Everyone has heard about hiking and trekking activities that have become especially popular in recent years. Although many of us are engaged in this type of activity, sometimes we confuse which term should be used. Thus, we content with calling this activity either a walk or a nature walk.
These terms, widely used in Canada, USA, and other western countries, have started to be used over time in all the languages of the world. Firstly before defining the different and similar features of hiking and trekking, let’s try to interpret the meaning of these terms.
Though the definition of hiking and trekking is very similar in many dictionaries, the terms also have different features. Thus, hiking is derived from the word “hike” and means traveling or long walks. The Oxford Explanatory Dictionary describes it as “the activity of going for long walks in the country for pleasure.” It is evident from the definition that hiking is the activity out-of-town, long walk in nature. Mountain hiking is especially popular.
Trekking, however, is derived from the word “trek” which means to spend time walking, especially in the mountains and for enjoyment and interest.
However, it is impossible to see the enormous difference between these activities by merely explaining the terms. So here’s another point worth noting. To clarify this, it is necessary to look at the opinions of the experts. It appears that people engaged in these activities for a long time have already identified the particular features of these activities. While looking at the opinions of experts in these areas, we can see the remarkable differences in these concepts.
Firstly, it turns out that both of these activities can be called as abovementioned a walk. In other words, a person leaves home, city, etc. and goes to walk in nature. It is the most characteristic feature of hiking and trekking. However, the preparation, period, route, physical fitness, etc. required for these activities are entirely different.
Let’s analyze the differences between hiking and trekking according to the above features.
Meanwhile, it should also be mentioned that the person engaged in hiking is called hiker, and the one involved in trekking is known as a trekker. Of course, the person can be called a tourist as these types of activities are part of the walking tour.
One of the main differences between hiking and trekking is the time spent on these activities. Many experts consider hiking as a one-day walk. Thus, the duration of hiking may vary from 2 to 10 hours. Trekking can last at least two days, a week, a month, and even more.
It should also be emphasized that the person who hikes can stay at the different camps, houses, and other touristic places and continue his/her walk every day on a specific route known in advance. In this case, it is not right to call this kind of touristic activity as trekking.
Hiking is a type of walk activity held in the state parks, various state reserves, etc. in a forest, mountain or plain. The hiking routes are, in most cases, known in advance, and it is possible to finish these routes in a short period. There are even distinctive signs on the trails to facilitate hiking in some countries. As the start and finish point of the hiking trail is known in advance, hikers do not go out of the main route for safety reasons.
Trekking is entirely different from hiking, as the trekking trails change frequently. That is, the trekker can move in different directions from the forest to the mountain, from mountain to low-land, lake, sea, etc. The trekker defines his/her route, and this may or may not have been planned. Trackers are freer. They can also be called walking specialists. They can even choose the most irrational routes they want to experience. The trekkers are defining the new paths for future hikers. Since trekking can also include walking up to summits, it makes it closer to sports, especially alpinism.
Hiking, as a rule, does not require much planning, as the hiking trails and the time to be spent on the route is often known in advance. However, the hikers must get ready for the specifics of the walking environment. Take enough food and water, even though hiking is expected to last only a few hours. Sometimes when hiking, you may want to discover new places in addition to the known ways, so it is advisable to be well prepared. If you are new to this field, it is not advisable to go off the well-known hiking trails. Trekking requires more planning, as you are no longer a tourist walking on known trails anymore, you are a kind of explorer. You have to think ahead about the places you want to conquer, find them on the map, and study them in detail. Even though trekking is like an independent type of walk activity, every trekker seriously gets ready for the trip in advance. Naturally, trekkers need more and various equipment for the walk. The food may differ per the trekking trails, period, etc.
Physical fitness is essential for both types of activities. Nevertheless, trekking requires a more active way of life. Taking into account that hiking is widely regarded as walking in the mountainous terrain in many countries, physical fitness is also one of the essential requirements. There are special guide services for specific routes in countries where hiking developed as a type of tourism, and the hikers should have health insurance against any accidents. Any problem that may arise during hiking is foreseen in almost all western countries. It is impossible to say the same for trekking. Trekker must inform his/her route (if known) to anyone in advance. Necessary first aid supplies should be taken in both activities for safety reasons.
Finally, I would like to return to the main question. Hiking, trekking, or just a walk?
I want to give the shortest answer. Although the terms vary, in essence, they both are walk activity. Hiking is short, and trekking is a long walk. Anyone can join hiking; however, trekking requires experience. Hiking trails are usually clear and specific, while it is diverse in trekking.
Both of these types of walking tourism are a great way to communicate with nature. Regardless of which one you prefer, both are indicators of a healthy and active lifestyle.