What is the Difference Between Hiking and Walking?

Sometimes, in the most mundane moments of one’s everyday routine, life throws a forked road that forces us to make a decision: almost a simple one, like choosing between the letters A and B.


At these types of unique moments, we are placed under the dilemma of having to choose between the options life presents to us—a dilemma of choosing which side of the forked road we are to take.

Would it be the smooth concrete path leading to the metro? Or the elevated rocky trail going to the outdoors?


It’s all hypothetical


Of course, you do not want to be put on the spot and come up with a choice right here and now.


But if you were to take this literally—if you were at a crossroads and you don’t know which path to take, especially if you are unsure whether you want to go on a walk or a hike, well, this article might just be for you. 


What is the difference between hiking and walking?

Let us cut to the chase first and admit that both of them involve the human locomotion of putting one’s feet after the other to move in a forward manner. 


To walk is to walk, and to hike is to walk as well. But this is where all their similarities stop: like you standing on a crossroad, asking yourself whether you should go on a walk or take a hike.


Let us look at the left side of the forked path: it is decorated with scenic views, marked by the verdant lushness of trees and vegetation, underscored by the gentle roar of perhaps a river, and the entirety of its floor is blanketed by the gritty, rough, soil of the earth.

If you examine it further, you could see that this side of the forked road seems to be leading into a higher elevation: maybe to the summit of a mountain, the end of a canyon, the other side of a hill, or an entrance to a waterfall deeply hidden within it. 


Well, this is what hiking usually is—a walk in nature (may it be through a forest, mountain, hill, or a natural park), characterised by starting from a lower point and finishing to a higher one. 


It is a long uphill climb that is marked with uneven terrain, as well as natural hindrances. Hence, it entails a more vigorous effort than one usually exerts on a typical day’s walk around the park. 


Now, if you take a look on the other side of the crossroad, it might look like your average metropolis: smooth, flat sidewalks and roads—that are either covered in concrete or asphalt—extending their reach into the heart of the metro. 


Look below you, and you won’t even see big stones, tree roots, as well as twigs, or even mud holes—all of which are usually encountered while hiking—that might hinder you from walking unbothered. No need to exert too much energy because you won’t be treading on an inclined plane.


As you weigh your decisions carefully on which side of the forked road you are to take, you have just found out about what is the difference between going hiking and going walking. 


It’s now time to delve further into the trails you are to take.

What is the difference between walking and a hiking trail?


As previously mentioned in the previous section of this article, what separates walking and hiking is the trail we tread on—the side of the forked road we eventually choose.


For starters, a hiking trail usually begins in a low, lying area. Let’s say the base or the foot of a hill. And as one slowly hikes himself into a higher altitude on that hill, the trail becomes an upward path: an ascent towards the summit.

Of course, almost all hilly terrains are not plastered with cement. Its trail is a composite of the earth: soil, rock, vegetation, and other natural matter. You might even cross some rivers or streams that are scattered along the hiking trail.


But with all of these come a couple of natural hindrances when hiking. Besides, hiking, indeed, is walking on an elevated, unpaved path. So, expect a few stumbles if you don’t thoroughly watch the hiking trail you are on.


Meanwhile, a walking trail is as typical as what a walking trail can get: a relatively smooth path, mainly covered in either concrete or asphalt. A regular sight in the city, given that the modern-day downtown is brimming with such pavements layered with either of those two.


However, not all walking trails are as vanilla as you imagine them to be, as some walking trails can be characteristically rough, containing sand and gravel on them. But do note that walking trails should not be sloped. So as long as the terrain you are on is rocky but isn’t inclined, it can still be a walking trail. 


Compared to a hiking trail, a walking trail is an easier route to tread on. Yet, both can still be engaged in as a recreational exercise or even as a means for just sightseeing.


And now that you are slowly leaning on the choice you have unconsciously made on which side of the forked road you are to take. It is now to look at the type of shoes you are to take with you.

What is the difference between a walking shoe and a hiking shoe?


So, let’s say you have decided to tread on the hiking trail, and you already have your gear on. However, before stepping out of your house, you were called out by your friend that the shoe you should be wearing should have these specifications:


It should have reinforced paddings, particularly metal bars on its soles; its design should be over your ankle so that the risk of getting ankle injuries becomes less likely; it should be waterproof.


He just described to you what hiking shoes should be: a sturdier and more durable iteration of your everyday waterproof shoe that is specifically designed to support your foot—as well as your ankle—when walking on uneven, rocky terrains, as well as crossing streams or rivers.


On the other hand, a walking shoe is manufactured for the sole purpose of providing comfort over long, flat surfaces, particularly roads with tiny rocks or few inclined slopes. 


Because they prioritize comfort, walking shoes are lighter and more breathable to wear over long periods. They are also well-adept in granting their users lighter and quicker mobility.


Some walking shoes are also hybridized—they are designed to take on light hiking trail jogs/walks and are also waterproof to a certain extent.

In conclusion

You just learned about the two sides of the forked road that await you the next time you decide to go outdoors. You just learned about what terrain to expect when treading at these paths. You also just learned about the specific shoewear required to be worn on either side of this forked road in front of you. 


You just learned the difference between going walking and going hiking.