Monday, August 16, 2010

The Ideal Hiking Group Size

Between the extreme summer heat and just having too much going on lately, I have not been able to hike in about a month. And extreme computer problems have made it very difficult to blog. But today, I decided to write a post about hiking group sizes.

A while back, I got a question on this blog about whether I prefer hiking alone. The answer is (usually) “no.” I actually prefer hiking with other people, but more often then not end up making a last minute decision to go for a hike and just do it by myself. Of course, in Washington, I was there by myself once the race in Seattle was over and the rest of the team left, so I did all those hikes by myself. My original plan was to find a guided hiking group and hike Rainier NP with them, even if I had to pay the guide. But the only such trips I could find were about a week or so long backpacking trips, and I only had two and a half days. Plus they were later in the summer, once the snow was gone at normal elevations and the wildflowers were in bloom.

I believe three or four is the ideal size for a hiking party. You have companionship, but it is a manageable group and some possibility of seeing wildlife. If someone gets hurt, one person can stay with the injured party while the other(s) go for assistance. The longer and more remote the hike, the more important this is. I have not been on a group (six to 15 people) hike in a long time, but those can be a lot of fun too, although they tend to get noisy. Last year, I encountered a group of at least 50 people hiking together, which was amazing. That is too large, in my view.

There are advantages to hiking alone. You can select the pace without holding anyone up or going to fast, and I usually see wildlife at some point when hiking alone. But a lot of the reason for hiking is seeing beautiful sights or even the simple but wondrous things of nature, and it is human nature to want to share that experience with another person. Plus hiking alone can be risky in addition to feeling lonely at times.

Bottom line though, while I think it is best and more fun to hike with a few others, the important thing is to get out there and do it! Whether I am by myself or with 10 other people, I always enjoy going for a hike.

What do you think? I decided to try a poll. I will leave it up for a few weeks since I don’t get a ton of traffic stopping by. And of course, feel free to comment!


  1. I agree with you that 3 or 4 is a good number of people for hiking and for all the reasons you mention.

    I do prefer being on my own when I take my morning walk though.

  2. I find it hard to get 3-4 people to agree on date and time. I usually end up hiking with my son, but I also like solo, which seems to do my head to most good. Dogs are also good.

  3. Yeah, we won't count dogs as making a pair. When I lived in Maine, including 7 years in the country, I would put on my snowshoes or cross country skis, get my dogs, step out my back door, and go for hours in the quiet winter woods. I agree, there are times when some time alone can be just the right thing. I guess I am always ready for a hike - solo, pair, or a bigger group. (Or with a dog!) Art