May 14


What is the Difference Between Hiking, Walking and Climbing

By Michael Bryant

May 14, 2021

climbing, hiking

There's no silly questions here and people are wondering or wandering about the difference between hiking and walking. The truth is that hiking is often walking but walking isn't always hiking. 

Hiking is done outdoors and often involves some up and down hill action and maybe even some scrambling. Scrambling is simply climbing on terrain that is easy enough to not require a rope. However, it does require some caution with potentially dangerous falls.

Everyone should enjoy hiking but know the risks before you go and you'll happily stomp around in the woods. 

walking vs hiking

The Main Differences Between Walking and hiking


  • Can be done almost anywhere and doesn't always involve nature. Walking sure is a lot more fun with fresh air and some greenery around. 
  • Paved trails are generally considered walking but I'm not going to complain if you call it hiking. 
  • Lack of elevation gain. With hiking you're getting a bit more of a workout with uneven terrain and going up and down hills. 
  • You know how to walk, lets go hiking!


  • You're hiking not walking when you're outside!!! Surprise surprise, you now have your feet in the dirt. Or at least your hiking boots. 
  • You're tromping as I like to call it. Scrambling over rocks and tree stumps, stumbling on pebbles and half rock climbing
  • The hike takes an hour or more
  • You get burs in your socks or maybe some poisonous rash. That doesn't happen on a walk now does it. 

Where to go hiking or walking?

There's always somewhere to get out. Whether that it be a walk in the park or a little day hike in a state park near by. Do some research or find a Facebook group that gets outside. Go explore some areas like...

  • State Parks
  • National Parks
  • Conservation Areas
  • Local lakes
  • River walks
  • Park Trails

The 10 hiking essentials

Whether you are going for a hike or a walk it is always important to be prepared. I've honestly had an acquaintance perish in the mountains hiking with their dog. So be careful and bring what you need. There's the obvious things like warm clothes and water but  you may find you need navigation tools etc. For the 10 hiking essentials list see here.

Take a hike.... or a walk

There are so many benefits to getting out and taking a walk, hike, stroll whatever is in your comfort level. Not only will your physical health benefit but your mental health will as well. Hiking is shown to relieve stress and anxiety and is often prescribed to patients with depression. 

The exploration you will get to enjoy is the most exciting part. You be able to find new little secret spots in your own back yard. Then you can share them with friends and create your own hiking community. 

Hiking Solo

That being said, hiking solo is also an amazing way to explore the outdoors. It's a great time to reflect or not think at all. Just listen to the wind and the birds and go back to real life with a feeling of refreshment. And maybe enjoy a post hike refreshment 😉

Looking for Quality Hiking Gear?

Check out REI DEals

Michael Bryant

About the author

After a lifetime spent in the outdoors and 10 years in the outdoor sports industry, I figured out what I'm best at. Finding great mentors to show me the ropes. Without the Lifers that taught me all I know, I wouldn't be where I'm at, which is... "pretty solid" at most adventures outside.

Mentors are the best way to access the backcountry. Learn with us.