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  1. #1
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    Default curious about speed?

    Just curious about the average miles per hour of the general hiker. My wife and I(with a two year old on shoulders) did a short 14 mile day hike on the A.T. in Front Royal. We were each carrying about 15-20 lb pack and completed in about 5 hours. Including lunch break and mild snake bite. My wife accidentally stepped on a garter snake that was under leaves and she insists on wearing hiking sandals. Anyway, just out of curiosity, what's the average speed for everyone else?

  2. #2
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    2-2.5 MPH. With a 2 yr old on your shoulders and 15-20 lb pack maintaining the rate which you did you did very well. Nice.

  3. #3
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    Might want to purchase a child carrier that also allows carrying an incorporated to the child carrier load or separate small pack. A 2 yr old shifting around on your shoulders during a 14 miler at your pace is a recipe for possible problems.

  4. #4

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    YMMV. All kinds of things factor in how fast you can complete a mile. It can be as little as 1/2 MPH to as much as 3+ MPH depending on the terrain, how much your carrying, how tired you are, if you ate recently, is it raining, is it cool and crisp or hot and humid and so on.

    For example, I GPS recorded one of my recent hikes in Maine, part of the Grafton Notch loop. It was interesting to find we had gained 3,348 feet, lost 5,058 feet in 13.2 miles, which took us 11 hours which includes most break times - kept forgetting to pause the recording. The Average speed was 1.2 MPH and the peak speed was 4.1 MPH. I must have been falling down hill when the 4 MPH speed happened!

    In any event, a 2-2.5 MPH average is a pretty typical pace for much of the AT.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  5. #5
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    Default trail worthy tot

    As you can see, he knows his way around the trail. We actually considered a bag designed for a kid but didn't know if it was worth it for the little while we would need it. Good point though, I'm sure my vertebrae aren't thanking me.
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  6. #6

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    There's a difference in your hiking speed and overland speed. I know for myself that on inclines < 500' per mile, my hiking speed is about 2.5-2.75 mph. My daily speed comes down to about 2.1 mph, factoring in breaks.
    Back to the Earth I screamed, and no one listened.
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by CassSarahSilvius View Post
    As you can see, he knows his way around the trail. We actually considered a bag designed for a kid but didn't know if it was worth it for the little while we would need it. Good point though, I'm sure my vertebrae aren't thanking me.
    Carrying a child on your shoulders for any length of time on a trail can be dangerous. What happens if you trip and fall? Your lucky nothing happened. He looks a little big for a child carrier pack. The kind of in-between age where he's too big and heavy to carry, but still too small to walk long distances himself. Best to match the hikes to what he can do on his own.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  8. #8
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    Default curious about speed?

    he walks where he can and I carry him as needed and adjust speed accordingly. our safety is always priority.

  9. #9
    Wanna-be hiker trash Sarcasm the elf's Avatar
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    One of the first things I learned the hard way when I got back into multi day backpacking is that I couldn't use my day hiking speed/milage to estimate backpacking speed.

    When dayhiking I can easily move a 3 miles an hour, when backpacking that speed quickly drops. Day one is always fairly fast since I'm fresh, however it's days 2, 3, 4 where I really start to slow down as my body adjusts to hiking all day and sleeping in a different place and on a different schedule.

    When I'm planning for a week long trip, I usually plan for about 1.5 miles an hour. My moving speed is much faster, but I know I'm going to be exhausted, and if the weather permits then I'm probably taking a number of long enjoyable breaks throughout the day including a mid-day siesta in hot weather.
    "This sucks and I love it."

  10. #10
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    Including lunch, filtering and breaks I almost always stay around a 2 mph average...a typical 10-12 hour day yields 20-25 miles.


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    A study was done of the AT class of 1995. Average speed was 15 miles per day, over 10 hours of walking. That's over the whole length of the trail, and includes zero and Nero days. Clearly faster in some regions, slower in others.

    Me, I know I'm good for about one mile per hour, with a full pack, in the White Mountains. I could sustain 1.5 mph in the mid-atlantic states, e.g.. PA and MD.

  12. #12
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    Dude, You and your family were cooking. 14 miles in about 5 hours is fast for anybody, including young experienced thru-hikers with trail legs. So, to answer your question you were way faster than normal on the AT. How long did it take to recover?

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by moldy View Post
    Dude, You and your family were cooking. 14 miles in about 5 hours is fast for anybody, including young experienced thru-hikers with trail legs. So, to answer your question you were way faster than normal on the AT. How long did it take to recover?
    I know my own average speed is much lower than that, and I don't take long breaks. Did a day hike with a friend last Sunday and we were moving right along because it was more of a training hike for him (he's getting ready for Denali) and we did 11.4 miles in 3:42 with 2000 ft vertical, which is right at 3mph, and we were practically jogging in places. Harriman SP, NY, Ramapo Equestrian Center to Reeves Meadow via Pine Meadow trail.

    Hard to imagine somebody with a young child going nearly that fast, but hey, there are some amazing people out there! And with a clear treadway and little elevation change it becomes a lot easier.

  14. #14

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    Hiking pace and speed will change with load, hydration, terrain, weather, health (mental, emotional, and physical) condition, and diet. Any or all of these can contribute to having a blockbuster mileage day or not making more than a few. Rather than trying to maintain a set hiking pace now, I let the terrain decide what the pace should be and conform to it along the way. Forcing a faster pace may get one to their destination a little ahead of others, but for me it can take a toll on the body with sore muscles, chafes, joint stress, and the higher potential of slips and falls.

    Getting on the trail an hour earlier, ending an hour later does the trick for me without the body rebelling and leaves me ready for the next day.

  15. #15

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    Depends on how much is climbing, how much is flat and how much is descending. I'm usually somewhere between 1.5 and 3mph.

  16. #16
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    So let's be clear, when we put a number on "speed of walking" do we include breaks or not?

    On a typical summer hiking day I might walk anywhere from 10-12 hours, but 20-30% of that time is spent on breaks -- a relatively long one for lunch, and several short breaks along the way.

  17. #17

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    When backpacking, IMO avg should include breaks because at the end of the day it's about how many miles covered and how long it took.

    When my friends and I were doing GLT (about the same time you and Slo-Go'en were!) we did only about 8-9 mi/day and stopped often for photos and spent lots of time on the mountain tops just soaking in the views and enjoying the perfect weather and leisurely snack. We spent nearly an hour at the observation tower on Old Speck. I'd estimate our average at about 1.2 mph.

  18. #18

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    On the AT I was very consistent at 2 mph. My daily average was only 12 mpd over the course of the trail, including days off. For the CDT it was 16, for the PCT 19. I was faster on the PCT because the trail was so much easier in terms of grade and treadway, so usually hiked about 2.5 mph. We also hiked dawn to dusk more often than on the AT. Day hiking I usually hiked 2.5- 3 mph, unless it was flat.

    Usually at the beginning of the hiking season, my average of 2 mph did not include breaks. By the end of the summer, it did.

  19. #19
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    Not a whole lot of recovery, blisters ( especially my wife, she has given up on the idea of hiking sandals after this hike) sore legs, the usual lot. We are used to the Tuscarora and the terrain of this section of the A.T. was pretty mild. Some hills but nothing like the Tuscarora. I think the better maintenance of the A.T. leads to much higher hiking speed for us.

  20. #20
    GSMNP 900 Miler HooKooDooKu's Avatar
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    The old rule of thumb I learned decades ago was that a hiker can expect to be able to do 2mph, and then add an hour for every 1,000' in elevation climb.

    I've found that to be a good starting point... and over the years, as I've gotten more experience and gear has gotten lighter, I found I can do better than that...

    But when I think about it, I did the JMT last year with a pretty heavy pack (50lbs because I was prepared for cold weather and did the 2nd half with no further resupply).

    To hike the JMT plus to the Whitney trail head, you must hike about 220 miles. At 2mph, that's 110 hours. The cumulative elevation gain is about 47,000'. So that adds another 47 hours. Toss in a few more hours because some of the down hill is pretty steep and will slow you down and you get an estimate of 160 hours to hike the JMT.

    During my trip, as best as I can recall, I typically started hiking about 7am and hiked until about noon. I would rest about an hour, and then hike until 5 or 6 o'clock. So I averaged 10 hours of hiking per day (perhaps a bit less).

    So the rough estimate to hike the JMT is 16 days. I hiked it in 17 days.

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