William Naismith, a Scottish mountaineer, had a hankering to come up with a way to approximate how long his jaunts would take and came up with a nifty rule that can still be used today.
Naismith wasn’t satisfied using a simple equation to figure out his walk times. This man was a mountaineer, as such, his walks would lead him up and down elevations and he needed a way to determine that factor into the actual duration of his walk.
Trips into the wilderness, in the 1800s probably required a bit more planning than today, REI can’t just post you out a new pair of boots ya know.
Naismith determined that, for every 2000′ in elevation, it would add approximately 1 hour to your trip on top of the 3 mile/hr speed traveled. So, if you are going up 200′ in 3 miles it should take you, roughly, 2 hours. Thankfully for us, we don’t need paper to figure this all out, we have computers!!
On this page, you will find a link to a hiking estimator that I am working on that does the math for you! The numbers plugged in the picture are numbers from the Narragansett trail. 16 miles, a walking speed of 3 with an elevation increase of 146′ and a decrease of 50.
We can find these numbers on google maps and in the pages I am making for the trails in CT. Here is a graphical representation of the Narragansett trail that shows elevation as it would be seen as a cross section of the map.
With all of this information, it should take about 5 hours and 25 mins to walk the 16 mile trail. This is by no means perfect and I don’t know if I can walk at 3 mph for 5 hours but it gives me a good guideline and helps me plan a bit better.