Hiking can be a relaxing, healthy pastime that takes you along some picturesque trails.
On the other hand, it can also be a pulse-pounding, fear-inducing, death-defying walk on the wild side.
Depending on your experience, sense of adventure, and ability to cope with extreme heights, some of the world’s most dangerous hiking trails may appeal to you. If you’ve been looking for a new challenge to inject a little more zest into your walking, consider visiting any of these five trails during your next vacation …
Mount Huashan (China)
Just looking at hikers’ snapshots of this trail is enough to induce an immense terror of heights in anyone.
Mount Huashan is based close to China’s Huayin, and offers plenty of spectacular views – provided you can cope with the challenge, of course. There are various trails leading to the mountain’s five summits, and the number of tourists choosing to walk them led to a much-needed reinforcement-operation.
The trails are more secure than they were, but dozens of fatal falls are still believed to occur each year.
This is unsurprising, when parts of a trail are simply wooden boards bolted to the side of the mountain.
There are also parts boasting such intimidating names as Black Dragon Ridge and Hundred-Foot Crevice.
Taghia Trail (Morocco)
Next time you head to Morocco, be sure to try hiking the Taghia trail, which runs around the spectacular mountain, Oujdad.
You need to tread carefully here, as there are only rocks and logs leading you along solid wall. While these are secure and many people walk this trail safely, the narrow walkways and sheer drops are enough to put even the most seasoned hikers off.
El Caminito del Rey (Spain)
‘Little King’s Path’ is a definite challenge, with a walkway just three feet wide to tread. This is based more than 300 feet up from a river running beneath,
For some time, this was known as one of the most dangerous trails on Earth, due to its state of deterioration. In 2014, the trail reopened after restoration work was completed, and it’s now safer than it was.
However, the narrowness of certain parts and the brutal drops mean this is still a no-no for people likely to be overwhelmed.
Huayna Picchu Trail (Peru)
Peru’s Machu Picchu is one of the world’s most iconic sites, but hiking all the way up there is a challenge for even the hardiest hiker.
Huyana Picchu, the trail running up to the Incan spot, runs up to around 1,000 feet. It’s also so narrow and steep that you access is prohibited during most of the country’s rainy season.
While the reward for reaching the top is unquestionably worthwhile, the danger the trail poses is sure to put many of us off.
Bright Angel Trail (Arizona)
The Bright Angel Trail is based in the beautiful Grand Canyon National Park, and runs for more than eight miles.
Over the years, hikers have been at risk of flash floods, rockfall, unbearable heat, and even drowning. It is incredibly popular, but hikers are at risk without the proper gear and care.
When embarking on one of these trails, or any hike, having the right equipment is vital. Being under-prepared poses numerous risks, not least dehydration and extreme hunger if you pack too-little supplies.
You should make sure you have waterproof backpacks to keep your essentials dry in wet conditions, though these will also offer protection should your bag fall into water.
Hiking is a terrific way to stay fit and see the world, but do your research before trying trails known to be dangerous.
If you love hiking, of course you’ll want your kids to love it too.
Still, getting children excited about any activity they don’t already love can be tricky. Many of today’s kids thrive on video games, movies, and apps – but there’s no reason you can’t give them a hiking trip they’ll never forget.
With a little creative thinking and planning, you can inspire your kids to embrace the world of hiking …
Start Simple, Start Small
When you take your child or children on their first hike, avoid the temptation to inflict your favorite trail upon them if it’s unsuitable.
Yes, you may love that 10-mile trek across uneven terrain, but you need to consider your kids’ experience. Will it be too much for them?
Choose a hike that can be completed in a short time, and that has lots to look at. A trail with lakes, waterfalls, and grazing wildlife is more likely to keep them engaged than less interesting settings.
Encourage them to Interact with Nature
Rather than simply walking without a break, take time to get your kids involved. Pack a pair of binoculars and ask them to pick out landmarks or spots that catch their eye. Hand them a magnifying glass and explore the activities of ants or other bugs.
By teaching them to engage with their surroundings, you stand greater chance of opening their eyes to its wonders.
Take Regular Breaks
Experienced hikers can walk for hours without getting bored or exhausted. Kids, especially those on their first trail, are less patient.
Pushing your children to walk for too long without a break will tire them out – and how do you think their mood will change with fatigue? You’re likely to face crying, shouting, and a general refusal to keep going.
Understandably, this stands to disrupt the hike for everyone. Make stops every 20 minutes or so, to catch a drink, snack, or take in your surroundings.
You may even want to pack a game or two, such as Top Trumps or a deck or cards. Just be sure to pack these in a waterproof backpack if rain looks likely.
Be Willing to Try Again
You take your family on a hike. For reasons beyond your control, your child or children don’t have a good time. Do you let this put you off ever trying to interest them in your favorite outdoors hobby again?
No. Try again!
Pick another trail you feel might be exciting or fun. Look at the previous hike, and try to identify why it didn’t work. Did your kids get too exhausted, but will be more likely to enjoy a shorter trail instead? Did your child start to get a headache or cut themselves, but you had no tablets or band-aids with you?
Both of these possibilities have simple solutions. Don’t let one negative experience prevent you trying to show your family just how exciting, relaxing, eye-opening, and ultimately rewarding a good hike can be.
Staying safe is vital in any outdoor activity.
While hiking may not appear as risky as, say, mountaineering or whitewater rafting, there are still dangers out there. Everything from a sprained ankle to a nasty scratch can put a downer on your trip, and potentially lead to further problems down the line.
Still, you can’t let this put you off – hiking is one of the greatest, healthiest, most sociable ways to soak up the beauty of our country. To stay as safe during your hikes as possible, take a well-stocked first aid kit with enough supplies for everyone in your party.
What should your kit include?
Obvious but absolutely essential. Carry a variety of sizes to cover cuts, scrapes, blisters, and burns.
Be sure to buy a few rolls, enough to accommodate multiple wounds. As unlikely as numerous injuries are, it’s always better to be prepared.
Knife or Scissors:
A knife and scissors can help you to cut bandages, remove clothing to access a wound, and more. You should keep it in a secure place, and ensure it stays within your sight at all times, as well as that of other adults in your party.
Don’t think you’ll need these on a hike?
Think again. Should yourself or another member of your group get a deep cut, tweezers are vital to remove splinters or unwanted materials from a wound. In the slight chance of attracting ticks, tweezers will also prove handy.
Invest in a sturdy pair and ensure these are cleaned thoroughly before adding them to your first aid kit.
Hopefully, you’ll never need to use dressings during a hike. However, in the event of becoming injured with an open wound, dressing pads can help to stop blood loss.
Make sure these are sterile to avoid infection. You may also need sticky tape to keep dressings in place, when it’s impractical for anyone to put pressure on the wound.
These are available all over, and allow you to keep your hands clean if you need to dress a wound. Pack several pocket-sized bottles.
Being struck down by diarrhea’s terrible at any time, but while out hiking? It’s the worst.
Whether your stomach is irritated by dirty water or food past its best, anti-diarrhea pills will keep you comfortable, prevent you needing to stop every few minutes, and avoid the risk of dehydration.
Before applying dressings to a wound, even the smallest scratch, cleanse it with a topical antiseptic ointment. This tends to cause a little discomfort, but it combats the risk of infection.
This is critical when you’re outdoors, in strange surroundings. A lax approach to hygiene, especially with open wounds, is highly inappropriate during hikes. Keep your hands, cuts, and clothes as clean as possible.
Never underestimate how important safety pins are in keeping bandages, slings, and torn safety-clothing in place. Buy these in bulk and take as many as you can with you.
If you’re heading out to hike in wet weather, be sure to keep your first aid supplies safe in a waterproof bag. You don’t want to discover your bandages and dressings are soaked if you find yourself in need.
Remember: hiking is fun, healthy, and accessible to almost everyone. Take care of yourself and the rest of your group by packing a comprehensive first aid kit.
Not only does this make sure you’re prepared, it also allows you to enjoy great peace of mind from that first step to the last!
Preparation is key for long hikes.
While you might like the romantic notion of just grabbing your backpack, boots, and heading out into the great unknown, the reality is very different. Without the right supplies in your kit, you can run into difficulty all too easily.
You should eat a snack every hour, to replace those electrolytes you lose through perspiration. Hiking burns a high number of calories, and if you underestimate how weak you’ll become without snacks, you face trouble. The average 160-lb hiker will burn anywhere from 430 to 440 calories for each hour, while someone closer to 200-lb will use up around 550 calories in the same period.
Surprised? This is all the more reason to be prepared.
To help you stay energized, focused, and satisfied on your hikes, we’ve put together five essential snacks. Enjoy!
#1: Dried Fruit
Dried fruits are delicious, quick to eat, and packed with fiber. By dehydrating fruits, excess water is removed, making them lighter in your backpack.
On top of this, fresh fruit is prone to bruising and spoiling in your backpack, leading to off-putting smells and remains. With dried fruit, you can package it neatly in clear bags without having to worry about damage, odors, or excess weight.
Go for apricots, banana slices, raisins, prunes, cranberries, and anything else that tempts your taste buds.
Want to keep your food dry on wet days? Take a waterproof backpack made with lightweight materials, which not only keeps your goods safe but also prevents any leaking drinks from seeping through to your clothes.
#2: Carb-rich Treats
As well as dried fruits, take a selection of crunchy, salty snacks with you. Pretzels are a favorite of so many of us, and their complex carbohydrates are just what you need to replenish that spent energy.
Crackers are another great option, particularly stronger ones unlikely to leave broken remains in your wake. Just like dried fruit, these can be stored with a minimum of fuss and weigh next to nothing.
#3: Wholegrain Pasta or Quinoa
Snacks are vital, but you’ll want a proper meal during longer hikes. Sticking with carbs, wholegrain pastas are a top option: their glucose provides slow-release energy over time. These will keep you going for longer than snacks alone.
Add vegetables for crucial vitamins, minerals, and extra flavor. Quinoa is another slow-releasing food, and like pasta, can be stored in airtight boxes for long-lasting freshness. These may take up a little more space than snacks, but they’re relatively lightweight.
#4: Soups for Warmth
During winter, hiking is a totally different experience. Rather than worrying about just overheating and sunburn, you have to balance your layers properly so you stay warm without getting too hot.
One way to help stay warm is by eating soup at regular intervals. Fill a flask with hearty soup, packed with vegetables (for that all-important energy) and perhaps a little spice for added heat.
Flasks filled with fluid bring more weight to your backpack, but you’ll be glad of a hot food on the coldest hikes.
Think cereal’s just for breakfast?
Granola, muesli, bran flakes, and other healthy cereals are packed with vitamins and minerals, and can really boost your energy. Luckily, cereal weighs almost nothing at all, so buy small boxes or prepare snack-sized portions that can sit neatly in your backpack’s side-pockets.
We hope this inspires you to explore a wide variety of snacks and meals while out exploring the world! You can even use these as rewards for accomplishing certain milestones during your hikes, creating incentives for your efforts.