Utah Nature December 21, 2016
These Trails In Utah Were Just Named Some Of The Scariest In The World – Have You Hiked Them?
The site ActiveJunky.com just released a list of “
30 Terrifying Trails” from all over the world. Trails included some truly scary-looking spots in Italy, Japan, the Swiss Alps, Peru, Guatemala, Spain and many other places around the world (there were more international trails listed than domestic U.S. trails).
We were surprised to find three of Utah’s trails on this list – mostly because one of the trails is popular with Utah’s families, and also because they didn’t include Utah’s deadliest hikes. Read on to see which three Utah trails ActiveJunky.com thinks are simply terrifying.
The Maze, Canyonlands National Park
The Maze can definitely be a scary place. If you're an experienced backcountry hiker with the skills to navigate this place, it's some of the most beautiful, remote country you'll ever see in this state. If you're a novice, you can quickly get into big trouble.
Just getting to The Maze District in Canyonlands National Park is challenging. You'll often need a four-wheel-drive vehicle just to get to the trailheads, and by the time you reach those, you're miles from civilization. The National Park Service urges anyone going into this district (even just for a drive) to carry plenty of food and water, a good map (GPS is often inaccurate here) and of course, a spare tire and some gasoline.
The Maze is a series of trails, but the canyons are so deep here that the trails are often washed away and aren't clearly marked. You'll have the benefits of cairns as you descend, but once you're down there, you'd better be good with a map. Getting lost is serious business out here. You'll also need some rope skills (bring along a 25-foot rope) and should be able to scramble over rocks. Most people spend a minimum of three days down in The Maze, and a permit is required for overnight backpacking. During flash floods, this place can be deadly.
Peek a Boo Gulch, Escalante
Of all the scary slot canyons in Utah, ActiveJunky.com chose Peek a Boo. Why? We're not sure, though it's certainly a popular hike here. It does have some dangerous, of course, and a few scary bits.
Like all Utah slot canyons, Peek a Boo can be deadly during flash floods. You'll find this slot (along with its sister Spooky Gulch) about 26 miles south of Escalante. If you combine the trail with Spooky Gulch, you'll complete a 3.5 mile loop.
Peek a Boo is super narrow in places, so if you're claustrophobic, this could be a scary hike. It also requires a bit of scrambling here and there to navigate boulders that are in your way.
We have to say that we mostly disagree with ActiveJunky's designation of "terrifying" for Peek a Boo Gulch. Buckskin Gulch, for instance, is much more deadly, and requires many more technical skills to traverse. Of course, if you decide to take on Peek a Boo, take plenty of water, hike with others and check weather conditions before your trip.
Angel's Landing, Zion National Park
Angel's Landing is a grueling hike, and certainly not for the faint of heart. The final ascent takes you right up the spine, and it definitely looks scary. Of course, the views are simply incredible, and this is a very popular hike in Utah's most popular park.
Some spots are really narrow, and the fall is...well let's just say that you shouldn't look down. Getting all the way to the peak is challenging, and it's not for people who are really out of shape - especially during the hottest part of the day. You'll need plenty of water and a few snacks for this trip, and you don't want to get caught in a thunderstorm while you're exposed on the spine.
Some sections have chains to help you traverse the path. It's a busy hike, so during high tourist season, you'll have plenty of company on the trail. In some spots (like the ones pictured here), you may have to give right-of-way to hikers coming down, or squeeze past them on some narrow ledges. Terrifying? Maybe. But while this hike can definitely be scary, kids do it all the time with their families.
People have died on this trail, but not always from falls - several have succumbed to heart attacks on the way up. Several other trails in the park have racked up more deaths. More people have fallen to their deaths on the Upper Emerald Pools trail, which can be very slippery above the waterfall, resulting in deadly falls over the edge. Zion's slot canyons can be more dangerous than Angel's Landing. Tragically, seven hikers died in 2015 when they were caught in a flash flood while hiking Keyhole.
It might surprise you that many of Utah’s hiking deaths haven’t occurred on these trails. Other trails, such as the Bridal Veil Falls and the popular Donut Falls trails, aren’t touted as “terrifying,” but people fall to their deaths on slippery rocks.
What do you think? Are these trails “terrifying?” If you’ve hiked any (or all) of them, tell us about it in the comments!
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