How Many Calories Do You Burn Hiking 3 Miles? | Hikers University

If 3 miles is the most you are able to hike in one go, your mind might be poking you with the question, how many calories do you burn hiking 3 miles? 

Just like with any other activity that helps you lose weight, hiking also does not show instant results and requires patience and persistence from your end. 

Although there are several factors that contribute to the number of calories you burn hiking 3 miles, such as your weight, the weight of your backpack, how long it took you to cover the 3 miles, the average incline of the terrain, the type of hike, etc., you can expect to burn around 500 calories.

However, there are several ways in which you can increase the number of calories you burn hiking. So let us take a look at what you should eat before and after your endeavor for best results, how you can make your hike more challenging, and some benefits of hiking other than weight loss.

Although, as a nutrition and health enthusiast, I have always known the weight loss benefits of hiking, I was surprised to discover the extent of it while researching for this article. From expert hikers to experienced healthcare professionals, everyone who is well-versed in this domain acknowledges that there are very few fun activities more beneficial for health than hiking.

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How Many Calories Do You Burn Hiking 3 Miles?

Hiking is a great way to get some exercise and fresh air, and it can also be a great way to lose weight. But how many calories does hiking really burn?

The answer depends on a few factors, including your weight, the terrain you are hiking on, and how fast you are going. A general rule of thumb is that you can expect to burn about 160 calories per mile. So, if you hike three miles, you can expect to burn about 480 calories. 

Of course, the more weight you have to carry, the more calories you will burn. And hiking uphill will also increase the number of calories you burn. So, if you are looking to really boost your calorie-burning, try hiking with a backpack or hiking in hilly terrain.

No matter what, hiking is a great way to get some exercise and fresh air. And if you are looking to lose weight, it can be a great addition to your workout routine. Just remember to bring plenty of water and snacks, low-fat, of course, so that you can fuel your body for the hike ahead. 

What To Eat Before and After Your Hike For the Best Results?

Hiking is a great way to lose weight and get in shape, but it is important to fuel your body properly before and after your hike. Eating the right foods will not only help you have more energy, stay hydrated, and avoid cramps or other problems but can help you lose fat faster as well. 

Before you hike, it is a good idea to eat a light meal that includes some complex carbohydrates and protein. This will give you sustained energy throughout your hike. Good options include a whole grain sandwich with turkey or peanut butter, fruit and yogurt, or oatmeal with nuts and dried fruit. Avoid eating foods that are high in fat or sugar, as these can make you feel sluggish. 

Eating a high-protein breakfast before hitting the trail can help to boost your metabolism and keep you feeling full throughout the day. Meanwhile, snacking on nuts or seeds provides sustained energy and helps to prevent muscle fatigue.

And finally, drinking plenty of water is essential for both staying hydrated and keeping your metabolism going strong. By following these simple tips, you can make sure that your next hike is also a successful weight-loss strategy.

After your hike, it is important to replenish your body's energy stores. A high-protein snack or meal can help repair muscle tissue that has been broken down during your hike. Good options include lean meat or poultry, beans, lentils, tofu, eggs, or nuts. 

You should also eat foods that are high in vitamins C and E, as these will help reduce inflammation. Drinking plenty of fluids is also important to help replace the fluids you have lost through sweating. Water is the best option, but you can also drink fruit juice or sports drinks. Avoid sugary sodas or alcoholic beverages, which can dehydrate you.

The Health Benefits of Hiking

Hiking is a great way to get some exercise and fresh air. But did you know that hiking can also offer some health benefits? Here are some of the ways that hiking can improve your health:

Boosts Cardiovascular Health

Regular hiking can help to boost your cardiovascular health by improving your heart and lung function. This is because hiking requires you to use large muscle groups, which in turn increases your heart rate and lungs' capacity to exchange oxygen.

Reduces Stress Levels

Hiking can also help to reduce stress levels. This is because being in nature has been shown to have a calming effect on the mind and body. When you are hiking, you are also likely to be focusing on your breath and taking in all the sights and sounds around you, which can help to distract you from any stressors in your life.

Strengthens Bones and Muscles

Hiking is a weight-bearing exercise, which means it helps to strengthen bones and muscles. This is especially beneficial for people who are at risk of osteoporosis.

Improves Balance and Coordination

Hiking can also help to improve your balance and coordination. This is because hiking often requires you to navigate uneven terrain, which challenges your sense of balance.

Boosts Mental Health

There is also evidence to suggest that hiking can boost mental health. This is likely due to the combination of exercise, fresh air, and being in nature, all of which have been shown to have positive effects on mental health. 

So, next time you are looking for a way to improve your health, why not go for a hike? You might be surprised at all the ways it can benefit you.

Tips for Making Your Hike More Challenging

As mentioned earlier, there are a number of factors that play a role in determining how many calories you lose from your hiking endeavor. By enhancing each or some of the factors, your hike will become more challenging and help you lose more fat faster. Here are a few tips that can help you do that 

  • Incorporate hills into your hike whenever possible. Hills not only make your hike more challenging, but they also help you burn more calories.
  • If there are no hills nearby, try walking on uneven terrain instead. This will force your muscles to work harder and help you burn more calories.
  • Try hiking with a backpack filled with some weight. This will make your hike even more challenging and help you burn even more calories.
  • Increase your speed whenever possible. The faster you hike, the more challenging it will be and the more calories you’ll burn.
  • Take breaks often and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. But don’t take too long of a break – getting your heart rate back up will help you burn more calories.

What To Wear on a Hike To Enhance Calorie Burning

When planning a hike, it's important to choose the right clothes for the weather and terrain. For the most comfort, opt for light, breathable fabrics that won't leave you feeling sweaty and sticky. In warm weather, shorts or skirts with a tank top or t-shirt are ideal. 

If you're hiking in cooler temps, choose pants made from a lightweight fabric, and layer a long-sleeved shirt over top. When it comes to shoes, make sure to pick a comfortable pair with good support. And don't forget accessories like hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect you from the elements.

As far as calorie-burning goes, you'll want to dress in layers that you can remove as your body temperature rises. Start with a base layer of light, moisture-wicking fabric. On top of that, add a mid-layer of insulation for warmth, followed by a windbreaker or waterproof shell. 

These layers will help trap heat and make your body work harder, resulting in more calories burned. Tight clothing will restrict your movement and make it more difficult to hike at a brisk pace. Instead, opt for loose-fitting clothing that will allow you to move freely and build up a sweat.

The Best Hiking Trails for Higher Calorie Burning

Hiking is a great way to get some fresh air and burn some extra calories. But not all hiking trails are created equal when it comes to calorie burning. For the most part, the steeper the trail, the more calories you'll burn. But there are other factors to consider as well, such as the length of the trail and the type of terrain. Here are some of the best hiking trails for calorie burning:

The Pacific Northwest

This region is home to some of the steepest and most challenging hiking trails in the country. If you're looking to really up to your calorie burn, tackle one of these trails.

The Appalachian Mountains

The Appalachian Mountains offer a variety of trails, from easy to strenuous. But if you want to maximize your calorie burn, stick to the more difficult trails. In addition to being steep, these trails tend to be longer, which means you'll be burning calories for a longer period of time.

Mt. Beacon Fire Tower trail

This trail in New York is two miles long and has an elevation gain of 1,500 feet, making it a great choice for those looking for a workout.

Boulder Falls Trail

Located in Colorado, this trail is 1.5 miles long with an elevation gain of 1,000 feet. This trail takes hikers through a forest and past a waterfall, making it both beautiful and challenging.


Hiking in a desert environment can be tough, but it's also incredibly rewarding. And if you're looking to boost your calorie burn, there's no better place to hike than in a desert. The heat will make you work harder.


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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