11 Reasons Why Hiking Alone May Be A Bad Idea

I have recently been on a trip to Costa Brava where a lot of hiking alone was involved. In fact, out of the 9 days I have spent in the region, 7 were days of hiking and I had a guide only on one hike. Those 6 solo hiking days thought me something very important: I won’t ever recommend hiking solo. In fact, I doubt I will be going hiking alone again in my life.

To be honest, I am actually sick of reading click bait posts written by men and women alike, all highlighting the many benefits or the incredible empowerment there is in hiking alone, or suggesting a variety of tips for overcoming the fear of solo hiking.

Here I am, my old unsuccessful backpacker self, once again going against what is trendy to say. In case it isn’t clear enough, I think hiking solo is mostly a bad idea, and I believe I have a right to say it because I have done a great deal of hiking in my life, some of it solo.

Before you go on judging me, calling me a wuss, or telling me off for not sending out an empowering message, let me tell you two things about myself. You probably know them already, but in case it is the first time you read my blog, you may not.

First of all, I travel alone most of the time, and that’s what I actually like best. I was alone when I went to Cape Town; I was alone in Jerusalem and in Amman; I was alone in Varanasi too. I love it. I like the freedom I have. I enjoy the flexibility of being able to do my own thing, waking up when I want, eating when I am hungry, seeing things I care to see and not seeing others I really couldn’t care less about. I appreciate silence and peace, and just as much I am able to talk to someone I have just met at the bus stop. I love the randomness of it.

Secondly, I think I have been sending out enough empowerment messages in my life, working as a human rights lawyer for the best of 15 years.

So, if you really think I am a loser for not wanting to go hiking solo, I am hardly concerned. After all, I am not here to tell you what to do or not do with your life. I am just stating what I think, telling you how I feel about it, and hopefully you will agree with me. If not, I am open to hear your thoughts – as long as you express them in a civilized manner.  

Let me state it one more time. I think that hiking alone is not a good idea. And since I like to explain myself, I have decided to highlight all the reasons why I am of this opinion.

hiking alone
Who takes your photo when you are hiking alone?

11 Reasons Why Hiking Alone Is Not A Good Idea

Hiking alone is just not safe

The most important reason for never hiking solo is that it’s just not safe. You may be in excellent shape (I am fairly fit myself), you may be a survival expert, you may be strong and all the rest, but really – it is just not a good idea. And there are many reasons why it isn’t.

You may injure yourself

I only know this too well. At times, things just don’t go as planned and we trip, fall, and injure ourselves. It happened to me when I was hiking in Jordan: I was hurt so bad that it took me much longer than expected to finish the hike (and I had no choice of going back). Thankfully I wasn’t hiking solo and I could count on the guide’s help to carry a bit of my stuff so that I could continue walking.

A young backpacker who was hiking alone in Fansipan Mountain in Vietnam was not as lucky. Nor was the experienced French hiker that was found dead in Italy after having gone missing for nice days. I just can’t help wonder if they could have been saved if they had been hiking with someone who could search for help, rather than have to wait for help to come to them.

Read more about my adventure hiking in Jordan on my post Why I hiked the Jordan Trail (and failed).”

The trail may be more challenging than expected

Don’t get me wrong, I like a good challenge, especially when I am hiking. 5200 steps steadily uphill (yep, I have had this when hiking Poon Hill, in Nepal!)? I am in! Narrow paths and cliffs? I don’t mind. But at times, for as much as we’d like to, a trail is too difficult to overcome it when hiking solo.

On third day of solo hiking in Costa Brava, I embarked on a circular route that – according to all signs and instructions I had received – should have taken me around 5 hours and 15 minutes. I soon realized it was going to take me longer (and a guide I met two days later told me he walks it in 8 – so we are still wondering why they suggested it could be walked in under 6), but despite the steady uphill and difficult terrain i was not discouraged.

It was when I arrived at a virtually vertical wall with iron hooks and nothing else to hang on that I realized there was no way this hike was meant to be done alone. I tried climbing, but short as I am I could not really grab the hooks. I went back, dizzy, and sat down deciding what to do. I decided it to give it a second try, but there was no way I could pull myself up that wall. I felt even dizzier than before, realizing that if I fell down, nothing and nobody would be there to stop me from falling.

That’s when I decided to go back, hoping to find a different way to go up (there wasn’t, by the way). As I sat down eating my lunch a couple walked by. I told them I was hiking alone, I asked them if I could join, and helping each other we managed to climb that vertical wall. We all agreed that a hike as challenging as that was definitely not meant to done solo.

You may get lost

Sometimes trails are not well marked, and you may end up getting lost. Ok, with today’s technology the chances of getting lost are slim. You can download tracks and upload them to apps like View Ranger. You can get a GPS. But what if your phone runs out of battery and on that day you forgot to pack a power-bank? What if it gets dark and you forgot to bring a head lamp? What if it starts raining and the trail gets blocked and you have do go a different way? The last thing you want is to be alone.

You may get attacked by animals

The chances of being attacked by animals in Europe are very slim. They are much higher in other continents, and they should not be underestimated. Besides, snakes are animals right? Well, sure enough if a snake bites, it’s much nicer to have someone that can help and call for help, or that can at least give some emotional support. Walking in a group also means making much more noise than when hiking alone, and this keeps animals away – so, the odds of being attacked are much lower.

You may get attacked by humans

The last thing one would think when hiking alone is that he may get attacked by another hiker or a passersby in general. Overall, there are much higher chances of being attacked in a city than when hiking (though, to be fair, there are also many more people to ask for help in a city).

Yet, getting attacked while hiking solo can happen, and it has happened – while the chances of an individual or even a small group attacking a group of hikers are much slimmer.

I remember warnings at my hostel in Santa Cruz La Laguna, in Lake Atitlan (Guatemala), warning guests not to hike alone to San Marcos, as there were reports of attacks with machete by a local gang. In February 2017 a young woman was found dead on a trail in Isla Colon, Panama. Why risk it? Just go with a friend. Or, if you are traveling alone, join a group.

hiking solo
Had I been hiking alone in Jordan, there would have been nobody to help me when I injured myself

It’s lonely (or shall I say, kind of boring)

I can entertain myself, or else I wouldn’t travel alone all the time. But one of the nicest parts about hiking is sharing the beauty of the nature around you, and gasping at the gorgeous views with someone else. There is nobody to do that with when hiking alone. Nobody to share your excitement for what you see. It’s kind of boring, after a while. Even the lunch you may have packed doesn’t taste as nice.

You are the only one motivating yourself

For some reason, whenever I am hiking with a group of friends, I push myself a lot and end up always being the first to the final point. I just walk really fast, especially if uphill. I realized when I was hiking alone in Costa Brava that I was much much slower than usual. It was like I could not be bothered to walk at all.

But it’s not just that. Friends usually encourage each other, in many different ways. While talking, the effort we make to walk uphill doesn’t seem so bad. Joking, we may encourage each other to walk faster. We may not be as bothered if it starts raining, and you may have someone to complain to about your blisters.

And if someone has a panic attack and claims she can’t go on (true story, it happened to my friend once when we were hiking in Sardinia), others will be there to encourage and stay positive, until she calms down and starts walking again. Finding motivation when hiking alone is not nearly as easy.

You have to carry all the weight alone

This is especially important for long distance hikes, when camping may be necessary. If you go hiking alone for longer distances, you will have to carry everything, with no way to share equipment with someone else. You’ll have to carry camping kitchen gear, tent and all. Even if your back breaks.

You have to do everything alone

But it gets worst. If you go hiking solo for longer distances, there is no such thing as dividing chores. You have to start the fire by yourself, get water and filter it, and put up the tent – which at times is easier said than done (though I learned quite well when I went camping in Namibia). And then you have to cook dinner, and sit alone while you eat it.

solo hiking
I am not a fan of hiking alone

It’s not budget friendly

Much like when traveling solo, hiking solo at times is not as budget friendly. At times you’d really like a private room, with your own bathroom and everything else. Sharing it with one or more friends would make it much cheaper, but if you are alone, you are stuck with the dorm (or with paying more). The same goes with campsites: some want to be paid per tent, and in this case it doesn’t matter if you are alone or not. But others charge per person!

Nobody is there to take photos of you

I realized after hiking alone in Costa Brava that I am not in any of the photos. I have a bunch of incredible photos of the places I have seen, and not a single one with me in it. Mind you, I don’t care to be in every single picture I take (just go check my Instagram feed to see how often I am in the photo).

But I like to have a good one taken, every now and then. Sure, you can always take a selfie – which is never as nice as when someone takes your photo. Otherwise, you have to carry a tripod; but that adds weight to the backpack, where – really – you only want to pack the essentials. Or find a stone or something else to leverage your camera (which isn’t always easy).

Sure, this is a sillier reason not to go hiking solo compared to the rest. But some of the others – especially the safety ones – are much more important and should not be underestimated.

By the way, if like hiking you really should consider getting a good insurance. Make sure to check out my post Why You Need A Good Backpacker Travel Insurance.”

Have you ever been hiking solo? Would you recommend it? Why, or why not?

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Learn why hiking alone is a bad idea - via @clautavani

101 thoughts on “11 Reasons Why Hiking Alone May Be A Bad Idea”

  1. I walked the camino on my own most of it. It was sometimes scary, but most of it I enjoyed it. I also met people on the way and walked with them. This was different but nice too. In Australia I wenthiking alone too. I would recommend it in Australia. Although there and in New Zealand you registered in National parks which route you’re walking. I will keep up hiking alone in Holland if there is no one to hike with. But outside of Europe I won’t do it again

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    • The Camino is a different story. I’d probably start by myself, knowing that I’d end up meeting lots of people.

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  2. I understand that hiking solo proved to be not a good idea to YOU but it really doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. It needs preparation, skills, and a lot of common sense, but if done right, it’s perfectly doable and safe.
    Groups get lost, groups get injured and/or need to be saved by the mountain rescue. Groups sometimes go out in false security that stems from the group mind thinking.
    Any hiking trip requires research and a very good knowledge of the trail. The fact that you couldn’t hike the vertical wall means you didn’t research it well to know there would be an obstacle like that.
    I’ve been hiking alone for years – I don’t like nor enjoy hiking in groups. I’ve been on weeks-long trips, hiking and camping solo, often wild camping. And I am the author of many articles on hiking and camping solo. It’s not “trendy” it’s a way of life or travel for many. And for some – a necessity to calm some mental health issues. To be honest, I found it a bit insulting to suggest I/others write or popularize solo hiking & camping because it’s “trendy”. You are not a rebel for stating you didn’t like solo hiking. It’s just not for you, that’s all. Just like hiking in groups is not for me (as much as I see the many benefits of it, but the cons overweight them for me).
    Oh, and I have tons of pics of me hiking solo… it’s not that hard, every boulder, wall, rock or fence could be a potential tripod.
    Good travels!
    Ioanna | A Woman Afoot

    Reply
    • Hi Ioanna, thank you so much for contributing to the conversation and the topic. I certainly didn’t mean to suggest that mine is the best and only view out there. It’s just my view, and I absolutely appreciate that others may have a different one 🙂 With regards to the vertical wall I found on the hike I mentioned: I sure had researched and I had asked (several times in fact) to get a guide, but the company refused to provide me one insisting it was completely doable. It wasn’t – not for me and for most people I met that day! Good travels (and hikes) to you as well 🙂

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  3. Hi Claudia,

    I sort of veered off and didn’t read the whole article, so some points might be a bit off. However, here’s what I believe. I took a negative view towards your ideas the second you mentioned trendy and empowering. I don’t hike because it’s a ‘cool’ thing to do. I do it purely for my own benefit and desire. When you are there talking about solo hiking being empowering, honestly I’m like what on Earth does this even mean. Take other people out of the equation and what exactly are you empowering?

    The things about what if your battery runs out – what if you have no head torch. Again, you won’t go out on your own unless you are prepared. Things can go wrong and batteries can run out, but you simply don’t ‘forget’ your head torch or powerpack. If you do, then you will make adjustments to your route way before hand not when you have thirty minutes before sundown.

    Taking photos of yourself? Invest in something for that. I don’t even have a camera (for which you just get a small light extendable tripod…) I use my smartphone and have a little tripod thingy for that. Cost me 20 dollars and works a charm. 10 second timer and bam. Or video using my action cam and grab stills. Quality is good enough to do that.

    Solo hiking can be boring yes. In an ideal world you have a hiking partner matching you physical ability and commitment (spending an extra hour hanging around because you’re trying to grab that perfect photo or whatever) but as that is so hard to come by you just need to get things done on your own a lot. I have some amazing experiences from my solo hikes – thought I might not make it back when up Teide in Tenerife at nightfall…

    Solo hiking is great character building, pushes you to take tough decisions, improves planning and organisation skills and really grows you as a person by having to deal with exposure to various challenges. Listen to some music, run a bit, mix up what you are doing.

    I’m sure your hiking escapades are much more than my own and perhaps you’ve rooted out more negatives in your time or got more unlucky, just reading this to me seems like some issues aren’t really issues.

    Hope you take some positive pointers from this and keep going!

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    • Hi Kristo, thank you for your comment. Perhaps I haven’t explained myself correctly. My post is about me, and I am saying what I think and not what others should think. When I say that hiking alone is thought to be empowering, I am evidently referring to the sense of empowerment and achievement one may feel when completing a hike (whether challenging or not) by himself. I do not rule out solo hiking per se – there are some short trails which are completely doable and where you can be sure that, should something happen, you can get help easily. Nothing bad happened to me when I went hiking solo – because I know my limits. Yet, despite being quite experienced in that department, I have managed to forget things such as a powerbank, or a torch. It just happens. I have had more bad things happen to me on hikes I did with a guide (feel free to read about my experience hiking the Jordan Trail), yet this hasn’t put me off from hiking. All in all, I feel that as with everything else in life, to each its own. Once again, thank you for your input, your suggestions and more than anything your positivity 🙂

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      • I have to point out that you contradicted yourself. When you make a blanket statement that hiking alone is just not safe, and then say you’re only talking about yourself, you’re being contradictory.

        In my experience, hiking alone can be safer than hiking with others, if the others don’t know what they’re doing. I was on a hike with a group once, and I came prepared with everything I needed including my 2 trekking poles. When we encountered snow, the people who chose not to bring poles decided they needed them. So those of us with 2 poles had to share 1 with the slackers (or be the bad guy and refuse). Hiking on snow with 1 pole was far less safe than with 2. Other hikers can really mess things up for prepared, comfortable soloists.

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          • One thing you have to remember is that, if you decide to NEVER hike alone, you probably won’t be doing much hiking. The basic problem with hiking with other people is that you are dependent on having someone available to go with you. That person must have the time available to go, the physical ability to do the hike, and (perhaps most importantly) the DESIRE to not only hike, but do the hike that you want to do. Don’t underestimate the difficulty of finding someone ready, willing, and able to go.

            Hiking groups, you say? This may be an option for some people at some times. But although many people would like to hike with someone else, not everybody wants to hike with a gaggle of people. Especially if you are not the most social person and have to find a way to break into an already tight group of people. Plus, hiking groups will not likely do all the trails you want to do, particularly if they are either far away or obscure.

            Honestly, if I decided to NEVER hike alone, I would not have been to a whole lot of amazing placed. And I would probably gain about 50 pounds. And THAT is probably FAR more dangerous than being out on a remote trail alone!

          • Once again, to each their own. There are so many groups and associations here that finding company to hike is never an issue. Yes, you pointed out the cons of joining a group. To me, the pros are far more important.

          • Yes Claudia! Ignore the haters. I agree with you 100% and was relieved to read that someone else feels the way I do, so thank you!

  4. I agree with many of your points, especially the safety issues. However, I can’t agree that hiking alone is boring. For me, I love being all alone in nature, just me and my thoughts! But of course that’s a question of personal preferences, as you said yourself.
    I’m also not sure about the money aspect. In some cases, going alone can certainly be more expensive. But if I’m travelling solo and I always join a tour whenever I want to go on a hike, that costs me money, too. So for me, it’s sometimes just a question of whether or not I have anyone to go with.
    Still, some of your points were good food for thought. Thanks for that!

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    • I am glad you enjoyed my post Nele, and of course we’d all different points of views! I have to agree with you with joining group hikes. Fortunately here in Italy they aren’t expensive at all!

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    • What is up with the defensive people on here?
      I also am wary of being solo out in the woods and that’s perfectly okay. Most assholes are opportunists and they prey on an easier target. That feeling a woman gets is real. No shame in choosing to be safe.

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  5. It hurts too much to be around people. If I liked people, I doubt I would acquire much of a taste for hiking at all. It would seem pointless to go out into the woods or the desert or wherever and just walk and walk.

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    • It’s all a matter of personal taste, I suppose. I am not much of a people’s person either, but I enjoy some company when I walk in the mountains. Thanks for sharing your views 🙂

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  6. My week is not complete when couldn’t visit a mountain, hiking has been an integral part of my life. Most of the time I hike alone, and its kinda liberating when you are alone in the woods, talking to yourself and appreciating the world around you. I also got lost sometimes but I don’t panic, the danger is always there just open your mind for whatever possibility may happen and trust your instinct, there were times that I didn’t continue going to my destination cause my instincts told me so.

    For me, hiking is a purest form of exploration, most of the time I dont take pictures I hike for freedom, to nurture my soul, to escape in a noisy and busy urban life.

    As they said, no man is an island and I also believe that no man is equal, lets just do what we think is best for us. Every experience counts. 🙂

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    • Bill, I am so glad you fully got the message of my post! We are all different, we all do what’s best for us. Continue enjoying the mountains!

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  7. I’m with you on this one .I agreed with most of your points except hiking alone is boring ? Lol I love listening to the birds and the solitoand not having to listen to another human sometimes . But All the over confidence will do out the window if you’re injured and die alone while the rescuers can’t get to you on time or if something goes very wrong or if you’re attached ✌

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  8. I totally agree. Solo hiking in a quite place is not a good idea. I hiked in Costa Rica in 2017 and the place was called hidden treasure. It was too quite and no foreigner went there. Then, I was robbed by 5 locals. All my money, camera, and mobile were gone.

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  9. Those are truly the dumbest reasons I have ever heard not to hike alone. Because you can’t take selfies? Because you have to do the camp chores alone? Is this really a serious article? I hike alone and I don’t take stupid or unnecessary chances. I stop and plan a route before undertaking it and size up alternatives in case the plan isn’t working. I’m not living my life scared to do anything because I am alone. You don’t want to hike alone, fine. But don’t denigrate other peoples thoughts and opinions like you did in the second paragraph because you have a conflicting opinion. Want to voice your opinion? That’s your right. However, you could do it without insulting others.

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    • Hi Laurie,

      Thank you for your comment. I appreciate the points you raise and the discussion that stems from it, and I appreciate reading opinions different than my own.

      I am sorry you feel offended by my post – it certainly wasn’t my intention to insult you or anyone else. Hiking alone is ultimately a personal choice. I appreciate that some of us (not me) are real experts in planning, in setting up camp, in reading maps and in finding trails. Others aren’t, and when they aren’t they should not embark in solo hikes – yet they often do, putting themselves in dangerous situations.

      The selfie point I have raised is just that – a point. In fact, I am hardly a fan of selfies and I don’t appear in many of my photos anyways.

      I have done my fair share of solo hikes, and when they are nice, easy and safe I will continue doing them. But for the hard ones, I won’t – it just isn’t for me.

      By all means, keep doing what makes you happy 🙂

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      • I have hiked alone…i enjoy the oneness with nature and moving at my own pace. But I also realize their are inherent risks. For longer hikes I seek out a companion. Unfortunately, it means I don’t hike as often as I would like.

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  10. Many of these reasons can be solved by someone who is used to travel alone: planning is the key, collecting infos too; this way you avoid tracks that could be too difficult for one person and you don’t get lost.
    As for being alone, if someone hikes by him or herself I think that’s exactly what they want: being alone. I like to share experiences with someone, off course, but I also like to do things by myself like travelling and hiking. Maybe you don’t share the feelings with someone, but you live them intensely without having to phrase them. Not having to speak saves energy, being able to go at you pace (being it fast or slow) is less stressfull, not taking pictures lets you atually look at the scenery instead of thinking about the best angle. I?m not even very fond of photos of myself, so having a picture of me somewhere isn’t really a must.

    What I think you should have done, was thinking of a less “hard” title. Like “11 reasons why hiking alone could be a bad idea” instead of “is ACTUALLY a bad idea”.
    Everyone has priorities, I think what you wanted to do was just to point out some aspects of hiking that must be taken into considertion when hiking alone because they could become a problem or a downside if not considered properly.

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    • Hi Giulia, thank you for commenting on my post. I think you really nailed the issue here: hiking alone requires some careful consideration of certain aspects of hiking – but not everyone does it! I am also pretty sure I did point out that I regularly go on solo hikes myself; but they are shorter hikes in places where I know I am bound to meet people who could help if I need it, and where I know there is a phone line in case I really need to call for help.

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  11. I choose to hike alone (even on steep terrain more akin to mountain scrambling) , motorcycle alone, walk and spend time alone much of the time. While I have a wife and several friends whose company I enjoy enough to accompany me, I love the freedom of running to my own schedule and itinerary.
    Take a little radio, maps, Epirb and an E-reader and you can have a happy week to just ponder life at a pace you wish to set

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    • Good for you! I travel alone, go out alone, walk alone, eat alone, etc etc. I even hike alone on very easy trails (ie the one in town). But long hikes – that I can’t do. Nice to know some people are so well trained to do it.

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  12. I agree with you 100%. I was sick of seeing those “you should hike alone, especially women” as they list all the reasons why. Everytime I read about someone who died or was lost for a few days, weeks or months, most of the time they were alone. And these people may agree that they should’ve prepared better, but they didn’t. Some are even experienced hikers and should know better, but maybe that’s just it. Their experience gave them a false sense of security and they skimped on some safety measures. I think it’s irresponsible to not tell people the truth about the dangers of hiking alone and remind them of all the fatalities, injuries, lost time, fear and lost sleep that struck the social circle of these people, etc. Thank you for a sensible article that hopefully saves lives and many difficulties. At the very least, I hope it helps others prepare better before they hike alone.

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    • It’s refreshing to find someone who understood the meaning of this post fully! If you have read the other comments, most people slay me for giving my humble opinion – which by all means remains my own. Even as an experienced hiker, I don’t think that staying alone when there is no internet connection, or chances of getting lost, caught up in a storm etc is a good idea.

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  13. I went hiking yesterday for the first time alone and it was great. There were a few other people on the trail, so I saw others maybe every few minutes. But when I saw another solo hiker with his bear spray on his belt I realized that I didn’t think of that risk. Next time I will have a bear spray. But I would never go hiking on some remote exotic trail halfway across the world. I only hit up popular trails where there will be other people.

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  14. Thank you for your article. I’m traveling solo in a couple of months and plan to take a guided hiking tour. I’m pretty new to hiking and started to wonder… do I really need to be “guided”? So I decided to do some additional research before making a bad decision. Your article made it clear to me that while solo hiking can be safe and enjoyable, there are a lot of points to carefully consider. And as a novice, I’m not knowledgeble or experienced enough to consider them. I’m looking forward to my guided hike.

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    • Hi Wendy, I am happy to know you found my post helpful and that you decided – as a newbie hiker – to join a guided hike. It’s a good way of making new friends 🙂

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      • I hike alone all the time. I would prefer to have a hiking buddy but I cant seem to find one…

        the white mountains in new Hampshire (usa) are my stomping ground. I see many the solo hiker male and female hikers. I see a lot of folks that should simply not be in the mountains. Just yesterday I saw a gentleman solo hiking with his baby strapped to his chest carrying no water, food or extra clothing…

        If you ever make it to the white mountains email me I’d happily hike with you.

        Keep truckin’

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  15. I hike alone almost every day with my 4 dogs. However, these trails are practically right outside my backyard. I always tell my husband where I will be and approximately when I will be back. We have Life360 so he always knows my location and can see if I am off trail or mysteriously stopped for a long time. It does limit spontaneity, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay for the peace of mind of having someone looking out for me.

    I am a careful packer, but I’ve forgotten things occasionally…like the first aid kit… It happens.

    I don’t think I would be comfortable out in the wilderness alone, on a rarely traveled route, no matter how well-prepared. A twisted ankle or broken leg is a catastrophe for a solo person 25 or 50 miles away from a highway. A rattlesnake bite out there alone is probably a death sentence. Those two things, more than any other things prevent me from doing it. And believe me, I’m as tough as they come. I got off my horse to get something that fell, jumped down on uneven ground, and tore my ACL in my knee. I rode 3 hours back to my trailer, in agony, loaded my horse up, drove home, put him in the barn, unhooked the trailer, and drove to the doctor – all with this destroyed knee. I nearly blacked out with every step. So I know what it’s like to be injured when out alone. Not fun at all, and I had a horse to carry me through most of it.

    I also don’t want to put my dogs at risk. I can only carry one a few miles at most.

    Those just aren’t situations I want to risk experiencing. Other people might find those to be acceptable risks for the benefits of solo hiking. It’s a personal choice.

    So I totally understand your reservations about solo hiking.
    People, especially new hikers, should remember that going far off the beaten track alone, requires extra experience, skills, planning, and equipment. And it could still turn into a nightmare.

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    • Thank you for your comment and thank you for adding to the reasons why I don’t recommend hiking alone. Others need to hear it more often!!

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  16. Heya there!
    I agree with many of your points and completely understand that everybody has different views, for me hiking alone is the only hiking I can stand.
    I was wondering about your experience hiking alone in the Northern European countries. I was thinking of doing some of that myself and wanted to know what your recommendation for the safest countries to travel alone in are?
    I liked your article a lot, and it made me consider some parts I hadn’t thought about before. But I think I will be for the most part fine.

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    • Hey Siobhan, thank you for leaving a comment. I don’t have much experience of Northern European countries in terms of hiking. I would assume Norway is a great place to go?

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  17. With all due respect, I find this article rather arrogant and, to be entirely honest, I’m not sure what the point is.

    Hiking is one of the most personal physical activities possible. As one Appalachian Trail thru hiker said, “It’s not complicated. It’s just walking.” All eleven of the reasons you mention to avoid hiking alone have to do with personal decisions and priorities.

    Scared of animals or not prepared for an attack? Don’t hike alone. Can’t navigate or inattentive to detail? Don’t hike alone. Uncomfy with yourself or need others around to entertain you? Don’t hike alone. Unwilling or unable to carry all your own gear? Don’t hike alone. Etc, etc.

    None of these are *reasons* to not hike alone. These are personal preferences that you’ve decided pertain to you and your mind/skillset.

    None of these pertain to me.

    As none of these “reasons” pertain to me, the article, to me, is utterly invalid. I would never judge you negatively for choosing not to ever hike alone. But then, I would never be so arrogant as to try to convince anyone else how they should or shouldn’t hike.

    As we say in the hiking community, Hike Your Own Hike.

    Reply
    • Hey Brian, thanks for leaving a comment on my post. I truly appreciate your point of view. What I want to make clear is that this is a travel blog, and not the Bible, and sure enough I am not preaching others as to what they should or shouldn’t do. I am just sharing my point of view. Some appreciate it (you can see it in the comments); some don’t – and I respect that. All the best for your future hikes!

      Reply
  18. I like to hike alone on the trails near my home but there are other people within earshot and I have a whistle. I’m hiking the AT next year alone but the trail will be busy. I’ve already found a couple of other hikers to hike with or near when I need alone time. Love your blog!

    Reply
  19. Hello, Claudia!

    Thank you very much for your articles!

    What would you say about hiking alone on Canary islands? Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria? I consider them as Europe and very touristic. With all technical preparation is it safe to make one day hikes there? The first thing which bothers me is a danger from a human.

    Thank you very much in advance!

    Reply
    • Hey Jana, the whole point I make throughout the post is that you should not be going alone – ever. Not even if it is in Europe. Having said so, that’s totally my point of view so you are free to do what you prefer 🙂

      Reply
  20. Thank you very much for this article/commentary! I live in Colorado and hike a lot of remote areas- sometimes alone. I am a guy and have run into some sketchy stuff/people in the back country. Anytime I have had reservations about women hiking alone I have been shouted down as being a “hater” or whatever… guess it’s not “empowering” to tell the truth. A guy shouldn’t hike alone either– anyone can blow an ankle out, get lost, suffer exposure… women have to also be realistic about different risks on top of these.
    Look, I’ve been there when it all goes bad and suddenly you’re in trouble; it sucks. Obviously the author of the this article has also.

    Reply
    • I am a woman and I am empowered enough to say that hiking alone definitely has some risks 🙂 Thank you for your words, and have fun in Colorado. I spent two years there and hiking is world class!

      Reply
  21. All you need is common sense and hiking alone is enjoyable. I’d never do it in Central or Southern America or actually not anywhere outside Europe but that’s because I’m kinda clever and I always gather a lot of information about the hiking route before I start it. I travel alone and that means that I also hike alone. I’m done with traveling with friends who are always complaining and whining about everything.
    I’ve done incredible hikes in La Gomera and Tenerife all by myself and it’s been amazing. Of course there are other ppl you see on the route so there’s always ppl you can ask for help.
    I really think your article is a bit of nonsense and you scare ppl for nothing.

    Reply
  22. Some of these reasons make sense and some are a bit weak. The reason I happened on this post is because I was looking to see if anyone shared my concern about hiking alone. I’m a guy and often feel when I hike alone that when other hikers see me they get a bit uneasy and assume I must be a psycho or something. If a single woman or a family with kids see a man alone on a hiking trail, they reflexively respond with suspicion and fear. “Why is this guy here by himself?? .. He must be a creepy weirdo.” And then that makes me uncomfortable. Am I the only person who picks up on this?

    Reply
    • I have met solo male hikers and never thought they were weirdos. I thought I wouldn’t hike alone (even when I have been hiking alone) but never thought of myself as weird either 😀

      Reply
  23. Interesting blog but I’m not sure I agree with this post. The good thing is that I am free to go alone and people who don’t want to go alone can find a friend. However, some of your reasons why we shouldn’t hike alone are problematic for me.

    It’s easy to cherry pick examples of when things go badly for solo hikers, but there are probably millions of times they didn’t, and overall, I’d bet that things go okay. That’s an acceptable risk to me.

    Getting lost – these days, GPS devices are very cheap and now you have very lightweight and portable devices such as IRIDIUM enabled GPS units, such as InReach or SPOT, which can send a distress signal (and in the case of in the InReach, two-way communications on the progress of the search and rescue operation).

    Getting attacked – I agree it’s safety in numbers, but using Central America is a bad example. CA, save for maybe Costa Rica, is just outright dangerous for tourists in general and robberies are common. Assailants are generally armed and willing to use extreme violence to take even small possessions. Sadly, I wouldn’t recommend large swathes of Central America for solo travellers in rural areas.

    However, outside of CA, I would imagine attacks on hikers are extremely rare and crime is mostly an urban problem. Many people hike the PCP, APT etc. in the USA and I’ve not heard of any who are shot or eaten by a bear. I believe hiking alone in places like Europe, where there are no dangerous animals is very safe and being attacked randomly would be incredibly unlucky, assuming you take the normal precautions.

    Loneliness/boredom – This is a personal thing of course, but I find it very rewarding going into remote places like the Atacama or Icelandic Highlands and the perfect solitude that can afford oneself. This is a immensely enriching experience and one which I find to be essential to personal growth and introspection. After I’ve been alone for a few days, I find a great freedom from knowing that all my thoughts and feelings are my own, along with a profound connection with nature. I think dealing with this sort of solitude is very challenging at first but allows for deeper insight into the nature of consciousness. I’m not sure this stillness or silence can be found in company.

    Reply
    • It really is a personal thing and since this is a blog I write, the views expressed will be mine. And it looks like many agree. Re. safety: last July a French man fell in Italy and was found (dead) after a few days.

      Reply
      • Could’ve taken a PLB which alerts rescuers wherever any accidents occur. Definitely a good pick up as someone who does lots of mountaineering in the Scottish highlands

        Reply
  24. I’ll be doing a solo 3-night hike this January (2020). I have to say I’m very excited and eager about it.
    All my hiking to this point has been done with either one or two others in addition to myself. I’m a natural loner and I usually find it a chore to spend my personal, private time with someone else. 28 years of self-employment has pretty much spoiled me.
    I get the “danger” aspect of what I’m about to do. I partly mitigate that by carrying a .45 (the danger of animal/human attackers at least).
    But negotiating difficult trails and streams alone is what I’m all about. I want to conquer – alone. I want to warm myself by the fire that I built. I want to sleep in the shelter that I made. I want to eat the food that I cooked. I look forward to spending my first solo night in a forest and conquering the natural nervousness that I’m sure will rise up with every strange sound. I want the solitude, peace and time to think my own thoughts for three whole days. And I want it to be me and no one else walking out of the woods at the end.
    I envy you for having done enough solo hiking that it’s become boring.
    May I too experience that one day.
    Nice blog, nice subject.

    Reply
    • Thank you for such a nice, interesting comment. I think it is ultimately up to you what you do (and enjoy). I love my me time, but I am too afraid to spend a night in the forest by myself. Kudos to you for wanting to do that and please let me know how it goes afterwards 🙂

      Reply
  25. Solo hiking is not for everyone. I would like to address your points:
    1. You may injure yourself. Yes that’s possible. Plan for first aid to help yourself and others. I found 3 people lying in a ditch near a trailhead, obviously lost and dehydrated, in 95 degree F weather, and realized I had almost nothing to help them with. After that I started carrying a first aid kit, extra water, and made sure my phone was always charged.
    2. The trail may be more challenging than expected. True, and good topographic map reading skills and careful research of the trail beforehand can lessen the risks.
    3. You may get lost. You may, but a good GPS device and a backup topo map and compass can help you find your trail again.
    4. You may get attacked by animals. Possible, but not probable. If you make enough noise and store your food and garbage responsibly, you probably won’t see any animals.
    5.You may get attacked by humans. Safety and security on the trail should be part of your pre-hike research.
    6. It’s lonely (or shall I say, kind of boring). That’s a personal preference. I hike alone a lot, or with a dog.
    7. You are the only one motivating yourself. No one manages your life (or hike) as well as you do.
    8. You have to carry all the weight alone. It’s fascinating what you can learn to do without and to find out what you really don’t need to take with you. Or what is so important to you that you’re willing to carry the extra weight. For me that’s a French press coffee pot.
    9. You have to do everything alone. What sights and activities interest me on the trail are not for everyone and I’m fine with enjoying the trail by myself.
    10. It’s not budget friendly. I guess I’m more of a wilderness hiker and sleep in a tent or hammock. State park fees and national forest fees are really cheap.
    11. Nobody is there to take photos. I’m sure there is camera equipment you can buy to set up the perfect selfie.

    I like to get into a zone when I’m hiking by myself or with a dog, where nothing in my head bothers me. When I hike with others, usually I am the more experienced hiker. I hike alone frequently and plan each hike with a risk assessment, route plan including electronic and hard copy maps, and a fit for purpose (trail and weather) emergency kit. I supplemented my hiking with some survival training and wilderness first aid classes. My biggest current worry solo hiking is encountering feral hogs.

    You are correct in that many hikes are safer and more enjoyable with friends. And some parts of the world are simply not safe for a solo woman hiker.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for all your input! I truly appreciate it.

      BTW, I take a French Press pot with me on all my trips 🙂

      Reply
  26. Hiking alone is the best experience a human can have, it seems you’re not cut for it so stay home writing your blog or try to make friends. No need to justify your fear out of rhetoric rationality. Coz flying is dangerous to, so is taking the bus and walking in the streets….

    Reply
    • The beauty of the world is that we are all entitled to our own opinion. If you feel like hiking alone is the best thing for you, and you are happy to take all the risks that may be associated with it (please note that I use the word “may”) then absolutely go for it! I prefer not to, but I certainly don’t look down on anybody who does. 🙂

      Reply
  27. Thank you for this post. I have long held that, with rare and specific exceptions, solo hiking as a bad idea. Recently, I have been researching different opinions and getting frustrated that it seems almost no one is making the case for not doing it (so as to have viewpoints to compare).

    Reply
    • Thanks for leaving a comment, and I am glad you understand my point of view. There is a place near home where I go hiking alone too – but it literally is in town, there are tons of people on the trail, and it’s easy to get help if anything happens. Other than that, I would rather stay safe!

      Reply
  28. I think if you find nature boring, then you are almost certainly going to have a bad time hiking by yourself.

    I understand why some people aren’t into it, but I feel like you (and anyone hiking a lot), would benefit from some basic hiking skills and safety tips. Whether you are in a group or by yourself, you should always tell someone where you’ll be going and when you expect to be back. More than 90% of the injuries and deaths on Mount Hood were people in groups (sometimes falling together). All of the deaths on Aasgard pass in the enchantments were people with a group.
    Being with a group makes people feel invulnerable, which is why so many people end up injuring themselves glissading. It also means that some people are pushing themselves too hard. You seem to think pushing yourself too hard is good, but exhaustion causes poor decisions and injuries. If you’re by yourself, you can turn back or set up camp for the night instead of getting clumsy and injuring yourself or your hiking buddies.
    If you’re hiking with a group of people in an area you don’t know like the back of your hand, everyone should be able to read a map. If you’re with two friends, they slip and fall, and you need to get to an area with cell phone reception, you’re not better off than you would be alone.
    It’s important to always always carry the ten essentials and check your supplies before heading out. The idea of not bringing an extra headlamp or at least extra batteries is insane to me.

    I agree that if you are hiking somewhere near a large urban area (like the San Bernardino Mountains), I would want a buddy for safety from people. if you’re by yourself somewhere that you might run into bears or mountain lions, make noise. They usually want to avoid you. But both of those cases are rare. You’re more likely to be assaulted by the person you are hiking with. Or stranger assaulted in a city. And being in a group does not save you from animal attack. There was a man in the Olympic National Forest who was gored to death by a mountain goat last summer.
    Again, these are rare instances, but if you’re assuming that you are safer in a group, you are allowing yourself to be incautious and making yourself more vulnerable to injury.

    I’m a female solo backpacker. I like being by myself, but on many thru hikes I end up making friends that I never would have if I was in a group. Again, Nothing wrong with hiking in groups as long as you aren’t assuming that makes you safer or that you can neglect basic skills.

    Your article is your opinion, but you’re presenting it as universal facts. And some of those things are just not accurate.

    That said, I do my best to avoid crossing rivers or streams without other people near me. Most of the time, you’ll find a friendly group to help you out soon, but I have spent a few hours walking up and down rivers in search of the safest place to cross wishing I was with someone else.

    Reply
    • Hi Jen, thanks for commenting on my post. Yes, this is my opinion but no, I don’t intend for it to be a universal fact. In fact, you make some valid points – all of which I have considered, trust me. Whether or not you embark on a solo hike is a matter of personal decision. I have done it, I found myself having to turn back as I found physical obstacles I could not overcome, and – much like you – I have made friends with people met during the hike. Your final point (spending hours trying to find a safe place to cross a river) makes me think that hiking alone, with some due exceptions, just isn’t for me.

      Reply
    • “ You’re more likely to be assaulted by the person you are hiking with.”

      The fact is that this is true. You are FAR more likely to get into a spat with your hiking partner(s) and have it get physical than you are to be attacked by an animal.

      Reply
  29. good article with valid points… i hike alone at times in the Philippines. yes there are obvious risks some of which you mention. also where i am there are unexploded wartime munitions on the hills which were actual war battle sites. leave the bombs alone. plus there are snakes but avoid them too. they live there we do not. at times i’ve no hiking partner as others are busy or simply don’t want to go. so i go alone. being careful helps and never be complacent.

    Reply
  30. I think that the reason for many of the negative responses to this piece is the way that it is presented. Although the author says that the view presented here is only her opinion, it is presented more as a general admonition of hiking alone. Perhaps a better title would be something along the lines of “11 Reasons why I FEEL that hiking alone is a bad idea”.

    Reply
  31. I mostly hike alone because others are simply unreliable or inadequately prepared, unlike my own bad, cautious self. I nevertheless tend to agree with all the reservations and fears, with the exception of selfies and photographs. I’ve been photographed a whopping number of once over the past couple decades out on the trails; that would be the gf, insisting on a significant summit, so whatever, but no one else is allowed. Nor will I take yours or anyone else’s; keep your vanity at home is my attitude. I’m there to grit it out and absorb it all by my own drive, or will, bathing in the forest green, taking in various impressions, spiritual feelings, apologies to no one.

    Reply
  32. I don’t think it’s a bad idea to hike alone unless you’re a newbie to hiking. I mean there are ladies who are hesitant to hike alone but then again it would be ok as well to start researching on the place you are about to hike. Just my two cents.

    very informative blog.

    Reply
  33. Thanks for the article.

    Another reason to think twice is if you are elderly and not as fit as you could be, like me. I’m 67. I love short hikes through the woods – 3 to 5 miles – but feel it’s a tad risky. Heart attacks and strokes do happen.

    When I go, I always tell a friend where I will be and what time I expect to be back. I ask the friend to check in with me at the expected return time. The Find My Phone app can locate me if needed.

    But I would not go on a longer or more difficult hike alone at my age.

    Reply
  34. Hello. I usually hike alone because I am tired waiting for others. People are not considerate of others time. They know they will be late and could have texted? Or they just don’t show up? My time is precious so I hike alone with my little dog. I do hike with 3 men 1 day a week who are punctual as well.

    Reply
    • I get just as annoyed at people who are late. In my experience though, when there is a group hike people show up on time. Perhaps you need to find people to hike with that are as punctual as you like to be?

      Reply
  35. I live in Italian Alps and also Sonoran Desert.

    Only fools hike alone.

    Anything can happen.

    If you become immobile in the desert and it’s summer, the ants will literally eat you to death so laying there injured will NOT be an option. The sun will join in and death will be imminent.

    Reply
  36. p.s. Not only is it foolish to hike alone, but it’s also dangerous to jog alone, especially after age 50. My brother-in-law ex military runs 5 miles a day and had a heart attack just fell over on his face dead. He laid dead on the ground til the next day because no one found him til then.

    Even going alone with your dog is unwise.

    Has anyone ever watched ‘I SHOULDN’T BE ALIVE’ ? Story after story of hikers and adventurists going at it alone. One poor soul slipped and fell and shattered his hips and pelvis and had to crawl on his belly 8 miles through jagged rocks and snow. He was one of the lucky ones.

    Reply
  37. Hello, your article seems to have kicked up a bit of dust! Your reasons are objectively valid and coming from a place of personal opinion as far as I’m concerned, and that is all fine, but I’m most interested by the responses and why it has been so divisive and I think it’s mostly to do with the pre-amble, which implies a lot. I do think that you strike quite a defensive tone in the piece, right off the bat – I would say there is a feeling that you anticipate being attacked for this opinion and so seem like you are pre-empting that response by going on the defensive with an attack of your own. I’ve never encountered you or your blog before reading this and it was the most prominent feeling that I got in the first several paragraphs. I hope I’m making a fair observation in saying that your description of those who disagree with you paints a clear picture of someone who is shallow, insincere, name-calling, judgemental, and who has superficial motivations for doing what they do. I’m sure this isn’t intended but it definitely is the result of how you’ve written it.

    This is a bit of a double whammy in terms of offense because you paint a picture of a shallow, instagraming thrill-seeker, desperate for external validation. The reality though is so very different for the high majority of solo hikers. I prefer solo hiking myself and it is a deeply personal thing, which is not so much to do with survival in the wilderness but rather survival in society. It has been alluded to by a couple of others here that they find “it hurts too much to be around people”, that short post was really moving by the way, Martin H; or that it is to do with mental health etc.

    Evidently from your own experience there must be solo hikers who more accurately fit the type of people you seem to think are going to judge you for this article… but they are all busy trying to get an online following of their own. The outsiders, oddballs and recluses who are actually here reading probably aren’t concerned with that. So for those who do it as a means of coping, or an exploration of struggles internal as much as external, to have themselves lumped in and tarred with the same brush as these others, well it’s understandable they get a bit offended. The motivations for solo hiking, and yes in particular as opposed to hiking in general, are often deeply personal so it’s not the same as being reductive and diminishing towards a mere hobby or preference, but rather it is quite possible someone might feel it is a trivializing of their emotional life.

    Anyway I just wanted to offer a perspective on why it might have been a bit inflammatory and hopefully it’s a helpful and not too presumptious observation.

    Lastly, more pertinently to the actual content, I think concepts like “bad idea” or “foolish” don’t apply to this subject… life is a constant risk assessment and ideally we accept the risk of what we do. Doing something dangerous isn’t a bad idea simply because it is dangerous, is it? There is a value judgement in all things and if someone wants to risk their life in a seemingly inadvisable trek then by all means that is their right. Poor estimation, preparation etc. is unfortunate of course but then life is about learning from the bad choices you survived and I don’t see why that doesn’t liberally apply here. I went solo hiking in Iceland with a death-wish two years ago over winter and got caught in a rockfall, I skidded down an ice-slope and managed to grind to a halt with my picks before plummeting about 100ft. I still shiver when I think about it, but my life has been enriched, it got me to reflect, I learned some important things about myself and I’m a much better traveler than I was then. Had I failed to stop myself I’d be just one more dumb, tragic Iceland headline who failed to respect the nature there and a cautionary tale about solo-hiking.

    Well, thanks for the article and keep it up 🙂

    Reply
  38. I agree with your post. I also much much much prefer hiking with people. However, I have done it many times and will do it again. Sometimes you just don’t have the choice, like if you work odd hours, or all your friends bitch out on you (most frequent reason), or if hiking groups are hard to get into. Either you do it alone or you don’t get to do it at all.

    Reply
    • Thank you for leaving a comment Celes. Here in Italy there are ENDLESS associations and groups you can join (for a small fee) to go on guided hikes. Perhaps it’s an option worth exploring?

      Reply
  39. I wish I had read your article 11 months ago. I lost my 21 year old Granddaughter on July 6, 2020. She was hiking in Utah. I had asked her the year before not to hike alone. So on this day she was not alone. but her friend, that she was with was on a bike path. The temperature was about 114.
    Because of Covid no one was hiking that day and we found out that park personnel had been cut back. Even though she had cell phones, It didn’t help. Her friend made it. She would have graduated this past weekend from UNC. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t cry and think how many people miss her.

    Reply
    • Hiking in such heat is brutal! And at times, we simply can’t predict how hot it may be during a hike. I am sorry for your loss, Pat!

      Reply
  40. Literally all your points have a solution. For example, carrying a PLB is extremely wise and alerts rescuers. Also a foil blanket if you’re in the high tops, or even carrying basic maps and gps devices.

    Another one is just not hiking when its extremely hot, and carrying personal protection for animals and even humans. The rest are non-points and are entirely based on preference, however your title does not suggest this.

    Reply
  41. I’ve hiked all my life, oftentimes alone (even as young as 9 years old), throughout the U.S., in Canada and many places in Europe. While I respect your point of view I don’t agree with it. Getting into a car could be considered unsafe. Just walking across the street might be unsafe, but if we live like that, we never really live, IMHO. It really depends on the destination and the ability to use common sense. While it can be nice to have someone along, it can be just as nice solo, even more so depending on who that someone is!

    Reply
  42. I was just last week in Ellenville NY and was hiking up the mountain (Minnewaska state park) solo, after 30 min I encountered the longest black timber rattle snake I’ve ever seen and wasn’t particularly worried but made me think about the black bears in the area and thought maybe it isn’t the best idea to do continue on my own with no human on site and being smaller then average and just spoke to mom earlier so I felt I had no right to take that risk even though I know it’s not likely to get attacked, I turned around and went back down the mountain and took the back country roads instead, it was actually steeper then through the forest but made it up to Sam’s point safely and hiked on the more populated trails up there, I will continue to hike solo on trails more frequent with other hikers but probably will not go solo on more deserted hikes, honesty I’d rather hike solo I just love the solitude and being in a group is a pain in the butt they’re mostly slower and don’t like to deal with the complaining and lack of drive to push through a 20 mile hike and constant breaks and bathroom, but my family loves me and I’m not taking chances because I have no right to do it to them, so maybe one day I’ll get a riffle and a PLB etc.. But until then I go where it’s safer as tempting it may be to see the crazy views and connect with nature

    Reply

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