This Stunning European Trail Has Even Experienced Hikers Shaking In Their Boots

There are hikes, and then there are hikes. You know, the ones that require you to use your hands to balance and traverse narrow, steep, or slippery mountains and trails. While some hikers like to stroll through a local park or forest, others think the danger is part of the fun. If you're one of the latter group and consider yourself an expert, there is a trail in Scotland that might be one to attempt. Again, this isn't for the casual hiker. 

The hike in question is the Aonach Eagach Ridge (meaning "notched ridge") near Glencoe. It's a beautiful one, and it has some lovely highland views. However, it's not for the faint of heart. This is 6 miles point-to-point, and while that may not sound like a lot, it's nothing to sneeze at. Aonach Eagach is a popular trail, but it's only for those who know what they're doing. Let's take a look at the hike, what it entails, and what you need to know before you go. If you want to attempt it but aren't confident in your expertise, you can hire a guide.

What you need to know about Aonach Eagach Ridge

This 6-mile hike through the Highlands is gorgeous, but the weather can steal your views away and leave you shaking in your hiking boots. There is often fog — creating a cold experience — and snowy or icy trails. Therefore, this hike is best attempted between May and September unless you're a cold-weather hiking expert. If you are, you'll need crampons and an ice axe. For the rest of you, avoid the snow. You will probably be able to spot it on the mountains in the distance anyway.

You'll hike the ridge, crossing two munros (Meall Dearg and Sgòrr nam Fiannaidh), which is a term for a Scottish mountain higher than 3,000 feet. You can hike the Aonach Eagach Ridge from either direction, but it's recommended to do it from east to west to avoid some very steep climbs. It is worth noting that this trail has no exit paths due to its dangerous descent. Once you begin the hike, you can only turn back or complete it. That includes not taking the Clachaig Gully shortcut path as you begin your descent.

There are small paths around some brush patches, but those can be slippery, so beware. This is not a hike for dogs, who are not permitted. Plus, bringing your pup in the first place is too dangerous. There are plenty of places to walk in Scotland for you and your furry buddy. 

The Aonach Eagach Ridge

This incredible Scottish hike will give you some stunning views of the mountains of the highlands, like Glen Coe, Amores, Ben Nevis, and the Blackwater Reservoir. If you are an experienced hiker, pay attention to the weather conditions and watch your footing for a great experience. However, one of the reasons the Aonach Eagach Ridge hike is one to respect and only attempt if you have the skills is that people have died on this trail. 

This year, the narrow ridge has claimed three lives, including a mountain guide's. In 2014, seven people died there, as well as one in 2016 and another in 2021. That doesn't include the over 500 times the Scottish Mountain Rescue teams have been sent to help people. The hike involves scrambling, which is when you have to use your hands to maintain balance as you go. We don't want to discourage you from adventuring at all. We just want to make sure you know the danger before you begin. 

Watch the conditions, make sure you're equipped correctly, and that someone knows where you are at all times. No selfie is worth dying for; no shortcut is better than arriving late but safely. Be willing to turn back if you need to, and stay safe!