Generally speaking, we have walking in every one of these three activities: walk, hike and trek. In some of them less than the others which makes them differ one from another, and yet only one of them is called in fact a walk.
Still, there are some factors that make them distinct.
Walking is an activity of the body that includes moving our legs or going on foot for exercise or pleasure. More precisely lifting each foot in turn, never having both feet off the ground at once. But when we say: I’m going for a walk or taking a walk – it has a slightly different meaning. It doesn’t just include the actual activity of the body but the location and time as well. It simply means that I’ll be walking in the nearest surrounding for a while, in the park or at the beach maybe, probably for a short period of time, an hour or so. The meaning of the word walk is explained in a way that this activity would usually take place in the urban areas on asphalt, gravel, sand and flat surfaces. Walking is mostly used for shorter, urban walks.
While you can walk on any kind of surface, hikers usually take their walks only on natural trails. Hiking usually takes place in the forests, mountains, hills or natural parks. So, when we walk for a long distance, especially across the country we call it a hike. It’s the act of going for long leisurely walks in the countryside.
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Then the question is what happens if I live in a village, or simply located somewhere more in nature. Does this mean that when I’m walking to my neighbor’s home, a few houses away of mine, for a visit, or going to the grocery store which is on the path that’s slightly uphill, that actually, I’m hiking all the time? And does it mean that I won’t be able to walk for the rest of my life and hike instead all the way to the end just because I don’t live in the city?
Probably the best way to see the difference between these two activities is if we don’t only think of where the person is going to but from where is heading to as well. If the area is, for example, a neighborhood in nature, surrounded with trees and greenery but uphill, for someone that lives in a city where the streets are flat this I suppose would be considered as a hiking probably. So the point is that if the meaning of hiking is: taking a long leisurely walk in the woods, nature or mountains – then only walking would be somewhere out of those areas. Except that people that live in nature could never use the word walking ever again, but instead, they’ll have to be hiking all the time, whenever outside in their’s nearest surroundings. Hiking probably means and includes a walk on designated paths or trails too away from any areas where people live. My point is that not every walk in nature is a hike, sometimes it is just what it is, a walk in nature.
Nevertheless just assume that you live in the city and you wanna go for a walk. In this case that would probably mean that you’ll be walking somewhere close with no particular reason at all. But, if you would wanna hike then most likely you’ll be going away from your home in the city, somewhere in nature, like woods or natural parks, with your backpack full of necessary food, water, and other useful things that you gonna need during the day. And of course, you’ll probably be wearing something comfortable appropriate for hiking, the terrain, and the weather. For a simple walk, you won’t have to prepare much because you’ll be close enough to your home. While for a hike you’ll have to bring some extra stuff and prepare them ahead since you’ll be in nature for a couple of hours. When walking you’ll be strolling some street or beach on a flat equal surface, while hiking trails are rougher paths that can be uphill as well and will require better physical shape of the body too.
When we are out there hiking or taking a long walk in nature, and we kind of start really liking this walk, thinking that we might probably wanna walk even more – then we should go for a trek. A trek is a walking route on a long distance, at least for several days to months. The idea of the trekking is: to completely immerse yourself in nature and the landscapes focusing only on the journey and natural surroundings in days. Usually, you would accommodate in mountain huts, hostels or B&B’s when trekking.
Finally, backpacking is similar to trekking and hiking. In fact, it’s a hike often with an overnight stay in nature when you’ll be camping and sleeping in the tent. This would mean that you’ll be carrying more things in your backpack with you, such as the whole equipment that you gonna need for sleeping and eating. When trekking you wouldn’t need to carry so much of the weight on you unless you are doing a backpacking trek.
There are many terms when you get out there in the nature that can be called one way or the other, depending on how long will you stay out, where will you go, walk, sleep or eat. But the beautiful thing at the end is that either way you chose the nature.
Lastly: was Little Red Riding Hood walking or hiking when she was going to her sick granny for a visit?