Hiking Accidents Statistics: 18 Facts Trends To Consider (Explained)


Hiking-Accidents-Statistics-trends-facts

Are you looking for hiking accidents statistics facts and trends?

Hiking can be one of the most fun and exciting pastimes, even for people who don’t traditionally love exercise.

As someone who has grown up in the East Tennessee mountains, I know from personal experience just how rewarding it can be to trek the side of a mountain.

Even though hiking is one of my favorite pastimes, it’s also an incredibly dangerous one. While in the mountains, you are exposed to a number of dangerous environments, animals, and physical challenges. This makes falling, and even death, a serious issue.  

What are the hiking accidents statistics? In the list below you can find the most common facts about hiking accidents:

  • 57% of fall victims are women
  • The vast majority of hiking fall victims were over the age of 41
  • 42.4% of the injuries are related to ankle joint
  • 0.0064% chance of death while hiking
  • Around 400 deaths in America
  • Yosemite alone averages about 12 to 15 deaths per year due to hikers
  • 95% of all intentional deaths while hiking are from suicides

In this article, we are going to look at key hiking accident statistics. We will look at the two most common forms of hiking accidents, which relate to fall victims and death.

These statistics should not deter you from hiking. Instead, they should encourage you to hike more safely and maturely

Fall Victim Stats

When you are hiking, one of the most realistic accidents you may find yourself in is falling. Sometimes, individuals simply fall and scrape their knees.

For others, falling can lead to much more serious consequences, like broken bones or even death.

hiking-statistics

Gender

  • 57% of fall victims are women
  • 43% of fall victims are men

👉 In a study that looked at 405 hiking fall victims from Germany and Austria, 232 were female, whereas 173 were males. These numbers lead to 14% more women being victims to hiking fall accidents than their male counterparts.

Age

In addition to gender, age was a really big factor for fall victims as well. The vast majority of hiking fall victims were over the age of 41.

👉 Interestingly, males were more likely to be victims of hiking falls than women whenever they were between the ages of 31 and 40 or over the age of 61.

Shoe Type

Shoe TypePercentage (%)
Ankle-height hiking boots with profiled sole61%
Ankle-height mountaineering boots with a rigid sole12%
Running shoes, sneakers, or trainers7%
Other1%

Shoe type is another factor that seemed to have a large impact on hiking falls. The vast majority of falls occurred for people who hiked in ankle height hiking shoes with a profiled sole.

👉 In fact, a whopping 61% of hiking fall victims wore these sorts of shoes. The least common shoe type to be associated with hiking falls were classified as “other,” likely because most people hike with tennis shoes or hiking boots.

Injuries

Injury LocationPercentage (%)
Ankle42.4%
Head13.4%
Lower leg (not including ankle)10.6%

Finally, the last factor we’re going to look at when it comes to hiking falls is injury location. In almost all of the accidents studied, the injury location could be identified.

👉 In most of these incidents, the injury occurred at the ankle joint. 42.4% of these injuries occurred in this location.

👉 The second most common location for injury was the head. 13.4% of people who fell during hiking injured their head. Finally, 10.6% of people experienced an injury to the lower leg, not including the ankle.

What Do These Stats Teach Us

As a whole, these stats teach us that shoe type plays a large factor in falls while hiking. Although there is a disparity between the genders, it seems that shoe type and levels of fatigue are the two biggest determiners for falling during a hike.

hiking-accidents-statistics-facts-trend

Death While Hiking Stats

Even though you are much more likely to fall than die on a hike, there are a lot more hiking death stats available, likely because death is more commonly reported than falls.

👉 As a whole, there is only a one in 15,700 chance of dying while hiking a mountain. This results in a 0.0064% chance. Shockingly, this is actually higher than your chance of dying while skydiving, which is only a 0.00099% chance.

👉 In other words, you are over 6 times more likely to die while hiking than skydiving. Nevertheless, you probably aren’t likely to die in either.

Between the years 2014 and 2016, there were 990 deaths in National Parks. This comes out to about 330 deaths per year or around 6 deaths per week.

👉 Interestingly, increased visitors do not necessarily result in more deaths. National Parks saw an increase of visits by 8% between 2015 and 2016, yet there are fewer deaths.

Most Common Reasons For Death While Hiking

Death Category in National ParksPercentage (%)
Unintentional53%
Medical22%
Intentional25%

When National Parks look at death in their parks, they categorize them into three classifications: unintentional, intentional, and medical deaths.

👉 Of these three categories, unintentional death is the most common, with about 53% of deaths falling under this category.

Although there are multiple ways you can die while hiking, the most common cause for death while hiking is falling to the ground from a high or slippery location.

👉 In fact, Yosemite alone averages about 12 to 15 deaths per year due to hikers falling off slippery slopes.

In addition to falling, drowning and motor vehicle crashes are also leading causes of death. In National Parks specifically, drowning and motor vehicle crashes are more common than falls, but this is not true for hiking deaths specifically.  

Medical Deaths

👉 Although most hiking deaths are unintentional accidents, 22% of them occur due to medical emergencies. Between the years 2014 and 2016, there were about 74 medical-related deaths per year.

👉 About 49% of these deaths occurred while the person was actually engaged in hiking, biking, swimming, or some other activity.

Intentional Deaths

As morbid as it may sound, many people go to National Parks and popular hiking destinations to kill themselves.

👉 95% of all intentional deaths while hiking are from suicides. Between 2014 and 2016, there is about one suicide per week.

What Do These Stats Teach Us

Even though falling is more common than death, you can certainly have a fatal hiking experience.

Falling is the number one cause of death while hiking, making it even more important to stay energized, alert, and wear correct hiking shoes while trekking about.

What Is The Most Common Injury Hikers Experience In Trekking?

What is the most common injury hikers experience in trekking? The most common injury hikers experience in trekking is blisters and sprains, blisters especially. Blisters occur around the hiking boots or shoes most commonly.

These elements are normally not reported and are instead treated with over-the-counter options, such as band-aids and ibuprofen.

As far as more serious injuries, sprains are also common. Sprains can occur in just about any joint, but they are most commonly seen in the ankles while trekking. Ankle sprains can occur whenever a hiker trips, falls, or rolls their ankle while walking.

There are a couple of other super common but low-risk injuries hikers often don’t report. This includes sunburns, bug bites, and cuts.

Once again, hikers don’t report these injuries to hospitals simply because they are low risk, but it is nearly guaranteed that hikers will experience one, if not all, of these injuries during a single hike.

Why Hiking Alone Is Dangerous?

Why hiking alone is dangerous? Hiking alone is a really great experience because it allows you to enjoy nature by yourself. However, it can quickly turn dangerous and sometimes fatal in the case of an animal attack, a human attack, or some other fall and injury.

Today, the reason why hiking alone is so dangerous is that you are at more risk of experiencing a life-threatening scenario.

For example, animals are not as scared of one person, as opposed to multiple people. This can make you more of a target for an animal attack.

Similarly, women hiking alone are at increased risk of sexual assault since rapists tend to go after solo females.

Aside from attacks from animals and other people, solo hiking is also dangerous because if you get injured, no one is there to help you.

Say if you break your leg, there won’t be anyone to run and get help. Instead, you must figure out a plan by yourself, which can be next to impossible depending on the severity of your injury.

Read also: Solo Travel Statistics: 13 Facts Trends To Consider (Explained)

Do Hikers Live Longer?

Do hikers live longer? Yes, hikers live longer. Studies have shown that walking extends a person’s life. Simply walking six hours a week increases your lifespan because it decreases cardiovascular and respiratory disease, as well as cancer.

 Even walking as little as two hours a week could extend your lifespan as well.

Because of this fact, hikers tend to live longer. Hikers as a whole tend to be more active, but they also don’t put a lot of strain on their bodies either. Instead, hiking gets your blood pumping without putting your joints and muscles at too much risk.

Not to mention, hiking is considered a relaxing experience. Because it takes you away from the modern stresses of society, including your cell phone, hiking is related to relaxation and lowered stress. Lower stress also relates to a longer lifespan.

What Is The Most Dangerous Hike In America?

What is the most dangerous hike in America? The most dangerous hike in America is that of Mount Rainier. Mount Rainier is the deadliest hike in America because it has led to over 400 deaths in America. This is much higher than the second most dangerous hike, which is the Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon.

What makes Mount Rainier so dangerous is its height, volcano, extreme weather changes, falling rocks, and avalanches. Even experienced hikers can find themselves in a deadly situation while trekking this mountain.

Aside from deaths, all of these situations lead to broken bones, drowning, heatstroke, hypothermia, and suffocation as well. It is recommended if you go on this hike to pack all needed necessities, such as extra clothes, warm clothes, first aid equipment, and a survival book.

How Many Hikers Get Lost A Year?

Unfortunately, it is impossible to give a 100% accurate estimate as to how many hikers get lost every year. That is because some hikers are never found, though it is assumed that they were lost in the woods at some point.

So, how many hikers get lost a year? About 2000 people get lost while hiking in the woods every year. Whenever you get lost, you can experience dehydration, hypothermia, heat exhaustion, and hunger, all of which can lead to death.

To prevent getting lost, experts recommend staying calm, thinking, observing, and planning whenever you think you are lost. It’s also important to pinpoint your location and travel downhill.

Final Thoughts  

As an avid hiker myself, I know just how rewarding and life-changing a good height can be. But just as the mountains are beautiful, they are also dangerous and home to some deadly creatures and scenarios. As a result, hiking accidents are relatively common.

Hiking falls, and sometimes death, can occur to even the most experienced of hikers. It is for this reason that you should be cautious and alert on every trial.

It is also a great idea to invest in a good pair of hiking boots to help keep your feet grounded on the mountain.

To paraphrase Jack Kerouac poorly, you can’t fall off the mountain, but you sure can fall down it!

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7036860/

https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1336/upload/CY14-CY16-Mortality-Dashboard-Key-Statistics.pdf

Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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