To many a visit to the great outdoors means a leisurely stroll through the well-worn trails of a nearby state park, perhaps entailing the odd clamber over a felled tree or rogue boulder before taking a well-deserved granola bar break. And then there are these: Extreme adventures that offer intense and thrilling challenges to even the most seasoned outdoorsman, from terrain, or temperature, fauna or any combination of the three.
Maroon Bells Trail, White River National Forest, CO
The US Forest Service boasts that these awe-inspiring twin peaks just south of Aspen are the most photographed mountains on the continent. And it's easy to understand why. They are stunning, and postcard perfect, especially when seen reflected in Maroon Lake on a clear day or crisp night. Less rosy though is the Forest Service's nickname for the pair: "The Deadly Bells." Though thousands successfully hike the Bells every year, that moniker was inspired by the tragic deaths of a series of climbers in the '60s and has stuck due to the peaks' built-in hazards when you get above 11,000 feet, like loose unstable terrain, steep slopes and exposure to extreme weather and conditions, such as snowfields. Understandably the Service warns that the Bells are "no place for a novice climber."
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