Calculate Your Hiking Time: How Long Does It Take to Hike 4 Miles? – Truth

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How to Estimate the Time You Need for a Successful 4 Mile Hike + 7 Tips to Hike Faster

Including Tables Based on Fitness Level

As a physical therapist with a love for the great outdoors, I understand the importance of planning and preparing for any outdoor activity, including hiking.

One of the most common questions I receive is “How long does it take to hike 4 miles?” It’s a great question, and in this article, I’ll provide a comprehensive guide to help you estimate how long it will take to hike 4 miles based on various factors.

Whether you’re a BEGINNER or an EXPERIENCED hiker, this guide will help you plan and prepare for your next outdoor adventure.

🥾😓 Feeling Overwhelmed Planning a Hike? Use my custom-built online Hiking Time Calculator for Non-techie People.

Oh, and stick around until the end because I’ve got a bonus treat for you: my minimalist gear guide for hiking.

Short on Time? Quick Links


How long does it take to hike 4 miles?

An average hiker can cover 2-3 miles in an hour. If you’re climbing, add another 15-30 minutes for every 500 feet of elevation gain. How long does it take to walk 4 miles depends on the terrain and fitness level of the hiker.

So, if you’re planning on hiking 4 miles, it would take around 1-1.5 hours. Keep that in mind when planning your hiking trip and don’t forget to plan some stops for food and fun!

There are various factors that can affect the amount of time it takes to hike 4 miles. Here are some of the most common factors that hikers should consider when estimating their hiking time:

Summary Table of Hiking Time Estimates for 4 Miles

FactorBeginner Hiker (mph)Beginner Hiker Time Estimate (Hours)Average Hiker (mph)Average Hiker Time Estimate (Hours)Fit Hiker (mph)Fit Hiker Time Estimate (Hours)
Base Time2 mph2 hours3 mph1.5 hours4 mph1 hour
Elevation Gain+1 hour per 2,000 ft+1 hour per 2,000 ft+1 hour per 2,000 ft+1 hour per 2,000 ft+1 hour per 2,000 ft+1 hour per 2,000 ft
Trail Conditions+1 hour per mile+1 hour per mile+1 hour per mile+1 hour per mile+1 hour per mile+1 hour per mile
Personal Factors+/- additional time+/- additional time+/- additional time+/- additional time+/- additional time+/- additional time

1. Terrain and Elevation Gain

The terrain and elevation gain of a hiking trail can significantly impact the time it takes to complete the hike. For example, hiking 4 miles on flat terrain can be much faster than hiking 4 miles uphill. According to the table below, hiking 4 miles with an elevation gain of 2,000 feet can add an additional hour to your hiking time.

2. Trail Conditions

The condition of the trail can also affect the time it takes to hike 4 miles. Hiking on a well-maintained trail is typically faster than hiking on a rocky or muddy trail. According to the table above, hiking 4 miles on a challenging trail can add an additional hour to your hiking time.

how long does it take to hike 7 miles
You can see the uphill and downhill portions visually on “tour profiles”.

3. Hiker’s Fitness Level

The fitness level of the hiker can also impact hiking time. As the table above shows, a fit hiker can complete 4 miles in just 1 hour, while a beginner hiker may take up to 2 hours.

4. Personal Factors

Finally, personal factors such as age, health, and experience can also impact hiking time. It’s important to take these factors into account when estimating your hiking time.

By considering these factors and using the table above, hikers can estimate how long it will take to hike 4 miles and plan their hike accordingly.

How long does it take an average person to hike 4 miles?

how long does it take to hike 4 miles
This 4 mile hike in Sicily was much longer than 1.5 hours due to stopping at the excellent lighthouse restaurant on the black stony coast near Capomulini.

Let’s face it – there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The time it takes to hike 4 miles can vary greatly depending on several factors, such as terrain, elevation gain, and your fitness level. That being said, there are some general estimates we can use as a starting point.

For a BEGINNER HIKER on relatively flat terrain, 4 miles may take anywhere from 2 – 2.5 hours including stops.

On the other hand, an experienced hiker on a challenging trail with significant elevation gain could take 2-3 hours or more. It’s important to note that these estimates are just rough guides and may not reflect your own personal hiking pace.

To get a better idea of how long it might take you to hike 3 miles, consider factors such as your average hiking speed, rest breaks, and potential obstacles on the trail.

Read on to the end where I share an online hiking calculator that can help calculate your estimated hiking time based on distance and elevation gain.

Detailed Factors Affecting Hiking Time

While it is important to have a general idea of how long it will take to hike a certain distance, there are many factors that can impact hiking time. As a physical therapist with experience in outdoor sports medicine, I have seen firsthand how these factors can affect hikers of all skill levels.

  1. Trail Conditions: The type of terrain you will be hiking on can significantly impact your hiking time. A well-maintained, flat trail will be much easier to hike on than a steep, rocky trail. Additionally, if the trail is muddy or covered in snow, it will slow you down considerably. Be sure to research the trail conditions before setting out on your hike and adjust your estimated hiking time accordingly.
  2. Elevation Gain: The amount of elevation gain on your hike will also impact your hiking time. For every 1,000 feet of elevation gain, you can expect to add an hour to your hiking time. This is because hiking at high elevations requires more effort due to the lower oxygen levels.
  3. Personal Factors: Personal factors, such as age, fitness level, and hiking experience, can also impact hiking time. Someone who is older or less fit may need to take more breaks and hike at a slower pace. Similarly, someone with less hiking experience may need to take more time to navigate the trail. It is important to be honest with yourself about your abilities and adjust your estimated hiking time accordingly.
  4. Pack Weight: The weight of your pack can also impact your hiking time. A heavier pack will slow you down and require more energy to carry. If you are planning on carrying a heavy pack, be sure to adjust your estimated hiking time accordingly.
  5. Weather: Finally, the weather can also impact your hiking time. Hiking in extreme heat or cold, high winds, or rain can slow you down considerably. Be sure to check the weather forecast before heading out on your hike and adjust your estimated hiking time accordingly.

By taking these factors into account, you can get a more accurate estimate of how long it will take you to hike a certain distance. It is important to remember that hiking time is just an estimate and can vary depending on the individual and the conditions. Always be prepared with plenty of food, water, and extra layers in case your hike takes longer than expected.

Remember, hiking is not a race, and it’s important to pace yourself to avoid injury or exhaustion. It’s better to take your time and enjoy the journey rather than pushing yourself too hard and risking injury.

Naismith’s Rule for Estimating How Long it Takes to Hike

Start with Base Estimate of 3 Miles Per Hour on “Average”

Naismith’s Rule for a 4-mile hike:

Factors That Influence Time NeededTime Estimate (Hours)
Base Time (3 mph)1 Hour 20 min
Elevation Gain (2000 ft)+1 hour
Trail Conditions (How Clear is the Path)+1 hour
Personal Factors – Do you like to take photos, eat or toliet? – Probably+/- additional time
Estimate to Hike 3 miles – Actual Hiking Times Will Vary

  1. We are assuming 3 mph for an average hiker
  2. If you are a beginner give yourself a 2 mph speed
  3. If you are a fit hiker assume 4 mph

Elevation Gain, Trail Conditions, Personal Factors

  1. Assume an extra 1 hour per 1,000 feet of elevation gain. On average you go slightly faster downhill than uphill so consider your route.
  2. Consider your trail conditions. Is the path flat, rocky, cleared of plants and overgrowth? If not, give yourself an extra hour for the trail
  3. Personal Factors will play into your overall hiking time.

Tips for Hiking 4 Miles Safely

How Much Water Should You Bring?

Staying hydrated is crucial for hiking safely. You should plan to drink at least 1 liter of water every 2 hours of hiking. Bring at least 1 liters of water for a 4-mile hike, and adjust accordingly based on temperature, humidity, and individual factors.

How far is 3 miles? About 1 liter of water!

💦 Need to bring water on the trail? Consider bringing a reusable water bottle, water filtration system, water bladder for your backpack or purification tablets.

Hiking can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, but it’s important to take the necessary precautions to ensure a safe and comfortable journey. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your 4-mile hike:

  1. Wear the right gear: Proper footwear is essential for any hike. Make sure to wear sturdy and comfortable hiking boots or shoes with good traction. Dress in layers to regulate your body temperature and protect yourself from the elements. A hat and sunscreen are also recommended.
  2. Stay hydrated: It’s important to stay hydrated while hiking. Carry enough water and electrolyte drinks to keep yourself hydrated throughout the hike. Consider carrying a water filter or purification tablets in case you run out of water and need to refill from a natural source.
  3. Bring snacks: Pack snacks that are high in energy and protein to keep you going. Trail mix, energy bars, and dried fruit are all great options. Don’t forget to pack a small first aid kit in case of any emergencies.
  4. Pace yourself: Hiking at a steady pace is key to finishing a 4-mile hike comfortably. Start slowly and increase your pace as you get comfortable. Take breaks and listen to your body. If you feel tired, take a break to rest and regain your energy.
  5. Stay on the trail: Stay on the designated trail to avoid getting lost or damaging the natural surroundings. If you need to take a break or step off the trail, find a clear and flat spot to rest.
  6. Leave no trace: Practice Leave No Trace principles and leave the trail and surrounding environment as you found it. Carry out all trash and dispose of it properly. Respect wildlife and their habitats.

By following these tips, you can make the most of your 4-mile hike and enjoy a safe and comfortable outdoor adventure. Here is a summary of the tips in a table format:

Tips for Hiking 4 Miles Summary
  1. Wear the right gear
  2. Stay hydrated
  3. Bring snacks
  4. Pace yourself
  5. Stay on the trail
  6. Leave no trace

How Many Calories Does Hiking Burn?

Hiking: Not Just Adventure, But a Calorie-Burning Workout with Delicious Rewards

It depends on fitness level and Metabolic Equivalent Task (MET Value)…

One of the best things about hiking vacations is the opportunity to indulge in delicious food without worrying about the calories. But did you know that hiking itself is a great workout that can help you burn a lot of those calories? For instance, on the Fisherman’s Trail in Portugal, you can relish the mouth-watering octopus confit guilt-free.

To determine how many calories you can burn while hiking, you’ll need to calculate your Metabolic Equivalent Task (MET) value. Each activity is assigned a specific MET value, which represents the rate at which calories are burned.

The more challenging the activity, the higher the MET value. To get an estimate of calories burned, multiply the MET value by your weight in pounds, multiplied by 0.4536 (conversion factor from pounds to kilograms), and the duration of the activity in hours. Although this is just an estimate, it’s a good way to get an idea of how many calories you’re burning on the trail.

How Your Body Burns Calories by Activity

Broken into Weight Classes of people who are 120lb, 150 lb, and 180lbs.
ActivityMET Value
Hiking General4.5
Climbing Hills6.0
Climbing Hills with 0-9 lb load7.5
Climbing Hills with 21-42 lb load9.5
The Calories add up!

😓 Tip: If your knees are like mine and require some TLC a set of hiking poles can really help. Read my review of the best trekking poles based on my experience as a hiker and physical therapist.

How to Hike Faster?

Hiking faster is a great goal, but it’s important to do it safely to avoid injury and other health problems. How long it takes to hike 4 miles will greatly be affected by injury, so keep yourself safe.

Tips to increase your hiking speed while minimizing risks:

1. Warm-up and Stretching: Prepare your muscles with warm-up and stretching exercises

2. Hydrate and Fuel Properly: Drink plenty of water and electrolyte drinks, pack snacks like nuts, energy bars, and fruits.

3. Increase Your Endurance: Start with shorter hikes and gradually increase distance and pace over time

4. Build Lower Body Strength: Improve leg strength and speed to hike faster

5. Focus on Proper Technique: Pay attention to posture, foot placement, and balance, especially on uneven terrain

6. Use Trekking Poles: Maintain balance, reduce stress on joints, and increase speed

7. Take Short Breaks: Rest and hydrate, listen to your body

⭐️ A hydration vest can be very handy for longer hikes and doubles as a strength training device on shorter hikes. Read my full review.

By following these tips, you can increase your hiking speed safely and enjoyably. Remember to always prioritize safety and listen to your body to avoid pushing yourself too hard.

Weighted Vest - Hydration Vest

Salomon Adv Skin 12 W Set Hydration Vest - Women's

Benefits of using hydration packs vs standard weighted vests for hiking training include:

  • More adjustable straps
  • Multiple sizes to ensure snug fit
  • Women-centric sizing
  • Designed not to bounce
  • Less pressure on shoulder blades and collar bones
  • Many colors to choose

Comes with 12 liters of capacity.  2 water bottles on front to even out the weight.  Multiple pockets, straps and hooks.  The water bladder reservoir holds 1.5 liters.

You can attach trekking poles to the bottom of the pack. 

Between water weight and additional weight you add into the rear pocket - it's possible to train comfortably with 20-25 lbs with this multi-functional weighted water vest.

Recommended Resources

In conclusion, hiking 4 miles can be a great way to experience nature and get some exercise, but the time it takes can vary based on a variety of factors. As a physical therapist, I always recommend starting slow and gradually increasing the distance and difficulty of your hikes to prevent injury.

Remember to check the trail conditions, plan for breaks, and bring plenty of water and snacks. By following these tips and using the table as a guide, you can estimate how long it will take to hike 4 miles and plan your adventure accordingly.

So, get out there, enjoy the great outdoors, and happy hiking!

What should I take on a 4 mile hike?

Hiking backpack
Weather-appropriate clothing (think moisture-wicking and layers)
Hiking boots or shoes
Plenty of food
Plenty of water
Navigation tools such as a map and compass.
First-aid kit
Knife or multi-tool

How hard is a 4 mile hike?

Hiking 4 miles would be considered a moderately strenuous hike. It is achievable by most people with some planning and proper footwear.

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Author profile: Morgan Fielder is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and passionate hiker who believes in exploring the world on foot with good food. Follow her journey as she shares science-based hiking tips and advocates for sustainable tourism.