Hiking Horror Stories — With Happy Endings

Mountain Rescue Helicopter Takes Off From Mountain Side

Christopher Ames/istockphoto

Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site.
Mountain Rescue Helicopter Takes Off From Mountain Side
Christopher Ames/istockphoto

Tripped Up

Hiking is supposed to be a relaxing way to exercise and enjoy nature, but if you don’t bring enough water, miss the “no trespassing” signage, or lose sight of the trail, this can go from good to bad quickly. From heat stroke to freezing cold conditions, it’s easy to find yourself in extreme weather conditions and unprepared for a hike. Here are 15 hiking horror stories that had happy endings. 

Related: 20 Spectacular Trails That Used to Be Railroads

aerial view of scenic mount vesuvius, Naples in Campania, Italy

Tourist Plunges into Mount Vesuvius

This month, a 23-year-old U.S. tourist visiting Mount Vesuvius in Campania, Italy, and his family took a route not meant for tourists. The man attempted to take a selfie when he fell into the crater of the active volcano that buried the ancient city of Pompeii in the year 79 A.D. Authorities were able to rescue the young man and help with his injuries and said he was lucky not to have fallen further into the volcano.


Related:Tourists Behaving Badly Around the World

Group Hike

100 Hikers Saved

A group of teachers from Ludwigshafen, a city in southwestern Germany, took about 100 students on a hike after school in June. The hike went well until it began to rain, making it much harder to navigate the trail. The group found the trail online, but because it is not on the official tour guides anymore, it wasn't signposted, making it much more difficult for the group to navigate. A few students fell, suffering minor injuries, but the teachers called emergency services, who came and rescued the whole group, airlifting the hikers to safety. 

Related: Epic Hiking Trails Around the World

View of Phoenix, Arizona from Papago Park North towards Camelback Mountain.

Show Crew Rescued

In June, a group of at least eight hikers was filming a reality television show on Camelback Mountain in Phoenix when temperatures surpassed 100 degrees, and they ran out of water. The group was filming a faith-based series called "Bad Girls Gone God" and said they had no clue temperatures would climb as high as 108 degrees. First responders rescued the group and treated them for heat-related illness.

Barrier and trail closed sign due to flooding.

Michigan Tourist Rescued from California Hike

An unnamed Michigan man in his 60s was rescued from the Hites Cove/Savage Lundy Trail in June. The trail was marked closed by officials, and the man was not supposed to be hiking in the area but is said to have been trying to solve a mystery. After a family died on the trail last August, the Michigan man traveled to California hoping to solve the mystery himself. Authorities launched a mission to find him after seeing his car parked at the entrance overnight. He was treated for dehydration and blistered feet, but left the site against medical advice.


Five Sikh Men Use Turbans to Save Lives

A group of Sikh men saved two men who were stranded on a rock ledge in Golden Ears Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada, in October 2021. The stranded hikers could not call for help due to a lack of cell service. The Sikh men tied their turbans and jackets together to create a rope. The makeshift rope came to about 33 feet in length. You can check out a video of the rescue here.

Puma Concolor (Cougar)

Dog Saves Owner From Mountain Lion

When 24-year-old Erin Wilson started walking the trail leading to Trinity River in Northern California in May of 2022, she didn’t expect a mountain lion to jump out of the bushes and swipe at her. Wilson called out for her dog Eva, a Belgian Malinois. Eva tackled the cougar and fought it off, but then it was Erin’s turn to save her dog. Eva was rushed to the emergency vet, where she spent about a week recovering. Eva was rewarded for her bravery with a new dog bed and plenty of stuffed toys to rip to pieces when she’s fully recovered.

Related: Amazing Animal Rescues You Won’t Believe

Winter mountain adventure. Woman on a trail. Night blizzard

Three Hikers Stuck in New Hampshire

Three hikers in their early 20s were rescued in New Hampshire after they went off trail on Mount Avalon in the White Mountain National Forest in June. The hikers from Rhode Island were caught in wintry conditions before reaching the summit. The low visibility made it difficult for them to figure out where they were, leading them to call for help. All three hikers were rescued and taken to their car shortly after midnight.

Antelope Canyon, Arizona, USA

Youth Group Airlifted from Capitol Reef National Park

The Utah Department of Public Safety saved a 19-person youth group in June after they got stuck in Sandthrax Canyon, a slot canyon in Lake Powell Utah. Unfortunately, by the time the rescuers made it to the children and the two adult chaperones, it was too dark to rescue them via helicopter, so they sent in food and water. The next morning, they pulled all 19 from the narrow space safely.

Alaskan malamute dog sitting  between pine trees in winter forest

Hiker Saved by Alaskan Malamute

After Grga Brkic fell almost 500 feet in January 2022 while hiking the Velebit mountain range in Croatia and fractured his leg, his dog, North, an Alaskan malamute puppy, laid on top of him to keep him from freezing to death. Brkic was protected from the freezing temperatures by his dog for 13 hours before two hikers saw the duo and called for rescuers. Rescuers found North curled around Brkic and called the rescue one of their most difficult operations.

mobile phone accidentally fell out and got lost in the snow

Hikers Saved by Frozen Cell Phone

After slipping on an icy part of the trail in December, two men slid down about 150 feet, losing their phones on the way down. Matthew Jaurequi, 38, hit a tree on the way down, causing a painful injury. With no phones, the two had no way of calling for help, so they moved to a safer, sturdier spot when one found someone else's cellphone in the snow. Luckily the phone was on 1% battery — just enough to call for help and be rescued by helicopter. 

Top down aerial view of deciduous trees in forest

Man Saves Hiker Using Satellite Imagery

In April 2021, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Office asked for help locating a hiker missing for more than 24 hours. Ben Kuo of Newbury Park, California was able to use a sheriff's department Twitter photo and Google Earth to close in on the hiker’s location in the Angeles National Forest. Kuo used the patterns on the ground and said finding hiker Rene Compean was like solving a jigsaw puzzle. He could decipher the location in about half an hour and alerted authorities, who verified the source and then rescued the hungry and distressed hiker.

Related: What You Need to Know About Heat Exhaustion Before It Kills

Senior Man Relaxing on the Rocks

Family Finds Stranded Hiker

John Utsey, a retired Marine, was hiking with his children in Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico when he heard screaming. Utsey found a hiker lying by a creek, unable to stand or walk. The unidentified man is said to be in his 50s and was confused and had been stranded for two weeks, surviving on creek water. Utsey and his kids called 911 for help, but after a full day of searching, firefighters couldn’t find the man and called off the search. The next morning Utsey went back on the trail, determined to locate the hiker, and led authorities to the correct location.

Using Apple Watch in nature

Apple Watch Calls 911

James Prudenciano and Paige Paruso were hiking in Hartshorne Woods Park in Highlands, New Jersey, in 2019, shortly after sunset, when they fell through the foliage and then dropped over a cliff. Prudenciano, 28, landed on rocks, causing three fractures to his back. As he was screaming, his Apple Watch called 911 and shared his latitude and longitude because it detected a hard fall and the wearer’s immobility. The two were rescued by boat and taken to a local medical center.

For more stories like thisplease sign up for our free newsletters.

Large Carpathian brown bear portrait in the woods Europe Romania.

Fighting a Mama Bear

While on a five-day hiking trip in Romania in 2019, a German man named Andi Bauer was attacked by a brown bear. The bear bit him on the leg and threw him around before breaking his leg in multiple places. During the attack, Bauer’s girlfriend Lara Booth yelled for him to punch the bear in the eye. The bear fled, and Booth slowed the bleeding using socks while the two waited for a helicopter to rescue them.

Related: Shark Attacks, 'Dry Drowning,' and Other Summer Horror Stories

husky 3

Husky Saves a Deaf Hiker in Alaska

Nanook, an Alaskan husky, is used to saving strangers on the 24-mile Crow Pass Trail in Girdwood Alaska. Amelia Milling, a deaf 21-year-old student at Rochester Institute of Technology, was hiking when her hiking poles broke, and she fell hundreds of feet before smashing into a boulder. Nanook stayed with Milling for more than a day before she could stand up, walk another 7 miles, and set up her tent. Nanook rescued Milling again the next day when she fell into a freezing river and then stayed with her until Alaska State Troopers showed up.