7 Trails That You Can Hike Without An ACL!

Can You Hike Without an ACL

You could get an ACL injury when doing activities that force stress on your knees. You’d notice symptoms such as severe pain and swelling in the knee area.

This injury could get you to worry, probably because you love hiking. Are you wondering if you could still hike if your ACL tore?

You can hike without an ACL. However, you’d have to consult your doctor to give you a breakdown of instructions and a series of guidelines to follow. Also, you’d have to ease down on how long you spend hiking, the hiking trails you choose, and what types of hiking you choose.

This article will give you more information on trails suitable for hiking without an ACL and instructions to abide by.

You’d also get to know the general guidelines after ACL surgery. 

What Trail is Suitable to Hike Without an ACL?

Can You Hike Without an ACL

Some types of hiking trails most suitable for hiking without ACL include developed trails, boot trails, etcetera.

There are many different trails to consider when embarking on hiking. Some of these trails are dangerous, and some do not involve any hassle. 

Be careful about the hiking trail you follow when your ACL is damaged. Being careful is to prevent getting any further injuries.

Here is a table to show different types of hiking trails, indicating the ones suitable and unsuitable for hiking without ACL:

Hiking TrailSuitable Without an ACL Unsuitable Without an ACL
Developed trails
Boot Paths
User-Built trails
Decommissioned trails
Nature trails
Primitive trails

#1. Developed Trails

Developed trails are the most suitable trails for hiking without ACL. These trails do not have complex constructions built in the oaths. 

You can find certain structures, such as stairs and ramps, installed in developed trails for easier and smoother hiking. These trails are easy to follow rather than challenging.

#2. Boot Paths

Boot paths are very similar to developed trails. One notable difference between boot paths and developed trails is that developed trails are more natural than boot paths.

Boot paths contain more structures, such as footbridges, signages, and artificial walkways, rather than gravel and natural dirt.

Boot paths are not challenging, making them suitable for hiking without ACL.

#3. Backcountry Trails

You should avoid backcountry trails if your ACL is damaged because these trails are challenging. Maintenance facilities are absent in backcountry trails.

These kinds of routes are very wild and complicated. You should follow these trails when you’re in proper shape and not when your ACL is damaged.

#4. User-Built Trails

User-Built trails are unsuitable for hiking without an ACL. Private individuals build these trails and may not have undergone adequate safety checks and analyses.

You should consider that risk and avoid user-built trails to any form of injury.

#5. Decommissioned Trails

I’d advise against anyone hiking on decommissioned trails. These trails are unsuitable for hiking without an ACL.

The reason is that they could cause safety complications because of the absence of maintenance and maintenance facilities.

#6. Nature Trails

Nature trails are very suitable for hiking without an ACL. 

The government made nature trails with adequate safety checks and maintenance such that someone that has no idea about hiking can follow them and be safe.

It is safe and comprises signs that allow you to learn about nature while hiking.

#7. Point-To-Point Trails

Point-to-point trails are more of a direct route that takes you to a specific end. These trails are unsuitable for hiking with ACL because they are complicated and for longer hikes.

It is advisable to avoid long hikes when you have damaged ACLs to prevent further complications and injuries.

How Long Can You Hike WIthout An ACL?

You can hike for close to 6 months doing activities such as hiking without an ACL. This statement can only stay true if you’re careful about the type of hikes and the trails you follow.

It is recommended you do not make more than six months delay before you undergo surgery so as not to cause further complications to your knee. 

ACL reconstruction will help to restore full stability to your knee for you to go on more difficult hikes and to follow through complicated routes and trails. 

How Long After Surgery Should You Wait Before Hiking?

It would be best to wait 6 to 12 months after an ACL surgery before hiking. It takes a few months before your ACL can completely heal after surgery. 

The wait time depends on the severity of the injury sustained at your ACL. You should make sure to follow specific guidelines and instructions given to you after the surgery.

Here are general guidelines to follow after undergoing ACL reconstruction:

  • Exercise your quads, hamstrings, and calf muscles within the first four weeks. 
  • Ice and elevate your knee to reduce swelling and strengthen your kneecap.
  • Within the fourth and ninth weeks, exercise and take steps to get off your crutches.
  • Pay attention to exercising your knee forward, backward, and side to side within the tenth and twelfth weeks.
  • Add walking, jogging, and jumping to your exercises within the thirteenth and fifteenth weeks.
  • Within the seventeenth and thirtieth week, you can slowly get involved in certain sports that involve motion.

Does Hiking Help Heal An ACL Injury?

Hiking does not help to heal an ACL injury. Complications could surface if you’re not careful while hiking with a damaged ACL.

It is advisable to go for ACL surgery as fast as possible to prevent further complications. Here are things that can help you heal fast after ACL surgery:

#1. Physical therapy programs

Physical therapy is recommended after ACL surgery to improve stability and strengthen the knee. Physical therapy includes exercises that elevate the knee and increase mobility.

#2. Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy involves subjecting the knee to very cold temperatures to reduce pain from surgery within 48 hours.

#3. Bracing

You might need bracing after ACL surgery depending on your doctor’s instructions.

#4. Adequate rest

Rest is a very important part of your recovery process. You need adequate rest to return to your normal agile state after surgery.


#1. Can I Live Without ACL Surgery?

Yes, you can live without ACL surgery. Although it will not provide the same stability as ACLs, scar tissues will build up and provide stability.

#2. Will My Knee Ever Be the Same After ACL Surgery?

ACL surgeries are not always perfect, but it provides favorable results for most patients.


You can go hiking without an ACL because you are very cautious. You should only go on short hikes and choose non-challenging trails.

Trails like developed trails, boot paths, and nature trails are suitable for hiking without an ACL.

Cryotherapy, physical therapy, and adequate rest can help you heal faster after ACL surgery. 

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Josh Matthews

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