Trift bridge

Photo: Wikimedia

If you're familiar with the Golden Gate Bridge or the Brooklyn Bridge, you can grasp how far humans have come in bridge building technology over just the past century or two.
 
And while these engineering feats are certainly worthy of recognition, there's nothing more thrilling than walking across a simple suspension bridge drastically dipping and swaying hundreds (or even thousands) of feet above the ground.
 
Common in mountainous areas, primitive suspension bridges are distinguished from modern suspension deck bridges by their lack of vertical suspenders, which hold the bridge flat for cars and trains. Bridges without vertical suspension instead form a catenary arch, which dips below the two fastening points. While these bridges aren't great for stable vehicle use, they're the perfect solution for able pedestrians or hikers.
 
Here are just a few of the world's most amazing suspension walkways, which are sure to inspire awe (or maybe fear, depending on your tolerance).
 
Capilano Suspension Bridge — Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Capilano Bridge

Photo: Ronnie Chua/Shutterstock

If you're in Vancouver and hoping to take a break from downtown's glassy skyline, head into the North Vancouver district and take a stroll across the Capilano Suspension Bridge, a 460-foot-long walkway that runs 230 feet above the Capilano River.

Originally built in 1889 with just cedar planks and hemp rope, the bridge has undergone several renovations over the decades, including a complete rebuild in 1956. Most recently, the privately-owned attraction opened Treetops Adventures, which consists of multiple suspended footbridges weaving around Douglas firs.

Capilano Bridge

Photo: Ronnie Chua/Shutterstock

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Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge - Ballintoy, Northern Ireland
Ballintoy rope bridge

Photo: Serg Zastavkin/Shutterstock

Currently constructed using wire, rope and wood from a Douglas fir, this picturesque bridge links the mainland to the small island of Carrickarede. Early incarnations of this bridge were built and used by salmon fishermen as early as 350 years ago, but as the local supply of salmon ran out due to overfishing, the suspended pathway became more of a place to find tourists.

This famous rope bridge isn't the only scenic attraction for which County Antrim is known. Just eight miles down the road, you'll stumble upon Giant's Causeway, one of the most surreal geological formations on the planet.

Ballintoy rope bridge

Photo: Jennifer Boyer/Flickr

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Taman Negara canopy walkway - Titiwangsa Mountains, Malaysia
Taman Negara canopy walk

Photo: faberfoto-it/Shutterstock

Not only is Malaysia's Taman Negara the oldest rain forest in the world (an estimated 130 million years!), it also happens to boast the world's longest canopy walkway. Located 147 feet above the ground, this famous suspended path is the best way to experience this breathtaking natural treasure.

To get to the park, you can book a pricey tour from Kuala Lumpur that includes lodging, transportation and meals, but many intrepid travelers generally recommend going the DIY route to save time and money.

Taman Negara

Photo: chee.hong/Flickr

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Trift Bridge — Gadmen, Switzerland
Trift Bridge

Photo: Thisisbossi/Wikimedia

Spanning 560 feet over Triftsee Lake, the Trift Bridge is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge of its kind in the Swiss Alps. The bridge and the area surrounding it receive about 20,000 visitors a year due to its perfect vantage point for viewing the Trift Glacier (seen in the background).

What's interesting about Triftsee Lake is that it's actually a new lake that formed after 2002 due to the gradual melting of the lower portion of the Trift Glacier.

Trift Bridge

Photo: Thisisbossi/Wikimedia

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Titlis Cliff Walk — Mount Titlis, Urner Alps, Switzerland
Titlis Bridge

Photo: iamnong27/Shutterstock

If you're looking for a nosebleed experience, search no further than this gem of a bridge, which is suspended 10,000 feet above sea level on Mount Titlis in the Swiss Alps. First opened in 2012, it's considered to be Europe's highest elevation suspension bridge — a title previously held by the equally precarious Salbit Bridge (also in the Alps).

Because the bridge was built in such an extreme location, designers had to make sure it could withstand wind speeds of more than 120 miles per hour and at least 450 tons of snow. Construction materials had to be delivered by cable car or sometimes helicopter, and because builders could only work when weather permitted, the project took five months to complete.

Titlis Bridge

Photo: iamnong27/Shutterstock

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Kakum Canopy Walk — Kakum National Park, Ghana
Kakum National Park

Photo: name/Shutterstock

We can thank a pair of Canadian engineers from Vancouver for building this 1,150-foot-long suspended pathway through the tropical rain forest of Kakum National Park. The pathways are built with wire rope, wooden planks, ladders and a lot of rope netting to prevent people from falling.

The hanging bridges extend across seven treetops, treating visitors to an unforgettable chance to see the unique plants and wildlife that live on that level of the forest.

 
Kakum National Park

Photo: Steve Heap/Shutterstock

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Via ferrata suspension bridge — Monte Cristallo, Italy
Monte Cristallo suspension bridge

Photo: Florin Stana/Shutterstock

Located in the Italian Dolomites in northern Italy, Monte Cristallo is a popular recreation area for hikers, climbers and skiiers. It is also the site of a well-known via ferrata that features an exceptionally precarious suspension bridge.

Via ferratas, which is translated as "iron road" in Italian, are protected climbing routes characterized by a steel cable aid that climbers secure themselves to using a via ferrata kit. To understand how climbers use via ferratas, check out the video below of someone crossing the Monte Cristallo bridge:

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Pokhara suspension bridge

Photo: saiko3p/Shutterstock

Swing Bridge — Pokhara, Nepal

This suspension bridge is a boon to locals who want to travel from either side of the gorge, but this activity is not for the faint of heart. Officially known as just a section of the continuing Bhalam Road, it's sometimes called the "Swing Bridge" — because it sways quite a bit. Still, it gets the job done, right?

Pokhara suspension bridge

Photo: Quick Shot/Shutterstock

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Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.