The most dangerous hikes in the Park

An article on Backpacker Magazine’s website lists “America’s 10 Most Dangerous Hikes.” The one closest to the Adirondacks is Mount Washington in New Hampshire.

The mountain is infamous for its fickle and sometimes extreme weather.

Ron Konowitz climbs the Trap Dike
Ron Konowitz climbs the Trap Dike. Photo by Josh Wilson.

“Known as the most dangerous small mountain in the world,” Backpacker says, “6,288-foot Mt. Washington boasts some scary stats: The highest wind velocity ever recorded at any surface weather station (231 mph) was logged here on April 12, 1934. And 137 fatalities have occurred since 1849. No surprise: Most are due to hypothermia—and not only in winter. ‘They call them the White Mountains for a reason,’ says Lieutenant Todd Bogardus, SAR team leader for New Hampshire’s Fish & Game Department. ‘We see snow right on through the year.’”

Other hikes that made the list include the Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon, the Barr Trail on Pikes Peak in Colorado, the Mist Trail on Half Dome in California, and the Muir Snowfield on Mount Rainer in Washington. Click here for the complete list.

So if you were to choose the most dangerous hike in the Adirondack Park what would it be?

Topping my list would be the Trap Dike and the adjacent slides on Mount Colden. A hiker was killed in the dike last year, and several others have been injured on this route over the years. Another candidate would be the Eagle Slide on Giant Mountain. A fall in the wrong place could be disastrous.

Both of these are off-trail excursions. Any thoughts on the most dangerous trail in the Adirondacks?

About Phil Brown

Phil Brown edited the Adirondack Explorer from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. He continues to explore the park and to write for the publication and website.

Reader Interactions


  1. Janet Gordon says

    C’mon. ALL trails are dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.

    Now what? Are we going to begin rating trails on a Danger Scale? Who’s standard will we use?

    I have more trouble crossing the street in New York City than I have had on any trail.

    I’ve hiked the Bright Angel, the Mt Colden area,

    Pikes Peak and Half Dome.

  2. Jon says

    Listing only official DEC-maintained trails and tried-and-true herd paths up the 46 peaks, I’d start with the trail going up Saddleback’s summit from Basin. It is the only one of the 46 where I wished I had a safety rope or a cable to get up. Granted, at the time, it was my first 46er hike, and my third peak of the day, (having hit Haystack and Basin earlier). So inexperience my have tainted my opinion of that route… Haven’t been back there since to test that hypothesis.

    The wet slide going up Allen is another very dangerous one, because it is basically a wet, slimy streambed (Allen Brook), at a steep angle. Lots of algae-covered rock and slimy wet leaves make it very slippery. A hiking buddy of mine slipped and fell right onto his face, before he even had time to put his hands out to catch himself. Thankfully it was only a slightly bloodied nose and bruised ego he suffered. Luckily, he was at a relatively rare flatter spot, and he didn’t go sliding down the slide to major injury or worse. Perhaps it is better in the hotter drier days of July and August; this trip was last October, on a cold, foggy, drizzling weekend.

    • Janet Gordon says

      Yes, you had a rough hike. “Rough” and “wild” are what make the Adirondacks the Adirondacks.

      There is a saying, “If it doesn’t rain it isn’t the Adirondacks.”

      I fell and broke a finger once. It wasn’t the trails fault; it was my poor balance.

      You did 2 major peaks and then fell doing the third of the day?

      You should have known you were tired and not attempted the third peak.

      Sounds like inexperience to me.

  3. Jon says

    Sorry Janet, never fell on Saddleback; perhaps you mis-read. On that day, I hiked Haystack, Basin and finally Saddleback. Not fatigued, and there were no injuries whatsoever, but I felt the final scramble up to Saddleback’s summit was definitely more challenging (mentally) than I had expected. That was the first time I experienced bouldering of that level, (which many of this publication’s readers would probably categorize as “not challenging”). At that time, I felt that it was difficult due to its’ steepness, lack of hand-holds and my slight fear of heights. There’s a chance that if I had to climb it today, (after conquering the 46), I’d get to the top and remark, “it wasn’t really as bad as I remember it”. It was a first-impression kind of thing, you know?

    • Janet Gordon says

      O.K., sorry for the misunderstanding.

      For the shear joy of climbing, try the 800 foot scramble up the dry wash from Duck Hole to Bradley Pond.

      Going down the other side is a challenge also.

      Gotta love the Adirondack experience. A true test of stamina, outdoor knowledge and resourcefulness.

      “Forever Wild” fits the area well.

  4. Janet Gordon says

    Yep….the forever wild Adirondacks.

    If you don’t like the challenge, the danger, the hard work, the self-sufficiency and the utter joy of being totally on-your-own, then hike somewhere else.

    The Adirondack experience is not for you. There are plenty of other, safer, areas of the country to hike in.

  5. Matt says

    I agree with you Jon, the west side of Saddleback would top my list.

    But Janet, are all the jerky comments really necessary? And you replied…to your own reply.

    • Maureen says

      I look forward to Saddleback and the challenge. I love vertical rock climbing with a top rope where mistakes are not disastrous. If you have any ideas of helping someone to know if they have the skills and mental readiness, I’d like to know. Thanks!

    • Brian Shields says

      I agree, I love reading about people’s experiences prior to me hitting the trail. It gets me pumped up, but there is always that one person that ruins it! It’s almost like she doesn’t want to Share the joys of her “professional” Adirondack hiking experience. I’ll have to hike in “other safer areas of the country” and avoid forever wild lmao wtf! Thanks Jon and Matt on identifying the west side so I know it may be a place to avoid on not so dry days

  6. MARIA Staub says

    My idea of climbing the Adirondacks is to experience the beauty of the peaks and the adrenaline of a vigorous hike. I’m not a fan of cliffs, exposed heights or potentially dangerous situations such as slippery slopes. I think that in this sense the Adirondacks are ALSO a perfect place to experience that for the less daring folks. I disagree with the comment “the Adirondacks are not for you”.

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