What are the differences between walking, hiking, and trekking? Is it merely a question of vocabulary or are there real distinctions? Let us explain.
When we speak about “walking” in terms of outdoor activities, we simply mean the action of walking as opposed to other modes of locomotion such as cycling or skiing. Taken further, it’s also a question of gait. For instance, running – such as road running and trail running – is different from walking because the action of running includes a phase of suspension during which neither feet touch the ground. Walking can be done for several hours or over several days, at sea level or in the mountains, over short distances or long journeys, on a hike or a trek.
The term “hiking” doesn’t refer to the mode of travel but more specifically to the project and the itinerary of the activity. It’s the action of going from point A to point B, more or less distant, for the day or over several days. A hike elicits a predefined itinerary and therefore a certain amount of preparation, even if the outing is only for a few hours. A short loop near your home can be defined as a hike, just like crossing a mountain range over several days. Whether your time on the trail is short or long, hiking has many benefits for the body and mind, learn about them in our article.
Finally, the term “trekking” (or “trek”) can be defined as the action of hiking with elements of environment and duration thrown in. When we speak of trekking, we’re talking about a hike in the mountains that lasts for several days. Trekking therefore relates to mountainous terrain, to an itinerary over several days, and can be a loop as well as a traverse. Although trekking is not determined by altitude, we often associate trekking with the high mountains. For example, we often talk about trekking in the Himalayas or Andes.
As you can see, there is a lot of nuances! Each term communicates a certain precision along with a unique dimension that differentiates the activities.