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How fast to you hike?
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Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Older folks doing more mileage on 08/30/2012 08:10:38 MDT Print View

I think that phenomenon is partially because the 20s and 30s crowds tend to want to squeeze more in a day than 'just' hiking.

Hiking is only one part of their day. Going on a group hike is more for socialization than anything in many cases when it comes to group activities. 8-10 miles is about right to get back by late-afternoon/early evening, take a shower and go on one of their dates, dance lessons or happy hours.

I kid you not.

I used to organze hikes for my local outdoor group a few years back. The invariable question was "When do we get back?"..mainly for the above reason. Invariably the the most popular hikes were "Go to a lake five miles in, moderate elevation gain, done by 4 pm".

When I did the 15+ miles hikes (or even 20+), the crew knew this was the day. We'll get back when we get back.

Edited by PaulMags on 08/30/2012 08:11:54 MDT.

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
over 50 on 08/30/2012 08:48:38 MDT Print View

I find that I can hike easier now. I take a trip to the same place every year for 30 years so I have a good comparison. I did no training when younger, now I fast walk for 30 minutes 5 days a week. I also find this makes a HUGE difference.

Edited by Hitech on 08/30/2012 08:50:37 MDT.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: How fast to you hike? on 08/30/2012 12:34:36 MDT Print View

Ray Jardine had some interesting charts in his PCT Handbook long ago that showed that speed isn't the important variable. Hours are.

Lots of times I'll be out hiking with people and they'll tell me the pace we're doing is 3 or 4mph. But when I hiked the PCT I was consistently at 2.5mph. I could find water sources or other landmarks based on time alone, I was so consistent. This is a fairly slow pace. At this pace I was able to put in 26-31 miles and do it day after day.

Because I was fairly slow, but still could make big miles and travel far, I stopped worrying about pace. I do a comfortable pace for myself and if I want to go farther I just spend more hours walking.

john hansford
(jhansford) - MLife
Hiking speed on 08/30/2012 13:22:53 MDT Print View

I find an easier formula is simply to add horizontal miles off the map to the thousands of feet climbed, and divide by whatever speed you think you will make that day. On a straightforward trail like the JMT, then you might make 3 mls/ft per hour, so 4 mls and 2000 ft of ascent will take 4 + 2 = 6 mls ft / 3 = 2 hrs. On rough terrain, snow etc allow a slower pace, if running or just moving fast, put in a higher number. You will soon work out your current pace. This makes micro navigation very easy for me.

For the descents, on a graded trail like the JMT, I find I don't need to add any extra time, but on a steep rocky descent I may only go at 1.25 mph, so in that case make a seperate calculation.

On the JMT, I find I can keep up 3 mlls/ft per hour over 7.5 hrs a day, making the whole trip in 13 days.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Time not miles on 08/30/2012 14:42:32 MDT Print View


I agree with you about time and when I take notes on one year's trip to the next (time to the spring, summit, trail junction), it is either spot on or off by a constant multipler based on my conditioning or companions that year.

The other way I stress time if for that stupid question you get all the time, "How much further is it?" which is always from a newbie. Even if I know it is 2.8 miles, what does that tell them? But I'll note my own times and tell them "It took me 40 minutes from here, but I hike pretty fast without stops, so maybe 60-70 minutes to go." (having eyeballed their physiques and hiking speed as we approach each other) or "You've done 70% of the vertical since the trailhead, you have 1,500 vertical feet to go." Especially in the Sierra, Whites, Cascades, etc, we can slowly educate other hikers about vertical trumping horizontal by using these more useful perspectives in our conversations with them.


David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Older folks doing more mileage on 08/30/2012 14:55:41 MDT Print View

Paul: Good point on younger folks still having a life outside of hiking. (work, school, dating, concerts). Whereas the retirees and idle-rich can hit the trail for longer and more often. Also, older folks have learned to condition beforehand (if not, they've had to give up longer trips).

Boulder? Ever hang with Boulder CHAOS (Colorado Hiking And Outdoor Society)? The founders (Coy/Don Christensen/Chanders, Marty Isaacson, Thomas Doerr) were ex-Berkeley CHAOS people who were all on the gourmet backpacking trip that I met my wife on.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
CHAOS on 08/30/2012 16:39:22 MDT Print View

Still alive and kicking (if now in MEETUP form).

I know "Rev Tommy" pretty well and go backcountry skiing with him a fair amount every winter in addition to attending his house gatherings. Have also been on trips with Coy and Marty. Bill Krause was also part of that crew too I believe? Have not seem him in a while but know him from a few years back.

Small world. :)

Edited by PaulMags on 08/30/2012 16:40:23 MDT.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Hiking speed on 08/30/2012 16:49:04 MDT Print View

Depending on the terrain, the average for me is 2.5-3.0 mph including breaks for water, lunch, rest, etc. We hiked 38 miles in the Smokies a couple weeks ago and it took us 13 hours which equates to 2.92 mph. We hiked with purpose though.


Edited by ViolentGreen on 08/30/2012 18:25:21 MDT.

Steven Thompson
(stevet) - M

Locale: Northeast
Re: How fast to you hike? on 09/06/2012 21:06:54 MDT Print View

Solo backpacking I average about 2mph. This includes time walking, short rests, and meals. For me this is a well established avearge and tells me that 25 miles (12-13 hours of walking) is about my daily limit on week long (or longer) backpacking trek.

Dayhiking, I can average about 2.5 mph.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: How fast to you hike? on 09/06/2012 21:14:29 MDT Print View

In the summer I do a lot of hiking/climbing for summits (13ers/14ers here in Colorado). Those tend to involve grades of about 1/1 (1 mile+1000ft of elevation). I can average 2mph on a grade like that. Flat or downhill terrain, 3-4mph is normal. On peaks, speed is a safety buffer because thunderstorms are common after noon.