by Diane Spicer
If you're a social animal, you're instinctively drawn to hiking groups.
Let me count the ways...
You're a social hiker if:
Any or all of these reasons make finding a group to hike with a great idea for you!
Before you jump into a social hiking situation, consider your answers to these questions:
*How much structure can I tolerate before, during, and after a hike?
*How flexible am I with my available hiking time?
*Do I want a mixed gender group? A mixed age group?
*How far am I willing to drive to meet up with my hiking group?
*How much input do I want into hiking destinations, types of trails, and other decisions?
*Are there fees for joining the hiking group? If so, what are the fees used for?
Once you know exactly what type of group hiking arrangement you're looking for, it's time to find the perfect set of hikers for your hiking style.
As you read through these descriptions, try to picture yourself hiking with these folks. Would they make ideal hiking companions for you?
The attributes of this type of social group include:
Serious hikers only in this hiking group!
This type usually springs up organically from a cluster of hiking friends/families. You may be invited by knowing a member of the group, or a friend of a friend.
Expect this type of hiking:
These tend to be loose collections of hikers of all different skill and interest levels. Hikes are arranged at various times of the year, and whomever shows up is "the" group that day.
Membership "rules" are very relaxed.
Hikers who self identify in various ways often get together to day hike or plan backpacking trips.
If you don't buy into the theme of the group, you'll be an outsider either overtly, or in subtle ways.
So be sure the group you are considering is a good fit for your background and interests.
Many hikers love the benefits of hiking in a group, for these reasons:
If you yearn to take off for a social hiking adventure but don't want to spend a lot of your precious time and energy planning it, why not consider a group hiking trip for your next vacation?
Being a member of a hiking group might not be for you due to:
The perfect group is not going to fall into your lap.
In fact, you're going to have to do a bit of leg work (which should prepare you for some tough hikes) to find them.
Here are ways to do just that.
One option is to look for MeetUp groups in your area, using key words such as "hiking" and "outdoors".
Keep your eyes open for local websites and forums that publish trail
Social media groups with "hiking" in their names are a no brainer, but be careful to consider the tone and photos which are posted to ensure a good fit.
I've had luck with posting my quest for trail buddies on bulletin boards in local book stores and coffee shops.
Take a class at a gear store or community college related to the type of hiking you like best. There are bound to be other hikers looking for trail buddies.
Go on a few low risk solo hikes and chat with any solo hikers you meet on the trail.
Spread the word that you're on the lookout for a hiking group to all of your friends and co-workers.
I've saved the best suggestion for last!
You can use HFH's Hike With Me database to find a trail partner, and that can form the nucleus of your new hiking group.
Social Hiking > Hiking Groups
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