cloudhiking - maps and adventure guides

Site Links


Contact Us









Friends' Links

Appalachia & Beyond

Family Wilds


Marking My Territory

Outcast Hikers


280 Hiking Skills - Mileage 2010-09-13

Bull Head Trail to LeConte

How do you become a good hiker? Are there levels of skill? We have all walked in groups where one hiker moves effortlessly and another is barely able to walk. Are the differences merely a matter of fitness levels? Or is there more?

I believe that hiking is an equal part of skill and fitness. A skilled hiker is more efficient and requires less physical exertion. When the hiking becomes easier, the hiker will be able to add mileage and increase fitness and skill levels.

There are six basic principles of being a good hiker: mileage, balance, pace, stride, rhythm, and efficiency.


The first step to being a good hiker is to hike. Not on a treadmill, but get outside and walk. Put in the miles. Get your body used to traveling by foot. To be good at any skill you have to pay your dues. With hiking, that means putting in the miles.

Set goals for yourself. Plan a big hike. The hike should be longer than your training mileage levels; but just a challenge not a dare. If you are currently walking one mile a day, four days a week - a 2.5 or 3 mile hike would be a good place to start.

After that hike, if you were comfortable with the time it took to walk the trail and distance covered, then change either to increase the challenge. To decrease the time on a certain trail, would mean you would try to walk faster. To increase the time to walk and yet cover the same distance, you would change to a more challenging trail (steeper, or more rugged). To increase the distance would also increase the time to walk.

If you begin to regularly hike the "big hike" then that trail becomes a training hike and you need to set a new "big hike" goal.

Find a partner. Talk your spouse or a friend into joining your hikes. If no one is interested, join a hiking club and meet other hikers who share your interests.

Plan a hiking vacation. Go to a Park that has miles of trail. Set goals for each day. Increase your hiking mileage much in the same way a runner training for a marathon would increase their mileage. It is always harder to walk the second day. Plan accordingly.

Read about hiking and being outdoors. Reading about hiking makes you want to hike even more. A good guide, will entice you to walk the trail.

Buy gear. When I buy a new pair of shoes or boots, I know that I walk better. I don't know if the shoes really help, but it does psychologically. Find a day pack you like and carry it.

Increasing your mileage will increase your fitness level. The extra miles will also go along way to learning the other principles to becoming a good hiker.

Happy lots of miles of trails.



Name (required):

Comment (required):

Please Introduce Secure Code: