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Solo Hiking Tips:
How To Stay Safe On Any Trail

These solo hiking tips will give you the information you need to achieve the joy of solo hiking and backpacking.

Hiking alone is a great opportunity for personal growth and introspection during your alone time on a trail.

Going at your own pace, planning your own schedule, gives you two gifts in short supply these days:

TIME

and

SPACE (both mental and physical).

But let's be realistic.

There are good and and less good aspects to solo hiking and/or backpacking.

Let's look at them together, so you can go solo with confidence.


Benefits of Solo Hiking

The benefits of hiking alone (in my humble opinion) include

* solitude,

* quietness on the trail to maximize wildlife encounters,

* control over the daily pace and destination,

* decompression time to dump stress,

* opportunity for mental challenges (conquering a fear of the dark, for instance),

* and dedicated time to test and build outdoor skills.

And you don't have to pay a lot of attention to personal hygiene while backpacking - unless you want to!

But please - don't just take my word on the wonders of solo hiking. Here are words of wisdom from a woman who completed her first solo trip - any take-home lessons (especially about feet) for you?


Female hiker resting on rocksLooks like I'm building my "daydreaming" skills here, but actually I'm staring at Mt. Rainier and thinking of more solo hiking tips!


Drawbacks of Solo Hiking

To balance things out, the down side of hiking by yourself revolves around factors like:

  • personal safety,
  • physical strength,
  • mental endurance,
  • and outdoor skills.

It's normal to have doubts about going solo!

Personally, I wonder about cougar attacks (typically, they target solitary hikers).

I'm not overly fond of being by myself in thunder storms.

And every once in awhile I meet a male hiker who makes me feel uneasy, sometimes for no real reason I can put my finger on.


You probably have your own list of things which bring up the fear factor: solo hiking risks.

Do we agree that going solo goes somewhat against the grain of what females are expected to do?

So if you're thinking of day hiking alone, you might need some great solo hiking tips.

Solo Hiking Tips
To Combat Your Doubts

Here's my approach as a woman solo hiker:

First, I reassure myself that wanting to hike by myself is not weird or anti-social.

Then I remind myself that going solo calls for a strong dose of personal responsibility:

  • careful planning,
  • making myself track-able,
  • and honoring my mental and physical limitations.

Next, I get out my checklists. That's not just a solo hiking tip - it's for any hiking you do, ever.

Checklists are a tried and true way to make your trip worry-free - for you, and for loved ones who may not support the idea of going off on your own into the unknown wilds.

Checklists stack the odds in your favor.

But they require some thought and preparation BEFORE you hit the trail.

If you find yourself reluctant to put in the preparation time and embrace this thoughtful approach, maybe you shouldn't be hiking solo right now.

Examples of checklists:

Beyond checklists, I work on my trail confidence - how to size up the situation in a hurry, and take charge or avoid trouble.

I remain bear aware when in bear country, knowing how to use bear spray and bear cannisters.

I have also learned when/if to rely upon technology: cell phone, personal locator beacon, or something as simple as a portable lighter.

  • I carry these things with me but never, never trust them completely.

Lastly, I've taught myself how to be my own best friend in case of emergencies, thanks not only to what's in my pack but what's in my brain and how I've conditioned my body.

The solo hiking tips on this website are designed to get you thinking about what you can do to enhance your own trail confidence and skill sets.

Feel free to contact me if you want to kick around the topic of solo hiking - I am always willing to learn and add to my skill sets by talking things through with another hiker.

I am sincere when I say that I really enjoy sharing what I have learned in my ongoing quest to become a strong, capable female hiker.

So willing to share, in fact, that I've created some courses on solo hiking. I learn from my students as they are learning my solo hiking tips!

Win-win.


Solo Hiking Tips from "Tidy Cat"

Question from Diane: “What were your worst fears about going solo, and did any of them materialize?”

Tidy Cat: “Foremost was my fear of getting lost. I have virtually no sense of direction. I need maps and a navigation system to drive places I’ve been a dozen times.

My second fear was of facing a large animal or dangerous human.

Neither of these scenarios came close to materializing.

Before leaving home, I folded my map into daily segments and added lots of notes to each segment regarding landmarks and water sources.

When I picked up my permit, the Ranger added important information about a detour and dried up water sources.

I kept my map in my front pocket and checked it frequently, like every 10 minutes the first day!

As the days and miles went by my confidence grew and I checked the map each morning before starting out, whenever I reached a fork in the trail, and when determining breaks and water filtering.

As far as beastly encounters went, I was thrilled to see elk, mountain goats, marmots and a red fox.

For a couple of miles the trail lead through fruiting berry bushes and was littered with fresh bear scat. I tapped my hiking poles together every few feet. By the time the hike was over, I was disappointed at not seeing a bear!

I saw other people every couple of hours. Only one person made me a little uncomfortable. He looked homeless and was playing in the frigid glacier water in a river bed. I made eye contact and greeted him, and looked over my shoulder until I was certain he wasn’t following me.

My husband’s greatest fear was that my modified and very much pared down equipment would leave me wanting or unsafe.

I had tested everything at home and it all worked perfectly on the trail.

The only thing I found myself wanting was more time in the woods! And perhaps a few more peanut M&Ms…”


Question from Diane: “At what point in the trip did you realize that solo hiking rocks? Was it a gradual dawning, or a "click" moment?”

Tidy Cat: “Solo hiking began to rock for me right from the start.

For the first time, I wasn’t looking at someone else’s backside, the view was all mine.

I set my own pace, rested when I was tired, ate when I was hungry and listened to nothing but my own thoughts and the sound of the wilderness around me.

As the days progressed my hike became a spiritual experience.

I had decided that instead of this being one 16-day hike, it would be 16 one-day hikes. Each day was progressively more meditative and I learned what it really means to live in the moment.

For once, my vacation did not fly by at warp speed.

I experienced each and every minute to the fullest.

I have hours of vivid memories to re-experience whenever I want to be calm or happy.”



Thanks, Tidy Cat!


Final Solo Hiking Tips

Here's a quick self-test for those contemplating solo hiking.

Look at this photo of me, in my favorite long sleeved white shirt, sitting beside my pack after a long, steady hike to the summit.

Do you think I look "lonely", or "peaceful"?

That can give you a clue about how you REALLY feel about hiking solo.

And to get a good grasp on your comfort zone with the topic of solo hiking, try a few quizzes I created, just for you!

Solo hiking tips - we've barely scratched the surface!!

Going solo is a commitment, but a huge adventure that will open doors you didn't even know you had within you.

What's holding YOU back?

Find out by taking a course!

If you decide you'd rather hike with a trail buddy, find one here.


Look hard - I'm impersonating a rock! That's one of those often overlooked solo hiking tips.

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And please share your solo hiking tips with us below. It's easy to do, and creates such a wonderful resource of hiking wisdom for other women hikers.

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Solo Hiking - Why Do It?

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What Other Hikers Have Said About Solo Hiking

Click below to see contributions from other solo hikers.

Sixtyteen 
Weather, Maps, SPOT, recon, GPS, Nikon, LCR, Sunbrella, hammock, stick to your plan, Sweetwater, Mtn House, spiritual, unforgettable. Enjoy!

Pumped for First Solo Hike! 
I just planned my first solo overnight hike. I've done a lotta trips with both all-women and mixed-sex hiking, but can't wait to put my (teeny tiny list …

See where your mind and your feet carry you - you'll be surprised! 
I always solo hike! And I love it! Now I've only started doing overnight/multiple day trips, but I'm quickly improving - from the last 4 day hike I upgraded …

It's Amazing Not rated yet
I'm giving myself advice here... I always forget until I need it... emergency gear! I always forget on "mere dayhikes" then I get lost... and think "wow, …

Solo Hiking Makes Me Feel Like a Superhero! Not rated yet
Doing stuff by myself is really empowering. Even though I'm very extroverted I get a real kick out of solo nature-based activities. I love that I have …

Need for Decompression Not rated yet
Going on my first two night solo hike. Would love to go longer, but I'm in the military and that's all I have off right now. My mom just passed two weeks …

The best way to hike! Not rated yet
For me solo hiking is the most freeing, gratifying experience. You can find peace within yourself by finding peace in nature. It's just you and the trail. …

Solo Hiking in South Korea Not rated yet
I have been living here for the past 9 years. Luckily Korea is over 70% mountains! Your advice has been very helpful but a few more things things that …

Another awesome solo hike! Not rated yet
I just completed a solo turn around the 175 mile Tahoe Rim Trail. Water was an issue as the area enters its 4th drought year. Steep, icy snow drifts …

Love Solo Hiking! Not rated yet
In addition to what everyone else has said, I also list my hike/snowshoe on iNeverSolo. It's like a flight plan. And if I don't return on time then my …

Slow Solo Not rated yet
I need advice- I recently returned to hiking, and I'm loving it- a great area, Saugatuck Dunes State Park. Many very isolated remote areas and trails. …

To reach the height no one else dreams of Not rated yet
My camera is my hiking buddy. It shows what I saw along the trail. Cute chipmunks, snakes crossing my toes, rain and wind blocking my path, fallen tree …

Love solo hiking!! Not rated yet
In addition to what everyone else has said, I also list my hike/snowshoe on iNeverSolo.com It's like a flight plan. And if I don't return on time then …

Preventing falls when walking alone Not rated yet
I much prefer to walk alone and while I think there will always be risks, there's one guideline can help prevent falls, which is: When you're walking look …

Solo hiking is the only way Not rated yet
My first solo hike I was actually sort of afraid. That was about 17 years ago. Now Its the only way to travel. I stop, sit by streams, eat when I am …

AMAZING DAY SOLO AT HARRIMAN PARK APPALACHIAN TRAIL!! Not rated yet
After reading this site a few times, I finally went out and did it, I went on my first solo hike and it was amazing. I have been obsessed with the Appalachian …

Solo Hiking is awesome, but there will be times.... Not rated yet
I love solo hiking. I get my dog and my pack and it's just us in the world. All of my problems are at home and I can pick the perfect trail for me. …

Hiking with my Best Friend = Me! Not rated yet
For me, the benefits of solo hiking far outweigh any fears or difficulties. I can hike as long and as fast (or slow) as I please, without constantly wondering …

solo anything is the best sometimes Not rated yet
You don't have to wait for 2 hours, just to leave town cause of people who cant make up their mind! or get to the destination and not even go where you …

The Things I Like Best... Not rated yet
I have hiked solo several times. The thing I like best about it is not being pushed physically by others, but pushing myself instead. To explain I am in …

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