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Solo Hiking Risks: Real Or Imagined?

by Diane Spicer

Meet Hiking For Her’s Diane

Solo hiking risks: a worthy topic for any female hiker.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about whether it’s safe to hike by yourself as a woman.

Many voices paint a picture of the terrors, traumas and huge risks for a female alone on the trail.

Other voices chime in with testimonials of the freedom and rewards of going solo.

Who to trust?

Who to believe?

So I sat down and generated a list of risks any hiker faces when out
on the trail, and put them into “unavoidable” and “avoidable”

Now the comparative question becomes:

“Is a solo female at higher risk?”

  Solo hiking risks include curve balls
from Mother Nature

That’s the whole point, right? To get out into Mother Nature’s big playground and see what there
is to see.

But what if she surprises you with a spectacular display
of power?

Or catches you off guard when you’re just cruising down the trail minding your own business?

Most of the following risks can be avoided
to a certain extent by staying on top of changing weather conditions and
checking weather forecasts and trail reports before you hit the trail.

But not everything
on this list is completely avoidable.

What then?

That’s where advance trip planning and knowledge are going to be your ace in the hole.

Examples of unforeseen trail risks

a) Unsafe hiking weather

b) Earthquakes: Big worries include landslides and rock fall

c) Fire: What to do if a forest fire breaks out near you?

d) Falling limbs

e) Lightning (dry or storm associated)

f) Floods: flash, storm associated, getting trapped by washed out bridges, or uncross-able streams afterwards

Solo hiking risks involving
unpredictable humans

a) People acting weird or giving off weird vibes

b) Violence

c) Verbal harassment

d) Annoying trail behaviors (loud music, trash, etc)

Wildlife associated trail risks

a) Bears: Think through what to do BEFORE you’re face to face with this large mammal. 

b) Cougars

c) Snakes

d) Microbial contamination in water

d) Tick bites

e) Chewing rodents (cute tho’ they may be)

Striped ground squirrelBelieve it or not, chewing rodents are one of the biggest solo hiking risks!


Hiking means taking calculated risks, and never being able to eliminate these risk entirely.

a) Prevent hiking injuries

b) Deal with injuries

c) Getting sick on a hike

d) Avalanche

e) Unexpected exposure to cold weather (gear failure, falling into a river, bad planning) leading to hypothermia or frostbite

f) Cross moving water safely

g) Overheating in extreme temperatures, leading to heat related illness

Fear & anxiety…
such a lovely couple (not)

a) Being alone

b) Social ridicule

c) Getting lost

d) Loss of solitude

e) The dark (plus rustling in the bushes outside your tent)

f) A woman backpacking alone: specific risks

Be sure to read this about gaining solo hiking confidence.

Poor judgement
and human errors

a) Over reliance on technology

b) Over exertion

c) Over confidence

d) Not carrying the ten essentials

What did I miss on this list?

Drop me a line and I’ll add it to the list.

And if you have an illuminating anecdote we can all learn from, please include that as well.

You might like to read these next

  • Solo Hiking Confidence: How To Get It

    Solo hiking confidence allows a woman to hike alone without being overshadowed by doubt, fear, or anxiety. Find out how to get confident about hiking alone at Hiking For Her.

  • Solo Hiking Trip Planning: Tips For Female Hikers

    Stack the deck in your favor on a solo backpacking trip by using these solo hiking trip planning tips for your next (or first) solo trail adventure. Hiking For Her helps you get as ready as possible to tackle a solo trail.

  • Solo Hiking Concerns: Female Hikers Take Note

    Solo hiking concerns: any woman on the trail alone has them. But what to do about them? Great question! Lots of answers for solo female hikers (or those who want to be) here at Hiking For Her.

Home page > Solo Hiking Tips >

Solo Hiking Risks

About the author

Diane is the founder of Hiking For Her.

She’s been on a hiking trail somewhere in the world for 5+ decades & loves to share her best hiking tips right here.

Hiking For Her: Hiking tips you can trust!

As an Amazon Associate Hiking For Her earns from qualifying purchases.

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