Hiking North America’s Most Frightening Stairs & Bridges
Though there’s tons of aspects of hiking that can be quite scary, high footbridges and steep staircases take fear to a whole new level…literally. While you may have already conquered your fear of heights by climbing some of the tallest peaks that are out there, there’s something a little different about having a single bridge or skinny planks hold you, as opposed to an entire mountain. Nevertheless, hiking through one of these deserves a spot on your back country bucket list, as well as a pat on the back when you complete them:
Capilano Bridge, Vancouver
Capilano Bridge is located within Capilano Canyon, a magnificent place to go on a hiking trip. Here you’ll find the Capilano Reservoir, one of Vancouver’s main water sources, pretty fir trees, gorgeous scenery lining the many trails like the Capilano Pacific Trail, and little bridges taking you over the rushing water below. However, none of the bridges measure up to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, which is 140 meters long and 70 meters above the ground. Yikes!
Ha’iku Stairs, Hawaii
You might have to wait a while before you can access the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ once again, since it was damaged in a storm in February. However, the stairs here have always been illegal to hike, meaning that if you want to take a chance, it’s your call; especially now. the stairs are leftover from WWII, where they were built to lead to a secret radio transmitter. There are 3,922 steep steps leading to the top, and they are just as beautiful as they are dangerous. The views from the end are unbelievable, but the way down is nearly a 90 degree vertical angle. Risk or reward?
Grand Staircase Escalante, Utah
With a name like this, it’s hard to imagine what aspect isn’t heart-stopping here. This special place is honored the best in the world when it comes to preserving Earth’s geological past. As you navigate this area from Bryce Canyon, to Zion National Park, and finally, into the Grand Canyon (that’s how large it is), you’ll walk through beautiful landscapes that are essentially a time machine. Okay, so it’s not actually a staircase like Ha’iku, but these sedimentary rock layers will take you back in time like no other spot on this list. Maybe you’ll find some dinosaur fossils while you’re at it, too.
Royal Gorge Bridge, Colorado
Though it might be part of an attraction, but let’s just say that the thrill of this bridge isn’t only appealing to backpackers. At nearly 1,000 feet above the Arkansas River and over 1,000 feet between one rock cliff and the other, it’s definitely not for those who are afraid of falling. Though, if you’re an experienced backpacker, you probably have what it takes to walk across this thing. Whatever you do, don’t look down.
Puente de Ojuela, Durango, Mexico
If you’re looking for adventure a bit more south, then head to Puente de Ojuela in Mexico. This suspension bridge is from the time of the gold miners in Mexico and was built at the end of the 1800’s. The bridge is nearly 900 feet long, and can be accompanied with tons of amazing hiking trails within the Chihuahuan Desert. It might be a bit frightening, but the views from the top of the bridge are indescribable until you see it all for yourself.
Angel’s Landing, Utah
Located in Zion National Park, you better have an angel looking over your shoulder while doing this hike. The trail is on a very steep rock formation that is literally cut out of the rock itself. Though this hike is one of the scariest and most difficult in the country, the view of Zion Canyon from the top is totally worth it. Just say your prayers before you head up.
Half Dome, California
The nearly 12 hour hike up Half Dome in Yosemite Valley is no ordinary hiking trail. A steep slope with an elevation gain of almost 5,000 feet, hikers who are experienced enough to come here will be able to see gorgeous views accompanying them all the way up to the summit. At the last section of the hike, you’ll have to rely on cables on either side of you to make your way up, making these unique ‘stairs’ one of the most terrifying trails in the country.
Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, Vancouver
Lynn Valley is an absolutely breathtaking place for backpackers to come and hike. The area has tons of remarkable hiking trails that can accommodate all levels of hikers. However, the best part of Lynn Valley is the suspension bridge, which is 50 meters above the ground and looks like a much sturdier version of something out of a fairytale movie. Don’t get dizzy as you look down from this swaying bridge, because otherwise you won’t be able to capture the waterfalls and pools below. Make your way to Twin Falls when you’re finished.
If you’re up for doing something a bit different during your hike, then visit one of these suspension bridges or staircases for a thrill you won’t forget.