Hiking Tips

Best Time of Day To Go Hiking

hiker standing on peak at sunrise

Hiking takes you from the city along tranquil paths in forests, along serene rivers, through sweeping desert landscapes, along rugged switchbacks, and more. These adventures and scenes help create wonderful memories for your hikes, so what is the best time to go on your hikes?

The best time to go hiking is early in the morning while temperatures are cooler, the trails are less crowded, and you have the entire day’s light ahead of you. Hiking early in the morning allows you to set a slower pace, gives you more time to complete the trail with light from the sun, and will allow you to avoid the mid-day heat.

I have been hiking for many years and have tried starting hikes at various points in the day. Mornings have worked out the best for almost all of my day hikes. There are some nuances to be mindful of that we will go over in the next sections so you can have a relaxing hike with less worry.

Is it safe to hike early in the morning?

hiker in the mountains during morning


You can hike safely in the morning, but it depends on a few factors. The first thing you want to be mindful of is the temperature for the day. If you are hiking in the desert at somewhere like Joshua Tree or Death Valley in the middle of summer and the expected temperatures are going to be 110 degrees, then its probably very unsafe to hike due to potential heat stroke

However, if the temperatures range from 40 to 85 degrees and you have enough water and sun cover then it is likely to be safe to hike early in the morning as it will be much cooler. Follow the guidance of local park rangers and take things easy.


It is safe to hike in the morning if the temperature is right, but another thing to be mindful of is your trip distance. If you are hiking over 8 miles and need to be back at a certain time then you may want to hike even earlier than anticipated. Depending on the weather and how fast you hike you can figure out your start time.

If you are a fast hiker than you can use between 2.5 and 3 miles an hour, if you are average speed hiker then use around 2 miles an hour and if you are slower paced then use 1 mile an hour. Knowing your average speed and trip distance can help you determine when you should start. Also make note of the terrain and elevation gain as that will slow down your pace.

Pack Essentials

As you prepare for your hike and to help you make hiking early in the morning, make sure you have a good layering system. Since its cooler in the morning you want your base layer, mid-layer and possible outer layer to keep you warm and protect you from the elements. If the trail is expected to have little sun cover, bring a hat to help you stay cool. You also want to bring enough water and snacks for the trail to help you stay hydrated and nourished. Having these things will make you more prepared and safe to hike early in the morning.
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Is hiking better morning or afternoon?

hiker in the mountains in the evening

Depending on which season you are hiking in, it can be better to hike in the morning or it can be better to hike in the afternoon. For warmer months it is better to hike in the morning as it will be cooler and you will have many hours of sunlight. For cooler months it is better to hike in the afternoon if you want the warmth of the sun.

If you plan on hiking in the afternoon, you should account for how long your hike is going to take. You don’t want to be caught out on the trail with the sunlight fading and many miles ahead of you. To help prepare for potentially hiking at night you can bring a headlamp to illuminate the trail and make it much safer to hike.

Is it possible to hike in the evening?

Hiking in the evening can be safe and provide you with a whole new perspective on the hiking trail.It is possible to go hiking in the evening if you have enough water, proper hiking shoes, a flashlight or headlamp to prepare for hiking in the dark, and a down jacket and rain jacket to help keep you warm when the temperature drops. You should research your trail heavily before embarking on an evening hike. Look into potential animals you can encounter and know what to do if you do come across those animals.

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When should you not go on a hike?

You should not go on a hike if the temperatures are over 95 degrees and the local rangers have suggested hikers to stay in doors or if temperatures are under 30 degrees and there are expected snow storms. You should also not hike in the evening if you forgot to bring a flashlight or headlamp. It will be very dangerous to hike the trail at night as you can slip and fall which may lead to serious injury.

Other times you should not consider hiking is during periods of extreme weather such as blizzards, hail storms, monsoons, flooding, and thunderstorms. The weather can leave you trapped on the trail with nowhere to hide.

Final Thoughts

Planning the right time for your hikes is crucial for your safety. You can hike in the morning, afternoon, evening or night in a safe manner as long as you have the right gear and have planned ahead. Always carry your ten essentials so you are prepared for many different elements that nature can throw at you.

There is no one rule of when you need to start hiking, but hiking in the morning offers the most benefits for hikers. Adapt your starting time based on the season and guidance of local park rangers and you will be able to hike safely and relax on your next hiking trip.

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