The Difference Between Walking, Hiking, and Trekking

couple hiking on coastal trail

Hiking, walking, trekking; these are three terms that have been interchangeably used and sparked arguments about what each of them really means. People use them throughout various scenarios and adventurous trails to refer to slightly different activities or individuals. With so many people interpreting these terms differently, it can get tricky to settle the nuances between the three!

Whether you and a friend made a bet to decide on who has the accurate definition or if you’re simply curious about the differences, we’ve broken down the three activities and how they are similar and different from each other. Here’s what you need to know:

What the Dictionary Says

First, let’s start with what the dictionary says. According to the Cambridge dictionary, hiking is “the activity of going for long walks in the countryside.” Walking is “the activity of going for a walk, especially for pleasure.” Lastly, trekking is “the activity of walking long distances on foot for pleasure.” It’s easy to see that the definitions themselves overlap, which is why it’s no surprise that the terms are interchanged so often!

However, there’s a lot more to each of the three activities than meets the eye. When you go on enough hikes, walks, and treks, you’ll start to understand their nuances and how to prepare for them properly.


Walking is just that—the simple act of moving forward by one foot in front of the other. However, it’s more than walking from your couch to the kitchen; it’s usually at quite a distance and done on pavement. It doesn’t require a certain level of physical fitness nor special equipment, as all you need is yourself!

Unlike the other two activities, walking is much slower and is often done to get fresh air or get to a nearby destination. It’s also the go-to exercise for people hoping to be more active before they move up to running, hiking, or trekking. 


Meanwhile, hiking takes place specifically in nature without the sophistication of paved roads or walkways. It’s full of bumpy, rough terrain and unpaved trails that are long, usually more than two miles, requiring a certain degree of physical fitness and special equipment, like waterproof hiking boots.

Hiking usually consists of one-day excursions with daypacks full of supplies like extra clothes, water, and sunscreen. It’s also used to explore nature, spend time away from the city, and enjoy the beautiful scenery of wildlife. It’s a great full-body workout that will leave you feeling tired but better than ever before.


Lastly, trekking often takes place over several days and is much more intensive than hiking. You’ll be going through forests, mountains, and hills in your journey, putting you right in the thick of nature. It’s essentially the next level after hiking and a step below mountaineering.

Trekking involves carrying an assortment of equipment: down jackets, tents, sleeping bags, and other things you need to survive in the wild. You’ll be away from civilization, sleep under the stars, and witness breathtaking views that you can’t get anywhere else. For this reason, trekking requires a higher level of physical fitness since you’ll be on foot the entire time, lugging around several pounds of camping gear.


At first glance, walking, hiking, and trekking may mean the same thing; after all, you’ll be walking in all three activities! However, they feature different levels of intensity and require more equipment as you go up. Now that you know the difference between the three, you’ll know how to prepare yourself when you’re invited to either of the activities.

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