For those that haven’t heard of a ‘thru-hike’ before, thru-hiking is hiking a long-distance trail end-to-end. There are many different thru-hikes around the world, some harder than others, and we have put together the top 5 most challenging thru-hikes out there...
1. The Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail is a very challenging thru-hike trail found in the eastern United States. It extends from Georgia’s gigantic Spring Mountain to Maine’s Mount Katahdin. The Appalachian Trail is home to some of the most poisonous snakes on earth including the copperhead and the Eastern timber rattlesnake. Wild animals such as the American black bear found along the cliffs also pose danger to hikers. In addition, the trail is also full of pests such as black flies, mosquitoes, mice and ticks that can cause dangerous diseases with a single attack. In 2020 TrailHeads put together a definitive guide for how to prepare for this famous challenge and what you'll experience on the Appalachian Trail.
2. The Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail stretches from Mexico to British Columbia, Canada, passing through the states of Oregon and Washington in America. The trail passes through Southern California’s roasting desert valleys, making hiking a very challenging experience. Apart from being very cold, the expansive rain forests found in the Pacific Northwest are also home to dangerous wild animals, snakes, and poisonous plants such as the castor bean, rosary pea, monkshood, and the bushman’s poison.
3. Devil’s Path Trail
The Devils’ Path Trail is found in Catskills Mountains in New York, starting off from the east, heading westward. The trail, which is just about 3 hours drive from Manhattan, stretches approximately 26 miles, passing through 6 massive peaks that are home to dangerous black bears. The trail is very challenging to pass through as it comprises of vertical slopes, downhill trails, massive waterfalls, and some sections covered with very slippery grass.
4. Mount Huashan
Mount Huashan Trail in China is widely regarded as possibly the most dangerous thru hiking trail in the world. The trail passes through 5 enormous peaks: Facing Sun Peak, Jade Maiden Peak, Cloud Terrace Peak, Lotus Peak, and the South Peak which is the tallest and riskiest of them all. The other dangerous part of the trail is the Changkong Zhandao, a 1.5-foot wide, and 15 feet long plank path that runs along a vertical cliff.
5. El Camito del Rey Trail
El Camito del Rey, also referred to as The King’s Little Path, is found in Spain. The trail passes along high cliffs and the vertical walls of El Chorro gorge. The long trail has an approximate width of 4 feet and rises about 355 feet above the narrow river below. It is constructed of concrete, which has long fallen off due to dilapidation, exposing rusty ledges and beams. The old handrails bolted on the cliffs are also in a poor state, making the trail extremely dangerous.
While these types of hikes are not suitable for everyone, they’re definitely interesting to hear stories about! Have you ever completed a thru hike? Or is it on your list of things to do?