General Question

augustlan's avatar

What is the difference between a hike and a walk?

Asked by augustlan (47745points) January 28th, 2009

Is it the terrain? The duration? The necessary equipment? Urban vs. Rural? I’d like to take my girls for a walk/hike on the Appalachian Trail. Since I have Fibromyalgia, the duration of our activity will be short. Are we going on a walk or a hike?

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25 Answers

Jamspoon's avatar

It’s all relative I suppose. I’ve gone for walks in the park with people who don’t get out much and considered it a hike, and I’ve gone for hikes that felt like walks, just because I was in good shape at the time.

Hiking involves hills and the outdoors. Hiking tends always to work up a sweat. Hiking also usually leads to some sort of aesthetic or internal reward at the end. Though a vigorous walk can work up a sweat and could lead to a pretty view and make one feel better about themselves on the inside—here I go again back and forth.

Splitting hairs really but hiking always seemed like a somewhat more considerable investment of time and physical effort.

How old are your girls? Are they wee ones? They might consider any sort of walk in the woods a hike, and all the better for it, it might pique their interest in backpacking or ski touring later on—both of which are very rewarding.

loser's avatar

I always assumed that a walk involved a smooth surface to tread upon and a hike involved something unpaved where you need hiking boots.

augustlan's avatar

The girls are 11, 13, and 14. I am 41. The Trail wouldn’t be smooth, right? But if we’re only on it a short while (half an hour to an hour at most), we probably don’t need boots. We also won’t be walking vigorously because I’d only last a few minutes at that pace. Do people ever say “I went for a walk on the Appalachian Trail”? It’s quite nearby, and just something we’ve always been meaning to get around to doing.

cyndyh's avatar

To me, going for a hike means the purpose is the hike and not the final destination. A walk can be meandering around to end up at a store or a movie or a coffee shop. A hike can be any speed, trail, street, or bushwacking. If you’re planning to go out to a trail, that’s definitely a hike. A short hike is still a hike.

I guess, thinking about it now, I tend to think of what I’m doing as a hike if I bring water and my backpack. If I bring just money in my pocket (in case I stop somewhere in the city) I tend to think of it as a walk. So, maybe a part of it is a duration/distance thing in at least intent when I’m leaving the house.

jonsblond's avatar

For me, a hike is on trail, a walk would be around the neighborhood. You can still take a short hike, and some trails are not that difficult, but would still require hiking boots or good shoes. Most trails are designated as easy, moderate and difficult. You should be able to find the right trail for you and the girls through the park service. Hope you enjoy it!

marinelife's avatar

Even for short hikes, it is vital to be preapred for things to go wrong. You turn an ankle. You don’t want to send your girls for help.

I think boots that support the ankle are critical. Also, most helpful if snakes are an issue, which they are in most of the southeastern US. Layered clothing. Water and snacks. A way to start a fire. I think a small pack is a good idea in the woods even for a short outing.

Forgot one thing. Make sure someone (or more than one) know exactly the area you plan to hike.

Be safe. Have fun. Call it what you want, but be prepared.

dynamicduo's avatar

For me it boils down to effort and gear. A walk requires pretty much no special gear and is generally low effort, low terrain changes, etc. A hike may require more sturdy boots and takes more effort, whether it’s because there is no path, or there’s a lot of terrain climbing, etc.

cyndyh's avatar

Just FYI, a lot of people don’t use hiking boots anymore but softer soled hiking shoes. The thought used to be to support the ankles, but you don’t really need ankle support. There’s another school of thought that says you want more flexible shoes to feel what’s happening underfoot more than you get from heavy duty boots. If you’re feet feel their footing better then you don’t have surprising turns and twists. If you check out REI or most outdoors stores you’ll see more hiking shoes than boots these days. I was reading about this a while back, and the book did a better job explaining this than I am doing here. I’ll see if I can locate the source.

marinelife's avatar

@cyndyh I agree an argument can be made for that, but snakes can’t strike much higher than the ankle usually if you have stepped on one. Everyone has a favorite footgear for hiking.

Blondesjon's avatar


you do know you’re actually just pumping your legs up and down and the earth is spinning under you

cdwccrn's avatar

On the Appalachian trail, you will be hiking.

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

1. You can hike up your pants but you can’t walk up them.

2. Telling someone to “Take a Hike” is a lot worse then telling them to “take a walk”.

3. Hike in (American) football means “Give me the f’n ball on three”. Walk in football means you will most certainly be killed.

4. Hike rhymes with dyke. Walk rhymes with fem.

gailcalled's avatar

In my experience, blisters.

gooch's avatar

You will be hiking. The kids will like it better if you call it a hike.

loser's avatar

@Sueanne Tremendous: I am laughing out loud!!!

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

@loser: it only counts as humor if you wet yourself. Just try.

loser's avatar

@Sueanne Tremendous: I wasn’t gonna mention that part…

marinelife's avatar

@loser Nature’s Miracle.

cyndyh's avatar

@Marina: laughing is nature’s miracle or pissing is? :^>

augustlan's avatar

Thanks for all the answers! I think I’ll call it a short hike. I’ll wear decent tennies with lug soles, bring snacks/water/lighter and my cell phone, and let the hubby know where we’ll be. We won’t go ‘til the weather warms up a bit, but I’ll let you know how it goes.

marinelife's avatar

@augustlan Wish I could go too! Have fun.

augustlan's avatar

@Marina If you find yourself in my neck of the woods, you’re always invited!

mangeons's avatar

Mother, why must you always insist on calling me your girl? :D

augustlan's avatar

Because you are my girl. You always will be :)

mangeons's avatar

That doesn’t mean everyone has to know!

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