Most difficult hikes in the world

What are the most difficult hikes in the world? To help you find the answers to this question, we’ve created this list. 

Not only is hiking a great way of exploring the country you are visiting, but also a good way of building up your endurance.

Challenging yourself and building your stamina is very important for a healthy lifestyle. And one of the best ways to get stronger is to go on a challenging hike.

We’ve listed the most difficult hikes in Europe already, but what if you want to go outside Europe for a challenging hike? What are the most strenuous treks in the world?

Read on to find out.

Most difficult hikes in the world

Mount Hua Shan Plank Walk, China

hua shan

Informally dubbed the “most dangerous hike in the world”, Mount Hua Shan trek is a plank walk on Mount Huashan, one of the Five Sacred Mountains of China.

It’s not hard to see why this walk is considered one of the most dangerous hikes in the world. 

The route up the mountain is nauseating enough to scare off all but the most adventurous hikers and pilgrims.

The walk consists of steel rod ladders, narrow, exposed pathways of wood with dangerously high drops and a chain to hook on to. It takes mere 20 minutes to complete the walk, but the setting is so scary, and the cliffs the planks are attached to are so steep, that the walk deserves to be on this list of most difficult hikes. Because it’s difficult mentally!

Besides all that, it is very hard to imagine how people built this path!

The Snowman Trek, Bhutan

The Snowman Trek, Bhutan

Running from Laya to the high Bhutanese Himalayas, the Snowman Trek is the longest hiking trail in Bhutan.

It is one of the most difficult hikes in the world due to harsh weather conditions, duration and high altitudes.

Created by the yak herders, the trail is 347 km long and it takes about 25 days to complete it. 

The trail passes remote villages and lakes of the country, and it goes through numerous mountain passes.

The trekkers need to camp as high as 5000 m above sea level. It was also reported that the snow leopards can be found on the way, although there has been no report of danger.

Only a handful of people each year attempt the Snowman Trek. It is believed that more people have summited Everest than have completed the Snowman Trek.

Be warned — hiking the Snowman Trek is expensive. The average price is 6000 USD.

GR 20, Corsica, France

GR 20, Corsica, France

Nicknamed “Europe’s toughest long-distance trek”, the Grande Randonnée (GR) 20 route is a long-distance trail that diagonally crosses Corsica, a French island in the Mediterranean Sea.

With a maximum altitude of 2134 m, the GR 20 trail follows the mountains which divide Corsica in two.

The trail is about 180 km long with 12 000 m of elevation gain, and it takes around 15 days to complete it.

The GR 20 route has several stages. So, if you don’t want to do the whole trek, it’s possible to do only a part of it. 

There are a number of mountain refugees (or “gîtes”) along the route. It is not permitted to pitch tents along the trail, but hikers are allowed to camp near the mountain huts.

Thanks to the magnificent views and difficulty level, the GR 20 is considered one of the top trails in the world. It’s undoubtedly one of the most difficult hikes in the world, too.

Ciudad Perdida, Colombia

Ciudad Perdida, Colombia

Ciudad Perdida (the Lost City) is the archaeological site of an ancient city in Colombia.

It is believed that Ciudad Perdida was founded about 800 CE, which makes it older than Machu Picchu in Peru!

The only possible way to get to this magnificent place is to hike. The trek to Ciudad Perdida is a challenging but rewarding one. It is 42 km long, and it takes about 4 days to complete it.

The route goes through the jungle and passes ancient ruins, beautiful waterfalls and little native villages.

What makes the Ciudad Perdida trek so difficult? The route follows a narrow path, and the weather along the route is unpredictable. The hike includes steep climbs and descents, and a number of river crossings where the water level is high, especially during the rainy season — even chest-deep!

Kalalau Trail, Hawaii, USA  

Kalalau Trail, Hawaii, USA  

Rising as much as 1200 m above the Pacific Ocean, the Nā Pali cliffs are one of Kauai’s most photographed places.

These majestic cliffs and steep valleys are not accessible by road. The only land access to this breathtaking location is the Kalalau Trail.

It is a 35 km trail from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Valley. The trail is considered one of the most beautiful and dangerous hikes in the U.S., and one of the most difficult hikes in the world.

The trail traverses five valleys and offers impressive views of the Pacific Ocean, the beaches and valleys. 

As the trek can be dangerous, you should be in good shape.

The terrain can often be steep, and the path narrow. The trail could be very muddy and slippery if it has been raining. The total elevation gain is about 1500 m.

Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Mount Kilimanjaro is a currently inactive stratovolcano in the northern part of Tanzania, near the border with Kenya.

At 5895 metres Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. Despite being so close to the Equator, the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro is covered by snow.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the best things to do in Tanzania. The climb usually takes between 5 to 9 days, and to climb Kilimanjaro you have to hire a guide or join a group tour.

There are many routes to choose from but the most challenging one is the Whiskey Route, also known as the Machame Route. It is steep and difficult and is considered one of the most challenging hikes in the world.

Be warned — climbing mount Kilimanjaro is expensive. The average price is $2000 – $4000. If you can’t afford that, opt for the base camp day hike.

Most difficult hikes in the world

Hiking tips

  1. Learn how to navigate using a paper map. Not everywhere you can use Google Maps, and not even offline maps, just because there may be no coverage and GPS signal. Going off-course can be dangerous, especially when you are hiking long-distance unsupported. 
  2. Familiarise yourself with the trail. Take note of other intersecting trails, to prevent making a wrong turn.
  3. Pack your map in a waterproof bag or a zip-lock bag to prevent it from getting wet.
  4. Hiking can be challenging. You have to be in good shape if you plan to go on a serious hike. That’s why it is important to exercise regularly to increase your stamina. Climb the stairs and go for a run to increase your strength.
  5. If you are preparing for a long-distance trek, hike often to improve your skills and build your stamina.
  6. Carry enough water.
  7. Pack a first aid kit.
  8. Pack the right amount of food. Lay out rations for each day, so that you can get an idea of the amount of food you’re taking with you.
  9. Pack light. Take only those items that are absolutely necessary. Make a packing list and review it at least twice. You don’t want to drag around all the unnecessary items.
  10. Check the weather and pack accordingly. If there’s a chance of rain, pack a rain jacket and waterproof hiking shoes.
  11. Good quality gear is not a must, but it will make your life easier.