Dangerous U.S. Hikes

Dangerous U.S. Hikes

Abram Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

While considered a moderately difficult trail and coming in at only 5 miles roundtrip, the strong currents and undertow of the creek at the base of the falls are what make this hike extremely dangerous. According to the National Park Service, water recreation is not recommended in the park. Drowning is one of the leading causes of death and many others have fallen to their deaths from climbing the rocks near the waterfalls. If you plan on visiting Abram Falls, check out the National Park Service’s Water Safety guide.

Angels Landing, Zion National Park

With sheer cliffs on both sides, hikers have a narrow trail to follow to get up to the best views in Angels Landing. Despite the chains to help you hike up the narrow trail, the rocks can be quite slippery and many accidents have occurred because of hiking on the trail when the weather is storming. The National Park Service estimates 5 people have fallen off Angels Landing, but claim they don’t have exact numbers.

Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon

Bright Angel Trail is named accordingly, as the sun is the key to this trail’s danger. The National Park Service recommends hiking this trail during the fall or spring as winter and summer can be especially dangerous. At an elevation of 6,850 feet, the top couple miles of the hike are without sun and extremely icy, remaining slick for weeks or even months after a storm. During the summer, with normal temperatures over 100°F hikers need to begin hiking long before dawn, planning to reach their destination before 10 in the morning. The National Park Service insists you prepare, and always carry plenty of water, as over 250 people are rescued from the canyon each year.

Buckskin Gulch, Paria Canyon

Buckskin Gulch is one of the most difficult areas to hike in Paria Canyon. With rocky drop-offs and many obstacles, conditions are always changing with the rainfall. Flash floods are what make this slot canyon a dangerous trip. Be prepared to be walking through water and mud during most of your hike. And with inclimate weather on the horizon, the Arizona Bureau of Land Management recommends you reschedule your trip, as these flash floods can be fatal.

Camp Muir, Mt. Rainer

This trail gives a glimpse of what alpine climbers may experience. It entails a large amount of snow travel and strenuous ice and rock trekking. Although the round-trip distance is only 9 miles, the elevation gain is 4,680 feet and extremely difficult. Navigation mistakes are the largest reason for fatality as many climbers and hikers have been lost during storms or white-outs. The National Park Service warns that a minor error in navigation could lead to hazardous glaciers, so keep to your map.

Devil's Path, Catskills

At 25.1 total miles, the Devil’s Path is definitely a long, steep, and scary trek. The name is given by early Dutch settlers. According to The New York New Jersey Trail Conference, it was named because “the range of mountains traversed by the Devil's Path - with their steep, rocky slopes and deep gaps between them - were the devil's private preserve, specially adapted to his cloven hooves, where he could go when desiring to retreat from the world of man.”

Half Dome's Cable Route, Yosemite

Half Dome is about a 15-mile round trip hike with incredible views of Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra, but what it is most famous for is it’s cable section of the hike. The Half Dome Cables are two metal cables that help you to climb the last few hundred feet to summit. The National Park Service states that relatively few people have died on the cable route, but it is very common for injury, especially when people are acting irresponsibly or weather conditions are poor.

Kalalau Trail, Nā Pali Coast State Park

This hike is as gorgeous as it is dangerous. With no emergency services or cell phone coverage, it is particularly important to stay safe on this trail. The trail is quite narrow and uneven with steep drop-offs and slippery slopes. Hawaii State Parks reiterates never to cross a flooded stream and to wait until the water level recedes. Also, try to stay clear of the base of waterfalls, narrow canyons and steep cliffs because falling rocks and rock slides continue to be major hazard.

Longs Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park

Longs Peak stands as the highest mountain in Rocky Mountain Park at 14,259 ft. while very popular, the “Keyhole” route is deceivingly technical and difficult. The National Park Service warns that route is now more of a climb than a hike as you encounter vertical rock faces with falling rocks, narrow ledges, and steep cliffs. They also warn that most accidents happen on the way down when fatigue or lack of attention follows with poor decision making.

Maroon Bells, Elk Mountains

The iconic image of The Maroon Bells in Colorado is more than just a scenic overlook. A Deadly Bells sign, posted by the US Forest Service, warns hikers of the risk they take in this hike/climb. The sign explains that the beautiful mountains have taken the lives of many in the past year, insisting that you must be very experienced to continue through.

Mist Trail, Yosemite National Park

The Mist Trail holds one of the highest numbers of deaths in all of Yosemite National Park. As the mist from the falls fills the air, the stone steps carved into the canyon tend to be very slippery. The last thing you want is to slip and fall into the water. According to Timberline Trails, most deaths happen because of the strength of the currents within the Mist Trail.

Mount Washington, New Hampshire

Mostly recognized as the highest peak in the Northeast, Mount Washington is home to some challenging trails and rugged weather. While lower than many other popular mountains, Mount Washington’s high relief of 4,000 feet makes it a steep trail to climb. On Mount Washington Observatory’s website, they answer the question “Is hiking Mount Washington safe?” with a “No.” There have been more than 100 people die from falling, hypothermia, avalanches or heart attacks on this hike.

Rover's Run Trail, Far North Bicentennial Park

Anchorage is home to an abundance of wildlife, and the density of them is what makes this trail so dangerous. Campbell Creek, running along the trail, is filled with salmon, and bears love to snack along the banks. According to the Anchorage Park Foundation, the frequent occurrences of bear and human encounters have made it necessary multiple times to close the trail.

The Maze, Canyonlands National Park

Appropriately named, The Maze is definitely an easy place to get lost in. As the least accessible, and therefore least visited district of the Canyonlands, visitors usually spend week-long trips in the area. The National Park Service warns that many of the hiking routes include sections of steep slickrock and pour-offs that require climbing maneuvers. Also, they insist you always carry a topo map, and if lost remain in one place.