Planning a hike involves several steps, such as deciding where you are going to go, what type of hike you want to do, and how many miles you are going to hike.
One of the key pieces of information you need in order to really formulate the logistics of your plan, such as how much food you need to bring and what time you need to start the hike, is how long it will take you to hike your desired route.
A common hiking distance for avid hikers is 10 miles, so if you’re planning a 10-mile hike, the pertinent question becomes: “How long does it take to hike 10 miles?”
To help you budget enough time, food, and water for your 10-mile hike, keep reading to learn just how long to hike 10 miles will take.
We will cover:
- How Long Does It Take to Hike 10 Miles?
- Factors That Affect How Long It Takes to Hike 10 Miles
- Estimating How Long It Takes to Hike 10 Miles
Let’s get started!
How Long Does It Take to Hike 10 Miles?
If you are a beginner hiker, you might be somewhat astonished by the notion of hiking 10 miles in one day and pondering, “Can you hike 10 miles in a day?”
The answer is a resounding yes; it’s definitely possible to hike 10 miles a day, depending on your fitness level, experience level, the terrain you are hiking, and how much of the day you are willing to spend on the trails.
But how long does it take to hike 10 miles?
Hiking 10 miles is a significant physical endeavor, and even if you’re walking at a very brisk pace, you’ll be hiking for several hours.
As is probably expected, there isn’t one set amount of time it takes to hike 10 miles. It depends entirely on your average hiking speed or the pace you can maintain over 10 miles.
With that said, hiking 10 miles might take anywhere from 3.5-7 hours or more, though a good estimation for the average amount of time to hike 10 miles is 5 hours.
Factors That Affect How Long It Takes to Hike 10 Miles
There are quite a number of factors that influence your hiking speed, which, in turn, will help you answer your question, how long does it take to hike 10 miles for me?
The primary factors that determine your average hiking pace for a 10-mile hike include the following:
#1: Your Fitness Level
The better your aerobic fitness, muscular endurance, and muscular strength, the faster you can hike 10 miles, and the better your stamina will be to maintain a decent hiking pace without fatiguing.
#2: Your Experience Level
If you have hiked 10 miles or other similar distances in the past, you will already have the experience of needing to pace yourself appropriately and partition your energy over the duration of such a long hike.
For this reason, experienced hikers will likely be able to hike 10 miles faster than beginners because they probably won’t fall prey to starting out too fast and then running “out of gas” (and slowing down significantly as a result) before the end.
#3: Your Age
Plenty of older hikers are able to walk at a very brisk pace, but in general, hiking speed slows down the older we get due to sarcopenia (muscle loss) and an overall decline in fitness.
#4: Your Goal
You can certainly hike 10 miles faster if you are pushing the pace and trying to hike as briskly as possible.
On the other hand, if you are hiking with friends, taking nature photography, or otherwise enjoying more of a leisurely stroll, it will take much longer to hike 10 miles.
#5: Weight Of Your Pack
Carrying a heavy pack stuffed with gear will slow you down because you have to work much harder from both a cardiovascular and muscular standpoint to handle the external load.
#6: Elevation Gain
If you are climbing or descending steep or long slopes, your hiking speed will be significantly compromised.
For example, hiking trails over certain mountaintops involve lots of rock scrambling on your hands and feet as you scale extremely steep ascents.
It can take more than twice as long to cover a mile with substantial elevation gain than hiking along a very flat trail.
The ruggedness of the terrain affects hiking speed. For example, hiking over loose rocks or slippery, wet roots will be slower than walking on a dry, wooded trail.
If you are hiking at altitude, there is less oxygen available in the air that you will breathe, which makes your workout that much harder.
This can absolutely slow your pace, particularly over a long hike, such as 10 miles.
#9: Condition Of the Trail
Not all hiking trails are well-groomed. For example, if there has been a recent storm, the hiking trail might be washed out in some areas and have many fallen trees.
Navigating obstacles and crossing rivers will take much longer than walking along a manicured hiking trail.
#10: Weather Conditions
If you are hiking through inclement weather like a big rainstorm, severe winds, or very high temperatures, you will not be able to hike as fast.
Estimating How Long It Takes to Hike 10 Miles
So, knowing the factors that affect hiking speed is important, but it doesn’t help us come to a specific answer for how long it takes to hike 10 miles.
These factors have to be considered when you’re trying to be as accurate as possible in your hiking time estimation, but it helps to have a starting place.
According to Ramblers, the average hiking speed for adults is about 2.5 miles per hour. This means that it takes 24 minutes to hike a mile and four hours to hike 10 miles.
However, most hiking sites say that a more realistic hiking pace is 2 miles per hour, which means that it would take 5 hours to hike 10 miles.
The “book time” in hiking guidebooks and apps are time estimations that are usually calculated using Naismith’s (Time Estimation) Rule.
Naismith’s Rule is designed to help you estimate your hiking pace.
It states that it takes about one hour to hike three miles plus an additional hour for every 2,000 feet of elevation gained.
Therefore, hiking one mile on a flat trail at a fairly aggressive pace will take about 20 minutes.
However, most hiking experts say that this is very ambitious for most hikers, even on flat land, once you factor in the variables that affect hiking pace, other than elevation, such as pack weight, weather, difficult footing or terrain, breaks, etc.
Therefore, it often makes sense to modify the base pace to 2 mph rather than 3 mph and then apply the elevation modifications from there.
Below, we show examples of both:
How Long Does It Take to Hike 10 Miles Using Naismith’s Rule?
- To hike 10 miles on a flat trail: 10 miles / 3mph = 3 hours, 20 minutes
- To hike 10 miles with 2,000 feet of elevation total: (10 mi / 3mph) + (1 hour for 2,000 feet of elevation) = 4 hours, 20 minutes
- To hike 10 miles with 3,000 feet of elevation total: (10 mi / 3mph) + (1.5 hours for 3,000 feet of elevation) = 4 hours, 50 minutes
- To hike 10 miles with 4,000 feet of elevation total: (10 mi / 3mph) + (2 hours for 4,000 feet of elevation) = 5 hours, 20 minutes
- To hike 10 miles with 5,000 feet of elevation total: (10 mi / 3mph) + (2.5 hours for 5,000 feet of elevation) = 5 hours, 50 minutes
How Long Does It Take the Average Hiker to Hike 10 Miles?
- To hike 10 miles on a flat trail: 10 miles / 2mph = 5 hours
- To hike 10 miles with 2,000 feet of elevation total: (10 mi / 2mph) + (1 hour for 2,000 feet of elevation) = 6 hours
- To hike 10 miles with 3,000 feet of elevation total: (10 mi / 2mph) + (1.5 hours for 3,000 feet of elevation) = 6.5 hours
- To hike 10 miles with 4,000 feet of elevation total: (10 mi / 2mph) + (2 hours for 4,000 feet of elevation) = 7 hours
- To hike 10 miles with 5,000 feet of elevation total: (10 mi / 2mph) + (2.5 hours for 5,000 feet of elevation) = 7.5 hours
How long does it take you to hike 10 miles? No matter how fast or slow you hike, enjoy the journey.
To help you get up that mountain faster, check out our guide to rock scrambling for hikers.