Determine How Long to Hike a Mile

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Gossamer Gear | Nov 05, 2015

How long does it take to hike a mile? While there are many variables involved, it takes the average person 30 minutes to hike a mile on gentle terrain. It is important to know your pace compared to an average hiker when planning a hike. This way you know approximately how long it will take you to complete your trip. Below we have many things to take into consideration while figuring out your own pace along with how to guesstimate your average hiking time on varying terrain.

Knowing how long it takes you to hike a mile is a great skill to have a successful day hike or overnight backpacking trip. You can use a timer on your watch or phone to see how long it will take you. Use a map to locate where the mile begins and ends. Ideally you should find a trail with a trail junction or sign, cabin, water crossing, or other landmark a mile away from the trailhead or your starting landmark. Make sure you take natural steps to find out how long it will take you to hike a mile. Overstriding or hiking quicker than you typically do will not give you an accurate time.


What variables will affect how long it takes me to hike a mile?

Your Fitness Level

Whether you are in optimal shape or haven't worked out in a while, the amount of time it will take you to hike a mile will differ. A great fitness goal is to decrease the amount of time it takes you to hike a mile.

Obstacles on the Trail

If you are hiking over slippery roots, crossing streams, or navigating rocks and boulders, the time it will take you to hike a mile will increase. When planning a hike, research the trail to see if these obstacles are likely to be present.


It can be rather difficult hiking a mile in poor conditions such as heavy rain, snow, sleet, hail, or immense humidity. Try and time your adventures for better weather windows. Going out anyways? Learn how to prepare for the rain!

Weight on Your Back

The heavier your backpack is, the more effort it will take to hike a mile. By transitioning to a lightweight backpack and carrying lighter gear you will make hiking easier, especially on difficult trails. Just beginning? Learn how to start going lightweight today!

Now how do I use this information for hiking on a trail?

When researching a trail either online or in guidebooks, you may read about book time. Book time is a formula used to estimate the time a given hike will take. For flat or very gradual terrain, the calculation of 30 minutes for every mile is used. And an extra 30 minutes for every 1,000 feet of elevation gain (uphill) is added. Descent (downhill) is assumed to take as long as walking on a flat trail.

There are many factors that may make your pace differ from book time. Your fitness level, the terrain, and weather will be factors in the amount of time it will take you to hike a mile. You may find yourself hiking faster or slower than book time, but knowing this calculation is a great jumping off point to start planning your hike!

Knowing that it takes an average person about thirty minutes to hike a mile is a great start to planning your next hike. Make sure to take into consideration the many variables that may cause you to slow down as well as how you could improve your time.

How do you determine travel time and distance? Share your tips below!