Backpacker - - Contents - By Gra­ham Aver­ill

Steady your nerves on these 15 trails that flirt with dan­ger en route to the coun­try’s grand­est vis­tas.

Get on a high ledge, a crumbly cliff, or a knife-edge ridge and your body will rec­og­nize the feel­ing be­fore your brain catches on. Pump­ing heart, sweaty palms, weak knees— they’re telling you that, no mat­ter how strong you think you are, you will never win a fight against grav­ity. But even when your brain balks, hik­ers know that the seam be­tween safety and dan­ger is hal­lowed ground, the place where lim­its are found—and ex­ceeded. In these 15 places, the trail nar­rows to the ex­act size of that seam, putting you face to face with your own fears and some of the coun­try’s most mind-bend­ing views. Here, the risk is worth the re­ward.

See West Vir­ginia’s Dolly Sods as an ea­gle would on the Nel­son Rocks via fer­rata (page 75).

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