Sunday, April 28, 2013

How to estimate distances when day hiking

How long a day hike with a child will take depends on a number of factors,
including terrain, how much you're carrying, and how fit you are.
When planning a day hike with children, you’ll likely want to have a good estimate of how long you’ll be on the trail. This is good to know for planning rest stops and snacks. You’ll also want to leave with a responsible party an estimate of when you’ll be back to civilization so that they can report to authorities that you’re missing (If you or a child is injured, having this safety net can be vital to you rescue and survival).

Unfortunately, estimating how far you can walk isn’t an easy answer. It depends on a number of factors. If you’re tall, you’ll take longer steps than someone who is short. If you have a child carrier or backpack on, you’ll need longer to walk the same distance than if you don’t. If the terrain is steep, rocky or otherwise difficult, it’ll take longer than a flat, well-maintained trail. If at a high altitude, you’ll go slower than at a lower elevation.

Generally, if you’re physically fit, expect that you can do a mile in:
g 20 minutes – No pack/carrier, easy trail
g 40 minutes – No pack/carrier, difficult trail OR pack/carrier, easy trail
g 60 minutes – Pack/carrier, difficult trail

The more hikes you do, the greater awareness you’ll have of your pace under varied conditions and will be better able to make an accurate estimate.

Read more about day hiking with children in my guidebook Hikes with Tykes.