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6 Types Of Hikers:
Recognize Yourself?

Mountain hiking trail with bright purple fireweed on both sides

Only 6 types of hikers in all the world?

Probably not!

But play along with me here to spot which of these categories you call your own.

These 6 types of hikers
are based on
a unique preference

You can find lists of types of hikers everywhere in the hiking blogosphere, and maybe even on Wikipedia, but not a 6 types of hikers list like this one.

That's because it's based on an interesting way to approach hiker categories:

interaction preferences

True trail fact:

Every hiker has a set point for the amount of interaction they will welcome (and sometimes tolerate is the right word) from oncoming hikers.

Think about this for a moment

You know how outgoing you are in social settings.

  • Extrovert (extreme to mild)
  • Introvert (shy as a spring violet)
  • Reluctant extrovert (you can chat up a storm when you have to)

Geez, all those labels!!

So if you've been on the trail awhile, you probably already know how much interaction with other hikers you will encourage when you're (pick a few):

hot, sweaty, thirsty, tired, bug bitten, sore and hungry on the way back to the trail head.

For our hiking newbies

When you're just starting out as a hiker, it's important to know a few things about who might be on the trail, and more importantly:

  • how much interaction is expected, or welcomed, between hikers on a trail.

Thus, the 6 types of hikers list was written to help you avoid feeling awkward or rejected on a hiking trail.

  • This list categorizes hikers based on the verbal and body cues they give you as you approach them on the trail.
  • And also gives you some trail tips on how to handle the exchange.

First up on our list of 6 types of hikers:

The good day-ers

A short greeting, something along the lines of "Hi, good day to be on the trail!" is what you can expect from many hikers on a hiking trail.

You may also hear "how's it going", which is a rhetorical question you can safely ignore.

  • Simply say hi or howdy, and continue on your merry way.

If the hiker looks unrushed and approachable, and you have a question about the trail conditions, go ahead and ask.

They'll be willing to tell you important trail facts, like "there's a big patch of stinging nettle up ahead on the left side where your cross the creek."

Tall stinging nettle plant along a hiking trail, a plant to avoid because of the burning sensation you'll experience if you brush up against it.Stinging nettle is a plant to avoid because of the burning sensation you'll experience if you brush up against it. By early summer, this plant can be taller than you!


Trail tip:

Just in case you do find yourself in a patch, here are some stinging nettle treatments for you.

And now you know which category I fall into - the helpful hikers who will share trail beta when you need it ;)


The gliders

Ever meet a hiker who glides along the trail, seemingly without effort and not one drop of sweat to be seen?

Those are the hikers who have it dialed in!

  • They are well prepared for the trail conditions.
  • They're physically conditioned, well hydrated, and fueled up.
  • They know where they're going.

And if you checked their backpacks, odds are pretty good that they would have every one of the Hiking Ten Essentials.

A friendly nod and a "howdy" is sufficient for these hikers as they respond in kind.

  • They're on a mission!

Trail tip:

If you have a chance to catch which backpack, jacket, poles and boots they're wearing, you'll have some good trail data for future purchasing decisions.

  • Because these hikers only use and carry what works well on the trail.


The greeters

You're hiking along, humming a tune and enjoying the scenery, when you round a corner.

And there s/he is, a big friendly smile beaming like sunlight off a metal water bottle.

There is no way you're going to hike past this hiker without stopping for a chat.

Expect either a barrage of questions, or a full description of the trail.

You can turn this chat to your advantage when the greeter is coming from the direction you're going in.

  • Ask about trail conditions.
  • Listen carefully for mileposts or markers you need for navigation.

And in my experience, greeters really do care about your well being and enjoyment of the trail, so enjoy their friendliness (and sometimes they offer to share snacks, for which I heart greeters).

Trail tip:

When the greeter is simply taking a rest break in the direction you're headed, you can plead a strict turn around time if you'd like to avoid a long conversation.

Greeters might like to welcome you across this bridge!


The grunters

Definition of a grunter: a hiker who responds to any verbal interaction with a one syllable non-word easily recognized as a grunt.

Caution: Hikers may be situational grunters.

I turn into a grunter during a long uphill slog with a fully loaded backpack.

  • Saving my breath to keep from passing out!

Other hikers are grunters every day, all day long: no hello, no "how's it going?", just a grunt to acknowledge your existence.

  • Eye contact, optional.

Learn to not take this personally (especially if you're a greeter).

You hike for your own personal reasons, as does everyone else on the trail.

A person whose bread winning job or family obligations require high amounts of social interaction every week day might be craving some silence while hiking on a weekend.

  • Grunting in place of a friendly hello is simply a social signal to you to keep calm and carry on with your own hike.

Trail tip:

The advantage of meeting grunters along the trail?

You'll have only the sound of bird calls and rustling leaves to distract you from your hiking goals!


The grumps

I mention this group simply to give you a warning: spot these hikers, and then ignore them.

There is no judgment implied in using the word "grump" - or in your decision to ignore them.

Meeting with grumpiness is just a fact of trail life, so let it go and keep going.

  • Some hikers sharing the trail with you are seeking to break a personal best in terms of mileage or timing, and a greeting would break his/her focus.
  • Others are dealing with deeply personal issues and have withdrawn from trail social graces - such as greeting other hikers on the trail.
  • You may also meet hikers coming back from an injury or surgery, in physical discomfort which takes up a lot of their trail energy.

And some folks?

Genuine grumps.

  • Do not expect even get a tiny grunt in exchange for your cheery hello!

Trail tip:

Watch for body language cues so you don't make the mistake of trying to engage with someone who just wants to stride past you:

  • Upper body and face pointed downward
  • Eye contact is prohibited by hair or hat
  • Guarded body posture rather than an open stance

The beauty of these types of hikers?

Grumpy hikers will absolutely respect your personal boundaries, and give you all the solitude and silence you crave.

Be sure to return the favor.

  • Trail demerits for trying to cheer up a grump!

The groups

Groups of hikers along a trail can be a mixed blessing, and usually a mixture of the 6 types of hikers.

It's great to get a vicarious lift from high spirits and obvious camaraderie in a hiking group as you pass by.

  • It's problematic when the group sprawls in the trail on a rest break, making it difficult for you to pick your way through without stepping on someone or their gear.

It's great to hear so many greetings from happy hikers as you skirt the group.

  • It's not so great to hear the group yelling or conversing when you're still a fair distance away from them.

Trail tip:

If the group has a leader, and you have a question about the trail up ahead, that's the person to ask.

  • These types of hikers are a fount of knowledge, and usually quite friendly to boot (small hiking pun).

Hint: The leader usually stands out in some way through posture, clothing, or location within the group.

If you can't spot the hike organizer, just pick the friendliest face!

  • You know which one that will be, now that you've read the Hiking For Her list of 6 types of hikers :)


Only 6 types of hikers
on the trail?

You decide!

Which categories did I miss in this lighthearted and unique categorization of hikers?

If you've got more questions about trail etiquette, like who has the right of way on a steep slope or what to do when you meet mountain bikers, this free Hiking For Her pdf will get you sorted out!

And if you were looking for a more traditional description of types of hikers, this is for you.

  • It uses categories like duration and amount of preparation time in hike planning, with accepted labels used within the hiking community.

Happy Trails to you, regardless of which of the 6 types of hikers you identify with!

There's room for all of us on the trail,

and that's one of the best parts of hiking.

Celebrate being one of the 6 types of hikers!


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6 Types Of Hikers


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