6 Adventurous Hikes to Add to Your Bucket List

These hikes in Utah, Africa, France, Chile, Bhutan and China aren't just a walk in the park.
An incredible valley view on the Snowman Trek © Roland Hunter
By Chase Norton

Hiking is often thought of as a mere walk in the woods, but certain trails exist which should only be attempted by those seeking to challenge themselves and test their ability to persevere. If you want to saturate your eyes with beauty and your body with a sense of death-defying accomplishment, while taking in the sweeping vistas, lush waterfalls, dry deserts and high mountain peaks, these are the hikes for you.

1. The Dientes Circuit

Where: Isla Navarino, Patagonia, Chile
Why it's hard: remote, high, unsupported
On a desolate island along the southern most tip of South America exists an unknown Patagonia experience, the Dientes Circuit. This extremely remote 32.3-mile circumnavigation pits man up against the harsh and unforgiving elements with winds and volatile weather rolling in off the Southern Ocean.

The peaks of Isla Navarino line the horizon. © John Warburton-Lee/Getty Images

Trekkers who manage to stay warm and find the trail are rewarded with rare views of Cape Horn and the Antarctic Sea. The remoteness, lack of trail markers and extreme weather make this one a must for a South America trek.

Remote lakes on the Dientes del Navarino. © Cristian Medina Cid/Getty Images

2. The Grand Randonnée 20

Where: Corsica, France
Why it's hard: High and steep, very exposed
Along the 102.5-mile spine of the Corsican Mountains exists the most challenging yet exhilarating trek in all of Europe. In this land, beauty lives alongside the edge of danger as vistas of windswept craters and towering pinnacles dot the skyline from the narrow perch on high mountain ridges. This trek should be attempted in the summer when pre-fixed chains ease the relentless climbs along steep sheer crumbly cliffs. The Grande Randonnée (GR) has many different routes but the 20 is among the highest respected and most difficult route in Europe.

The Grand Randonnee 20 – where high meets hard. © Franck Guiziou/Getty Images

3. The Snowman Trek

Where: Bhutan
Why it's hard: Accessibility through mountain passes is difficult
Inaccessible ten months out of the year, this trek travels through 11 steep passes climbing up over 16,404 feet high along the border between Tibet and Bhutan. The extreme isolation and endless climb leads to a 50 percent failure rate for the few who attempt it -- although as much due to access to the high passes than due to difficulty of climbing and trekking.

Himalayan peaks along the horizon. © Roland Hunter

However, perseverance and endurance is rewarded by experiencing the most pristine untouched wilderness on earth dotted with waterfalls, misty forests and glacial streams. Want to put this one on the bucket list? Talk to the guys at The Mountain Company, who run a Snowman Trek expedition every October.

Yes, there is snow on the Snowman Trek. © Roland Hunter

4. Kill yourself on Kilimanjaro

Where: Tanzania, Africa
Why it's hard: Rapid ascent to 19,685 feet (and higher)
Known as the “Whiskey” route for being the most difficult and direct route up 19,340-foot Kilamanjaro, this short and steep climb reaches the snow-capped summit of the highest peak on the African continent.

Kili is known for its strenuous hiking.
Kilimanjaro stands tall over all of Africa. © Getty Images

The demanding 22.3-mile route traverses spectacular scenic landscapes of lush forests, waterfalls, and glaciers yet provides little time for the body to acclimatise to the high altitude, making high-altitude sickness a serious hazard.

Kili is known for its strenuous hiking.
Dense jungle surrounds the approach. © Tomasz Cieply/Getty Images

5. Get lost in the maze

Where: Utah
Why it's hard: Navigation, heat, lack of water
If the movie 127 Hours taught anything, it is that this stretch of remote landscape in Canyonlands National Park consists of numerous dead ends, disorienting sandstone fins and high cliffs making navigation extremely difficult. Entering this desolate area should only be attempted by the most experienced and hardened desert trekkers due to the combination of a complete lack of reliable water sources, extreme heat and challenging terrain. And if you don't want to saw your own arm off like Aron Ralston, always let people know where you're going.

Yes, it's easy to get lost here. © Stuart Wilson/Getty Images

6. Walk the plank

Where: Mt Huashan, China
Why it's hard: High, long and and tricky traverses
Located in the Shaanxi Province, Mount Huashan is one China’s five sacred mountains. Historically, this trek was embarked on as a spiritual pilgrimage leading to a monastery near the summit.

At some point, you have to admit it's dangerous. © Karl Johaentges/Getty Images

Nowadays, this beautifully scenic but heart palpitating trek has been made famous by the perilous “plank road” involving a series of narrow wooden planks and metal rungs bolted into the side of the mountain which hikers must carefully traverse.

The chain road on Mt Huashan © Julien Ballet-Baz Photography/Getty Images
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