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Lace
up those hiking boots tight for these scary hikes. Oh, and don’t look down.

His
left hand clutching rock, a foot searching for purchase on an icy plank below,
writer and TV host Robin Esrock looked down from his precipitous position on China’s Mount Huashan. A spiraling
fall, hundreds of feet to a canyon floor, would be the result of any misstep.
“This is the moment where I’ve officially lost my mind,” he said, recording his
adventure with a handheld camera.

The
Mount Huashan trail, popular with domestic tourists, trudges up steep
staircases cut into rock. It climbs ladders bolted into stone. Eventually, it
becomes a dicey balancing act where hikers traverse a vertical face on wooden
planks fastened to a sheer cliff wall. Esrock hiked and ascended for hours to
complete the route and reach a temple at the peak.

Risking
your life to go for a hike may seem extreme. But around the world, thousands of
travelers boot up and take a gamble for a walk in a magical place like Mount Huashan. These hikes, though frightening, are accessible to almost anyone in moderate
physical shape.

A
good example is the Kalalau Trail in Kauai, an 11-mile route along the island’s
remote Na Pali Coast that is among the most paradisiacal paths on earth. Green
walls rise 4,000 feet from the ocean waves, but loose rock, cliff falls, and
flash floods are dangers on the winding tropical trip. Fit hikers complete the
Kalalau Trail in a long day. Backpackers camp halfway through.

The
trail itself is not the only danger. A couple miles into the Kalalau hike
you’ll find Hanakapiai Beach, an epic and remote strip of sand below Kauai’s cliffs. Powerful riptides can carry swimmers away, and the beach has been the
unfortunate site of many drownings. Despite the dangers, the trail is safely
traversed by thousands of hikers each year.

In
Canada, another infamous trail follows Pacific Ocean waters on a remote
stretch of Vancouver Island. The 48-mile West Coast Trail was built decades
back as a route to rescue shipwreck victims. Today, the WCT is within the
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Along the rugged route, animals haunt many
hikers’ fears. Three potential man-eating beasts—bears, wolves, and
cougars—lurk in the thick woods along the path. But you’re more likely to twist
an ankle than encounter a wolf. Terrain on the WCT is notoriously harsh. Muddy
trails, hand-over-hand ascents, and wooden ladders positioned for passage up
vertical valley walls offer multiple venues to tempt fate and test Murphy’s
Law.

In
China, on Mount Huashan, Robin Esrock knew he was tempting the gods. He hiked
and climbed on the edge for hours. At the end of his self-filmed production,
Esrock kneeled at a temple on the peak and uttered a quiet prayer. “Thank you
for letting me survive that,” he whispers, a soft voice trailing as the wind
picked up.

World's Scariest Hikes

Lace
up those hiking boots tight for these scary hikes. Oh, and don’t look down.

His
left hand clutching rock, a foot searching for purchase on an icy plank below,
writer and TV host Robin Esrock looked down from his precipitous position on China’s Mount Huashan. A spiraling
fall, hundreds of feet to a canyon floor, would be the result of any misstep.
“This is the moment where I’ve officially lost my mind,” he said, recording his
adventure with a handheld camera.

The
Mount Huashan trail, popular with domestic tourists, trudges up steep
staircases cut into rock. It climbs ladders bolted into stone. Eventually, it
becomes a dicey balancing act where hikers traverse a vertical face on wooden
planks fastened to a sheer cliff wall. Esrock hiked and ascended for hours to
complete the route and reach a temple at the peak.

Risking
your life to go for a hike may seem extreme. But around the world, thousands of
travelers boot up and take a gamble for a walk in a magical place like Mount Huashan. These hikes, though frightening, are accessible to almost anyone in moderate
physical shape.

A
good example is the Kalalau Trail in Kauai, an 11-mile route along the island’s
remote Na Pali Coast that is among the most paradisiacal paths on earth. Green
walls rise 4,000 feet from the ocean waves, but loose rock, cliff falls, and
flash floods are dangers on the winding tropical trip. Fit hikers complete the
Kalalau Trail in a long day. Backpackers camp halfway through.

The
trail itself is not the only danger. A couple miles into the Kalalau hike
you’ll find Hanakapiai Beach, an epic and remote strip of sand below Kauai’s cliffs. Powerful riptides can carry swimmers away, and the beach has been the
unfortunate site of many drownings. Despite the dangers, the trail is safely
traversed by thousands of hikers each year.

In
Canada, another infamous trail follows Pacific Ocean waters on a remote
stretch of Vancouver Island. The 48-mile West Coast Trail was built decades
back as a route to rescue shipwreck victims. Today, the WCT is within the
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Along the rugged route, animals haunt many
hikers’ fears. Three potential man-eating beasts—bears, wolves, and
cougars—lurk in the thick woods along the path. But you’re more likely to twist
an ankle than encounter a wolf. Terrain on the WCT is notoriously harsh. Muddy
trails, hand-over-hand ascents, and wooden ladders positioned for passage up
vertical valley walls offer multiple venues to tempt fate and test Murphy’s
Law.

In
China, on Mount Huashan, Robin Esrock knew he was tempting the gods. He hiked
and climbed on the edge for hours. At the end of his self-filmed production,
Esrock kneeled at a temple on the peak and uttered a quiet prayer. “Thank you
for letting me survive that,” he whispers, a soft voice trailing as the wind
picked up.

Aurora Photos/Alamy

World's Scariest Hikes

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