How many miles can you hike in a day?

Emily A.Emily A.
edited March 19 in Hiking

Planning a multi-day hike later this year, and wondering how much time I should plan for. For moderate hikers, how many miles should I plan per day?

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  • It depends on a lot of factors ... how long you want to hike each day, your speed, how much weight you're carrying, etc. I typically try to plan for 8-12 miles a day. I've found that's the speed that let's me really enjoy the trail. 
  • There are other factors to consider - will your multi-day hike be a backpacking trip, or a collection of day hikes where you start and end each day at the same location, or ride a car from place to place?  Do you hie for exercise, are a fast or slow hiker? How many miles have you hiked previously, or is this your first hiking trip? What is the terrain like - flat, rocky or smooth trails, mountainous with lots of ascending and descending? When you answer all of the variables, you will have a better idea of what to expect.
  • It really depends how many hours you are willing to hike. I like getting an early start and getting done early. I could push it more but 10-12 is pretty reasonable.
  • I figure 2 miles an hour, counting breaks and lunch stops. I hike faster than that, but when you figure in your breaks, you won't be able to keep it at 3 mph.

    Starting with that info, if you're willing/able to hike for 10 hours, you'll be able to cover 20 miles a day. For beginners, this is not realistic. If you hike for 6 hours (fairly long day for a beginner, about right for intermediate), you'll easily cover 12 miles.

    Ben is right on with 8-12 miles per day. Keep it on the low side (6-8 miles) for big elevation days, on the high side for descents (like the hike out).

    I'm always surprised by the time it takes me to pack up camp and eat breakfast each morning. This usually takes me at least an hour if I'm being leisurely about it (and why rush - you're on vacation!).
  • My Pace is 2 MPH on the flat or 1.5 mph on long elevation gains, both speeds for an entire day including breaks and lunch. Somewhat slower in high heat/humidity  conditions. I am 70 years young, your results may vary. ;-)
  • depends on how good the scenery is!
    i like the 2 mph rule for moderate.
  • I used to hike 10-15 miles a day when I wanted/needed to. For instance, I hiked 3 of the Yosemite backcountry camps one summer in my late 30s and each of those are 10-12 miles apart. No issues. But now, 30,years later, I'm getting pretty tired at the 5-6 mile point, especially if there is a good amount of elevation gain. 
  • I go with the 2 mph rule as well, allowing for time to take photos, pick berries, or have a leisurely lunch with a great view.
  • I'm 62 and hike pretty regularly, both day hikes and backpacking and average 2 mph consistently. The terrain will affect your average. I hike predominantly mountainous regions with varying degrees of ascent and descent and don't push myself, as I am out there for the joy of the journey.
  •  Day hikes - usually 10-16 miles, depending on terrain; maximum miles have exceeded 25 on rare occasions. Backpacking - 8-12 miles, excluding sidetrips where we drop packs to explore. 
  • There are a lot of things to consider. The terrain you're hiking. Your physical condition. The speed you walk. The condition of the trails your hiking. Somewhere between 5 and 12 miles a day is probably reasonable.
  • I totally agree with the 2 mph rule - that gives you time to "stop and smell the roses," have a nice relaxing lunch on the trail and you can start as early as you want to in order to arrive at your preferred destination.
  • I do a lot of hiking in the Smokey Mountains, NC, and SC. I have done 6-mile hikes that are harder and take longer than 12-mile hikes.  Lots of steep mountains in this area. But I hike for the fun of it and not turn it into a race or as we use to do in the Army a Force March.  I like Connie's statement that "Stopping and smelling the roses".  Enjoying the great outdoors is what it's all about.  If you want to just put in the miles for exercise use a treadmill.   12 miles a day on moderate terrain is very reasonable.  
  • Depends on who I have with me.  I'm 39 and have two active grade-school boys.  10 miles if we don't have any mishaps.
  • Nate L.Nate L.
    edited February 8
    One other thing to consider is time of year, and what the weather conditions are going to be like. That will greatly effect timing. I agree with 2 mile an hour. Hope that helps, happy trails!
  • I am 52 and I start out with 12-15 mile legs when I am doing long hikes.  As I get more fit I try to keep it over 12 and under 18.  More than that I find that I focus on getting to my destination and i don't enjoy the entire reason I am out in the wild.... The Journey!
  • I agree with the 2 mph. If it’s a great trail with lots of views I’m there to enjoy the scenery not just speed and mileage. So it depends on what your goals are. I feel so rushed through life in general I’m hiking to relax and enjoy!
  • It all depends on a multitude of factors. If you are just hiking for the sake of movement you can probably do 15 miles a day relatively easily. But if you are stopping for scenery, wildlife, etc, or if you're carrying a load, or if there's weather considerations, 10 miles is what you should be considering



  • I did 20 one time and paid dearly the following day
  • Use google earth to find the total altitude gain. 2000 feet of climb will double the time and effort of three miles of trail. Plan according to the weakest party member. Have a less ambitious plan b ready.
  • We plan on 10 miles per day.  It’s good for everyone in the family!  Enjoy!
  • Everyone's distance will be different. It all depends on one's a
    physical ability, amount of water carried, weather conditions, time of day, etc.   Sometimes hikers go beyond what they should be doing and then the enjoyment is diminished.   I personally find 4 -7 miles being my ideal hike.
  • Emily A. said:

    Planning a multi-day hike later this year, and wondering how much time I should plan for. For moderate hikers, how many miles should I plan per day?

    15-20 is a hard day with a big pack, but doable.  8-12 is more reasonable for the average hiker, depending on the terrain...
  • That's a loaded question but it comes down to a few factors:

    The fitness of the hiker
    The terrain of the trail
    The weight of your gear
    The weather you experience
    The pace of your party (if you are not alone)
    The mental state of the hiker
    The trail conditions(mud, ice, snow, stream crossings)
    The amount of food & water on hand

    Best,

    Kasey Marsters
    foxtrickadventures.com 

  • I figure 2 miles/hour plus 15 minutes for every 250 feet of elevation gain.  This timing includes lunch, brief photo stops and snack stops.  If  am walking faster, after about 10 miles, even level, I get tired.  I'm 75 years old and am a slow hiker among my peers that likes to look at the flora and geology.
  • It depends on the time of year. In the summer, when the days are longer, I plan on 15-20 miles (leisure pace at 2 mph). In the winter, with shorter day, I figure on 8-10, same pace. Summer my pack is lighter, around 15 lbs, winter it bumps up to around 20 what with heavier gear. Oh, btw, I'm 63 if that helps.
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