20 Surprising Stats about Hiking in the USA

These surprising stats about hiking in the USA will give you a deep dive into the nation’s favourite outdoor Pastime.

Stats about Hiking in the USA

While hiking’s popularity is undoubtedly growing, it still isn’t the most popular outdoor activity in the country. Running is. According to Active.com’s annual survey of outdoor participants, more than half of Americans (52%) said they ran in 2018 compared to only 30% who hiked.

Stats about Hiking in the USA

You might think that biking would be more popular than hiking but according to their data, just 26% of Americans said they rode bikes last year while 25% went swimming and 24% fished (not necessarily all at once).

Stats about hiking in the USA
Explore! ©Alex Azabache

Hiking enthusiasts shouldn’t feel too bad about not having as many people as runners but there’s a silver lining: when it comes to spending money on gear and trips—and even finding partners for group outings—hikers are much better off than other outdoor enthusiasts!

2. About Three-Quarters of Americans Hike on a Trail

  • 74% of Americans hike on a trail.
  • 37% of Americans hike on a trail at least once a year.
  • 24% of Americans hike on a trail multiple times in a year.
  • 19% of Americans hike on a trail regularly (more than once per month).

3. The Number of Trails Has Doubled in the Last 50 Years

The number of trails in the United States is more than double what it was 50 years ago. In 2016 alone, 6,726 miles of new trails were added to the National Park Service’s inventory (that’s nearly 4% of all trails in America). That means there are now more than 200,000 miles of public footpaths!

4. How Long is the Longest Hiking Trail in the USA?

It starts at Zuma Beach in Los Angeles and finishes at Point Reyes National Seashore on California’s Marin County coast—a total length of 595 miles!

5. How Many People Die Hiking?

According to statistics from 2015, an estimated 1 million people died while hiking worldwide between 1950 and 2015; that’s an average mortality rate of 1 death per every 10 million hikers hiked over this time period.

There were also about 20 million non-fatal injuries—an injury rate that comes out to one person injured for every 100 hikers who set off on their trek.

On average, 11 people die while hiking every year in U.S. national parks. Most deaths are the result of falls or thermal stress—or heat exhaustion and heat stroke—which occur during summer months.

These deaths show how important it is to prepare yourself before you embark on any hike and to be aware of your surroundings at all times.

6. There are 2,100 Miles of Long-Distance Trails in the USA

According to REI Co-op, there are 2,100 miles of long-distance trails in the U.S. This is an astonishing number considering that less than 50 years ago there were only 5,000 miles of trails in total. In addition to having a lot of trails, the U.S. has more hikers per capita (about 40 million) than any other country in the world.

Woman on hiking trail
Time for adventure ©Nicoel Giampietro

REI is an important organization for hikers and their mission statement includes this: “to inspire, educate and outfit its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship”

7. North Carolina’s Art Loeb Trail is the Nation’s Shortest Long-Distance Trail at 30.2 Miles

North Carolina’s Art Loeb Trail is the nation’s shortest long-distance trail at 30.2 miles. Named after a man who was instrumental in establishing it and other trails in North Carolina, this hike is also known as the “Low Gap Trail.”

It follows an old logging road through picturesque Pisgah National Forest and has views of three mountain ranges along its route: The Black Mountains, Great Balsams Range and Plott Balsams Range.

An extension to this trail can take you to neighboring Tennessee where there are additional trails if you’re looking for something longer than 30 miles but still shorter than most long distance trails on our list.

8. California’s 211-mile John Muir Trail is the Nation’s Shortest National Park Trail

The John Muir Trail is 211 miles long, making it the shortest national park trail in the United States. It begins at Yosemite National Park and ends at Mount Whitney (the highest mountain peak in California).

The average elevation gain for the JMT is 4,380 feet per day—more than any other U.S. national park trail.

9. Over 10,000 Miles of Trails Exist in National Parks Alone

The National Park Service says that over 10,000 miles of trails exist in national parks alone.

Stats about Hiking in the USA

The National Park Service manages 417 sites, including 59 national parks and monuments, 84 historic sites and landmarks, 78 lakeshores, 24 seashores and 11 riverways. These sites are located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

The NPS also oversees other areas such as battlefields, military parks and historic homes.

The NPS has over 20,000 employees who manage these sites. In addition to these employees are people who volunteer their time at national parks or who work as concessionaires at various locations within the parks (e.g., hotels).

man comparing stats about hiking in the usa
Find new spaces ©Feeltoeep

Many people also serve as volunteers in non-profit organizations that support communities adjacent to or near national parks or other protected areas – like wildlife refuges – through conservation efforts (e.g., helping maintain water quality standards) or education programs for children about local ecosystems (e.g., stream monitoring).

10. It Would Take 20 Years to Hike Every Mile of Every Single Trail of the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA)

According to the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA), “If you were to hike every single mile of every single trail in our national forest and park system, it would take you 20 years.” That’s a lot of trails! In fact, there are more than 200,000 miles of trails in this country.

If that isn’t enough for you, the PCTA says that each year 3,000 additional miles are added. This means that if you don’t find what you’re looking for at one location, just keep hiking until something catches your eye.

The most popular trails include those that lead through major metropolitan areas such as New York City and Los Angeles.

These urban areas offer abundant recreational opportunities as well as long-established infrastructure designed specifically for hiking purposes—so much so that many people consider them among their favourite destinations for day trips or overnight hikes alike!

Man at the end of a hiking trail
End of the line ©Kitera Dent

On the other hand, there are less travelled paths, like those found deep within national forests or along remote desert canyons where one might see another person only once per week if at all when venturing out on foot over long distances.”

11. There are More than 200,000 Miles of Hiking Trails in the U.S, and it Grows by 3,000 Miles Every Year

You may not be aware of this, but there are more than 200,000 miles of hiking trails in the United States. These numbers grow every year as more people get out into nature and enjoy the great outdoors.

Woman on trail next to mountain lake
Expand your horizons ©Mick Haupte

The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) promotes the trail for hikers to use and enjoy, but also works to maintain its pristine condition so that it can remain open for generations to come.

12. Yosemite National Park Hosts Over Four Million visitors Every Year

Next on the list are Yellowstone National Park (3+ million) and Zion National Park (3+ million).

  • Yosemite National Park hosts over four million visitors every year; next on the list are Yellowstone National Park (3+ million) and Zion National Park (3+ million).
  • Yellowstone was the first national park in the United States, established in 1872. It’s also our most popular national park with 4.6 million visitors per year, followed by Grand Canyon at 5.2 million, Rocky Mountain at 4.5 million, Yosemite at 4.4 million and Zion at 3 million+.

13. The Average U.S Hiker Goes Five Times a Year

The average hiker goes five times a year. Most hikers go out for four to six hours, but some go out for over 24 hours.

The definition of a hiker: someone who does three or more hours of hiking per week in the past month.

14. Almost Two-Thirds of Hikers are Female.

While the gender breakdown of hikers is steadily increasing (from ~60% female in 2017 to ~62% in 2018), it’s not quite parity yet.

Stats about Hiking in the USA

This gap may be due to a number of factors:

  • Women may be more likely to report their hiking activity than men.
  • Women are more likely to engage in leisure-time activities that involve being outdoors than men, such as gardening and going for long walks.

15. More than Half of Hikers are Over 35 Years Old

The majority of hikers are over 35 years old. This is true for all outdoor activities, including running and cycling. It’s also true that more people are taking time off work to hike, but it’s possible that the trend toward exercising greater amounts of time outdoors has been going on for a long time.

16. Most Hikers don’t go very Far to Hike

Generally, they walk nine miles to stay within a 70-mile radius of their home.

Hiking is a popular activity, and it’s not hard to see why. It doesn’t require any specialized equipment or training, and the rewards are plentiful: getting to know nature and learning more about the world around us; a chance to get some exercise outdoors; maybe even reconnecting with your inner child!

In terms of where we choose to hike, however, most of us don’t go very far—usually less than 70 miles from home. In fact, the average length of a hike is 6 hours in length (approximately 9 miles).

Man and boy on camping trail
Into the wild ©Chris Riggs

The reason for this can be attributed in part to convenience—we want our hikes close enough that they’re convenient yet far enough away that they feel like an adventure. But there’s more going on here as well: most people who take part in outdoor activities do so within 50 miles of their homes!

17. What to U.S Hikers Want to See?

  • 53 percent of hikers prefer to go above tree line.
  • 44 percent of hikers prefer to visit a high peak.
  • Only 3 percent of hikers prefer to stay below tree line, at the base of mountains and hills, or in canyons.

It’s clear that for most people, hiking isn’t about covering long distances on foot—it’s about getting up close with nature.

18. On Average, US Hikers Log about Eight Miles per Hike

On average, hikers log about eight miles per hike. The distance a hiker covers depends on how long the trek is and the terrain.

A flat surface can be easier to traverse than a mountain trail with steep inclines, so your mileage may vary dramatically depending on where you hike. Hikers tend to wear themselves out over time and need to rest during breaks as well.

19. What are the Top Destinations for U.S Hikers?

The top five destinations for hiking are the Appalachian Trail, John Muir Trail, Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, Mount Katahdin, and Mt Rainier National Park.

The Appalachian Trail, John Muir Trail, Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail and Mount Katahdin are the most popular hikes in the US.

Stats about Hiking in the USA

The Appalachian Trail goes from Georgia to Maine and passes through 14 states. It measures 3,500 miles (5,600 km) long. The highest point on this trail is Clingmans Dome in Tennessee at 6,643 feet (2,025 meters). The lowest point is near Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia at 335 feet (102 meters).

There are 500 shelters along the trail where hikers can sleep overnight if they do not want to camp out in a tent. There are also campsites with toilets available along some parts of the trail if you do not feel like packing your own supplies for a long hike across mountains or forests

20. The Statistics show that U.S People Love Hiking!

Of the over 80 million people who participated in hiking activities in 2018, most did so close to home. Only 2.7% of hikers travelled more than 100 miles to go hiking.

Stats about Hiking in the USA

The average (mean) distance travelled by those who hiked was 5 miles, with 63% of hikers traveling less than 10 miles from their residences.

Stats about hiking in the USA with a male hiker
Enjoy your life ©Backroad Packers

Only 2 out of every 100 hikers are under 18 years old, while almost half (48%) are between 18 and 34 years old.

While there is no data available on how many people are married versus single when it comes to hiking participation rates, 69% of all hikers were women according to active transportation studies conducted by the US Census Bureau between 2014-2017.

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