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Solo Hiking Risks:
What To Know

By Diane Spicer

Worried about the risks of hiking solo? Read Hiking For Her's tips before you hike. #solohiking #solohikingrisks #hikingsafety #womenwhohike #hikingforher

Solo hiking risks: a worthy topic for any female hiker.

I've been reading a lot lately about whether it's safe to hike by yourself as a woman.

Many voices paint a picture of the terrors, traumas and huge risks for a female alone on the trail.

Other voices chime in with testimonials of the freedom and rewards of going solo.

Who to trust?

Who to believe?

My response to solo hiking risks

So I sat down and generated a list of risks any hiker faces when out on the trail, and put them into "unavoidable" and "avoidable" categories.

Now the comparative question becomes:

"Is a solo female at higher risk?"

This Hiking For Her hiking safety tips article outlines

what to think about, and what to do,

to keep yourself safe on the trail.

  Solo hiking risks include curve balls
from Mother Nature

That's the whole point, right?

To get out into Mother Nature's big playground and see what there is to see.

If you want to use the word "risk", it's taking a risk to reward yourself with an adventure.

But what if she surprises you with a spectacular display of power?

Or catches you off guard when you're just cruising down the trail minding your own business?

Most of the following risks can be avoided to a certain extent by staying on top of changing weather conditions and checking weather forecasts and trail reports before you hit the trail.

But not everything on this list is completely avoidable.

What then?

That's where advance trip planning and knowledge are going to be your ace in the hole.

Examples of unforeseen trail risks

a) Unsafe hiking weather

b) Earthquakes: Big worries include landslides and rock fall

c) Fire: What to do if a forest fire breaks out near you?

d) Falling limbs

e) Lightning (dry or storm associated)

f) Floods: flash, storm associated, getting trapped by washed out bridges, or uncross-able streams afterwards

Solo hiking risks involving
unpredictable humans

a) People acting weird or giving off weird vibes

b) Violence

c) Verbal harassment

d) Annoying trail behaviors (loud music, trash, etc)

Wildlife associated trail risks

a) Bears: Think through what to do BEFORE you're face to face with this large mammal. 

b) Cougars

c) Snakes

d) Microbial contamination in water

d) Tick bites

e) Chewing rodents (cute tho' they may be)

Striped ground squirrelBelieve it or not, chewing rodents are one of the biggest solo hiking risks!


Hiking means taking calculated risks, and never being able to eliminate these risk entirely.

a) Prevent hiking injuries

b) Deal with injuries

c) Getting sick on a hike

d) Avalanche

e) Unexpected exposure to cold weather (gear failure, falling into a river, bad planning) leading to hypothermia or frostbite

f) Water crossing safety

g) Overheating in extreme temperatures, leading to heat related illness

h) High altitude hiking

Fear & anxiety...
such a lovely couple (not)

a) Being alone

b) Social ridicule

c) Getting lost

d) Loss of solitude

e) The dark (plus rustling in the bushes outside your tent)

f) A woman backpacking alone: specific risks

Be sure to read this about gaining solo hiking confidence.

Poor judgement and human errors

a) Over reliance on technology

b) Over exertion

c) Over confidence

d) Not carrying the ten essentials

How to prepare yourself
as a solo hiker

You can't control all the variables of weather, people, trail conditions, wildlife around you.

But you can go hiking prepared to take care of yourself. Read these tips on building a hiking survival kit.

What did I miss on this list?

Drop me a line and I'll add it to the list.

And if you have an illuminating anecdote we can all learn from, please include that as well.

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Solo Hiking Risks