How to Stay Motivated for Hiking: 16 Tips to Keep You Going

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You've set your sights on hiking the Appalachian Trail. You've planned and mapped out your route, got all the supplies you need, and you're ready to go.

But even the best-laid plans can go awry, and before you know it, you've hit a wall – not just metaphorically, but literally, as you stare up at a massive mountain that seems impossible to climb.

So how do you stay motivated while hiking? Here are 14 tips to help get you going!

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Before You Hit The Trail

In this section, we'll cover some things you can do before you even start your hike to get yourself in the right mindset.

1. Set a goal

Before you embark on your hike, take some time to sit down and think about what you hope to accomplish. Do you want to reach the summit of Mt. Everest? Or are you just looking for a relaxing nature walk?

Once you've got your goal in mind, write it down somewhere or tell a friend so that you can be held accountable.

If your goal is to hike the Appalachian Trail, break it down into smaller goals so that you can celebrate each accomplishment along the way. For example, your first goal could be to make it to the next campsite.

What's important is that you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve to stay motivated throughout your hike.

2. Do your research

women hiker hiking in extreme terrain

Being prepared for what lies ahead is part of staying motivated on your hike.

Make sure to do your research before setting out so that you know what to expect. Read up on the terrain, the weather conditions, and any other potential hazards.

The more you know about what you're getting into, the better prepared you'll be – and the more motivated you'll be to reach your goals.

For example, if you're hiking the Appalachian Trail, you'll need to know about elevation changes, water availability, and which parts of the trail are more difficult than others.

You can also talk to people who have done the hike before – they'll be able to give you first-hand advice on what to expect and how to stay motivated.

3. Make a plan

planning signboard

Once you've done your research and you know what to expect, it's time to make a plan. This will help you stay on track and focused on your goals.

Start by mapping out your route and plotting out each day's hike. Decide how far you want to go each day and where you'll stop for breaks. Make sure to account for any potential detours or side trails you might want to explore.

Then, start packing your gear and supplies. Make sure you have everything you need so that you can focus on enjoying your hike.

Finally, tell someone else about your plans. It's always a good idea to let someone know where you're going and when you expect to be back. That way, if something does go wrong, they'll know where to start looking for you.

4. Pack light

This may seem like an odd tip, but packing a lighter can help you stay motivated. If you're carrying a heavy backpack, you'll be more likely to get tired and want to take breaks more often.

But if your backpack is light, you'll be able to hike for longer periods without getting as tired. You'll also be less likely to get injured since you won't be putting as much strain on your body.

So, when packing for your hike, only bring the essentials. Leave behind anything that you don't absolutely need. The lighter your backpack, the better!

Do you know what really gets you motivated to keep going on your hike? Magic treats! Don't forget to pack some. We'll talk more about that later.

5. Set a realistic timeline

Setting an unrealistic timeline is one of the biggest mistakes people make when planning a hike. They try to pack too much into each day, which can lead to fatigue and frustration.

If you're not careful, you can easily burn yourself out before you even reach your goal. So, be sure to set a realistic timeline for your hike.

Start by estimating how long it will take you to reach each checkpoint. Then, add in some extra time for rest breaks and explore the side trails. And finally, don't forget to factor in bad weather or other potential delays.

By setting a realistic timeline, you'll be less likely to get discouraged and more likely to stay motivated throughout your hike.

a couple of hikers hiking and helping each-other

6. Start early

One of the best ways to stay motivated on your hike is to start each day early. This will give you more time to reach your goals and avoid getting too tired.

Plus, hiking in the morning is a great way to avoid the heat of the day. If you can, try to get an early start to beat the heat and hike in cooler temperatures.

Starting early will also help you avoid crowds. If you're hiking on a popular trail, starting early will help you get ahead of the crowds and have a more enjoyable hike.

Of course, starting early isn't always possible. If you can't get an early start, try to hike in the evening when it's cooler, and the crowds have thinned out. Either way, starting your hike early is a great way to stay motivated and on track.

On The Trail

Assuming you've already set a goal for yourself, here are some tips to help you stay motivated while you're on the hike itself:

hike with excitement and energy

1. Start your hike with excitement and energy

This will help carry you through the tough parts later on. It's important to be both mentally and physically prepared for your hike before you even set foot on the trail.

Make sure you've done your research, know what to expect, and have a plan for how you'll achieve your goals. This way, when you start hiking, you'll be able to hit the ground running (literally!) with excitement and energy.

If you start to feel bored or unmotivated at any point during your hike, try to push through it by focusing on why you're doing this in the first place.

Remember your goals and think about all of the amazing things you'll get to see and experience along the way.

2. Start slow and build up your pace

Your first few days of hiking will probably be fairly slow and easy, but that's okay. It's important to take things at a comfortable pace so that you can avoid getting discouraged or burned out.

When you feel like you're ready to start picking up the pace, increase your speed little by little each day. This way, you won't get overwhelmed and won't risk burning yourself out.

And don't forget to factor in rest days as a part of your hiking routine. These can help you stay motivated by giving you a break from the strenuous physical activity of long-distance hiking.

3. Bring along some magic treats

There's nothing that motivates us like the promise of a delicious reward! So, be sure to pack some magic treats for yourself to enjoy along the way.

These can be anything from your favorite candy bar to a bottle of wine to celebrate reaching your goal. Whatever it is, make sure it's something that you'll enjoy and that will help you push through the tough times.

Plus, by treating yourself to some special rewards along the way, you'll stay motivated and excited about your hike each and every day.

4. Count your accomplishments

hiking in mountain

It's easy to get discouraged when you're stuck in the middle of a long, grueling hike. If you start to feel unmotivated or disheartened, take a moment to reflect on all of your accomplishments so far.

When you start feeling down on yourself, think back to how far you've already come and all of the incredible things you've seen and accomplished. This will help give you a much-needed boost of motivation to keep going.

5. Take plenty of pictures

Hiking is all about the journey, so be sure to document your hike with plenty of photos!

Not only will this help you remember your hike for years to come, but it can also give you some much-needed motivation when things get tough.

When you start to feel tired or unmotivated, look back at your photos and remember all of the amazing places you've been and the incredible experiences you've had. This will help reinvigorate your passion for hiking and keep you moving forward on your journey.

6. Stay hydrated

One of the biggest challenges of long-distance hiking is staying properly hydrated throughout your journey.

As such, it's important to keep a close eye on your water intake to ensure you get enough fluids each day.

Try to drink at least 8 glasses of water daily and carry plenty of water with you on the trail. This will not only keep you hydrated, but it can also help boost your energy levels and keep you motivated to continue hiking each day.

7. Surround yourself with good company

old hikers hiking with groups

Long-distance hikes are often lonely and isolating, so it's important to make sure that you have good company along the way. This will help keep you motivated and inspired by the stories and experiences of your fellow hikers.

Consider joining a hiking club or finding some online forums where you can connect with other outdoor enthusiasts. By surrounding yourself with like-minded people, you'll be able to stay positive and focused throughout your entire hike.

8. Listen to music or audiobooks

If you start to feel lonely or bored on your hike, try listening to music or audiobooks to pass the time.

This can help take your mind off of the monotony of hiking and keep you entertained throughout your journey.

Make sure to pack some headphones or earbuds so you can enjoy your music or audiobooks without disturbing the peace of nature. This will help you stay motivated and focused on your hike, even when things get tough.

8. Take time to explore side trails

While it's important to keep focused on reaching your goals, be sure to make time for exploring side trails or other scenic detours along the way.

These can help break up the monotony of long-distance hiking and keep you motivated to continue moving forward.

Plus, by taking some time to explore your surroundings, you'll be able to see even more of the incredible beauty that nature has to offer.

9. Connect with nature

a hiker standing on mountain trail enjoying nature

One of the best ways to stay motivated on a hike is to connect with nature. This means taking time to appreciate the beauty of your surroundings, listening to the sounds of the forest, and breathing in the fresh air.

By connecting with nature, you'll be able to forget about your troubles and simply enjoy the moment. This can help give you the strength and motivation you need to keep going, even when things get tough.

10. Celebrate your successes

hiking accomplishments celebrate

It's important to celebrate all of the accomplishments that you achieve along the way.

Whether it's a major milestone such as reaching a certain distance or simply making it through another day on the trail, be sure to take some time to recognize and pat yourself on the back.

This will help you stay motivated and inspired to continue pushing forward on your hike. Plus, it can provide you with some much-needed motivation when things start to get tough.


So there you have it! By following these simple tips, you'll be well on your way to conquering the trails and reaching the summit (or at least getting a little closer).

And if all else fails, just think of those sweet, sweet endorphins that will be coursing through your veins after a good hike. Now get out there and start pounding the pavement (or dirt)!

Do you have any tricks for staying motivated when hiking? Please share them with us in the comments below!

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