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10 Toughest Hikes in U.S.

Hiking is a popular pastime in the US and there are some hikes that climbers just yearn to scale. The harder the challenge, the greater the attraction. There are adverse weather conditions, physical exhaustion to overcome and true natural danger to face. This seems to add to the attraction for the climbers, as the sense of achievement is worth the effort. Hikers will plan their trips down to the last detail to claim the coveted permit to allow them to scale their treasured prize. All over the States are natural behemoths waiting to be conquered. Mistakes in preparion are not just an irritation, they can lead to injury or even death for hikers.

10. Longpeaks Keyhole Route Colorado

Thrill seekers cite Longpeaks as one of the best hikes in the Rockies, according to Rootsrated. Climbers are looking at over 14,000 feet of rock to climb, and only serious, prepared hikers should attempt it. It has defeated many an amateur with its deceptive and tricky paths. There are over fifteen miles of path to negotiate, and many opportunities to fall if precautions are not taken and the climber is not experienced. It really is not for the faint-hearted as over sixty climbers have died to attempt to reach the peak of the Longpeaks route.

Over 15,000 people attempt the climb each year and less than half reach the summit. It is not for the amateur, it involves a full day of climbing, so stamina and strength are a must. It is important to pace yourself as burning out too early can be a problem on a long day of physical exertion. Timing is important too. Climbers should start early in the day and be prepared for any weather. Lightning storms can appear, as if out of nowhere, so proper planning is essential. It can be crowded, and advice should be taken from experienced mountain rangers. If the summit is reached, the exhilaration is great, but there is a long climb back to the start!

9. Mount Whitney, Whitney Portal

This hike is an endurance test in itself. It involves a twenty-two mile round trip, according to Wikipedia. It is a very strenuous route and may be better attempted in several chunks. It rises to over 14,000 feet and at the highest points can be snow covered, so planning and proper equipment are essential. The altitude can be a problem for inexperienced and experienced climbers alike and acclimatization requires effort and training.

Even so, it remains a very popular route among hikers and traffic can be high. Hikers should allow a whole day at the very least to reach the summit and return, and stamina is essential. Less experienced hikers prefer to give themselves two days to reach the summit and return and there are some established campsites along the route. It gets very cold at the higher points and there are rodents and other animals along the route, so listen to rangers and take necessary equipment and precautions. Planning is necessary in terms of local accommodation as Lone Pine is a small place and the nearest overnight stop. Permits are essential to climb Mount Whitney and competition for them is high, so allow plenty of time to plan your trip.

8. Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park Utah

The rocks of Angel’s Landing are over 270 million years old and the views are quite breath-taking, evoking a bygone era of another age. This national park is home to many canyons and cliffs. It is an easier climb in terms of difficulty, but there are stretches which are not for the fainthearted, so those with severe vertigo are advised not to attempt this climb. It is best to account for the weather when attempting this hike, as summer can present some stiflingly hot weather and in winter, snow and ice can be hazardous. As with all mountains, lightning is a threat. There are many tight switchbacks on the route, but also plenty of easier stretches to climb, and difficult sections are short in many places.

Once in the national park, a camping spot is hard to secure, so be sure to book in advance or arrive early. Take the advice of rangers as the rocks can be unforgiving to the uninitiated. It is a great hike and takes three to four hours, so it’s not as long as some of the other bucket list climbs. The scenery is some of the most stunning in the world and leaves a lasting impression with those who have witnessed it, according to Exsplore.

7. Mount Olonama Hawaii

There are three peaks to this hike, and it is difficult but not impossible for the average hiker. Mount Olonama is the first peak of the three and takes about an hour and a half to climb to the top. It is about a mile and a half to the top of the peak and there are some amazing views when the summit is reached. Thee mountain, near Honolulu, is supposed to have been a thirty-foot warrior who ended up being sliced in two in a battle, leaving half his self behind as the Olonama peaks.

The same goes for the 360-degree views from the second peak and the third peak is much more challenging and should only be attempted by serious climbers. There is a trail that connects the three peaks and there are some challenging ridges along the way with sheer drops, so climbers should be wary, especially in adverse weather conditions. Climbers have been known to fall to their death on some of the trickier areas. It’s a favorite hike among local climbers who seek a challenge with a view. The mountain range is visible all across the island and is something of a local landmark.

6. Devil’s Path, Cathills New York

Devils path is the toughest climb in both the cathill mountains and the country. It can be conquered in a day, but most climbers take a couple of days if they are not in peak physical condition. The name of the climb should be taken seriously, it was given to the mountain by Dutch settlers who thought the peaks looked so ominous that only the devil could live there, according to Newyorkupstate.

There are six peaks in the range and the trail covers over twenty-four miles in total. It’s not for beginners, and hikers need to take plenty of water and food to last the day. There are plenty of obstacles to negotiate and some very steep sections There is a great sense of achievement at reaching each of the peaks, and the view is phenomenal. One cheeky climber even attached Christmas decorations to some trees at the top of one. The descent gets easier and provides a beautiful environment and some wonderful views. Most climbers attempt the trail in a couple of days and there are campsites along the way to ease the journey and make more of an occasion of the hike.

5. The Mahoosuc Mile, Appalachian Trail

The Mahoosuc Mile or Notch is a treacherous stretch of challenging terrain with obstacles to climb over and sometimes, under. The famous mile is literally in the middle of nowhere. The Mahoosuc Mile is the hardest section of the Appalachian Trail which covers several states from New Hampshire to Maine. The Mile is an arduous climb which can take several hours for inexperienced climbers. The weather along the trail can be unforgiving, especially along the Mile, sapping energy with every step. It is incredibly difficult as the Mile is comprised of several boulders, the size of houses, which have to be negotiated to get through. The deep gorge with cliffs either side is a daunting prospect. Add to that the adverse weather conditions that keep the Mile covered in ice at certain times of the year, and it makes it a super challenging hike.

As the Notch is approached, the temperature literally drops as if air conditioning has been turned on, and whilst it may not be taxing to traverse, it provides technical challenges such as squeezing through small spaces, especially while carrying heavy, cumbersome backpacks. The reward at the end of the mile is the prospect of another high ascent as the trail continues.

4. Lone Eagle Peak

This inspiring peak in Colorado is one of the holy grails of the hikers’ world and stretches to nearly 12,000 feet at its highest point. The rugged beauty of the trail is worth the effort but is certainly not for the faint-hearted or inexperienced climber. Waterfalls, the odd moose, and fragrant pine trees will greet the hiker to compensate for the blood and sweat expended during the hike. It’s an alpine landscape that most climbers say is hugely enjoyable yet challenging.

Despite the rewards, climbers should be wary as the conditions can be arduous and preparation is essential to survive the terrain. There are streams and roots to contend with as well as the obvious challenges of the rock faces which make it an exhausting climb, and many hikers prefer to make it an overnight challenge, according to 10hikes. The Lone Peaks Wilderness comprises granite hulks of rock and a near fifteen-mile round trip, but the exceptional unique environment is what makes it such a coveted climb among aficionados. Lone Eagle Peak stands like a monolith in the picture postcard scenery. It was named after Charles Lindberg, whose nickname was the Lone Eagle.

3. Upper Slickrock Peak Trail

Slick is certainly apt for this trail of rocks in North Carolina. The Upper Slickrock Trail links the Lower Slickrock Trail with the Naked Ground and locals call it the ‘nutbuster’, and many areas of the body are sure to be battered along the way. Fallen trees pepper the trail and make it an arduous adventure for any intrepid climber. Some hikers even take saws with them to remove the most irksome of obstacles. Trees that have blown down are inevitable but make the journey more exhausting and technically challenging than other parts of the trail.

The path is hard to find, never mind to negotiate, and raises to a height of nearly 5,000 feet. Many of the rocks along the way are covered in moss, hence the slick reference to the trail. There are roots and briars along the route as well as well as freezing water and unforgiving brambles, according to Atlas snowshoes. The Utah weather can be fiercely hot, so preparation is essential and careful planning of the time of day and time of year. The trail is located in the Needles district and is made of stunning red sandstone.

2. Borah Peak

Borah Peak is over 12,000 feet high in the Lost River Range in Idaho. The mountain range is a huge dominant peak in the landscape. There are many snowy peaks to scale, and preparation is vital to keep yourself safe. The peak itself is limestone, mirroring the other peaks in the range. It is possible to reach the summit and descend in a day, but it is also important to pace yourself and to know when to turn around.

The weather is all important in scaling the peak as well, so it is important to take adequate precautions if climbing in the colder weather, as ice and snow need to be taken into account, but in the warmer weather you may be able to escape without much equipment. The north face holds ice all through the year, so that needs careful planning. Some of the alpine aspects of the route can be extremely challenging and scary to even the most experienced climber. The most popular time to climb Mount Borah is in the late summer for this reason. The views from the summit take some beating and are worth the altitude and exhaustion according to the happy climbers who have reached it.

1. The Maze, Canonlands, Utah

Of all Utah’s Canonlands, The Maze is the most inaccessible. It is remote, forbidding and requires an experienced climber. It also requires careful preparation. It is in such a remote area with no local amenities, that hikers need to take provisions for a day or two and ensure that they have all the correct equipment. Maps and GPSs are vital because the Maze is literally in the middle of nowhere and help will be hard to find in an emergency. A four-wheel drive is necessary to even reach the start of the trail. From there a fifteen-mile hike is necessary although there is access by boat shuttle from Moab.

Not only is this a tough hike, but it is dangerous too and this makes it on the bucket list of many a hiker. The rock formation and eye-catching color of the deep red rock make this a scene of extreme natural beauty. Visitors say they felt as if they were totally at one with nature and felt a sense of oneness with the natural landscape, according to Tripadvisor. Tips from climbers include taking more water than you think you will need and definitely watching the sun rise and set over the stunning landscape.

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