Is there any difference between walking and hiking?

There is more popular tag and less popular (used intensively be me in past...). I see they are used for the same activity, so my question is, are they synonyms?

I'm not native speaker and I haven't actually used word 'hiking' (only in context hitch-hiking). So if they are generally meaning the same, they should be synonymized to avoid further misunderstanding.

2 Answers 2


I'm not a native speaker either, but I think there is a difference.

Walking is the process of moving on foot. You walk to the supermarket or to work. You walk through the park or though the city.

Hiking is the recreational activity. It's usually done in nature, such as in the forest or in the mountains. It can also be done in a city, but that's unusual. my parents once walked 25 km through Paris on a single day; that probably classifies as hiking.

I'd say hiking is a subset of walking. All hiking is walking, but not all walking is hiking.

I live in a town that has some steep slopes and some footpaths are actually quite stony trails. My wife (not a native speaker) might complain (particularly in winter) that here, getting by in the city is not walking, but hiking.

  • Hmm, is 'hiking' something like German 'wandern'? Jul 31, 2013 at 18:35
  • I'm less sure in German than I am in English. I'd think wandern is hiking. For walking I'd be tempted to say laufen but I'm not sure if it has exactly the same meaning. (My native language is Dutch).
    – gerrit
    Jul 31, 2013 at 18:36
  • 1
    @ŁukaszLech Yes, hiking = wandern.
    – Kevin
    Jul 31, 2013 at 18:45
  • This leeds to the question if walking is an outdoor activity and/or on topic here? Since its not recreational nor done by purpose but a mere way of transportation - like bus-riding... Apr 29, 2014 at 21:30

As a native speaker, I believe Gerrit has is exactly right.

"Walking" is any time you move on foot.

"Hiking" is usually strenuous walking, done outdoors, for recreation. For instance, if I drive out of the city and into the mountains and walk around all day long with a backpack and a water bottle: that is hiking.

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