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What are Hiking Tours?

By Jacob Queen
Updated Feb 25, 2024
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Hiking tours are a kind of adventure tourism. Generally speaking, these vacations will focus almost entirely on hiking from one place to another. There may be some time spent using vehicles to get to particular hiking spots, and that will vary depending on the overall schedule and the type of hiking tour. Hiking tours can be done as a group activity or alone, and some people rely on guides, while others prefer to go it alone.

There are many different approaches to organizing hiking tours. Some people like to go out into the wilderness and travel over long distances from one spot to another. An example would be traveling over a long section of the Appalachian trail in the US. There are also hiking vacations built around traveling from one small town to another, and people often stay in hotels overnight before traveling to the next place on the following day.

Guides can make hiking trips safer and more focused. Some hikers prefer to take hiking tours without guides due to expense or because they may take some of the danger and mystery out of a hiking vacation. Generally speaking, guides are often considered a better option for less experienced hikers, while unguided tours might be more appealing to veterans.

Hiking is often a very good form of exercise, and hiking tours can potentially help people get in better shape. They’re also a relatively inexpensive sort of vacation because there is usually less time spent on money draining activities like shopping. Hiking can be especially inexpensive when people choose to go on unguided tours and camp out instead of using hotels, but those options also offer lack the safety net that many people need.

The activity can be very taxing on the body, and people who are new to hiking may be concerned that they aren’t physically capable of handling steep climbs or other difficulties. Sometimes it can be helpful for individuals to go to the doctor and make sure it’s safe for them to attempt a difficult hike. If someone has heart disease or something similar, hiking could be potentially deadly, especially in the case of more challenging hikes.

Another aspect of preparing for a hiking tour is getting the necessary gear together. This could include everything from water bottles to backpacks and even survival equipment like knives and fire-starting tools. How much gear is needed will generally depend on the exact type of hiking tour someone is undertaking.

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Discussion Comments

By Sinbad — On Oct 08, 2011

Hiking tours sound like a great vacation idea for anyone who is adventurous and love nature and hiking through it. I think I would enjoy going on a hiking tour, as I love nature, hiking, and am a bit adventurous.

I would want to go on a week hiking tour to see if I could handle it mentally and physically. I guess it would be a good idea for me to ask my doctor if I could do something like that, since I have only hiked a couple times so far.

A tour guide seems like the way to go for me, because I enjoy meeting new people and learning new information. Also, since I am inexperienced, it would be in my best interest to hire a tour guide. I think a hiking trip would be a great group trip, there would probably be lots of great memories to be had and lots of bonding time too.

Although a tour guide would cost more money than doing it alone, it would probably still be less than what most people would spend on a big city style vacation, like New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. If you and your hiking group decide to "rough it" in the woods, sleeping in the wilderness at night, you all could save lots of money!

By jmc88 — On Oct 07, 2011

My friends and I hiked the River to River trail through the Shawnee Forest in southern Illinois after I graduated from college. It was a great experience.

The trail goes from the Ohio River in the east to the Mississippi in the west. All in all, the trail is about 80 miles. Doing the whole trail at once is definitely not for the inexperienced hiker. It took us a little over two weeks to do it.

For anyone who decides to do an extended hike alone, it is extremely important to make sure you have a map, compass, adequate clothing, and plenty of food and water. Luckily, we had a GPS unit that simplified everything, but sometimes the remote trail sections can be poorly marked.

I think for a hiking tour like this, it is partially about seeing nature, but a lot of it is a personal test to see if you can do it. I'd really like to try to hike part of the Appalachian Trail at some point, but I know I could never do the whole thing.

By kentuckycat — On Oct 06, 2011

@titans62 - I totally agree, guided tours are great. The one I went on wasn't quite as exotic, it was in the Smokey Mountains, but it was still really interesting. The area as a whole is kind of a tourist destination, but our guide made sure we got a real outdoors experience.

Like the article mentioned, she knew the most exciting trails and told us a lot of really interesting facts about the area. Me and the person I went with are both really into nature, and the guide was really knowledgeable about the different areas. She was able to point out some of the interesting plants and animals and tell us more about the forest as a whole.

By titans62 — On Oct 06, 2011

If anyone gets a chance to travel to South America, Peru specifically, you have to take one of the Machu Picchu hiking tours. They are absolutely incredible.

I didn't even know you could get guides for hiking trails, but found out about it when we started planning our trip. The guides were native Peruvians who knew the area and history extremely well. Ours even took us to some hidden spots off of the trail that most people would never find on their own.

The tour and everything combined was kind of pricey, but it's definitely worth it if you want a one of a kind experience.

By TreeMan — On Oct 05, 2011

@andee - Thanks for that comment. I found myself wondering what kind of involvement the tour guides actually had during the hike. I wasn't sure if they offered informative comments or were more of just someone who could advise hikers on where to go and how to stay safe.

I've never gone on a guided hike. It seems like it might be fun. I've gone on guided canoeing trips, and have always had a great time. I have always wanted to visit Yellowstone. Maybe if I ever get a chance to go, I'll look into some hiking tours.

By andee — On Oct 05, 2011

When we visited Hawaii, we paid to go on at least one Hawaii hiking tour. I wanted to do this to learn about the history of the area I was hiking more than anything else.

I know I could have done research ahead of time, but find it much more interesting to hear about the local area from a native.

You can learn interesting information from the tour guides that you would never learn in a book. It also gives you the chance to ask questions and get even a better idea of the area.

The hike we went on was not hard physically and was more of a learning adventure, but the scenery was absolutely breath taking.

By honeybees — On Oct 04, 2011

I think it depends on how familiar you are with the area you will be hiking if it would be worth paying for a hiking tour or not.

We go camping every year in the mountains, and over the years I have become very familiar with the trails and where they lead. This would be a waste of my money to pay someone to take me on a hiking tour in this spot.

On the other hand, I have always wanted to hike down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. This is something I would most certainly want to have a guided hiking tour for.

I would not feel safe or confident tackling something like this myself and would rely on their expertise and experience to get the most out of the hike.

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