by Diane Spicer
These solo hiking tips give you the information you need to achieve the joy of solo hiking and backpacking.
A woman hiking alone may conjure up a feeling of serenity and confidence in your mind.
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:
SPACE (both mental and physical).
But let's be realistic.
There are good and and less good aspects to solo day hiking and/or backpacking.
Let's look at them together, so you can be a solo hiking woman with confidence.
The benefits of hiking alone (in my humble opinion) include:
Plus, you don't have to pay a lot of attention to a hair style and personal hygiene while backpacking - unless you want to!
There are lots more reasons to hike solo, shared with you right here.
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 in 2011 - any take-home lessons (especially about feet) for you?
To balance things out, the down side of hiking by yourself revolves around factors like:
Here's the truth:
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?
And that you might encounter some pushback from friends and family when you announce that you're -gasp- hiking alone?
To balance all of this out, you might need some great solo hiking tips.
Which I just happen to have on hand for you.
Keep reading ;)
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.
Women struggle with this from so many angles!
Here's a book to help you wrestle with the pull to be alone.
The author knows a little something about trying to balance solitude with social demands.
Then I remind myself that going solo calls for a strong dose of personal responsibility:
Next, I get out my checklists.
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.
Hope that doesn't offend, but I've got your well being in mind.
Makin' a list, checkin' it twice, gonna find out who's ... prepared!
Here are the lists that are going to put you firmly into the PREPARED HIKER camp.
Beyond checklists, I work on my trail confidence - how to size up the situation in a hurry, and take charge or avoid trouble.
I have also learned when/if to rely upon technology.
The solo hiking tips, and everything else 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.
Now let's here from a female hiker who challenged herself to do a multiday solo backpacking trip. Her trail name: 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!
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? Dig into those fears and concerns, using all of these solo hiking tips.
And enjoy some hiking self care tips!
Solo Hiking Tips
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.
Are you a solo hiker? What do you LOVE about it? HATE about it? What do you want to share with hikers who are considering a solo hike of any length?
Click below to see contributions from other solo hikers.
Just me and nature!
If you plan on hiking solo, first use well-travelled and maintained trails, such as those in state or national parks, etc. You'll find an occasional fellow …
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 …
Going boldly into the world Not rated yet
The first question I am asked when I admit to hiking solo is "What if you die?" My answer is "Then, I WIN!" Who wants to die in a hospital with a bunch …
SOLITUDE ABUNDANT Not rated yet
Just prepare well. Read multiple descriptions of the trail online or in books. Print out pics of trail junctions where a change in trail path is indicated …
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 too!! 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 …
Hiking For Her's weekly emails keep you current on hiking & backpacking news.
Free, fast, fun info for you, every week of the year.
Use the box below for fast sign up!
Plus, there's never enough room in the newsletter to share it all, so why miss out on exclusive Hiking For Her giveaways, limited time gear deals and discounts, freebies, updates, and more?
A short, info packed weekly email update will keep you current on all things hiking!
Don't miss out!