Is It a Hike or a Walk? 10+ Key Differences

posted in: Hiking 101 | 0

Are you hiking or walking? Are the terms interchangeable? If not, what’s the difference?


That depends on who you ask. Here’s my short list of 10+ differences between a walk and a hike:


It’s a Walk IF:

  • The trail is paved. Asphalt, cement, sidewalk, boardwalk.
  • The trail is two miles or less. This distance is a good leg-stretcher. A nice warm-up. But it’s not quite a “hike.”
  • Covering the round trip mileage takes an hour or less.
  • It’s in the city. Part of the “concrete jungle.”
  • The trail is all or mostly level.


It’s a Hike IF:

  • It’s at least two miles.
  • It’s an unpaved trail.
  • The round-trip takes a couple hours or more.
  • It’s out in the boonies. The wilderness. Lots of fresh air. Plenty of flora and fauna, solitude and minimal crowds.
  • You have to expend some serious effort to get there and back.
  • The terrain may be rough and includes both uphill and downhill.


Both walking and hiking have their attractions. Walks are typically easier. Shorter. More laid back. A walk is synonymous with a stroll. Meander. Amble. Saunter. A walk generally requires little to no specialized gear or equipment. A sturdy pair of shoes, a broad-brimmed hat, a map and a water bottle and you’re good to go.


A hike, on the other hand, is typically longer, more rigorous and more challenging. A hike requires a little more preparation. Like an early start. Carrying the Ten Essentials. Investing in a good pair or trekking poles. Being prepared for an overnight stay in the elements if you have to. First Aid basics. Knowing what to do and what not to do if you meet a bear or a cougar on the trail.


Both walking and hiking are fun, with significant health and mental benefits. What would you add?


Happy trails!