Hiking is a terrific way to keep your body and mind in top shape, both now and for a lifetime. Walking packs power into your legs and makes your heart and lungs healthy and strong. Exploring the outdoors challenges you with discoveries and new ideas. Your senses will improve as you use your eyes and ears to gather information along the way.


  1. Show that you know first aid for injuries or illnesses that could occur while hiking, including hypothermia, heatstroke, heat exhaustion, frostbite, dehydration, sunburn, sprained ankle, insect stings, tick bites, snakebite, blisters, hyperventilation, and altitude sickness.
  2. Explain and, where possible, show the points of good hiking practices including the principles of Leave No Trace, hiking safety in the daytime and at night, courtesy to others, choice of footwear, and proper care of feet and footwear.
  3. Explain how hiking is an aerobic activity. Develop a plan for conditioning yourself for 10-mile hikes, and describe how you will increase your fitness for longer hikes.
  4. Make a written plan for a 10-mile hike. Include map routes, a clothing and equipment list, and a list of items for a trail lunch.
  5. Take five hikes, each on a different day, and each of 10 continuous miles. Prepare a hike plan for each hike.*
  6. Take a hike of 20 continuous miles in one day following a hike plan you have prepared.*
  7. After each of the hikes (or during each hike if on one continuous "trek") in requirements 5 and 6, write a short report of your experience. Give dates and descriptions of routes covered, the weather, and interesting things you saw. Share this report with your merit badge counselor.
* The hikes in requirements 5 and 6 can be used in fulfilling Second Class (2a) and First Class (3) rank requirements, but only if Hiking merit badge requirements 1, 2, 3, and 4 have been completed to the satisfaction of your counselor. The hikes of requirements 5 and 6 cannot be used to fulfill requirements of other merit badges.


Scouting Literature

Boy Scout Handbook; Fieldbook; Conservation Handbook; Backpacking, Camping, Cooking, First Aid, Orienteering, and Wilderness Survival merit badge pamphlets

Instruction and Guidebooks

  • Anderson, Kristi. Wilderness Basics. Mountaineers Books, 2004.
  • Berger, Karen. Everyday Wisdom: 1001 Expert Tips for Hikers. Mountaineers Books, 1997.
  • --------. Hiking and Backpacking. DK Publishing, 2005.
  • --------. Hiking Light Handbook: Carry Less, Enjoy More. Backpacker Magazine, Mountaineers Books, 2004.
  • Birkby, Robert. Lightly on the Land: The SCA Trail Building and Maintenance Manual, 2nd ed. Mountaineers Books, 2006.
  • Burns, Bob. Wilderness Navigation: Finding Your Way Using Map, Compass, Altimeter and GPS. Mountaineers Books, 2004.
  • Carline, Jan. Mountaineering First Aid: A Guide to Accident Response and First Aid Care. Mountaineers Books, 2004.
  • Fleming, June. Staying Found: The Complete Map and Compass Handbook, 3rd ed. Mountaineers Books, 2001.
  • Fletcher, Colin, and Chip Rawlins. The Complete Walker IV. Knopf, 2002.
  • Forgey, William. Basic Essentials: Wilderness First Aid, 3rd ed. Falcon Guides, 2006.
  • Foster, Lynne. Take a Hike! The Sierra Club Kid's Guide to Hiking and Backpacking. Little Brown, 1991.
  • Graham, John. Outdoor Leadership: Technique, Common Sense, and Self-Confidence. Mountaineers Books, 1997.
  • Grubbs, Bruce. Basic Essentials: Using GPS. Falcon, 2005.
  • Hampton, Bruce, and David Cole. NOLS Soft Paths: How to Enjoy the Wilderness Without Harming It. Stackpole Books, 2003.
  • Hodgson, Michael. The Basic Essentials of Minimizing Impact on the Wilderness. Globe Pequot Press, 1998.
  • Hooks, Christine. Essential Hiking for Teens. Children's, 2000.
  • Jacobson, Cliff. Basic Essentials: Map and Compass. Globe Pequot Press, 1999.
  • Jacobson, Cliff, Scottie Barnes, and James Churchill. The Ultimate Guide to Wilderness Navigation. Lyons Press (Globe Pequot Press), 2002.
  • Kals, W. S., and Clyde Soles. Land Navigation Handbook: The Sierra Club Guide to Map, Compass, and GPS. Sierra Club Books, 2005.
  • Lanza, Michael. The Day Hiker's Handbook: Get Started With the Experts. Mountaineers, 2003.
  • Logue, Victoria. Hiking and Backpacking: Essential Skills, Equipment, and Safety. Menasha Ridge Press, 2005.
  • --------. Kids Outdoors: Skills and Knowledge for Outdoor Adventures. Ragged Mountain, 1996.
  • McGivney, Annette. Leave No Trace: A Guide to the New Wilderness Etiquette, 2nd rev. ed. Mountaineers Books, 2003.
  • McKinney, John. The Joy of Hiking: Hiking the Trailmaster Way. Wilderness Press, 2005.
  • McVey, Vicki. The Sierra Club Wayfinding Book. Little Brown, 1989.
  • Musnick, David, and Mark Pierce. Conditioning for Outdoor Fitness. Mountaineers Books, 2004.
  • Robbins, Michael W. The Hiking Companion. Storey Books, 2003.
  • Schimelpfenig, Tod, and Linda Lindsey. NOLS Wilderness First Aid. Stackpole Books, 2000.
  • Tilton, Buck. Outdoor Safety Handbook. Stackpole Books, 2006.