If you are planning on a hiking trip, there are many things you should take into account, including your hiking time and speed. So, how long does it take to hike a mile? This article will answer this question, which is necessary for hikers to plan and have a comfortable day hike or overnight trip.
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Why Do I Have To Care About The Hiking Time?
Even if you have a lot of time for your backpacking trip or just some hours for a short hike, there are always reasons for you to care about the hiking time. You can estimate the hiking time by applying Naismith’s rules or simply with your smartphone.
Estimating the time you need for your hike will help you plan your trip more specifically by answering these questions:
- When should you start?
- Which stuff should you bring with you on your trail?
- How heavy should your backpack be?
- Can you catch up with your teammates or not? Answering this question helps you choose to join a suitable group in which your hiking partners have a similar pace to you.
- Take the incidents you may face on trails into account to have solutions for them and schedule the return time.
- Inform your friends or your family about the scheduled time you will return. It is necessary since if you get stuck and cannot contact anyone, they will know your situation and report to the authority so that you can be rescued.
Factors Impact The Hiking Speed
Your fitness level
Your fitness level is an essential factor affecting your hiking pace. If you work out regularly and have remarkable endurance, it is possible to keep a stable medium-high speed during your hike. Obviously, more muscular and fitter people may hike faster.
However, strength is not all. Hikers need to know some skills to adjust their breath and distribute their energy reasonably. That is essential for those who have to complete a long and challenging hike, and those skills can be gained through daily work out.
Obstacle on the trail
The hiking time varies for different terrains. The number and level of obstacles you have to conquer during your journey affect your time to complete the hike. If you are into challenges and choose to hike over streams and slippery mountains, the time you need to hike a mile, of course, will increase.
Therefore, I suggest you spend your time researching the terrain you will hike to know about the kinds of obstacles to estimate the time you need to overcome each specific mile and the whole trip. You may skip this research step if you are already familiar with the trail you choose since you hike on it many times.
Weather is a factor that has the most impact on the time you need to hike a mile. Imagine you start your hike on a beautiful, shady, and fantastic day with fresh winds; I believe that it does not require more effort to conquer the hiking journey in such ideal weather. With a good mood, you may complete your trip faster than your plan.
On the other hand, if it is a sunny day when the temperature is high, and the sun is burning hot, you will sweat all the time. That dehydrates your body and quickly burns your calories as well as your energy. Under this extreme weather condition, you need to slow your hiking speed to save your energy and avoid dizziness.
I believe that no one will intentionally choose to hike on a rainy day. However, weather changes may turn to an opposite status in a second that the weather forecast news didn’t inform you. A scorching sun may disappear right away to make room for dull clouds and heavy rain.
If it rains as a cat and dog coming with lightning, I recommend you should temporarily stop your hike and look for a safe place to shelter. It means that your hiking speed reduces to zero, but safety is over everything else. All you need to do is take this case into account to have plan B for those unexpected situations.
The average time you need to hike a mile in that weather depends on how long the rain lasts and how heavy and dangerous it is. Sometimes, a day hike may reluctantly become an overnight backpacking trip, and you should prepare for that.
It is very dangerous to get stuck in a forest or a mountain area when it gets dark and rainy. If you are confident in yourself and already know what you should do in that case, it is impressive and incentive.
However, if you know you can not handle that challenge, I suggest you tell a person you trust about your hiking plan to help you if they don’t see you return on time. Otherwise, the worst things may happen
Weight on your back
Backpacking is not a vacation; you should carefully consider what you should bring with you because no cars or planes will carry your luggage. Your back will take this responsibility. Therefore, the heavier your backpack is, the slower your hiking speed is. It is as clear as daylight, and I think I do not need to explain more about that.
However, lightening the hiking pack is simple and complicated at the same time since many people fear missing out. Carefulness is reasonable, but keep in mind, bring what you need, do not pack for your fears. Only get what you really use on your hike.
For necessary stuff, try to choose lightweight and small size ones to feel more comfortable and free with the pack weight on your shoulder. Choose higher calories per ounce food, around 100 to 120, like oatmeal, jerky, ramen, and couscous.
All those things are not exactly the most healthy in the world, but they are very high in calories per ounce, so you will be able to eat and be satisfied and not bring as much.
One more tip for you to turn the mile up is to put everything you need throughout the day on the outside of your pack. Ideally, when you are on the trail, you can reach most of the items you need without packing them off.
The experience is also a variable deciding the time a hiker needs to complete a hiking mile. You can gain experience by increasing your hiking times. Hikers who have been adventuring for a while will know their skill sets and understand both their strengths and weaknesses.
When hiking on familiar or even strange terrains, they can hike fast and confidently; meanwhile, a newbie may need more time to grope around. But don’t worry, time can solve everything, and you only need to practice more, your hiking speed can be improved.
For example, when an experienced hiker starts to dial his gear for an overnight trip, he knows that he will not need much time to set up a camp since he is very familiar with his equipment. Besides, he does not waste time wondering where to set up the camp as he already knows which one is suitable.
On the other hand, it may take you a little more time if you are just starting. It is essential to make sure that you get done before it starts getting dark outside. So you may have to turn the mile down.
How Long Does It Take To Hike A Mile?
Besides those above variables which impact your speed, the hiking terrain types you choose determines the time you need to conquer a mile.
For example, if you choose a gentle and flat trail that you do not need to climb any hills or mountain, and your pack is light because you only bring necessary stuff for a short day hike, the average hiking time for a mile is 20 minutes. You can even speed up to 4-5 miles per hour if you are in good physical condition.
On the other hand, when hiking on moderate terrain with a full pack on your back, the average speed for almost all hikers is 2 MPH. It means that you have to spend 30 minutes to complete a hiking mile.
Meanwhile, each mile on the trail where the elevation gain is 1000 feet requires hikers around 60 minutes to finish that distance. The more distance and elevation gain the track has, the more time it takes to complete a mile.
How Long Does It Take To Hike 5 Miles?
You spend 20 minutes hiking a mile, so can you easily count the time you need to complete a 5-mile trail by solving a simple multiplication? Yes, you can if you are hiking on a brisk walk with a light backpack. Because it does not demand too much energy and endurance, you can effortlessly keep a stable speed during your hike.
However, with average terrains, the endurance more and less may reduce since the third mile, which will slow you down. For example, you can hike the first mike in 30 minutes, but it may take you from 170 to 180 minutes to complete 5 miles. It is because sometimes, on the trail, your hiking speed is just 1 or 1.5 MPH.
Especially with rugged terrain on which you can only make slow trudge, your energy will wear out power at a higher speed, in contrast to your hiking speed. Therefore, the time you spend hiking a mile will increase gradually, maybe around 7 hours, including your rest breaks.
How Long Does It Take To Hike 10 Miles?
On a long hike, you may have to take some short rest breaks during your trip to recharge your energy, so the total time spent for 10 miles on a trail may increase from 10 to 40% compared to the result you get from the multiplication.
For example, if you hike on a challenging mountainous trail that is 10 miles long, it may take you about 13 hours or more to reach your destination.
So, if you plan for a long hike, you should consider two more factors: endurance reduction and breaking time, which affect the amount of time you need to complete your journey.
Hiking Time for Some Popular Trails
Besides the trail’s length, the time it takes to complete a hiking trip depends a lot on trail conditions. The estimated hiking time for each trail varies according to personal factors of hikers and external factors from the environment. The below table gives you the information about hiking time for some popular tracks.
|Trail||Length (mile)||Hiking time|
|George Bass Coast Trail||5||1 day|
|Eagle Rock Loop||26.8||2-3 days|
|Lost Coast Trail||24||2-4 days|
|Greenstone and Caples Track||38||3-4 days|
|Tour du Mont Blanc||105||7-10 days|
|Wonderful Trail||95||10 days|
|Tahoe Rim Trail||170||2 weeks|
|Camino de Santiago||460||4 weeks|
|International Appalachian Trail||724||4-8 weeks|
|Continental Divide Trail||3100||5-6 months|
Average Hiking Speed
The total time for a hiking trip depends a lot on the break time you use during your journey. Some hikers may spend 2 hours resting on a 10-mile hike, while others just break for 30 minutes.
Exclude the break time; gentle and flat terrains take you 20 minutes to hike a mile, which means your hiking speed is 3 MPH. On the other hand, with more challenging and rough trails, the hiking speed is just around 1 to 2 MPH.
The more distance you hike, the more skill sets and health you need to complete them. Therefore, keep in mind the information I share with you in this article to choose the most suitable trails for yourself.
Tips Yo Save Time When Hiking
The following tips will help you save your time when hiking:
- Lighten your pack
- Keep everything you need on the outside of your pack
- Limit your stops
- Research the trail before you start.
For more information , let’s watch a helpful video on:
Is a 5-mile hike good exercise?
Five miles is the most popular distance, which I believe that all hikers can conquer. If you are a newbie or do not have much time for extended backpacking trips, this distance is the most suitable. You can go on a 5-mile hike every week since it is suitable for both your mental and physical health.
How long should I hike per day?
It depends on your health and endurance. However, I suggest that the maximum time hikers should spend hiking per day is 8 to 10 hours. The rest of 14 hours is for resting and recharging energy before continuing to conquer the rest of their journey.
How long does it take to hike 20 miles?
It is very intense for a hike to complete a 20 mile round trip in a day. You should spend from 2 to 4 days if you want to go for a 20-mile hike.