10 of the Deadliest Hikes in America

The United States has an endless list of epic hikes. But they’re not all for the fainthearted. Here are 10 of the country’s deadliest trails.

America’s National Parks boast some of the best hikes on the planet. A paradise for outdoor enthusiasts of every age and ability, these magical trails showcase the country’s most diverse and breathtaking landscapes.

Yet they’re not all for the fainthearted. In fact, some have a deadly reputation. Here are 10 of the most dangerous hikes in America.

1. Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii

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Kauai’s Kalalau Trail stretches for 11 miles (a 22-mile out-and-back hike) along the island’s rugged Napali Coast. It’s stunning, but wild weather, narrow paths, loose rocks, and steep cliffs make it deadly for hikers. The most famous (and dangerous) section is the aptly named Crawler’s Ledge.

It’s the definition of treacherous – a tiny, rocky, uneven path with a sheer drop-off on one side and nowhere to go on the other. River crossings and strong currents at remote beaches add to the danger. A lack of cell phone reception doesn’t help.

Injuries and close calls are common. According to a sign on the trail, around 85 people have died here, but the number could be many more.

2. The Maze, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

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The Maze is another US location aptly named. One of the remotest corners of Canyonlands National Park, hikers must be confident in the backcountry to successfully navigate this intricate network of high-walled canyons and mesas.

With limited actual trails, a strong command of route-finding is essential, too. Likewise, there are no services, gas stations, food, or potable water sources, so visitors have to bring everything they need for the duration of their trip. As you might expect for such a rugged and inaccessible place, fatalities are unfortunately common.

3. Angels Landing, Zion National Park, Utah

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Angels Landing is one of the most popular hikes in Zion National Park. But that doesn’t make it safe. A strenuous trail that climbs 1500 ft in just five miles, hikers must be fit – and have a head for heights.

The final section, The Spine (or Hogsback), involves a harrowing traverse along a narrow ridge. There are 1000-ft sheer drop-offs on either side and just a thin chain to hold onto. Tragically, at least 14 people have fallen to their death on Angels Landing since 2000.

4. Mount Washington, New Hampshire

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Mount Washington is the highest point in the Northeast and the jewel in the crown of the mighty White Mountains. It’s also notorious for rapidly changing weather conditions.

The summit, accessible on a good day in as little as four hours, holds the world record for the highest wind speed ever recorded. More than 150 people have died on their quest to get there since 1849.

5. The Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah

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Welcome to Zion Canyon’s narrowest section, The Narrows. Another immensely popular hike in Zion National Park, hikers wade upstream through the Virgin River in a dramatic canyon that, in places, is 30 feet wide and 2000 feet deep.

On a normal day with dry weather, there’s nothing too dangerous about The Narrows. Yet everything changes when it rains. Flash flooding becomes a serious risk, with water filling the canyon, gushing downriver, and making it impossible to escape.

6. Longs Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

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Longs Peak is one of Colorado’s most popular fourteeners (the term for mountains over 14,000 feet high). Reserved for fit and experienced hikers, the most popular way to the summit is called The Keyhole Route.

It takes most folks up to 16 hours to complete the round trip. It involves incredibly scrambling over steep, exposed, loose, and narrow ledges. The weather is also notoriously changeable – high winds, rain, snow, hail, and lightning are not uncommon. With the potential for altitude sickness, this hike is no joke. Reports vary, but approximately 70 people have died climbing Longs Peak.

7. Knife Edge, Baxter State Park, Maine

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It’s only 1.1 miles long, but the infamous Knife Edge section between Baxter Peak and Pamola Peak on Maine’s Mount Katahdin is so narrow and exposed that hikers have little room for error.

Don’t expect a trail. The Knife Edge is a rock scramble on a ledge that rises over 5,000 feet. The drop-off on either side is harrowing, made worse by high winds, fog, and sudden storms that can arise. Precise figures are hard to find, but reports of people dying, getting injured, and/or needing emergency assistance are common.

8. The Subway, Zion National Park, Utah

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Similar to The Narrows, the Subway, otherwise known as the Left Fork of North Creek, is a hike through a slot canyon in Zion National Park. There are two ways to do it: the Bottom-Up Hiking Route and the Top-Down Canyoneering Route. NPS describes both as “very strenuous.”

People attempting the hike must wade or swim through frigid water, scramble over boulders, and navigate challenging terrain. The top-down route also requires rope and rappelling skills. Alongside the risk of slips, falls, and cold exposure, the risk of flash floods makes the Subway a dangerous endeavor.

9. Cables Route, Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California

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A 14 to 16-mile round trip hike up Yosemite’s iconic Half Dome involves a famous section where two parallel metal cables lead steeply over the granite surface to the summit.

Between metal poles lie wooden planks, providing greater purchase for weary feet. Even so, the steepness and exposure – those cables lead to a summit 8000 ft above sea level – mean this isn’t for the fainthearted. The surface underfoot has been worn by countless hikers, making it surprisingly slippery even on dry days.

Again, exact figures vary, but over 60 people may have died on Half Dome since records began. If you plan on doing the hike, take gloves (to avoid friction burns) and harnesses (to attach to the cables) to stay safe.

10. Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

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The Bright Angel Trail is the most popular hike in the Grand Canyon. It takes hikers from the South Rim to the Colorado River, offering exceptional views the entire way. Going down is easy, but coming back up is another story – especially on hot days.

That’s where the danger lies. Hikers often underestimate the difficulty of the Bright Angel Trail. They try to do it too quickly and/or fail to realize that temperatures can hit 130°F (over 54°C). With limited access to water, people suffer – and sometimes die – from heat stroke and heat exhaustion.


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Author: Danny Newman

Title: Writer and Content Creator

Expertise: Travel, Digital Nomadry, Outdoors, Blogging

Danny Newman is a writer, content creator, and digital nomad from the UK. He founded the travel and lifestyle blog What’s Danny Doing, a popular resource for people seeking more adventure, self-discovery, and purpose. A nationally syndicated writer, Danny’s work features in dozens of online publications, including MSN.com and news sites across the US.