The Most Terrifying Walking Trail on Earth

Image: Karl and Betty Schendel

They say the first step is always the hardest, but on the Mount Hua Plank Road in the Sky, gathering up the courage to consider attempting the well-known walking trail is likely to be as big a hurdle. After all, the path’s reputation as the “most dangerous” or “terrifying” trail on Earth isn’t very reassuring. Nor, indeed, is the rumored – albeit completely unsubstantiated – claim that each year there are 100 fatalities on the mountain. In fact, there’s little encouragement to be found anywhere on the path – from its one-foot-wide wooden boards with no handrail to the 5,000-foot drop waiting just one misstep away.

Image: Andrew MacDonald

The vertiginous plank path is among the trails located on Mount Hua, or Hua Shan, in the Chinese province of Shaanxi. The five-peaked mountain is one of only a handful of Chinese summits deemed holy by followers of Taoism. Indeed, Taoists built a number of places of worship here, including the millennium-old Jade Spring temple.