Table of Contents

Hiking is considered a hobby by many outdoor enthusiasts. 

It checks off all the boxes that classify an activity as a hobby: it’s an enjoyable recreational pursuit, it requires some skill and knowledge to do well, it gets you active and outdoors, and it has a social element.

What Makes Hiking a Great Hobby?

There are so many benefits to hiking as a hobby. Here are some of the top reasons hiking qualifies as an amazing pastime:

  • It gets you exercising and moving. Hiking is a low-impact but high-calorie-burning form of exercise. A brisk hike can torch 400+ calories per hour.
  • It helps reduce stress. Being out in nature and away from daily responsibilities has been shown to lower cortisol levels and relieve anxiety. The repetitive motions of hiking also induce a meditative state.
  • It builds lower body and core strength. Hiking requires constant core engagement and quad/glute activation to trek uphill and stabilize on uneven terrain. Even leisurely hikes make your legs stronger.
  • It improves cardiovascular health. Over time, the elevated heart rate from hiking uphill strengthens the heart muscle and boosts VO2 max. Blood circulation and lung capacity improve too.
  • It’s an accessible activity. Hiking requires minimal gear and can be done year-round on local trails for free. Beginners don’t need lessons or a huge time/money investment to start.
  • It gets you outdoors and into nature. Being immersed in beautiful natural settings does wonders for mental health and creativity. Science shows nature makes people happier and restores mental focus.
  • It provides a sense of accomplishment. Completing a long or challenging hike gives an immense feeling of satisfaction and achievement. Seeing new sights along the way feels rewarding too.
  • It has built-in social opportunities. Hiking clubs provide chances to meet new people. Hiking with friends/family builds closer bonds through shared experiences.

How to Get Started with Hiking

Curious about hiking but don’t know where to begin? It’s easy for beginners to get started. Here are some tips:

  1. Look up local parks or nature preserves with hiking trails. Many have options ranging from easy 1-mile loops to multi-hour challenges.
  2. Start with beginner-friendly trails. Look for ones marked “easy” with minimal elevation gain to help you build stamina.
  3. Wear proper footwear. Trail runners, hiking shoes, or sturdy sneakers with good traction work well. Break them in before longer hikes.
  4. Bring water and snacks. Hydrate well and pack high-energy bars/gummies in case you need an energy boost.
  5. Don’t overdo distances. It’s better to start with short hikes and gradually increase distance each week as fitness improves.
  6. Be prepared for the weather. Check forecasts and dress in breathable layers you can add/remove. Bring rain gear if needed.
  7. Tell someone your plans. Share where you’re hiking and when you expect to be back in case of an emergency. Bring your fully charged phone.

How to Improve Your Hiking Skills

As you get more hooked on hiking, there are ways to keep challenging yourself and developing your skills:

  1. Increase distance and elevation gain. Progress to longer trails with more ups and downs to build hiking stamina and calorie burn.
  2. Add weight to your pack. Start packing heavier items (water, snacks, layers) to strengthen your back and shoulders on the trail.
  3. Learn to read topo maps. Topographic maps help navigate rugged unmarked trails. Take a class to properly interpret contour lines.
  4. Hike at different parks. Experience new terrains like mountains, forests, beaches, and deserts which use different muscle groups.
  5. Try hiking poles. They distribute weight to the arms and improve stability, reducing strain on the lower body over long distances.
  6. Practice outdoor safety skills. Learn how to pack emergency essentials, treat water, use a compass, and more.
  7. Set new accomplishments to aspire to. Aim to summit a peak, complete a hut-to-hut trek, or hike a famous thru-hiking trail.

Types of Hiking for All Interests

A great thing about hiking is that there are so many varieties to match different fitness levels, time budgets, and scenery preferences.

Day Hiking

  • Typically under 6 hours round trip
  • Out-and-back trails or loop trails
  • Ideal for weekends and quick getaways
  • Great for beginners before trying backpacking


  • Multi-day hiking trips with overnight camping
  • All gear is carried in a backpack
  • Permit required for certain parks/wilderness areas
  • Higher fitness level and wilderness skills needed


  • Hiking an entire long-distance trail end-to-end
  • Most famous example is hiking the 2,190 mi Appalachian Trail
  • Takes 4-6 months of extended wilderness travel
  • Appeals to very experienced backpackers seeking adventure

Peak Bagging

  • Hiking specifically to summit mountain peaks
  • Usually day hikes but some peaks involve multi-day trips
  • Route-finding and scrambling skills are often required
  • Popular way to challenge advanced hiking abilities

See Also: Is Camping a Hobby? Here’s Why

Top Hiking Trails for All Levels

From easy nature walks to tough alpine scrambles, the thousands of trails across the U.S. offer scenic hikes for all abilities. Here are some top-rated options:

Beginner Trails

  • Bright Angel Trail – Grand Canyon, AZ
  • Emerald Lake Trail – Rocky Mountain NP, CO
  • Old Rag Mountain Trail – Shenandoah NP, VA
  • Kalalau Trail – Na Pali Coast State Park, HI

Intermediate Trails

  • Half Dome Hike – Yosemite NP, CA
  • Mount LeConte Via Alum Cave Trail – Great Smoky Mountains NP, TN
  • Beehive Trail – Acadia NP, ME
  • Angel’s Landing Trail – Zion NP, UT

Advanced Trails

  • Mount Whitney Trail – Sequoia NP, CA
  • Knife Edge Trail – Baxter State Park, ME
  • Cirque of the Towers – Wind River Range, WY
  • Mailbox Peak Trail – Middle Fork Snoqualmie, WA

Staying Safe on the Trail

While hiking has immense benefits, it’s important to be prepared and hike safely, especially on more demanding terrain.

  • Know your limits and don’t push beyond your abilities. Turn around if a trail becomes treacherous.
  • Research routes beforehand for difficulty, distance, elevation, and conditions.
  • Pack the “Ten Hiking Essentials” – navigation, nutrition, sun protection, first aid, etc.
  • Check the weather forecast and avoid hiking during electrical storms.
  • Wear proper footwear with good traction and support. Break in new boots before attempting big hikes.
  • Stay on marked trails and be aware of falling rock and cliff edges.
  • Bring plenty of water and electrolyte replacement drinks like NUUN tablets. Drink often.
  • Use trekking poles for better stability and to distribute weight on knees during descents.
  • Be aware of heat illness and hypothermia risks depending on the weather. Take proper precautions.
  • Know how to safely encounter wildlife like bears, mountain lions, and snakes when hiking.

Finding the Best Times to Hike

When you hike can significantly impact trail conditions and the overall experience. Here’s how to time it right:

  • Spring offers wildflowers and lush greenery along with bugs. Beware of mud after snowmelt. Avoid late spring thunderstorms.
  • Summer means long days for extended hikes but also crowds on popular trails. Heat is intense in some regions.
  • Fall provides gorgeous foliage and comfortable temps but be prepared for variable weather as storms roll in.
  • Winter brings snow, which could be a pro for scenic views or a con for difficult travel on uncleared trails.
  • Early morning hiking provides cooler temps and amazing light. It’s great for beating crowds too.
  • Sunset hikes allow hiking in the cooler part of the day and offer great sunset views from mountain peaks.
  • Check park websites for road/trail opening dates at higher elevations due to late spring snow.
  • Time trips for specific flower blooms like wildflowers in spring or aspens in fall.

Finding Hiking Buddies

While solo hiking is great for mental clarity, hiking with friends or groups has many perks too. Here’s how to find hiking companions:

  • Friends and family – Invite anyone eager to get outdoors more. Start with beginner trails to build their interest and confidence.
  • Hiking clubs – Local clubs often organize group hikes by ability level. Check Facebook Groups, REI stores, hiking websites, and city recreation centers.
  • Meetup groups – Search sites like and Facebook for hiking groups looking for new members to join their excursions.
  • Classes/tours – Guiding companies like REI offer beginner hiking workshops. Tours let you meet other hikers while a guide manages navigation.
  • Trailhead contacts – Striking up a conversation with fellow hikers at a trailhead can lead to exchanging numbers to hike together again.
  • Backpacker hostels – Staying at hostels on multi-day trips connects you with other backpackers interested in teaming up.
  • Volunteer – Volunteering on trail crews to maintain hiking paths exposes you to like-minded people who love being outdoors.

See Also: How Hobbies Help in Personal Growth

Planning a Hiking Adventure

how to plan a hiking trip?

A big part of hiking’s appeal is the sense of adventure it provides. With some thoughtful planning, you can have an epic hiking experience:

Overnight Backpacking Trip

For a backpacking challenge, plan a two or three-night trip through a scenic section of longer trails like the John Muir Trail or Appalachian Trail. Obtain permits if required.

Arrange shuttles/loops back to your start point if you’ll be covering one-way distances. Make reservations at backcountry campsites or huts for each overnight along the route. Have contingency plans for storms, injuries, or bailouts.

Summit Attempt

Choose an inspiring summit like Long’s Peak in Colorado or Mount Whitney and make a goal of reaching the top.

Research the technical skills and gear required to complete the route safely based on the time of year. Train specifically to build endurance for the long round trip distance, elevation gain, and heavier pack.

Pick ideal dates based on weather and trail conditions.

Hut-to-Hut Hiking

For a unique multi-day hiking experience, plan a hut-to-hut trip in mountain ranges like the White Mountains in New Hampshire or the Colorado Rockies.

You’ll spend days covering scenic alpine terrain between mountain huts or lodges where you can eat meals and sleep. Reservations for bunks are required.

These trips combine hiking challenges with comfy mountain lodging.

The Takeaway – Hiking is For Anyone

Hopefully, this overview convinces you that hiking qualifies as a fun, accessible, and enriching lifetime hobby. 

With a little research, you can find hikes tailored perfectly to your abilities and interests. Don’t be afraid to start small and work your way up at your own pace. The physical and mental benefits will make the effort well worth it.

Now it’s time to pick a trailhead and start your hiking adventures!

FAQs about Is Hiking A Hobby?

What does hiking as a hobby mean?

Hiking as a hobby means regularly engaging in the activity of hiking, typically in natural environments such as forests, mountains, or parks, for exercise, relaxation, and enjoyment.

Why do people go hiking?

People go hiking for various reasons, including getting exercise, enjoying nature and the outdoors, relieving stress, exploring new places, and spending time with friends and family.

How many miles should a beginner hike?

People go hiking for various reasons, including getting exercise, enjoying nature and the outdoors, relieving stress, exploring new places, and spending time with friends and family.

What are the 3 basic skills in hiking?

The three basic skills in hiking are navigation, first aid, and outdoor safety. Navigation involves being able to find your way using a map, compass, and other tools, while first aid and outdoor safety involve knowing how to respond to emergencies and avoid hazards in the wilderness.

What counts as hiking?

Hiking can include a wide range of activities, from leisurely walks in the woods to more strenuous mountain climbs. Any activity that involves walking or trekking in natural environments, usually on trails or paths, can be considered hiking.

What is someone who loves hiking called?

Someone who loves hiking is often referred to as a hiker or a backpacker, depending on their level of experience and the type of hiking they enjoy.

How do I take up hiking as a hobby?

To take up hiking as a hobby, start by investing in proper gear and equipment, such as hiking boots, a backpack, and a map. Research local trails and parks, and begin with short, easy hikes before gradually increasing your distance and difficulty. It’s also a good idea to join a hiking group or find a hiking buddy for support and motivation.

Tom Velasco

Tom Velasco

I'm just a regular guy who loves hobbies. I'm also the creator of Hobbyist To Riches, where I've spent the last 15 years trying out all kinds of hobbies that make life happier and financially rewarding. My adventures have taken me around the world to immerse in different cultures and their diverse pastimes. I love sharing this journey of discovering new passions!

More Posts

Copyright © 2023 Hobbyist to Riches