How to Estimate the Time You Need for a Successful 7 Mile Hike with My Table Based on Hiking Fitness Level
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Today, we’ll be answering a common question among hikers: How long does it typically take to complete a 7-mile hike?
As a physical therapist and someone who has hiked their fair share of trails, I know the struggle of trying to estimate how long a hike will take especially when I stop to take 1,001 pictures. *Because each wildflower is special, obviously.
But fear not, my friends, for I’m here to give you the lowdown on how long you can expect to be on the trail for a 7-mile hike. So grab your backpack, lace up your boots, and let’s dive in!
Read until the end where I share my minimalist gear guide for hiking.
How long does it take to hike 7 miles?
A serious factor many hikers forget is to consider DAYLIGHT HOURS. Since I was 8 in the Idaho Cascade mountains, I somehow always manage to race the sunset on my hikes. FYI: this is a great reason to carry a headlamp and portable battery charger in your backpack.
Estimate of Time it Takes to Hike 7 Miles
Beach Bum Pace vs Speed Demon Hiker: How long does it take to hike 7 miles
Here’s a table with the columns arranged in the order of Beginner, Average, and Fit Hiker, pick where you think you are and go from there. Write down how you do with each trail so you’ll be able to gauge your future hikes without worry.
|Factor||Beginner Hiker (mph)||Beginner Hiker Time Estimate (Hours)||Average Hiker (mph)||Average Hiker Time Estimate (Hours)||Fit Hiker (mph)||Fit Hiker Time Estimate (Hours)|
|Base Time||2 mph||3.5 hours||3 mph||2.3 hours||4 mph||1.75 hours|
|Elevation Gain||+1 hour per 1,000 ft||+1 hour||+1 hour per 1,000 ft||+1 hour||+1 hour per 1,000 ft||+1 hour|
|Trail Conditions||+1 hour per mile||+1 hour||+1 hour per mile||+1 hour||+1 hour per mile||+1 hour|
|Personal Factors||+/- additional time||+/- additional time||+/- additional time||+/- additional time||+/- additional time||+/- additional time|
So on average a middle ground 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 7 miles depends on the terrain.
So, if you’re planning on hiking 7 miles, it would take around 2.5-3.5 hours. Keep that in mind when planning your hiking trip and don’t forget to plan some stops for food and fun!
Short on Time? Quick Links
What Influences Speed on a Hike?
“Elevation Gain” refers to going uphill or downhill. For us older folks, unsurprisingly, going downhill is slower than flat terrain. Most hiking apps will have a rough outline of the ups/downs on a hike like this graph below. It starts at sea level 0 and then goes up 800 ft and then back down 800 ft. All in 3 miles!
You’ve got to love Montenegro!!!
“Trail conditions” may drastically change your speed even without huge hills. Uneven surfaces really slow you down as do wet and slippery trails. I honestly have found most “trail guides” to be irregular and varied in their determination of what is advanced or not.
Hiking trail difficulty roughly follows the same identification as ski resorts with black (severe), red (moderate), and blue/green as easy. Again, this I have found not to be accurate many times.
Personal Factors EPP (Eat, Potty, Pictures)
“Personal factors” always come into play because Nature calls and everyone has an iphone to take photos. Plan some extra time and keep your eye on your watch to estimate how much time you’ll need for personal factors. How long does it take to hike 7 miles will be dependent upon how often you stop.
How long does it take an average person to hike 7 miles?
Let’s face it – there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The time it takes to hike 7 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, 7 miles may take anywhere from 3.5-4 hours.
On the other hand, an experienced hiker on a challenging trail with significant elevation gain could take 1:45-2 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 7 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.
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.
How long does it take to hike 3 miles?
On average 1 hour with no breaks for average fitness on flat terrain.
With a little preparation and a realistic expectation of your hiking speed, you’ll be able to complete a 7-mile hike with confidence and ease.
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 7-mile hike:
|Factors That Influence Time Needed||Time Estimate (Hours)|
|Base Time (3 mph)||5 hours|
|Elevation Gain (1000 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|
- We are assuming 3 mph for an average hiker
- If you are a beginner give yourself a 2 mph speed
- If you are a fit hiker assume 4 mph
Elevation Gain, Trail Conditions, Personal Factors
- 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.
- Consider your trail conditions. Is the path flat, rocky, cleared of plants and overgrowth? If not, give yourself an extra hour for the trail
- Personal Factors will play into your overall hiking time. Most people like to eat and go to the bathroom over the course of 15 miles, so keep watch of your time.
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 4 liters of water for a 15-mile hike, and adjust accordingly based on temperature, humidity, and individual factors.
How far is 7 miles? About 2-3 liters 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.
How Many Calories Does Hiking Burn?
It depends on fitness level and Metabolic Equivalent Task (MET Value)…
Hiking is a fun and adventurous activity, but it’s also a great workout that burns a lot of calories.
That’s one of the absolute BEST REASONS FOR A HIKING VACATION. More room for yummy food like octopus confit on the Fisherman’s Trail in Portugal!
To determine how many calories you will burn while hiking, you need to calculate your Metabolic Equivalent Task (MET) value. MET values are assigned to different activities, indicating the rate at which they burn calories.
The more STRENUOUS the activity, the higher the MET value. To calculate the calories burned, multiply the MET value by your weight in pounds, times 0.4536 (conversion factor from pounds to kilograms), and the duration of the activity in hours. This is, of course, an estimate as there are many factors in play.
How Your Body Burns Calories by Activity
Broken into Weight Classes of people who are 120lb, 150 lb, and 180lbs.
|Activity||MET Value||Calories Burned (5 hours)|
|Hiking General||4.5||1350 (120 lb), 1688 (150 lb), 2025 (180 lb)|
|Backpacking||7.0||2100 (120 lb), 2625 (150 lb), 3150 (180 lb)|
|Resting||1.0||300 (120 lb), 375 (150 lb), 450 (180 lb)|
|Climbing Hills||6.0||1800 (120 lb), 2250 (150 lb), 2700 (180 lb)|
|Climbing Hills with 0-9 lb load||7.5||2250 (120 lb), 2813 (150 lb), 3375 (180 lb)|
|Climbing Hills with 21-42 lb load||9.5||2850 (120 lb), 3563 (150 lb), 4275 (180 lb)|
😓 Warning: If your knees are like mine and require some TLC, bring hiking poles to ease the downhill hikes.
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 7 miles will greatly be affected by injury, so keep yourself safe.
Tips to increase your hiking speed while minimizing risks:
- Warm-up and Stretching: Prepare your muscles with warm-up and stretching exercises
- Increase Your Endurance: Start with shorter hikes and gradually increase distance and pace over time
- Focus on Proper Technique: Pay attention to posture, foot placement, and balance, especially on uneven terrain
- Use Trekking Poles: Maintain balance, reduce stress on joints, and increase speed
- Take Short Breaks: Rest and hydrate, listen to your body
- Build Lower Body Strength: Improve leg strength and speed to hike faster
- Hydrate and Fuel Properly: Drink plenty of water and electrolyte drinks, pack snacks like nuts, energy bars, and fruits.
⭐️ 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.
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 Including a Hiking Time Calculator
- This online hike difficulty calculator can help you estimate your time hiking.
- If you are embarking on a multi-day hiking adventure, check out my minimalist guide to packing for hut to hut hiking trips. You definitely want to take less, rather than more.
- My favorite headlamp and portable battery charger in case I can’t make it back before sunset.
- Learn how long it takes to hike 4 miles.
Can a beginner do a 7 mile hike?
If you have a base level of fitness, it should be no problem to hike 7 miles. Ensure you have comfortable and supportive footwear, 1-2 liters of water and a great attitude.
What should I bring on a 7 mile hike?
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.
Knife or multi-tool
Why go hiking 7 miles?
Hiking is an excellent way to explore the great outdoors and connect with nature. It’s also a fantastic way to get some exercise, clear your mind, and challenge yourself physically and mentally. If you’re new to hiking, you might be wondering how long it takes to hike a certain distance, such as 7 miles.
Well, the answer is, it depends! The time it takes to hike 7 miles depends on various factors, including your fitness level, the terrain, the weather, and the elevation gain.
Looking for the perfect gift for the Outdoorsy Lady in your life? 42 Gifts for Outdoorsy Women that Inspire Wonder – 2023 Gift Guide
Author profile: Morgan Fielder is a passionate hiker and writer, physical therapist, and photographer. She has a doctorate in physical therapy and is featured giving science-based hiking tips and advice.
When not out exploring the mountains or sea, she’s writing articles and gear reviews to empower Outdoor Journeys that include family and good food.
With 💞, Crave the Planet
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