Solo hikes are awesome. Group hikes are also awesome. They serve different purposes, and I love them both. If you are looking for people to hike with, here's some practical advice for finding and connecting with other like-minded hikers.
Why Hike With a Group?
Solo hikes can be awesome, giving you a chance to truly disconnect. But there are great reasons to hike with a group, too!
- Shared experience – Often, sharing the struggle on a steep climb, followed by the sense of accomplishment and the satisfaction of the beautiful sunset are amplified when the experience is shared with others.
- Friendship and camaraderie – Hiking with a group gives you time to get to know other like-minded outdoor-loving folk, and that can serve as the basis for new friendships, or strengthening bonds with existing friends.
- Safety – Hiking can be risky business. A twisted ankle in the backcountry when you are solo is much riskier than when you're with a group. And when hiking where mountain lions or bears are active, there is added safety in numbers.
- FUN! – Best of all, hiking with a group can be a lot of fun.
Your Responsibility Within The Group
Have you ever hiked with a group and met someone who was a “tourist” hiker? They don't know where they are going, or how to get back. They are just following “the group.”
Don't be a tourist hiker. Even when hiking with a group, be prepare to be self-sufficient. Know where you are going and how to get back.
- Share your itinerary with a friend or family member who will not be hiking
- Be aware of your surroundings and listen to your instincts
- Have a clear group plan, and do your part to follow it
- Be self-sufficient. Carry the 10 Essentials and know how to find your way back to the trailhead.
Finding Others to Hike With
There are lots of ways to find others to hike with. Here are some of the ways that have worked for me.
- Talk to friends and family – You might be surprised to find you already know folks who love to hike (or would love to give it a try). Start with something well within everyone's fitness level, and make it fun.
- Join a group event like the annual Climb for Heroes – Each year, The Heroes Project holds a fundraiser climb up Mount Baldy in Southern California. Events like this are a great way to hike with others, and meet other hikers who share your passion for the trail.
- Checkout Facebook Groups – There are hiking groups on Facebook. Some, like our ambassador CeCe's Hike Beyond the Hills in Southern California, organize group hikes. And there are similar groups in every region across the country.
- Join a Hiking Meetup Group – When I lived in south Orange County, I led group hikes with a group called Hiking OC. Years later, that group is still active. Meetup.com has hiking groups all over the country, and remains a great way to find and join group hikes.
- Online Communities like the forums here on Social Hiker provide an opportunity to connect with other hikers directly. And you can see their profile and hike logs to get a sense of their experience level.
- Other hiking clubs through church groups, and organizations like the Sierra Club can provide another excellent way to find people to hike with. I have friends who have gone through the Sierra Club's Wilderness Travel Course (WTC) and remain close hiking buddies with the class group.
Finally, we maintain a list of hiking groups and clubs in the areas where our challenges can be found.
Watch the recording of our March 2023 Hiker Connections Happy Hour
Each month we host a live Happy Hour, and this month, we were joined by the founders of several successful hiking groups, including CeCe Lorthioir, Six-Pack of Peaks ambassador and founder of Hike Beyond the Hills; Jonathan Flores who started Outdoor Adventures+; and Jose Delarosa, founder of Hiking Adventures for All (HAFA).
We talked about how and why they started their groups, shared advice for leading great group hikes, and had a few other group leads pop in to share their experience.
A few words of wisdom from our Happy Hour:
- Clear communication is key. Having clearly defined expectations on pace, meet points and safety are really important. HAFA has participants sign-in with an emergency contact number and shared an example of their sign-in form.
- Every hike is an educational opportunity. People new or returning to hiking might need to learn about Leave No Trace principles, navigation, or how to plan what to carry. Asking them questions to get them to think (and learn) is a great way to introduce these concepts.
- Be a good group member. Be sure to adhere to the expectations for a group, and be flexible. Group hikes are a different experience from solo adventures. Embrace the experience.
Watch the recording of our March 2022 livestream
One thing to keep in mind is that every group is a little different, and there are all sorts of hiking groups out there. You may need to try several before you find the right “fit” for you. But that group is out there!
Once you find a group (or groups) that you like, you'll end up making new hiking friends. And once you have your list of regular hiking friends, you may not need a “group” anymore. Our ambassador Karl uses an email list that he's curated through the years. When he's planning a hike, he sends out an invitation to his list of hiking friends.
What are some of the ways you've connected with other hikers? Let us know what's worked well for you in the comments.