Myself hiking up a mountain in Washington state.

Hiking Up a Mountain: What Does it Mean?

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If you’ve ever heard someone say that they’re going to go ‘hiking up a mountain,’ you may have wondered what on earth they meant.

This is a type of hiking ‘lingo’ that avid hikers may totally understand, but the average person may not!

There are actually a few possible meanings, and each person may use the phrase differently.

In this post, I’ll go over all that you might want to know about this phrase so that you too can understand that hiking lingo.

What Does Hiking Up a Mountain Mean?

When someone talks about going for a hike, they may use a few different types of phrases, depending on what type of hike they’re embarking on.

If they’re going on a pretty standard trail, they may just say “I’m going for a hike.”

But if someone was going to summit a mountain, they may say, “I’m going to be hiking up the mountain.”

When someone says hiking “up,” they typically mean that they will be starting at a lower elevation and making their way to the top of the mountain.

Hiking near Mount Rainier on a dirt trail.

Usually, there are trailheads situated at much lower elevations and then a trail that winds along the mountainside until you reach the peak.

Sometimes, climbing a mountain can take just one day, and other times it may take multiple days or even weeks.

For example, summiting Mount Everest may take climbers 2 months, while climbing much shorter peaks, such as in Colorado, may take 8-10 hours.

There are a few different words that people use for these treks, which we’ll discuss below.

What is it Called When You Hike up a Mountain?

There are a few different terms that many people use interchangeably when they are describing going for a hike on a mountain.

First and most commonly, people just call it ‘hiking,’ although this isn’t necessarily a great description for some types of trails.

Mountain hiking is the easiest of the three descriptions, as you’ll typically walk on marked trails, and usually don’t require any technical skills.

Tyler hiking up a dirt trail to a mountain.

Secondly, people may call it ‘mountaineering,’ which refers to a more difficult activity.

Mountaineering sometimes includes crossing glaciers or climbing rocks, and the requirement of technical skills and winter gear, like crampons.

Another term sometimes used is ‘summiting,’ which refers to the process of climbing the mountain and then reaching the highest point.

Other common terms that you may hear may be trekking or climbing.

What Do You Need to Hike Up Mountains?

What you’ll need to bring with you for a mountain hike will greatly depend on how long you plan to be on the trail.

For example, multi-day hikes will require much more hiking gear than something that will be finished in one day.

Packing for a day hike on the trail can be tedious and overwhelming, but here are a few items that you should have. Remember that you may need more than this.

  • Plenty of food and water
  • Headlamp
  • Extra clothing (jacket, hat, gloves, etc.)
  • Navigation tools (compass, GPS, map, etc.)
  • First-aid kit
  • Knife or multi-tool
  • Firestarters
  • Sun protection (sunscreen, hat, etc.)
  • Shelter
  • Rain gear (jacket, pants, etc.)
  • Winter hiking gear (crampons, microspikes, ice axe, helmet, etc.)
  • Personal locator beacon
  • Trekking poles
  • Toiletries (insect repellent, medications, toilet paper, etc.)

How to Hike a Mountain

If you’re looking to start hiking in the mountains, it’s best to follow a few basic guidelines before you head out there.

Standing on a ledge with Mount Rainier in the background.

It can be dangerous to climb mountains if you aren’t experienced and trained properly.

Before heading out, follow a few of these tips to ensure that you stay safe.

✔ Choose a trail that isn’t going to be too difficult for you and find a partner to go with

✔ Do the proper research on the trail and understand the length, elevation gain, terrain, etc.

✔ Wear the proper gear including hiking boots, a comfortable backpack, and clothes fit for the weather

✔ Check the weather before heading out and be prepared for any type of weather

✔ Have all of the proper gear that you may need, including crampons or an ice axe

✔ Be prepared to spend extra days on the trail by carrying extra clothes, a small shelter, and extra food

✔ Carry a personal locator beacon to be in contact with emergency services if necessary

✔ Understand your personal pace and how far you’re able to hike in one day

Mountain Hiking Benefits

There are a lot of really great benefits that come with hiking trips that are some of the main reasons that people love to get out on the trail.

A few favorites of mine are clearing my mind, seeing beautiful views, stepping away from my phone, and seeing wildlife.

Other reasons that people enjoy getting out there include physical exercise, immersing yourself in nature, improving mental health, and photographing views.

Aside from these, everyone has their own reasons why they enjoy hiking.

Is Hiking Mountains Good Exercise?

Yes, going for a hike is great exercise, and is good for anyone who wants to get outside and increase their cardio!

Mountain hiking gets your heart pumping and makes for a great way to stay healthy.

A view of Mount Hood at sunset, which people hike up.

It also works your entire body, as you’ll need to use your full body to move!

Aside from just physical exercise, it also tends to help many people’s mental health, as it gets them into the fresh air and away from everyday tasks.

Many people truly enjoy hiking trips for many reasons, including the physical and mental benefits.


Do You Climb or Hike a Mountain?

Both names are accurate, so you can both hike and climb a mountain.

Is Hiking a Mountain Hard?

Yes, climbing mountains can be very difficult, especially if you’re a beginner and you’ve never done it before.

It also will really depend on the difficulty rating of the trail, but if it’s actually climbing up a mountain, it will likely be difficult.

How Do Beginners Climb a Mountain?

If you’re a very beginner hiker, you likely shouldn’t climb a mountain before doing some prior training. It can be a very demanding and dangerous activity without experience.

Gain some experience by hiking on flatter trails, compiling the proper gear, and doing plenty of research. Beginners should also avoid hiking alone.

What Are Other Names for Mountain Climbing?

There are many names for mountain climbing including trekking, climbing, hiking, and summiting.

Is Hiking and Climbing a Mountain the Same?

Yes, the terms hiking up a mountain and climbing up a mountain are technically the same. Although some people consider climbing to be more difficult than hiking.

What is Hiking Up and Skiing Down Called?

When you hike up a downhill slope in a ski area and then ski on your way back down, it is called skinning.

How Would You Describe Hiking?

Hiking is an activity where individuals get out on a trail and walk to beautiful views, enjoy fresh air, and immerse themselves in nature.

Conclusion: Hiking Up a Mountain

If you’ve ever talked to an avid hiker and have heard them talk about hiking up a mountain, you may wonder what they’re actually talking about.

Hikers throw around a lot of lingo and sometimes it can be hard to pick up unless you’re fully in that world.

When someone talks about this, they’re typically talking about starting at a trailhead and making their way to the summit, similar to climbing or summiting a mountain.