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Some hikes are peaceful rambles in the woods, and those are just fine for quiet contemplation. But the hikes that really open your eyes are the thrill rides. The following 20 walks take in perilous heights, erupting volcanoes, treacherous steps, and other hair-raising moments. They range from what are essentially low-level rock climbs to strolls on narrow ridges—and they are all guaranteed to up your heart rate. —Doug Schnitzspahn


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About the Writer

Freelance writer and editor of Elevation Outdoors magazine and MountainGazette.com, Doug Schnitzspahn has tested his mettle on half of these thrill-ride hikes (including three attempts to summit Montana’s Granite Peak). But the adventure that scared him the most was exploring a first-descent slot in an isolated section of Arizona’s Grand Canyon—it required a 200-foot free rappel to escape.