female atop a mountain viewHiking has and always will be a risky endeavor, regardless of gender. However, most people feel that women are at higher risk of danger than men. Statistics indicate otherwise: women are more likely to survive getting lost or any hiking-related injuries than men.

Data also shows that, despite how popular media would like you to believe, violent crimes happen more in urban areas than in the wilderness. Take some comfort in these findings and push yourself to conquer the most beautiful hiking trails on your own.

Break Social Norms as a Female Solo Hiker

A woman traveling through the wilderness alone was taboo not even too long ago. While a lot has changed since then, a feeling of wrongness and greater danger is still linked to women traveling solo. Learn from the warnings of the past and be more cautious when hiking alone, but don’t let it keep you from trying in the first place.

If you’re still starting out, stick to shorter, more popular trails but don’t forget to own the skills you learn. Women who learn outdoor survival skills—reading a compass and map, starting a fire, camping outdoors—are no less capable than men with the same skill set. As long as you train to improve and believe in yourself, there is no reason not to push past cultural or social norms.

Where Should You Go Hiking?

Experienced guides from Alpenwild recommend trying Tour de Mont Blanc, the most popular hiking trail in Europe which goes through Switzerland, Italy, and France. Others suggest a hike through Colombia’s Sierra Nevada mountains to reach Ciudad la Perdida, or the Lost City, situated atop a steep terraced site.

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The Kalalau Trail in Hawaii, meanwhile, has a beautiful view of green mountains framed in blue oceans, and you have a chance to jump into Hanakapi’ai Falls if you’re willing to go the extra mile. These are just some of the more popular hiking areas. Don’t limit your choices, though! A big part of hiking is discovering the wilderness as you find yourself. Take time to explore other options.

Health Benefits of Hiking Solo

Hiking is a good workout to improve cardiovascular health. It also builds up body strength and lowers the risk of hypertension and heart disease. More than the physical benefits, hiking is a great way to improve mental health. Exposure to daylight and endorphins released while walking help in relieving stress and improving your mood. Moreover, solitude and silence encourage reflective thinking and self-evaluation.

Traveling solo gives you a chance to disconnect with society and connect with your sense of self. Mastering your fears and getting past unexpected problems help build your self-confidence.

Gender is no reason to avoid an activity that would help you improve as a person. Take heart in being a woman participating in a stereotypically male activity. Push past social conditioning and show the world what a modern-age independent woman looks like.