7 Most Difficult Hikes In America


To some people taking a hike simply means a nice little leisurely stroll. Others, prefer more of a challenge. For those who thrive and are exhilarated by the notion of taking a hike, here are the 7 most challenging hikes in America ranked by difficulty.

  1. The Maze
  2. South Kaibab Trail/Bright Angel Trail
  3. Kalalau Trail
  4. Mist Trail – Half Dome
  5. Muri Snowfield Trail
  6. Huckleberry Mountain
  7. Barr Trail

Let’s take a look at each hike in a little more detail.

The Maze

Located in Canyonlands, Utah with a 14-mile hike and an expert level of difficulty, The Maze is featured on the movie 127 Hours. It doesn’t take long before you figure out why this hike is called The Maze. It is a labyrinth made up of Redrock and canyons that run into dead ends. It is definitely not the path for beginners. To tackle this hike, you need to be fully prepared. Some of the key difficult areas include canyons that interconnect but all look similar, extremely high cliffs, extremely hot temperatures that can climb up to 118 F degrees, and very little water supply.

South Kaibab Trail/Bright Angel Trail

Located in Grand Canyon, Arizona with a 17-mile hike meant for tough hikers who are ready for a challenge. This is definitely not a leisurely stroll of a hike. The trail runs along an area referred to as “the death zone” because temperatures easily climb to more than 122 F degrees. If you do not know what you are doing, you could quickly and easily find yourself in real danger very fast. This hike includes a trail that descends into a huge hole. Once you’re inside, you will need to climb back out. Many attempt this hike, and at least 250 hikers each year end up needing to be rescued because of exhaustion and dehydration.

Kalalau Trail

Located in Kauai, Hawaii with an 11-mile one way hike ranked at the most difficult. While you are about to encounter some of the most breathtaking views, be sure to take along a walking pole to help maintain balance and avoid slipping. The entire hike is treacherous to say the least. You will encounter crumbling trail beds, plummeting cliffs, and inclines that are quite slippery. It doesn’t take more than a small amount of rain before the edge of the 295-foot cliff becomes dangerously slippery.

Mist Trail – Half Dome

Located in Yosemite, California with a 14-mile long hike, the difficulty level is only for those who love heights. The most dangerous aspect is falling from the heights because the rocks become wet. Half Dome is a gorgeous granite. You get to Half Dome by hiking Mist Trail. If you are afraid of heights, don’t even think about attempting this hike. Hikers climb up steel cables that are bolted into the rock all the way up to the very top. The trail is very popular, so hikers tend to crowd together on the cable making it impossible to make a fast exit if needed.

Muir Snowfield Trail

Located in Mount Rainier in Washington state, this 7.7 mile hike may not seem very long, but it is only for the experienced mountaineer because of its extreme cold and arctic landscape. To get to the top, you must be experienced in alpine climbs. The summit is 14,435.7-feet tall. Even though it seems innocent at the start, the hike takes a fast turn upward to become a vertical climb up a mountain.

Huckleberry Mountain

Located in Montana in the Glacier National Parks with a 14-mile hike that requires a Bear Grylls level of skill. You must know what to do when face-to-face with a grizzly bear to make this hike. Do not make eye contact, and slowly back away. If the bear comes charging at you, drop to the ground in a fetal position. Provided, you are confident in how to survive a closeup encounter with a bear, this hike is beautiful but extremely risky.

Barr Trail

Located in Colorado with a 13-mile hike is for hikers who have no fear. While it may not be the most challenging hike of all, it does have some difficulties to consider. Lightning strikes are very likely at this elevation. The trail runs through beautiful scenery of meadows and boulder fields to mountaintop experiences.