suspension bridge in all of Europe, the views are absolutely stunning, but crossing is frightening to say the least. “To cross the bridge, you'll need nerves as strong as the steel cables from which it hangs,” reads the website.
Perched at an extreme height of almost 5,000 feet, this walkway would be frightening without the sections of glass flooring. Take the path and step out onto the 200-foot-long section of transparent glass where you can see mountains beneath your feet. The 2.5-inch thick glass is projected to withstand your weight and unexpected rock fall from above.
Take a walk alongside a vertical rock face, over the top of mature rainforest vegetation and the Capilano River and across suspended bridges. The Capilano Cliffwalk, which opened in 2011, brings visitors deep into the park and far over the forest—reaching 300 feet high at points. Some points of the novel walkway are transparent, made of reinforced glass, for a memorable (and frightening) view.
The appropriately named Hua Shan plank walk on Mount Hua may be the most notoriously terrifying mountainside trail in the world—and that reputation is well deserved. The rickety old boards and steep rock face trails have led to many deadly accidents, but recent safety improvements have minimized the risk. Even with the improvements, though, the plank walk is still an incredible feat of nerve and luck.
Certainly not a good spot for someone with a fear of heights, this walkway juts out over the Austrian Alps, allowing visitors to experience a mountain panorama unlike any other (and maybe a bit of panic). Hanging over the side of the Hunerkogel rock face, it’s a 820-foot straight drop down. While visitors gush about the experience and site supervisors say it’s completely safe, a drop off that high is sure to be intimidating.
Also set in the Italian Dolomites, this suspension bridge along Monte Cristallo's Ivano Dibona route is one of the most famous and terrifying in the area. Frequently called “Cliff Hanger,” the bridge is one of the longest in the area and certainly not for the faint of heart.