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How to Lead a Hike With Confidence

Hiking with friends is fun, but if your local meetup calendar doesn’t fit your schedule, here’s how to feel confident about volunteering to be a hiking leader and create your hiking event.

1. Schedule and state the details – Communication is the key to any good relationship. Hiking group communication starts with the event details. Specifying where to meet, what time, and the anticipated distance is common sense. However, adding more details will help you avoid lots of questions and make it easy for hikers to sign up. Include the expected pace of the hike, how long it should take, if it is appropriate for beginners or experts, and what to bring – especially if they need something beyond the 10 essentials like a lunch or a towel to use after a jump in the lake. Mention any specifics they need to consider, such as bug repellant if it’s mosquito season or a rain jacket for the regular afternoon showers.

2. Post the map – Be sure to include the trail map so that hikers can download, screenshot, or print the map as part of their own 10 essentials.

3. Lay out your plan at the trailhead – Let hikers know whether everyone should stay together, keep in visual range of one another, or hike accordion style, where the lead stops every quarter or half a mile and lets the rest catch up.

4. Designate a leader and a sweeper – You can certainly fulfill one of these roles, but it’s important to make sure that whoever is in the lead knows the way and the caboose will be patient with any stragglers.

5. Follow your organization’s rules – Be sure to adhere to whatever guidelines your organization suggests for group hikes.

6. Start on time – Most groups will have guidelines for hikers to notify their hike leaders if they run late or need to cancel. While you want to include everyone, don’t make those who arrived on time wait for someone who isn’t there within the organization’s stated (or reasonable if not specified) amount of time.

7. Carry your 10 essentials – Review your day pack and ensure you have what you need, especially a way to get help in an emergency and extra first aid supplies.

8. Have fun! – This is your chance to help people feel welcome, connect with your hiking buddies, and make new friends. Enjoy yourself!

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