(CNN) — Hiking is often mocked by adrenaline junkies as less than more hardcore mountain experiences like climbing or skiing.
But as these challenging trails show, putting one foot in front of the other isn’t always the easy option.
To take these famous hikes, you need more than just a hefty dose of chewing gum.
These routes are dangerous and only for experienced hikers. That means people with the right equipment, the ability to get out of tricky situations, and a willingness to anticipate the worst and pack accordingly.
Whether you want to try out a dizzying English Lake District classic or take the “world’s most dangerous hike” in rural China, this list has you covered.
Striding Edge, Lake District, England
The Lake District’s famously changeable weather can make even the most rural walks a challenge.
But Striding Edge – a sharp arête leading to the summit of Helvellyn, the third highest peak in the Lake District National Park – stands out in this corner of England.
Hikers can choose to follow the trails that run along the side of the ridge, but for those who like thrills, the ridge itself is where it is.
On a clear day the views are sensational and stretch as far as Scotland.
This isn’t for the novice or the faint of heart: hikers should be prepared to scramble, have decent climbing skills for the final push to the top, and know how to navigate properly when the clouds roll in.
Ice and snow make it deadly in winter, so preparation and a willingness to return are a must.
The Maze, Canyonlands, Utah, United States
The National Park Service immediately gives chase when it comes to the maze.
It calls hiking here ‘very challenging’, warning of slippery rocks and steep slopes.
It is the most remote part of Canyonlands, with visitors having to make long drives on dirt roads before entering the deep gullies, where rock chips and flash flooding are not uncommon and water from the few springs in the area is difficult to obtain (enough packing liquid) for a multi-day trip is recommended).
Park rangers require all visitors to share their routes and keep in touch as often as possible. Those who do come will be treated to landscapes that feel utterly timeless and are unlikely to encounter other people on their adventures as well.
On this trail, hikers must follow wooden planks screwed into the rock face.
Maciej Bledowski/iStock Editorial/Getty Images
This epic trail to the South Peak of HuaShan, one of China’s Five Great Mountains, is often labeled the most dangerous hike in the world, and with good reason.
To reach the summit, which stands at 7,070 feet, hikers must climb uneven steps and a series of ladders before chaining themselves to a harness and carabiners to traverse the famous “plank walk.”
This is as basic as it sounds — planks of wood screwed into the rock face that follow you both up and down the mountain.
While many tourists only come in sneakers and T-shirts, this is not a place to arrive unprepared.
Good walking shoes, sufficient food and drink and a decent condition are essential.
Tour of Sorapiss, Italy
The Dolomites are home to a series of stomach-churning via ferrata (literally, ways of iron) – trails of metal rungs hammered into the rock during World War I, when Italian and Austrian troops fought fierce battles over the region’s limestone peaks .
Today, during the spring and summer months, hikers come here seeking the thrill of climbing without fear of long falls.
The Giro del Sorapiss presents the greatest challenge of all, starting at Rifugio Vandelli before heading high into the mountains along sheer rock faces, taking in three separate via ferratas.
Hikers will need harnesses to cut the lines as well as a helmet and ideally a guide who can provide the required equipment and lead the way.
Drakensberg Grand Traverse, South Africa and Lesotho
Multi-day hikes offer intrepid hikers the chance to test their skills to the limit, with variable weather and the need to carry adequate supplies, presenting a real challenge.
The Drakensberg Grand Traverse certainly represents one. An epic 230 kilometers (143 miles) journey that can take up to two weeks begins with a climb up a series of chain ladders to the Drakensberg Escarpment, before crossing the border into Lesotho and finally returning to southern Africa.
This long-distance monster can be attempted on its own, but hikers should be aware that the trail itself is more of a concept than a visible trail, meaning anyone planning to go here should have all KZN Wildlife Drakensberg hiking maps, a GPS, and plenty of food. needs and water to last the whole trip.
Visits in spring or fall are recommended, avoiding the lush, hard-to-walk grass of summer and the bitter days of winter.
Cascade Saddle, New Zealand
The reward? Endless vistas of snow-capped peaks.
In the heart of Mount Aspiring National Park on New Zealand’s South Island, Cascade Saddle offers some of the most beautiful mountain views in the world.
But after seeing a number of deaths earlier this century due to slippery rocks and treacherous conditions, the country’s conservation department wants to emphasize that this is a route “only for those with navigation and high-level backcountry skills and experience,” and warns those who do. come to be prepared to return when it gets hairy.
Completed in two days, with the option of camping or stacking in mountain huts along the way, the route includes wild scrambling, rocky outcrops and walks over some creaky grass.
The reward is endless vistas of snow-capped peaks, including the beautiful Mount Aspiring, also known by its Maori name Tititea.
Kalalau Trail, Hawaii
The Kalalau Trail, a 22-mile round-trip route along Kauai’s Na Pali Coast, isn’t just Hawaii’s most dangerous hike: it’s one of the deadliest in the entire United States.
The jungle trail clings to the shoreline, with the Pacific Ocean below.
You need a permit to go beyond Hanakapiai Beach to Hanakoa Valley to camp in the valley or on Kalalau Beach.
While it may sound idyllic, the trio of stream crossings here can be brutal in the aftermath of heavy rain, when the water swells to extremely high levels.
Throw a dizzying trail along Crawler’s Ledge and it’s a recipe for disaster for the inexperienced. Only those with the right outdoor savvy need to apply.
Huayna Picchu, Peru
Anyone who has seen a photo of the wildly popular Machu Picchu in Peru has caught a glimpse of Huayna Picchu. It is the towering peak that sits behind the famous lost city of the Incas, featured in countless Instagram posts and postcards sent home from South America.
To reach the top, however, you’ll have to climb the unsubtly titled ‘Stairs of Death’, a section of 500-year-old steps with steep descents into the valley below.
Add ladder sections that will make even the most hardened hikers nauseated and this is a route not to be underestimated. While many are unprepared, walking shoes and the help of a local guide are highly recommended. It may seem daunting, but the view of the citadel below is worth the three-hour effort.
Kokoda Track, Papua New Guinea
The Kokoda Track takes up to two weeks to complete.
Andrew Peacock/Stone RF/Getty Images
At 96 kilometers (about 60 miles), the Kokoda Track charts a route from just outside the Papuan capital Port Moresby to the village of Kokoda, crossing the Owen Stanley Range.
This is isolated terrain, with a trek that can take up to two weeks thanks to afternoon deluges, raging currents and conditions that can become treacherously slippery thanks to ankle-deep mud and tree roots that become slippery in the tropical heat.
Following the deaths of 13 Australians who went to the runway in a light aircraft in 2009, authorities have taken steps to make access to the track safer.
Permits are required and all visitors must walk with an authorized operator, in an effort to help local communities benefit from tourism. To prepare for the sweaty days and bitter nights in this remote corner of the world, organizers recommend training for up to a year.
When walking this green and wild route, it pays to remember that during World War II it was the scene of brutal fighting between Japanese and allied Australian and Papuan forces.
Daikiretto Traverse, Japan
Japan’s Northern Alps offer arguably the best and certainly the most challenging hiking trails in the country. And the Daikiretto Traverse is undoubtedly the route for hikers looking for a real adventure – one that gets as close as possible to a technical climb without the need for ropes.
The traverse itself is less than two miles but can take hours to complete and is best undertaken as part of a longer guided trek through this beautiful range.
The path over the traverse uses chains and ladders and follows a razor-sharp ridge with height differences of more than a hundred meters on either side.
A high level of fitness and fear of heights are a must. A helmet and gloves will facilitate the passage, and it should be noted that trying alone, especially in winter, is unwise.
Mount Washington, New Hampshire, United States
Mount Washington is known for being home to “the worst weather in the world” (at least according to the Mount Washington Observatory).
In January 2004, temperatures at the summit dropped to a bitter -47º F (-44º C), while also setting a record for the fastest wind on land, a barely credible 231 mph (372 kph) in 1934, alone. surpassed in 1996 on Barrow Island, Australia.
That is just to say that hiking here requires serious preparation. Conditions can change at any moment, meaning you’ll have to pack winter gear even in the middle of summer.
The ascent is no joke, hikers need to be in top physical condition to reach it. Yes, it is possible to drive or take the iconic cogwheel train to the top, but anyone who is well prepared and happy to take on a challenge should put on their boots, fill their backpack and do it on foot.