Lost Person Behavior : Hikers


Courtesy of Ken Hill, as quoted in NASAR's "Managing The Lost Person Incident".


Hikers are trail-oriented and often become lost when their trail is obscured for some reason, or when they encounter a confusing junction of intersecting paths. Because of their reliance on trails, hikers tend to travel farther than other lost person categories, although extreme distances are less frequent than for hunters. 

They are often less prepared and "woods-wise" than hunters and fishermen.


Statistical data: an analysis of 501 cases of lost or overdue hikers (Mitchell, 1985) revealed the following characteristics:

    Only about 40% were considered to be adequately equipped.

    92% did not travel after the first 24 hours.

    Between 30% and 40% traveled at night.

    About 40% were located by a "hasty search".


An analysis of 24 cases of missing hikers (adults only) by Hill (1996) revealed that:

    29% found their own way back to safety.

    92% survived.

    42% of the cases involved two or more subjects.