(CNN) — Hiking is often ridiculed by adrenaline junkies as somehow less than more hardcore mountain experiences like rock climbing or skiing.
But as these challenging trails show, putting one foot in front of the other isn’t always an easy option.
To undertake these famous hikes, you will need much more than a good dose of common sense.
These routes are dangerous and reserved for experienced hikers. It means those with the right gear, the ability to get out of sticky situations, and the willingness to plan for the worst and pack accordingly.
Whether you want to try a dizzying classic in England’s Lake District or tackle the “world’s most dangerous hike” in rural China, this list has you covered.
Striding Edge, Lake District, England
The famously changeable climate of the Lake District can make even the most bucolic of walks difficult.
But Striding Edge – a sharp ridge 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 hug the side of the ridge, but for thrill seekers, the ridge itself is where it is.
On a clear day the views are sensational and stretch as far as Scotland.
It’s not for the novice or the faint-hearted: walkers will need to be prepared to climb, have decent climbing skills for the final push to the top, and know how to navigate properly if the clouds are coming.
Ice and snow make it deadly in the winter, so preparation and the willingness to turn around are a must.
The Maze, Canyonlands, Utah, USA
The National Park Service cuts to the chase when it comes to the maze.
He calls the hike here “very difficult”, warning of slippery rocks and steep drop-offs.
This is the most remote part of Canyonlands, with visitors having to negotiate long stretches of dirt roads before heading into deep ravines, where rockfalls and flash floods are not uncommon and water of the few springs in the area is difficult to find (enough liquid for a multi-day trip is a must).
Park rangers require all visitors to share their routes and stay in touch as often as possible. Those who come will be treated to completely timeless landscapes and are unlikely to encounter other people during their adventures.
On this trail, hikers must follow wooden planks bolted 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 touted as the most dangerous hike in the world, and for good reason.
To reach the summit, which rises to 7,070 feet, hikers must climb uneven steps and a series of ladders before hanging on to a chain using a harness and carabiners to traverse its famous “step on the board”.
It’s as basic as it sounds – wooden planks bolted into the rock face that you follow both up and down the mountain.
While many tourists just come with sneakers and t-shirts, this is not a place to arrive unprepared.
Good hiking shoes, plenty of food and water, and a good level of fitness are essential.
Giro del Sorapiss, Italy
The Dolomites are home to a series of via ferrata (literally, railways) – paths of metal bars hammered into the rock during World War I, when Italian and Austrian troops fought fierce battles across the limestone peaks of the region.
Today, hikers looking for the thrill of rock climbing without fear of the long falls flock here in spring and summer.
The Giro del Sorapiss offers the biggest challenge of all, starting from Rifugio Vandelli before heading into the mountains along steep rock faces and taking three separate via ferratas.
Hikers will need harnesses to clip into the lines, as well as a helmet and ideally a guide who can provide the necessary gear and lead the way.
Drakensberg Grand Traverse, South Africa and Lesotho
Multi-day hikes offer intrepid walkers the chance to test their skills to the limit, with changing weather conditions and the need to carry enough supplies creating a real challenge.
The Drakensberg Grand Traverse is certainly one. An epic 230 kilometer (143 mile) journey that can take up to two weeks, it begins with a climb up a set of chain ladders to the Drakensberg escarpment, before crossing the border into Lesotho and finally to return to the south. 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 path, which means anyone planning to go here will need all the hiking maps. KZN Wildlife Drakensberg, a GPS and enough food. and water to last the whole trip.
Spring or fall visits are recommended, avoiding the lush, hard-to-walk grass of summer and the bitter days of winter.
Cascade Saddle, New Zealand
The reward? Endless views of snow-capped peaks.
In the heart of Mount Aspiring National Park on New Zealand’s South Island, Cascade Saddle offers some of the finest mountain views in the world.
But after seeing a number of deaths earlier this century due to slippery rocks and dangerous conditions, the country’s Department of Conservation is keen to stress that this is a route “only for people with high-level backcountry navigation skills and experience,” warning those who do come to be prepared to turn back if things get hairy.
Completed over two days, with the option of camping or sleeping in mountain huts along the way, the route includes wild scrambles, rocky outcrops and hikes over thick ankle-crunching grass.
The reward is endless views of snow-capped peaks, including the magnificent Mount Aspiring, also known by its Maori name of Tititea.
Kalalau Trail, Hawaii
A 22-mile “round trip” along Kauai’s Na Pali Coast, the Kalalau Trail isn’t just Hawaii’s most dangerous hike: it’s one of the deadliest in any state- United.
The Jungle Trail attaches to the coast, with the raging Pacific below.
You will need a permit to go beyond Hanakapiai Beach to Hanakoa Valley to camp either in the valley or on Kalalau Beach.
Although it sounds idyllic, the trio of stream crossings here can be brutal following heavy rain, when the water swells to extremely high levels.
Launch down a dizzying path along Crawler’s Ledge and it’s a recipe for disaster for the inexperienced. Only those with appropriate outside intelligence should apply.
Huayna Picchu, Peru
Anyone who has seen a photo of Peru’s hugely popular Machu Picchu will have seen Huayna Picchu. It’s the towering peak behind the famous Lost City of the Incas, seen in countless Instagram posts and postcards sent from South America.
However, to reach the top, one must climb the “Stairs of Death”, a 500-year-old section of steps with steep drops down to the valley below.
Add in sections of ladder that leave even the most hardened hiker feeling uneasy and it’s a route that shouldn’t be underestimated. Although many are unprepared, hiking 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.
Andrew Peacock/Pierre RF/Getty Images
At 96 kilometers (about 60 miles), the Kokoda Track traces a route just outside the Papuan capital of Port Moresby to the village of Kokoda, crossing the Owen Stanley Range.
This is remote terrain, with a trek that can last up to two weeks thanks to afternoon downpours, raging torrents and conditions that can get treacherously slippery thanks to ankle-deep mud and to the roots of trees that become slippery in the tropical heat.
Following the deaths of 13 Australians heading for the runway in a light aircraft in 2009, authorities took action to make access to the path safer.
Permits are required and all visitors must walk with a licensed operator, with the aim of helping local communities benefit from tourism. To prepare for sweaty days and bitter nights in this remote corner of the world, organizers recommend training for up to a year.
When hiking this verdant and wild route, it is worth remembering that it was the scene of fierce battles between Japanese and allied Australian and Papuan forces during World War II.
Crossing the Daikiretto, Japan
Japan’s Northern Alps offer arguably the best and certainly the most challenging hikes in the country. And the Daikiretto Traverse is definitely the route to try for hikers looking for real adventure – one that’s as close to technical ascent without the need for ropes.
The crossing itself covers less than two miles but can take hours and is best undertaken as part of a longer guided hike through this beautiful range.
The crossing is made using chains and ladders, following a knife-edge ridge with height differences of more than a hundred meters on either side.
A high level of fitness and a head for heights are a must. A helmet and gloves will facilitate the passage, and you should know that it is not recommended to attempt it alone, especially in winter.
Mount Washington, New Hampshire, USA
Mount Washington is known to be home to the “world’s worst climate” (at least according to the Mount Washington Observatory).
In January 2004, temperatures at the summit plunged to -47ºF (-44ºC), while it also set a record for the fastest wind on record on earth, a barely believable 231 mph (372 km/h ) in 1934, only exceeded in 1996 on Barrow Island, Australia.
In other words, hiking here requires serious preparation. Conditions can change at any time, meaning you’ll need to pack your winter gear even in the height of summer.
The climb is no joke, hikers need to be in top shape to achieve it. Yes, it’s possible to drive or take the iconic cogwheel train to the top, but anyone well-prepared and up for a challenge should strap on their boots, pack their backpack and do it on foot.