How Far Can A Beginner Hike In A Day? | Hikers University

If you are looking for something to do outdoors, hiking is a great option. However, you might be thinking, “how far can a beginner hike in a day?”

Before you get overwhelmed, keep in mind that if you are a beginner, all you need is a bit of planning, and you will do great. This means figuring out a reasonable hiking distance, purchasing some basic hiking gear, and then taking the leap.

There’s no rule for how much a beginner can hike in a day. However, it is easier if individuals work their way up, starting with five miles a day. Keep your physical fitness and comfort level in mind, and as you get used to the activity, you can increase the time you spend hiking.

Don’t let anyone tell you that hiking is difficult. All you need is some practice, and you should be good to go. You’ll be surprised at how fast your body will become used to hiking.

In this article, you will learn how far a beginner can hike in a day, along with factors to consider before you go hiking.

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How Far Can a Beginner Hike in a Day?

It is normal for beginners to feel stressed before starting their hiking journey. However, we would recommend not getting bogged down by expensive gear and instead, do your research before you head out to the trail.

For starters, all you have to do is start slowly and build up speed during the hiking season. If you are in fairly reasonable shape, you should be able to hike three miles an hour at a moderate speed. Try starting yourself off with 2 to 3-hour hikes during which you travel five to six miles on leveled ground. Don’t forget to take lots of breaks in the middle so that your body can rest.

Of course, you need to consider other factors like your physical fitness, age, weight, and health. All of these play an important role in determining how far a beginner can hike in a day.

When you first start off, don’t push yourself too much. If you get too sore, you will only feel miserable and might have to skip hiking for a couple of days. Remember to give your body time to heal and use some ointment to prevent chafing if it occurs.

Increase Your Distance As You Gain More Experience

Once you spend a couple of months hiking regularly, you should be able to increase your hiking distance. Start off slowly, and you should be able to eventually hit 15 to 20-mile hikes with ease. Even though you might spend most of the day outdoors, we guarantee that you will feel absolutely amazing.

Keep in mind that it is not only about increasing your hiking speed. You just have to set an alarm to wake up early, and take out more time to spend on the trail. Over the course of the day, stick to 2 to 3 mph per hour, and you should be able to cover 20 to 30 miles with ease.

If you find yourself struggling to reach your goals, try to pack light. A heavy backpack will only make it difficult for you to hike 20 miles a day.

What Affects Beginner Hiking Distance?

Before you start planning a long hike with your friends, there are a few things you should consider:

1. Fitness Level

There are no limits to hiking- it can be done by individuals of all ages, physical fitness levels, weights, and medical history. All you have to do is stick to your own pace and look for easy hikes to start off with. If you have knee problems, you might be able to benefit from a set of trekking poles.

It can be difficult to figure out your fitness levels. If you work out a few times a week and spend your days being moderately active, you should find hiking easy enough. However, if you spend most of your day behind a desk, you will have to slow down your pace and throw in a couple of breaks before your body gets used to the effort.

Just remember that hiking is a great activity that is meant to be fun. Begin with easy hikes and slowly work on the challenging terrains. You will be surprised at how quickly your body can adapt to longer hikes.

2. Terrain

As a beginner, you should start with easy, flat terrain. Even the most experienced hikers you meet will tell you that they tire easily with high elevation hikes. Hence, we recommend sticking to flat, level ground that does not contain too many elevation changes. Once you get comfortable, you can start hiking on inclined terrain.

However, before you go hiking, make sure to calculate the hiking distance and elevation change. Hiking 3000 feet over 10 miles will be easier than hiking 3000 feet over 2 miles. When choosing your first few hikes, it is important to make smart decisions. Do not hike more than 1000 feet inclines till you are fully confident.

3. Weather

When it comes to hiking, never underestimate how big a role the weather plays. It determines when and where you should hike. Trust us when we tell you that hiking through muddy trails is not fun at all. If you want to try out some challenging terrain, do so when the weather is dry.

Moreover, be cautious when hiking in the summers. It can be extremely hot, which is why you need to keep at least 1 liter of water with you for each trail that you hike. Beginner hikers usually suffer from heatstroke because they do not work around the weather.

That being said, do not start your hiking journey in the coldest of winters. The risk of injury will be higher during those months, and the learning curve will also be steeper. Before spring arrives, you should just hit the gym and try to get your body in shape for future hiking.

4. The Weight of Your Gear

If you have planned a short two or three-hour hike, you will not need too much gear. Try to pack light by keeping your rain gear, lunch, and water with you. That is all you need. The heavier your gear, the more tired you will get and the longer it will take you to complete your hikes.

Start off light and slowly build up your gear. When you begin hiking, you really do not need too much gear. Just stock up on a few water bottles and a good-quality pair of tennis shoes. After a couple of hikes, you can decide whether you want to invest in hiking boots.

5. Time and Distance

Keep in mind that for your first couple of hikes, you will be on the trail for about 2 to 3 hours. Take lots of snacks with you, stop for a quick lunch break, stay hydrated, and stick to a moderate pace.

Remember to give yourself enough time to reach back to your car before it gets too dark. Stick to an easy, slow pace, and give yourself some extra time so that you do not panic if you run late. Moreover, don’t overestimate yourself- you are probably in worse shape than you think.


Peter Brooks

Peter Brooks

I’m a hiker, backpacker, and general outdoor enthusiast. I started hiking out of college while working for the National Forest Service, and have been hiking ever since. I’ve been solo hiking and leading hiking groups for two decades and have completed hundreds of small hikes and some majorones such as the Appalachian Train and the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked on four continents. I’d love to share some of my insight with you.

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