February 20, 2024 | Sammy Tran

America’s Deadliest Hiking Trails

How To Survive America’s Deadliest Hiking Trails

From treacherous terrains to wild animals, America is home to some of the world’s most dangerous hiking trails. 

You might be a skilled hiker, but do you think what you’ve got what it takes to complete these perilous treks?

America's deadliest hiking trails

Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park

Hiking Angel’s Landing is one of America’s most popular hikes—it’s also among the most dangerous. Travelers from all over the world come to hike this trail, but not all of them make it home. 

Since 2000, at least 13 people have lost their lives trying to hike Angel’s Landing.

Angel's Landing trailSimon Dannhauer, Shutterstock

Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park (cont’d)

The Angel’s Landing trail starts off easy enough, with the first couple miles being suitable for hikers of all experience levels. But once you get to Walter’s Wiggles, a set of 21 steep switchbacks, things get harder. 

While the trail itself can be rough, other hikers are the real danger. 

Most of the fatalities at Angel’s Landing have come from too many people crowding along the narrow trail, which has prompted the National Park Service to put safety chains along the route.

Hikers Climb Walters WigglesKelly vanDellen, Shutterstock

Capitol Peak, Colorado

Capitol Peak provides stunning views of the surrounding landscape, and the trail here has made it popular among tourists. Going through Knife Ridge is the most dangerous part of the hike. 

Knife Ridge is a 150-foot long granite peak, and it has a drop of more than 1,000 feet. In 2017, the ridge took five lives in nearly as many weeks.

Knife Edge  Capitol Peak Colorado, USAPNW Park Ranger, Shutterstock


Capitol Peak, Colorado (cont’d)

True to its name, the peak of Knife Ridge is sharp and narrow. This part of the Capitol Peak trail is not for inexperienced hikers, and one misstep could have you falling to your doom. 

If you do try to hike this trail be patient. The entire trail is a 17-mile round trip, but at an elevation of 5,3000 feet, most people take two days to hike it.

Capitol PeakFerocious Soup, Shutterstock

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

Each day, 300 visitors are given permits to hike the Half Dome trail, but only 50 people actually get to make the trek at any one time. 

This steep, 400-foot climb features steel cables and wood planks to help hikers, but Half Dome is still the site of 250 accidents every year. And the peak had claimed 13 lives since 2005.

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park at sunsetDAVID ILIFF, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park (cont’d)

The Mist Trail is part of the hike to the peak of Half Dome. It’s also very dangerous, with at least 14 deaths there in the last decade. 

The Vernal and Nevada Falls are beautiful water features that people are eager to snap pics of. Just make sure you stay behind the railings and away from the pool above the falls.

half dome, mist trailBeach Creatives, Shutterstock

Huckleberry Trail, Glacier National Park

On the Huckleberry Trail, bears are your biggest danger. 

Glacier National Park is home to the highest grizzly bear population density in the Lower 48 States, with a recent study finding there are about 563 bears in the parks, one for every three square miles

Some biologists think that’s lowballing it.

Bear at huckleberry trail, glacier national parkKelly vanDellen, Shutterstock

Huckleberry Trail, Glacier National Park (cont’d)

Grizzly bears call Huckleberry Mountain their home, and they’re drawn to all of the berries and fruit that grow around the trail. 

The park is closed at the height of berry season, but if you do want to make this trek, make sure you bring your bear spray.

Huckleberry Trail at Glacier National ParkMartina Sliger, Shutterstock

Camp Muir, Mount Ranier National Park

This 9-mile round-trip hike to Camp Muir on Mount Rainier starts out easy enough. But once you hit the Muir Snowfield, you’ll need to be wary of narrow crevasses and cliffs along this glacial hiking trail.

Camp Muir, Mount RainierAngela Feltes, Shutterstock


Camp Muir, Mount Ranier National Park (cont’d)

Even in the summer, storms from the Pacific Ocean can cause the trail to be covered in thick fog, creating disorienting white-out conditions. 

Hikers on this trail need to be equipped with an ice axe and first aid kit. Hiring a guide is also a good idea—more than 90 hikers have died on this trail.

Camp Muir, Mount RainierCorbin Reiff, Shutterstock

Chinitna Bay, Lake Clark National Park

Chinitna Bay is a popular place to see bears in their natural habitat. It’s a great opportunity to make unforgettable memories—and take a dangerous hike. 

According to the National Park Service, there can be up to 20 grizzly bears in any area of the park, so don’t forget your bear spray.

Chinitna Bay, Lake Clark National Parkknelson20, Shutterstock

Chinitna Bay, Lake Clark National Park (cont’d)

Most people who visit Chinitna Bay like to take the 25-mile hike to Salmon Creek. 

Summer to early fall is the best time to go, since that’s when you can see the grizzlies catching salmon in the surrounding streams.

Chinitna Bay, Lake Clark National Parkknelson20, Shutterstock

Pikes Peak, Colorado

Standing at more than 14,115 feet tall, Pikes Peak is the tallest mountain in Colorado. 

But in a state that is known for thunderstorms, the mountain attracts a lot of lightning. That makes the mountain’s Barr Trail especially dangerous.

Pikes Peak, ColoradoHogs555, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Pikes Peak, Colorado (cont’d)

Barr Trail is the most popular hiking trail at Pikes Peak, covering 13 miles and 7,400 vertical feet of mountainous terrain. 

If you hike this trail, be sure to leave at the first sign of a storm. The wind currents make it the trail perfect for lightning storms and Colorado has the most lightning-related deaths in America.

Pikes Peak on Barr Trailmark byzewski, Flickr

Jack Mountain, North Cascades National Park

This is one the least popular National Parks in the country, probably because it’s the one you’re most likely to die at. 

The park’s death rate per capita is almost 22 times higher than the national average. Still, travelers flock each year to witness the incredible Jack Mountain.

Jack mountain at North Cascades National ParkRonaldL, Shutterstock


Jack Mountain, North Cascades National Park (cont’d)

There’s no easy way to reach the top of Jack Mountain, and most of the popular routes are full of loose rocks. 

There’s also the potential for snow on the peak all year. Only experienced hikers should attempts these trails, and they’ll need the proper gear.

Jack Mountain North CascadesAustin Post, Wikimedia Commons

Presidential Traverse, New Hampshire

Presidential Traverse is a 20-mile hike through the tallest mountains in New Hampshire. 

The legendary Mount Washington is among those peaks. It’s the tallest mountain in the northeastern United States and is has some of the world's fastest—and deadliest—winds.

Presidential TraverseRaun Kercher, Shutterstock

Presidential Traverse, New Hampshire (cont’d)

Hiking along the Presidential Traverse is dangerous because of how fast the weather can change. 

It’s not uncommon for a warm, sunny day to turn into a cold, wet slog up the mountain. Make sure you bring a change of clothes if you plan to tackle these trails.

Presidential Traverse, Mount WashingtonNatureN8, Shutterstock

Denali, Denali National Park

Standing 20,194 feet tall, Denali is the tallest mountain in North America. 

It’s also one of the most remote mountains in the world, and the snowy trails to the peak are not for beginners.

Denali, Denali National ParkDenali National Park and Preserve, Flickr

Denali, Denali National Park (cont’d)

If you want to conquer Denali, you’ll have to brave strong, icy winds, trek across glaciers, and risk getting up close and personal with bears. 

This is more of a mountaineering adventure than your average hike.

Denali National ParkAnton Couper, Shutterstock

The Maze, Canyonlands National Park

Welcome to one of the most regions in the United States. Making your way through the Maze District is difficult, even with a good off-road vehicle. 

And that’s all before you even reach the hiking trail.

Canyonlands National Parkau_ears, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons


The Maze, Canyonlands National Park (cont’d)

True to its name, the Maze is a winding trail that will inevitably see you take a wrong turn. Carefully following the map and getting through this trail is a mental and physical endeavor that challenges even the most experienced hikers. 

There haven’t been any fatalities yet, but if you attempt this trail, bring at least a gallon of water—temperatures can reach 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Maze, CanyonlandsClint Clawdus, Shutterstock

Bright Angel Trail, The Grand Canyon

This 9.5-mile trail takes you 4,380 feet down into one of Arizona’s famed canyons. But while the hike down may not be so bad, it’s going back up that’s most grueling.

Bright Angel Trail, Grand CanyonGrand Canyon National Park, Flickr

Bright Angel Trail, The Grand Canyon (cont’d)

Since temperatures can reach 110 degrees Fahrenheit, hikers should start their trek before dawn. If you want to make it through in one day, take a break at midday and complete the trek after sunset. 

During the summer, many travelers spend two days on the hike, which leaves lots of time for water breaks.

Bright Angel Trail, The Grand CanyonGrand Canyon National Park, Flickr

Precipice Trail, Acadia National Park

Taking you up a steep cliff, the Precipice Trail, is one of the deadliest trails in Acadia National Park. There are metal rungs to help people make the 1,000-foot climb to the top of Champlain Mountain.

Acadia National Park Precipice Trail EdgeDouglas Davies, Shutterstock

Precipice Trail, Acadia National Park (cont’d)

The climb isn’t too grueling for beginners but anyone with a fear of heights should skip this trail, and it does take physical strength to get through the hike. 

The National Park Service warns hikers against descending the Precipice Trail. Take the safer North Ridge Trail to get down the mountain.

Precipice Trail, Acadia National ParkShoshana Weissmann, Shutterstock

Longs Peak, Colorado

Making the hike up Longs Peak is one of the most thrilling things to do in Colorado, but it’s also very dangerous. 

Situated in the legendary Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak rises 14,259 feet above the ground.

longs peak, coloradoProfPete, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Longs Peak, Colorado (cont’d)

Most touritst use the Keynote Route, which is the main trail to the summit of the mountain. 

This difficult climb will have you on the lookout for falling rocks. You’ll also need to brave narrow ledges, steep cliffs, and loose rock.

Keyhole route on Longs Peak ColoradoDavid Spates, Shutterstock

Mount San Antonio, California

Also known as Old Baldy or Mount Baldy, this perilous mountain stands more than 10,000 feet above sea level. The peak is almost always covered in snow and ice, even in the summertime.

Hiking to the top of Mount San Antonio, CaliforniaSundry Photography, Shutterstock

Mount San Antonio, California (cont’d)

The extreme cold conditions and high elevation make Mount San Antonio one of the most dangerous places to hike in America. If you’re going to attempt this trek, go with the proper equipment and be prepared for possible avalanches. 

Avalanches are less of a concern in summer, but it’s easy to get lost on the trails here, so don’t make sure you have a detailed map of the area on hand.

Mount San Antonio, Californiademihrasnecua, Shutterstock



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