how long to hike a mile

hiking – How do you determine how long a hike will take

13 Answers. Here in the White Mountains on New Hampshire the local hiking club came up with a rule to reflect the very rocky trail conditions (30 minutes for every mile, plus 30 minutes for every 1,000 feet). But these do not take into account your intent, ground conditions, and how much you are carrying.

You could use Naismith’s rule which goes as follows: Allow 1 hour for every 3 miles (5 km) forward, plus 1 hour for every 2000 feet (600 metres) of ascent. A lot of hikers in the UK use this as a guide of course bear in mind terrain and altitude! and of course this is not appropriate at higher altitudes. Some sites recommend corrections to the above: Gentle descent: subtract 10 minutes for every 1000ft / 300m of descent
Steep descent: add 10 minutes for every 1000ft / 300m of descentBest answer · 51
There is really only one way to determine this, and that is experience. Do a few hikes in different terrain, different settings (dayhike vs overnight), different weather and different group sizes, keep track of your time and thus build up a “library” of situations and times. Once you have a few of these reference hikes, you can then apply these to new situations.11There’s no general rule of thumb that I know of I lied, there is Naismith’s formula as correctly cited in another answer. I just tend to stay away from it because more often than not I find it better to make a judgement on the individual situation. There’s so much variation the “average” would almost always be wrong in any specific case! It depends on all sorts of things, from the fitness of the individuals involved, whether the individuals are talkative and thus (usually) walking slower, how often people require rest breaks, how long those rest breaks are, any health problems that could impede progress – and so on. Having said that, if you think the hike is average-ish in terms of conditions, you don’t have a better way of judging and all you’re using it for is wondering when you’re going to reach point x (for reasons of curiosity not safety) then it does have its place! More experienced hikers that know their speed, ability and fitness can have a rule of thumb for themselves based on weather, terrain and so on, but this varies again varies from person to person. It’s even hard for experienced hikers to make a guess when they don’t know the area or the terrain – sometimes land that looks easy going on a map can be rocky, boggy or just plain awkward! Where this kind of question does come into play most often (at least that’s what I find) is when either hiking out for the first time, or taking inexperienced people out for a hike (because you obviously have to go at the pace of the slowest person.) For this, and best on the fact I generally wouldn’t recommend climbing ridiculous terrain for this type of outing (if nothing else it’ll put them off!) I tend to have in my head a rough average speed of around 3 KPH. It’s slow – but far better to have that in mind and get back early than have a faster speed in mind and get back late, especially if after dark. It’s not just the safety aspect, it’s the morality as well; if you give people an estimated finish time and you complete an hour ahead of schedule they generally view it as an achievement and therefore a more positive experience overall! (Of course, don’t take this to ridiculous levels. If you plan an all day hike that takes half an hour, people will just feel a bit misled!) Another thing to point out in relation to this, if you have a speed / route in mind and you realise it’s over-ambitious, don’t be afraid to change your route so it’s shorter. Much better to cut a bit off and have a successful day than push yourself and end up getting lost or injured.10If you want an exact answer, there is not and will not be one until about 15 seconds after you finish walking the walk. For a decent ballpark, I was taught in scouts:
day hiking:
3 miles per hour, + 1 hour for every 1000 feet of elevation climb. backpacking:
2 miles per hour, +1 hour for every 1000 feet of elevation climb. Use the formula, and then take a few walks. You should get a rough idea how your pace measures up to the formula and be able to adjust the formula accordingly.10
Naismith’s rule is a good starting point, but it doesn’t really cover unusual trail conditions. My rule of thumb is to convert distance, elevation, and trail condition to “equivalent miles”: Each mile is a mile. Each 500 feet of elevation gain is a mile. Distance traveled on snow or loose rock counts double. Distance traveled above 7000 feet elevation counts double. Distance spent breaking trail counts double. I figure I can cover three equivalent miles per hour carrying a day pack, or two per hour carrying an overnight pack. The resulting time estimates are usually good to within an hour or so.7Last year I was taught an approximation by a mountaineer guide. It is an average and worked quite well for me. Of course you need adaption for alpine tours (3000m+), physical condition, weather, extremely rough paths and so on. The rule is: 4km per hour on a flat path 400m altitude per hour take the so calculated longer time and add the half of the shorter time Example: 10km path (horizontal) 800m ascent (vertical) 2.5h (horizontal) + 1/2 * 2h (vertical) => 3.5h Adding following: If you go several times and have this (or another) rule in mind, you can adapt it accordingly. For example I am tending more to 500m ascent instead of 400m. Going downhill I noticed that I only need half of the time I needed for the same path uphill. This will also differ a lot for different style of hikers/mountaineers.7I just came in from a 3 mile hike and I am the kind of person you’re talking about. It took me 1 hour on a flat surface, well maintained trail through the woods. So 3 mph is a good general rule of thumb for your average joe on level ground, no heavy backpack, no speed competition, but no stopping to smell the roses and take pictures, breaks. etc. I’m not a poster child for physical fitness, but I care about staying reasonably healthy. What avid hikers call a “simple” trail I call “moderate.”6I hike a lot in the Rocky Mountains. 2.5 mph up is a good number. Less coming down. Deduct about half an hour for a 4 mile 1 way hike coming down.3This rule of thumb has not worked for me but here is what worked. Get several opinions from people who already done the same exact trail.
It is better to know these people, so you can compare their physical condition with yours(or your group’s)
You can also check out on writings about the trail, in books, or the net. Usually I take into account the worst case scenario of all the above.
And then I add one more hour.
This will define how many hours the hike is going to take. Many times it has become true.
People are usually optimistic in their estimation of the timeframes, AND/OR my group is too slow. My group is going several hikes during the year, and we seldom do the same hike twice. We are mostly going to trails were none of us has been before. So it is better to be calculate on the worst case scenario.
If you have to look for the trail, and start searching around, do not spend to much time. Better to check the time and your GPS position frequently.
If there is doubt, then immediately decide to go back. If you stop to think, then time flies fast and the sun is coming down (BAD!) That is not a good time to find an alternate trail. Better to go back the trail and return safe.3
Average dayhiking speed for reasonably fit people is 2.5 mph on moderate terrain. Divide the number of miles of the hike by 2.5 and add in extra time for snacks, lunch, pictures, etc.2

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