How Far Can The Average Person Hike In A Day?

In our modern world, it is not uncommon to see people regularly posting photos and updates of recent hikes that they have been on that covered a seemingly impossible distance. This can be incredibly daunting and even off-putting for those new to the world of hiking. With that in mind, you might wonder, “How far can the average person hike in a day?” 

The average person is able to hike anywhere from two to three miles per hour. On an average hiking time of three or four hours, the average person will be able to hike six to eight miles in a day. This will vary depending on the terrain, elevation gain, fitness levels, and weight carried.

Perhaps you are new to hiking, and you want to plan a few hikes. Without having a fundamental understanding of how far the average person can hike in a day while considering factors that will affect this, it can be somewhat overwhelming to know where to begin. Luckily, we will provide you with a thorough understanding and have you hiking on epic trails in no time. 

How Far Can The Average Person Hike In A Day?

It could be argued that hiking is one of the best ways to explore and truly experience the beauties of any country. Sure, city living comes with its perks and fun experiences, but hiking undoubtedly takes things to new heights. You cannot go wrong with choosing to embark on an epic, scenic hike for outdoor recreation and adventure.

However, if you do not have a lot of experience (or any at all) in hiking, it could be overwhelming knowing where to begin. Indeed, aside from where to hike, the number question that new hikers ask is how far the average person can hike in a day. It is essential to understand that there isn’t one straightforward answer.

However, working with averages can help us find a good starting point. The average person will typically be able to hike anywhere from two to three miles per hour. Some people take those numbers and multiply it by an eight-hour day of hiking, which would get you between 16 and 24 miles hiked in a day. However, this is highly unrealistic because the average person will by no means be able to hike for eight hours a day.

An average hike will take anywhere from two to four hours to complete. With that in mind, the average person should be able to hike anywhere from 4 to 12 miles in a day. However, taking rest times into account, we would say that up to 10 miles in a day would be more realistic for the average person.

Things That Will Affect How Far You Can Hike In A Day

The numbers mentioned above are entirely based on averages and the assumption that the hike does not come with too many challenges. To understand how far the average person could hike in a day, it is crucial to understand the things that will affect each person differently. 

Let us explore five factors that will affect how far the average person will be able to hike:

The Terrain Of The Hike

Firstly, the overall terrain of the hiking trail is a significant factor to consider. If the hike is over mostly flat land, has minimal hills or steep inclines, and has little to no obstacles, then your energy levels won’t be depleted fast at all, and you will be set up to hike the furthest distance you are capable of.

However, with a tricker terrain, things begin to change drastically. Suppose the hike has several hills, steep inclines or declines, uneven ground, and perhaps rock climbs; the average person is likely to hike a far shorter distance. Each of these examples is highly physically taxing, will slow you down, and ultimately reduce the overall distance you can cover in a day while hiking.

Fitness Level

Next is your overall fitness level. It is a “no-brainer” that someone who is regularly physically active and has a high fitness level will be able to hike a much further distance than someone who is not regularly active. If you are not already active and somewhat fit, then attempting a 20-mile hike with challenging terrain is probably not the best idea.

Be aware of your own physical and fitness capabilities and instead start with shorter, easier hikes.

The Weight That You Are Carrying

It is a regular aspect of hiking to take a backpack with some essentials. An experienced hiker will know that it is essential to pack as light as possible. However, carrying any weight will cause your body to use more energy and ultimately reduce the distance you can hike in a day. 

The heavier the weight, the less distance you will be able to cover. Combine that with challenging terrain, and reduce that distance even more.

Elevation Gain

The next thing to consider is the overall elevation gain of the hike. Ultimately, the higher up you go on a hike, the less oxygen is available for you. This will make catching your breath difficult and easily lead to exhaustion even over very short distances. Make sure to check the elevation gain of the hike you will be embarking on, as this could significantly affect the distance you can hike.

Weather And Time Of Year

Lastly, the weather and the overall time of year play a significant role in how far you will be able to hike in a day. For example, if the sun is beating down on you and the humidity is high, your energy levels are likely to plummet – regardless of your fitness level. 

On the other hand, hiking in the freezing cold is not only unpleasant but requires extra layers that can limit your mobility. This can make it more challenging to make your way through a hiking trail. 

As far as time of year goes, winter months have a lot fewer hours of sun per day, which will ultimately limit how long (and ultimately how far) you are able to hike for. Hiking in the dark is not recommended. 

How Far Should The Average Person Hike In A Day?

So, how far should you hike in a day? This should be entirely based on personal preference. While some enjoy long-distance, strenuous hikes, others will prefer short-distance, scenic hikes with minimal challenging terrain. Ultimately, hikes should be enjoyed, and pushing yourself past that point will result in an unpleasant experience. 

Conclusion

All in all, though the average person should be able to hike anywhere between four to ten miles in a day, this will vary drastically based on the terrain, elevation gain, and fitness level, among other things. Ultimately, the most important thing to ponder is not how far you can hike but how much fun you can have while hiking in a day!