What type of hiker are you?

Spending a lot of time on the trail gives a person a lot of time to think. And while I’ve always known that people approach hiking differently and that people hike for all manner of different reasons, lately I’ve started to notice some broad groups that account for most hiking styles. There are many exceptions but I’ve found these seem to capture most hikers I’ve come across.

The first one that comes to mind is the person who is just out for a stroll.


More than anything this person wants to be out in nature and is maybe even looking to feel like they are one with nature. Maybe this person prefers solitude or maybe not. He or she may have a favorite place or a favorite trail where they will spend a lot of time but they can be just as happy anywhere as long as they can capture the feeling of being immersed in that natural world.

Another common style is the person out to explore.


This hiker is game to go anywhere as long as they have never been there before. In most everyday conversations we think of an explorer as being the first person to venture into a specific place but this is not what I mean here. The explorer hiker doesn’t have to be the first person to go to a specific place so long as it’s the first time they have ever been there. An explorer can also gain a great deal of satisfaction by leading another person to a new place.

The final type of hiker is the destination hiker.


This hiker has a specific place in mind which could be a summit, a lake, a historic fire lookout or anything else they can think of. They can be the most difficult person to hike with if you don’t share their drive to get from A to B since they tend to get impatient if you want to check out a side trail or take a few extra stops.

I guess I would also carve out a special category for the challenge hiker. While there is a fair amount of overlap among the three categories the challenge hiker seem to be made up of equal parts explorer and destination hiker. But the challenge hiker also has the added trait that the place to get to has to have some significant obstacles for them to overcome usually in terms of technical difficulty or endurance/distance.

I don’t think it’s right to make a list like this without coming clean myself. So I’ll admit that most of the time I fall in the explorer category although on many levels I wish I could just stroll and be one with nature. I’d love to hear what category best describes you and I’d also love to hear from you if you think I’ve missed the mark.

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User Comments

  1. Bill Kelly |

    I would throw out two more categories, and I tend to be a combination of these two categories.

    The first is the experience seeker/collector. The experience seeker is a hiker who hikes in order to find and in a sense collect experiences. The experience could be a particular challenge like the challenge hiker always seeks, but that’s a rare goal. The experience may often be a destination, but not reaching destinations doesn’t stop him from hiking. The experience may be a new trail like the explorer, but he could spend his entire life hiking familiar trails and not be the least bit disappointed. The experience seeker is a little too driven to be a true stroller who just wants to be one with nature, but he is like the stroller in the sense that the experiences that one feels in hiking are the big driving factor.

    The second is the photographer. The photographer is out in nature because he likes to see nature and capture nature on some kind of media. He wants to share nature with those who aren’t able to be there. He can be happy on a familiar trail or a new trail. Reaching a destination is great because that’s the only way to photograph that destination. At the same time, a great photo at a relatively boring destination is just as rewarding as a great destination but no photo.

    • Hey Bill, those are two great additions to the list. I’m kicking myself a bit because I should have thought of the photographer at least.

    • Rebecca |

      Yes, we agree! How did we forget photographer!

  2. Windy Pixels |

    We’re fisherpeople, which I guess makes us destination hikers!

    • Al Walsh |

      We don’t fish much so I hadn’t thought of that but it fits.

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