When you enjoy hiking as a beginner, you might be tempted to try hiking challenges like day hikes or, preferably, long hikes.
If you are new to hiking and what it entails, you may have questions about the intricacies of hiking, like, what terrain to consider or the weather condition.
These questions could also include how much distance or hours it takes to complete a long hike. But not to worry, this article will help you answer all these questions.
Generally, a long hike is about seven to eight miles or longer. However, this length depends on possible obstacles, weather conditions, elevation gain, personal fitness, and the hiking terrain. Therefore, if the terrain is too rough or there are unfavorable weather conditions, you might hike longer than anticipated.
In this article, you will understand how much distance you need to hike to make a long hike. You will also learn the factors that affect your hike distance and speed.
By the end, you will also learn how to survey hiking trails and prepare for a day-long hike.
What Is Usually Considered a Long Hike?
A distance of seven miles above is a standard for a long hike. However, in some cases, before answering this question, you have to consider your location.
However, one thing is certain: the local officials must determine if the hiking trail you are considering is safe.
Considering the safety rules and regulations about using the trail and other specifications would be best.
However, the best way to determine the distance or terrain of the hiking trail is by driving through the hiking trail.
This method of measuring the hiking depends on the standards set by your local park or hiking association.
Moreover, driving through the hiking trail will give you a good idea of the trail distance. In addition, do not compare the distance via a car with that of hiking the trail.
If the trail takes you a long distance while driving, do not assume you can hike that far. It might be a no-go hiking area.
While driving through the hiking terrain, you can measure the hiking trail using a map or a compass to observe the terrain. Watch out for roots, boulders, or rocks.
Also, consider the hiking area’s topography, including the grounds’ slope and evenness. If you still feel you can hike that distance, gear up and prepare to hike through nature.
However, if you plan to take family and friends on a hike with you, there are a few things you should consider.
Since your definition of a long hike might differ from that of whoever you carry along, you must assess the following factors.
Here are a few things you should consider before going on a long hike:
#1. Level of Fitness
Your body’s fitness level plays a good role in preparing you for a hiking trail. Whether you stay fit by jogging, gyming, or hiking, it will keep you ready and fit for a long trail.
These fitness activities train your body’s muscle, physical, and mental capacity, so you are fit enough for hiking.
Compared to someone with no fitness routine, a long distance for you will be too long for your unfit hiking partner.
You might have to reduce the mileage you are familiar with to be on pace with someone not very fit for hiking a long distance.
Though it is obvious, we tend to forget that not all hikers are familiar with the experience of hiking on a long trail.
Some people may find hiking more difficult than it is. Even simple trails might seem quite challenging to beginners.
However, as you make it a point of practice to hike regularly, you will gradually become accustomed to hiking trails.
Other factors to consider include the following:
- Medical Factors
- The altitude of the trail
How Long Is a Day-long Hike?
A day-long hike can be over 50 miles for an expert hiker. However, an above-average hiker will hike about 24 miles on a day-long hike.
If you are a beginner hiker, you might not be able to hike for that long a distance. However, as a beginner, you should be able to cover about 8 to 12 miles on a day-long hike.
A hike is generally a long walk, and a day-long hike completes a hike in a day. A day-long hike is more of an adventurous sport than a leisure walk.
To complete a day walk, you must withstand the hurdles you might face.
However, it does not mean you must be fit enough before you can go on a day-long hike.
As a beginner, you can take one day at a time, practicing with short to long hikes before going on a day-long hike.
As hiking is not a competition, you should take your time to avoid unnecessary accidents.
An experienced hiker would cover more mileage than a beginner or someone not fit enough to hike for a longer distance.
Why Does a Day-long Hike Last That Long?
Hiking is a vigorous walk usually done on countryside trails and footpaths. The reason why day-long hikes take so long is dependent on two factors.
The factors include the individual’s hiking experience and mental and physical fitness. These factors are essential in determining how much you can cover on a day-long hike.
Therefore, if you lack one or both of these factors, you might cover a lesser distance during a day-long hike.
How Far Can You Hike in 3 Hours?
If you are an average hiker, hiking for 3 hours will cover about seven to nine miles, depending on varying factors.
If you are physically fit, you can hike about three miles in an hour while hiking at a normal pace.
Here is a table showing the mileage you can cover as an average hiker:
|Mileage||Normal Hiking Speed||Relaxed Hiking Speed|
|6 miles||2 hours||1 hour, 30 minutes|
|7 miles||2 hours, 20 minutes||1 hour, 45 minutes|
|8 miles||2 hours, 40 minutes||2 hours|
|9 miles||3 hours||2 hours, 15 minutes|
However, there are other factors to consider, like weight, physical fitness, age, and health condition.
While hiking, you don’t have to push yourself past the limit you should go. Hiking until you are sore and tired will only keep you from accomplishing your hiking goal.
Purchase a tube of Desitin to help prevent chafing when you start on the hiking trail.
After hiking regularly for a few months, your hiking distance would increase slightly. Then, it is necessary to start gradually hiking from small miles too long hikes, as long as 15 to 20 miles.
Also, ensure your backpack is not too heavy, which can considerably slow down your hiking pace.
Shed a little weight from your pack to make it easier to carry and a lesser hindrance to your hike.
How Much Elevation Gain Is a Lot of Hiking?
Generally, an elevation gain of about 6,000 to 8,000 feet will increase weariness and slow you down. Therefore, an elevation gain higher than 6,000 feet is quite a lot of hiking.
However, this depends on the capacity of the hiker in question, as elevation gain can vary with different hikers.
There is no standard measurement for determining the difficulty of trails and elevations.
However, from statistics of different expert hikers, you can determine the elevation gain or loss you hike. These elevation gains also include high hills and slopes.
As you climb higher–usually about 7,000 feet and above, the air gets thinner, which can introduce dehydration and increase fatigue.
Here is a rating scale that will help you determine the difficulty of your hike:
|Difficulty Rating||Elevation Gain and Loss||Distance|
|Easy||Less than 500 feet||Less than 5 miles|
|Moderate||1500 to 2900 feet||5 to 8 miles|
|Hard||3000 to 4400 feet||8 to 12 miles|
|Very hard||4500 to 5900 feet||12 to 15 miles|
|Extremely hard||6000 feet and above||15 miles and above|
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