Taxing Hike: Next Time, Time It Right

Hiking is a great way to get in touch with nature and burn some calories. But before you hit the trail, it’s important to plan your distance — and timing — so you don’t end up lost in the dark.

Most of us underestimate how long a hike will take. The four miles an hour you clock walking around your neighborhood is misleading: Roaming over rocks, around trees, and up hills can slow you down.

Here’s how to estimate the length of a hike: Allow 30 minutes for each mile plus an extra 30 minutes for every 1,000 feet in elevation you’ll be covering. For instance, say you want to hike a 4 mile trail (round-trip) that leads to a lookout at 3,000 feet. Give yourself about 3 1/2 hours — 2 for the 4 miles, plus another 1 1/2 hours for the increased elevation. If you’ll be carrying more than 15 pounds in your pack (unlikely for a day hike), allow even more time.

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