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What’s Up With Soft Hiking?

Two TikTokers in England have been credited with coining a new phrase: soft hiking. While some might argue that it’s basically just, well, walking, the idea seems to be gaining steam with people who think serious hikers might be taking themselves too seriously. 

The two friends, Emily Thornton and Lucy Hird, are behind the TikTok account @softgirlswhohike. In a TikTok explaining the term, they said soft hiking is about taking it slow, listening to your body, and not trying to keep up with anyone else’s pace.


Replying to @LousLife good question! we kind of coined the term ourselves. heres what it’s all about 🤎 #girlswhohike #hikinguk #hiketok #bestfriends #softhiking #softgirlswhohike #softlife

♬ pluto projector – al

“We’ve been on hikes before with seasoned hikers, and we just felt we weren’t good enough, strong enough, or fit enough to keep up,” they say in the video. 

They have a fair point: particularly in adventure-centric mountain towns, there can be pressure to hike faster or further, post more epic runs or cycles on fitness apps like Strava, and take the hard way instead of the easy route. But soft hiking is about enjoying the moment, savoring the views, and making the whole experience fun and leisurely. It’s also a way to be more present—which can have incredible impacts on our mental health.

“Soft hiking provides an opportunity to disconnect from the stresses of daily life and enjoy the beauty of nature, which can have a calming and soothing effect on the mind,” Carla Khouri, a qualified mountain leader who works for Merrell Hiking Club UK, told Glamour UK

The two women told Insider that soft hiking isn’t necessarily easy—it’s just meant to be free of the stress of trying to hike at an arbitrarily fast pace.

“A soft hike can be challenging, and it can be difficult, but it’s about being kind to yourself mentally and physically and not just rushing from point A to point B in record time,” the women reportedly told Insider. “Take in your surroundings, listen to your body and enjoy nature.”

You don’t need any experience or special training to soft hike—you just have to find a trail and hike your way. Do make sure you’re prepared, though, and that you know where you’re going. If it’s all new to you, that’s totally fine—there are loads of local hiking organizations, hiking-focused travel companies, and international hiking events you can join so you don’t have to go alone. Ready to jump right in? Check out some of the best waterfall hikes in the United States.

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  1. I’ve always known this type of “soft” hiking as going for a ramble or a trundle. As my trail name is Turtle Toes, I suppose this is the type of hiking I have always been most fond of. Sixty-five and still on the move, enjoying the journeys! Cheers!

  2. David Hambleton

    Soft cycling should also be a term for similar reasons. Ride slow enjoy the country side as opposed to head down, butt up. Most of the latter treat soft cyclists and pedestrians alike, with dangerous contempt flying past with no warning on mixed use trails

  3. Omigosh yes! I am 70 years old and have been participating less and less with the local hiking club because I have trouble keeping up. I frankly don’t enjoy their route marches. I’m not sure that I ever did, but a few years ago I was much more OK with hard exertion. I’m still good for a few miles, but these days I just want to walk at an easy pace with time to look around and enjoy the view.

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