Planning Your Group Hiking Trip
By Rob Wipfler
Hiking is a fun and rewarding activity that can be enjoyed as a family, with a group of friends, or even solo. Getting cozy with Mother Nature requires some serious planning however, as the last thing you need on your trip is for someone to arrive without their essentials or for the hike to go wrong. Below, we will discuss some of the important questions you’ll want to ask yourself to make sure that your first trip will be as safe as it is fun.
Who are you going with?
If you are leading experienced hikers, they will likely know what to do. But make sure you run through all of the basics with them and that everything is in order before departing. However, if you are planning a trip for other first-time hikers or with young children, there is a lot to consider when planning. For example, everyone should be on the same page about the scope of the trip. Is everyone in good physical shape and wanting to try something strenuous? If so, a more challenging hike may be appropriate. Are there children in the group who will likely need to be carried for part of the trip? If this is the case, a shorter trip would probably be best. Gauge the capabilities of the group before your departure. Also, be sure you know first aid. Carry a group cell phone to use in case of emergency.
It is also a good idea to establish group ground rules such as sticking together or stopping to take a break at certain time intervals. Knowing basic hiking etiquette, such as staying to the right of the trail and passing fellow hikers on the left, is also important.
Where are you going?
There are a number of beautiful trails, mountains and canyons that are favorite hiking spots of many seasoned hikers. You first need to determine what your capabilities are when determining a specific route. Since it is your first time hiking, a 2-day extravaganza may not be the best choice. For your first hike, test your stamina and abilities with a shorter trail that can be completed within 1 day. Some things to consider when choosing a hike include:
- Parking opportunities for the group
- Bathroom facilities ahead of time and also LNT (Leave No Trace) practices during the hike including carrying out trash and waste disposal
- Length of trip
- Expertise level
- Scenic Views
Be sure that everyone is clear on the path and operate with a leader and sweeper. The leader is the first one in a group and stops at each and every cross trail until the sweeper brings up the back. This will ensure that no one will stray from the group and as a whole you will be able to stay on track.
What are you bringing?
Every member of a hiking group should come prepared with the proper attire. Hiking boots or shoes should be worn to provide grip so you can navigate your way across slippery rocks and uneven trails. Be prepared for weather changes. The peaks of mountains are significantly colder than the valleys, so bring an extra layer to stay warm while you enjoy the view. A hat is a good idea. Mother Nature is unpredictable, so if you don’t want to spend your hiking trip soaked from head to toe, bring raingear.
Food & Essentials
Food and water are the most important items on your packing list. Bring at least twice as much water as you normally drink, as you may be sweating or just get held up somewhere you didn’t intend to. Unfortunately dehydration is a common and costly mistake that many novice hikers make. In addition to an adequate water supply, you will want nutritious food that will provide sustained energy. Healthy snacks such as natural granola, trail mix and fruits are always great ideas. For lunch try peanut butter, bagels, jerky, and pepperoni.
Other necessities for a safe and enjoyable hiking trip are insect repellent, a first aid kit, and a map and compass when traveling through an unmarked trail.
Hiking is a beloved hobby all around the world, but it is a potentially dangerous one too. It’s incredibly important to make sure the group you are traveling with is on the same page as you so no one is overexerted. By planning out the trail location, setting ground rules, and triple checking the items you pack, everyone will be able to enjoy the group hiking trip!