Hiking is the preferred term, in Canada and the United States, for a long, vigorous walk, usually on trails (footpaths), in the countryside, while the word walking is used for shorter, particularly urban walks. On the other hand, in the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, the word “walking” is acceptable to describe all forms of walking, whether it is a walk in the park or backpacking in the Alps.
The word hiking is also often used in the UK, along with rambling (a slightly old-fashioned term), hillwalking, and fell walking (a term mostly used for hillwalking in northern England). The term bushwalking is endemic to Australia, having been adopted by the Sydney Bush Walkers club in 1927. In New Zealand a long, vigorous walk or hike is called tramping. It is a popular activity with numerous hiking organizations worldwide, and studies suggest that all forms of walking have health benefits.
Mountaineering is the sport of mountain climbing. While some scholars identify mountaineering-related activities as climbing (rock and ice) and trekking up mountains, others are also adding backpacking, hiking, skiing, via ferrata and wilderness activities, and still others state that mountaineering activities also include indoor climbing, sport climbing and bouldering.However, to most of the scholars, the term mountaineering is understood as climbing (which now refers to adventure climbing or sports climbing) and trekking (hill walking in ‘exotic’ places).Hiking in the mountains can also be a simple form of mountaineering when it involves scrambling, or short stretches of the more basic grades of rock climbing, as well as crossing glaciers.
While mountaineering began as attempts to reach the highest point of unclimbed big mountains, the sport has branched into specializations that address different aspects of the mountain and consists of three areas: rock-craft, snow-craft, and skiing, depending on whether the route chosen is over rock, snow or ice. All require experience, athletic ability, and technical knowledge to maintain safety.