General Question

Sunshinegirl11's avatar

Is it safe for women to hike alone?

Asked by Sunshinegirl11 (1110points) January 22nd, 2017
15 responses
“Great Question” (1points)

So I’m a 21 year old female and I love hiking! Problem is, my female friends aren’t too big on it, my mom and sister aren’t too big on it. My dad likes it, but he’s very busy and rarely has time.

I live in the foothills so I normally hike around my city and I haven’t run into anyone crazy. I’m interested in hiking way up in the mountains though. I’d love to go snowshoeing in the snow through the forest. If I keep waiting for someone to go with me, I’ll be waiting for the rest of my life! But all I have is a papillon dog and pepper spray, so I’m not really “protected”. There is also no way I’d be able to defend myself, I have zero upper body strength. This all makes me nervous to venture too far from my house…

Opinions? Advice?
Thanks all!

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Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

What about looking for a hiking group in your area? Check out Meetup. I looked for Meetup groups in my area and a few options came up.

While it should be safe for you to hike on your own, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with a young woman doing that. And really, if you had an accident, were bitten by a snake, got lost or whatever, you should have someone with you just for general hiking safety.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I’m male, I used to backpack alone but not really anymore, too many issues with it. Dayhiking trails that are heavily traveled is somewhat safe. I would suggest joining a hiking club.

Coloma's avatar

I’m a women who lives in the Sierra foothills of Northern CA. and have done plenty of solo hiking and riding my horse out on trail alone for years. Anything can happen but I don’t believe in not doing something because there is some risk involved. The biggest risk IMO is a fall or injury , more likely than running into a serial killer. haha
I would say to make sure you are prepared, are wearing appropriate clothing and shoes, take a light pack with a thermal blanket, waterproof matches, extra snack foods, plenty of water and leave exact directions of the area you plan to hike in with family/friends, give them an estimated time for your return and also check in with any ranger stations/park service people if available as well.

Then, if, for some reason you do not return as scheduled they can be instructed to start searching for you. Stay on trail if hiking alone too. Going off trail is always riskier and more isolating. You can also check into some organized hiking groups as @Earthbound_Misfit mentions like Meet Up groups in your area or the Sierra Club, etc.

VenusFanelli's avatar

No, it isn’t!

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

It probably is safe. 99% safe.

I hiked alone in the mountains above Los Angeles for years and in remote areas most days I did not encounter other people. In easily accessible parks, there were always people within earshot.

If you were 21 year old me, I would say don’t worry.

If you were my daughter, I would worry, and say find some hiking buddies, it’s a great opportunity to meet like-minded people.

My oldest friendships are with my pals who would rather spend a weekend camping in the rain and fishing than spend a night in a hotel with room service.

JLeslie's avatar

I say find a hiking partner if the area is typically fairly isolated. Or, hike in a place not isolated.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Hiking alone is not safe. Age and gender are not factors. Expertise is not a factor.
Risks are there for everyone, and serial killers is far from the biggest threat potential.
A wrong step, and how will you get home on a fractured ankle, or unconcious from a fall resulting in a blow to the head?
No person should hike alone.

rojo's avatar

People have hiked solo for eons, since before we even knew we were people and many of them were women. Yes, it has its risks but so does everything else. People are hurt and killed every day under every circumstance so the only question is what level of risk are you willing to tolerate under a specific set of circumstances. Hiking solo allows for a lot of introspection and reflection but not the camaraderie that comes with being with others. Which would you prefer?

BellaB's avatar

I’m more concerned about your lack of upper body strength than your thought of hiking alone. Spend some time cross-training so that you will be stronger when/if you go hiking.

If you want to go snowshoing to more than a very limited degree, you need very good core strength as well as upper body control for balance.

Join a hiking group to get started and work on your overall strength and fitness.

Coloma's avatar

I can see the dichotomy here of the play it safe types vs. the free spirited types. haha Hey, life is a risk, we’d all live longer if we never left the house. I could be killed at any moment here if one of the horses decided to kick my head in or slam me into a wall or fence. I am around 6 horses every day, still alive minus a few injuries over the years. @Sunshinegirl11 I would suggest carrying pepper spray or bear spray if you are going to be hiking in bear or cougar country. The odds of a mountain lion or bear attacking you are pretty small but, make noise on the trail and carry some pepper spray. Also, if you are hiking in rattlesnake land like where I live, keep an eye and ear out for snakes. A walking stick is a good idea as well.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Being chased by a bear is what keeps me from backpacking alone now

rojo's avatar

Having the right equipment as well as the right mindset does help minimize the risks.

Concerning the pepper spray, I would like to pass this on to you:

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game recently issued this bulletin…
“Warning: In light of the rising frequency of human/grizzly bear conflicts, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is advising hikers, hunters and fishermen to take extra precautions and keep alert of bears while in the field.
We advise outdoorsmen to wear noisy little bells on their clothing, so as not to startle bears that aren’t expecting them. We also advise outdoorsmen to carry pepper spray with them in case of an encounter with a bear.
It is also a good idea to watch out for fresh signs of bear activity. Outdoorsmen should recognize the difference between black bear and grizzly bear shit: Black bear shit is smaller and contains lots of berries and squirrel fur. Grizzly bear shit has little bells in it and smells like pepper.”

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Everytime I have seen bear shit I have encountered a bear.
Every. Single. Time.

Those bear bells seem to almost make them curious.

Coloma's avatar

I was stalked by a Mtn. Lion once, it was right at dusk on some remote river trails here. After that I decided I should be back by sunset. haha Still, it’s a delicious kind of primal fear thing if you ask me.

CWOTUS's avatar

If you’re physically fit, aware of your surroundings (that is, you don’t hike with headphones or earbuds playing loud, distracting music, etc.) and capable of defending yourself if you’re assaulted in some way, then it’s probably not “greatly unsafe” to hike alone.

But here’s the thing: even if you are all of those things, you can get into trouble by circumstances and “stuff happening” which isn’t related to human interaction. That is, you may be the only person even around your hiking trail, so in no danger at all from other humans, but humans aren’t the only source of potential risk for a lone hiker. There are also animal attacks to consider, potential weather issues and just ordinary risk that any person can experience, such as medical problems and disabling accident or injury that can happen in the course of anyone’s day for any of various reasons. And walking on potentially rough trails, up and down inclines, around trees (including potential widowmakers, as leaning dead trees are known to hikers and woods-people) increases the potential for risk. The fact of being alone means that you could be completely alone and dependent upon your own ingenuity and toughness to overcome crippling injury, attack, being lost or otherwise disabled.

But nothing is 100% safe.

My favorite way to sail is alone, but I recognize the risks and generally adapt to them by the way I prepare and the routes that I take, even though I always break a cardinal rule of sailing solo by not telling anyone where I’m going or when I should be expected to return.

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