Thinking about going for a hike but don’t have anyone to go with you? Don’t let not having a hiking buddy stop you as you might be waiting days and weeks for that to happen… Take it from me, waiting for someone to be available is way worse than not hopping on a trail for some solo hiking and loving it!
These hiking tips are good for anyone especially if you are hiking along as a woman who craves adventure and has a passion for the outdoors. If you aren’t prepared and just wing it, then yes hiking alone can be intimidating and a bit scary.
Whether you are hiking locally or traveling to a destination, going it alone in nature can be one of the most exhilarating activities you can do for yourself. Hiking is an excellent workout for both your body and mind that is truly a full-body workout. Keep these tips handy and happy trails!
Tip: Need gift ideas for a fellow hiker or maybe you want to send your significant other a gift guide for your wishlist? Explore 45+ Awesome Gifts For Hikers & Adventurers.
“When everything feels like an uphill struggle, just think of the view from the top.” – Anonymous
Before heading out on any trip and especially on a hike, consider purchasing travel insurance before leaving.
Travel is more unpredictable than ever before and being prepared for any unexpected illness or accident can save not only time and money but a lot of stress.
To assist in making a decision on the best company and plan that is best for you, refer to this handy travel insurance comparison guide from Money.
Get the answers to every travel insurance-related question you may have and choose the best travel insurance for your upcoming trip!
Benefits of Hiking Solo
- Conquering Your Fears – I was terrified to go hiking by myself the first time but after that day it was liberating.
- Can Go At Your Own Pace – Go as slow or as fast as you want! No need to worry if your pace is too fast or slow for others.
- Boost Your Mood – Every time I’m on a trail, my mood instantly improves. If you are ever struggling with your emotions, get outside, and get moving!
- Not Dependent on Anyone – No need to wait for a friend to be available or until you get a boyfriend! Go hiking when you want on your own terms.
- Become More Adventurous – There is no doubt that after you hike or travel solo, you will feel more adventurous. You might even find it addicting!
- Jumpstart Your Confidence – During tough times, we sometimes doubt our capabilities. The best cure is hiking in the outdoors to ignite that fire inside you and raise your confidence that you can conquer anything!
“It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” – Sir Edmund Hillary
America The Beautiful Pass
If you are reading this post then you obviously love hiking. The majority of the best places to hike in the United States are located in national parks, forests, or monuments.
If you have an America The Beautiful Pass, then your entry is free to all the national parks that require a fee. An America Is Beautiful Pass is good for 1 year and includes admission into over 2,000 federal recreation sites including national parks, national forests, and national monuments.
If you know you will visit at least three parks or forests in a year it is more than worth getting an America The Beautiful Pass. On one road trip, I was able to use it at 6 different locations and plan to use it the rest of the year!
Tip: If you have questions on what the pass covers and how to use it, refer to my post America The Beautiful Park Pass: Is It Worth Getting For Your Trip?.
The Right Hiking Pants
Having the right hiking gear can improve any hike, especially wearing comfortable hiking pants.
There is nothing worse than wearing a pair of pants on a hike that doesn’t give as you move or dry quickly.
I tried this pair of KUHL hiking pants and absolutely loved moving in them. The material is soft, stretches as needed but doesn’t lose its shape.
I found hiking in these pants to be very comfortable and flattering to any shape. And if I decide to dip my feet into the water, I can roll up the bottoms for capri length.
As a bonus I like that they have just enough pockets, come in a variety of colors, and can be worn traveling too!
Best Solo Hiking Tips
1. Tell Someone Where You Are Going
When hiking solo it is so important to let someone know where you will be hiking. Even if you are familiar with the trail or it is relatively easy, not telling a friend or family member of your location can put you at risk if something happens.
No matter how experienced a hiker you are, twisting an ankle or falling can happen unexpectedly.
When I go hiking alone especially if it is in a remote area, I always text the trailhead I’ll be parking at and about what time I should be back. That is because you don’t want to count on having cell service on the hike.
After a trip of hiking solo daily for about 3 weeks, a family member let me know that I was crazy for hiking in a remote area without a satellite communicator.
I looked into them and found this satellite communicator to be the best for me as it is small and lightweight.
Why would you need one? Well, usually cell service is absent. And in case you do have some kind of emergency and need to contact someone, a satellite communicator can message and tell someone your exact coordinates.
Since it uses GPS satellite you can feel assured that if you need to, you can reach someone.
2. Check The Weather
Checking the weather before heading out on a trek is vital to make sure you are not going to encounter any unexpected weather. I would recommend checking a few days ahead, the day before and even on the morning you plan to head out.
Depending on where you are hiking in the world, the weather can change in minutes. For example, when visiting Scotland, I literally experienced all 4 seasons of weather within a few hours.
Yep, sun, rain, and snow. I wouldn’t have believed it unless I experienced it myself. It just goes to show that you don’t want to start out a warm day hike and end up freezing if it snows.
Although you can plan ahead and dress in layers having good gear on in preparation for weather changes is important for any hike.
Depending on the length of the hike, you want to determine how long it might take you and consider when sunset is.
If a hike will take 8 hours then you want to subtract from the time of sunset. I would then add another hour or two to give yourself a buffer and guarantee you don’t need to hike back in the dark. It never hurts to get an early start!
3. Have A Map
This might seem obvious but don’t leave home without a map! Try to have a physical trail map with you along with using a combination of the AllTrails app on your phone and/or a satellite communicator.
I like to have a physical map because as much as I trust and depend on technology, things can happen unexpectedly. It is best to be prepared for anything.
After having used the AllTrails App many times where I didn’t have cell service, it was able to keep track of where I was (I loaded it when I still had cell service).
4. Know Your Capabilities
I can’t recommend it enough to know your capabilities and what you can physically handle. If you are not in great shape or haven’t done smaller hikes then you are likely not ready for the tough ones.
There are several difficult hikes that I would love to conquer but I know my body can’t do those until I properly train and ramp-up to them.
The worst thing is to push yourself too much and be alone out on a trail. Knowing your body’s limit is essential when you are trekking it solo.
If you are new to hiking, pick easy and more popular trails so that you feel more at ease knowing there are other people around.
Also, be conscious of the altitude of where you will be going. Are you easily affected by high-altitude sickness? If so take note of the altitude that your body begins to struggle.
For me, I need several days to feel completely ok to function at high altitudes (over 7,000 feet). When I am hiking around 8,000 to 11,000 feet I need to go slower and take more breaks.
5. Work Your Way Up
Got it in your head to conquer the trek up Mt. Whitney (the tallest peak in the U.S.) and think you can do it? It’s great to be motivated and have epic goals but baby steps…
If you do want to take on an extremely difficult hike, put it on your calendar for 6 months to a year out. That way you have plenty of time to train.
In fact, many hikes such as Mt. Whitney for example require that you get a permit way in advance anyways.
Doing a number of easy or moderate hikes will test your ability before attempting a more challenging one. Each time you get out onto a trail, find hikes that gradually increase in distance and difficulty.
6. Stop At Ranger Station
It is always a good idea to stop by the ranger station if there is one to let them know which trail you plan to take and your expected return time. That way they will send out help in case you don’t return.
There are some hiking trails that require you to stop in at the ranger station to check-in prior to going up and upon your return.
This was the case when I hiked up Mt. Saint Helens in Washington which happens to require a permit months in advance.
When speaking to the ranger it is a good time to ask about the trail conditions and whether there is anything to be aware of or to be on the lookout for. If there isn’t a ranger, do your research on the trail conditions before going.
7. Hydrate, Then Hydrate More
Water is the key to life and super important when doing any physical activity like hiking. In preparation hydrate well the day or two before a hike so that you go into it with a “full tank”.
I went on a hike with my mom once and she practically collapsed early on a moderate hike with extreme heat temperatures.
We couldn’t finish the hike and come to find out she barely drank any water the day before and none the morning of. I was dumbfounded that she thought she could hike in 100 degrees plus weather without being hydrated!
Getting dehydrated can happen to even the most experienced hikers so pack an adequate amount of water to avoid ruining your day.
Everyone’s body is different and there are factors like the temperature conditions, altitude, and toughness of a trek that can change your water needs.
But a good rule of thumb is to drink 1 liter (32 ounces) of water for every 2 hours you are out on a trail. Just keep in mind that your water consumption can vary requiring you to drink more if you are on an extremely strenuous hike or if temperatures spike.
Sometimes I need something more than water when I am sweating a ton and I personally like to bring a small frozen bottle of Gatorade. I enjoy the orange flavor the most.
I’m sure there might be better options but for years I have found having a small amount of Gatorade really helps me with an energy boost.
Tip: Be prepared with a filtered water bottle that you can fill as you go and have the peace of mind it’s safe to drink.
I’ve put together this post on the 7 Best Filtered Water Bottles For Travel And Hiking!
Snacks you say? Yep, you can’t leave without the essentials to help keep you fueled for all those calories you will be burning!
Plan to have a handful of snacks and a lunch that you can enjoy dining in mother nature’s outdoor café. I am in no way a nutritionist but I have found that some foods are yummy and keep me energized for a long day of hiking.
A few of my favorites are peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs with hummus, grapes (frozen), and beef jerky.
Oh and although it might not be healthy I love a Snickers candy bar. There is something about the salty caramel, chocolate, and nuts that are perfect…
9. Have Proper Gear
There are many essential and nice to have items for when you go hiking. This isn’t a complete list but some must-have items to bring on any hike.
Without the proper gear, your hike can be a real bummer. For example, in the past, I have not brought enough water or didn’t have good socks that resulted in blisters big time! Learn from my mistakes and have the basics with you.
- Have a comfortable-fitting yet lightweight backpack like this daypack.
- In order to properly hydrate, carry enough water in this water bladder, this water purifier bottle or this filtered water bottle.
- Having a satellite communicator allows you to message and communicate your location to family and friends as you will likely not have cell service with your phone.
- Keep food and anything with a scent packed away safely from bears or other wildlife in these awesome resealable bags found here. They come in multiple sizes and keep moisture out.
- To prevent getting sunburned, bring a waterproof hat and sunscreen to keep you protected.
- Having a good pair of hiking socks makes the world of difference. You don’t want to finish a hike with blisters!
- Stay comfortable wearing breathable hiking pants that are easy to wash and dry quickly.
- Capture the beauty on the trails with a GoPro Hero that can handle any adventure!
- Carry a very loud whistle to keep wildlife away or alert others to come to your aid.
- If the terrain will be challenging, a good pair of trekking poles can assist to take some of the burden off.
10. Leave No Trace
Leaving no trace is a good practice whenever you are out in nature and no matter if you are solo or not.
That means not leaving anything behind on the path you are on including belongings and trash. Unless at the trailhead, don’t count on there being trash cans anywhere along your journey.
I always carry an extra bag or two that I can use to carry out any accumulated trash such as leftover food, napkins or anything that would normally go in the trash.
And if you are carrying toilet paper for bathroom use, yes that needs to be carried out too! It may seem gross but that is part of the hiking fun…
As much of an adventurer you might be, stick to staying on the trails the entire time. That way no damage can be done to the local foliage or accidentally encountering an animal you wish you hadn’t…
11. Know The Wildlife
Seeing animals in the wild is always an incredible experience especially if it is an animal you have never seen. But depending on where you are, the types of wildlife can vary dramatically.
For example, in the United States there are bears, moose, and mountain lions in some areas and absent in others.
Look into what kind of animals are living in the area and find out the ones you will potentially see. For animals that tend to be more dangerous or aggressive, you want to be prepared on how to handle an encounter.
For the most part, if I am hiking in California I make noise or ring a bell to alert any potential bears in the area. Also, be aware of whether or not you can use products such as bear spray or not. In some states or regions, it is illegal to use.
If you do come upon a baby bear or moose for example, slowly move in the opposite direction. There will definitely be a very protective mama nearby…
If there happens to be a ranger station, stop by and inquire about any animal sightings or wildlife to be on the lookout for. And I hope it goes without saying to keep a distance and do not follow wildlife for a photo!
12. Leave Headphones Behind
Working out while listening to music is the best as it is motivating and keeps you energized. I think it is usually a great distraction but when hiking, listening to music with your headphones is a big no-no.
Sorry to be a buzz kill but that great distraction at the gym can be a dangerous distraction out on a trail.
When hiking solo it is essential to be aware of your surroundings of animals, other hikers, or that sketchy serial killer approaching… Just kidding about that last one, I’ve seen way too many episodes of Criminal Minds!
But in all seriousness, it is important to listen for any potential dangers that are approaching especially if hiking solo as a woman. They can have a negative impact and ruin your awesome journey.
13. Notice Your Surroundings
As you are moving along the trail, take notice of any landmarks that stand out. That way for whatever reason if you get lost or disoriented, remembering things you see will help navigate your way back. Keep track of large or unusual shaped rocks, rivers, and odd trees or tree stumps.
It can be anything that stands out and makes you pay notice to it. You can even take a picture with your camera so that you can reference back to it if needed.
I have never been much of a stretcher but in recent years I am slowly becoming a convert. Do some light stretching before, during, and obviously after your hike. This will help keep you going longer and may alleviate some potential soreness the next day.
15. Have fun!
Now that you are geared up with these awesome hiking tips, you are ready to go hiking solo! The main takeaway is to have a plan, review these tips, and have a blast climbing those mountains.
Before you know it, you will have conquered your fears, a few mountains, and be a more confident version of yourself!
Got Travel Insurance?
Don’t leave home without travel insurance as you never know what might happen on a trip! It is always when you least expect it that something can go wrong like getting sick, in an accident or cancellation of some sort. Get a no-obligation quote from two trusted travel insurance companies for peace of mind on your next trip!
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