How to start a hiking group: five easy steps

How to start a hiking group: five easy steps

Looking to start a local hiking group in your area and don't know where to start? These are the steps I took to bring together a group of casual hikers in my area. Please leave a note in the comments below if you found this article helpful.

I know I usually write about a specific hike with details of where to start, how the trail runs and where it ends. This article is for anyone who loves the outdoors but has no idea how to get started hiking in a group.

In our town, we have an official hiking club that does guided walks on a Tuesday and Thursday. A massive problem for anyone who is working during the week. I decided to try my hand at forming a group which I call #happyhikers.

Important note!

  • In our and other countries, you are required to be a registered nature guide with a valid first-aid certificate to accompany people for nature hikes. 
  • If you decide to host your walking group, it should be made clear in the notification that it is a social group with the aim to hike together. Notify the group that NO Guide will be accompanying the group.
  • Check your local requirements for indemnity. If someone gets hurt, you don't want to end up in court or worse with a major sense of guilt.

On a personal note and a bit of background about me – I arrived in the Overberg 3 years ago. I had come back to the Cape from Gauteng and was at my most “unhealthiest”. I was very overweight and had terrible IBS brought on by a high paced, stressful lifestyle. Hiking was what grounded me.

Most of the time, I hiked alone – too embarrassed because I was so slow. I would tell my son I am carrying far too many “bags of potatoes” up the mountain with me. I persevered and also had a mentor who sometimes joined me. This special lady is over 70, and she loves Cape Flora. This meant plenty of stops to look at specimens, and through this, I not only got fit, but I also started to fall in love with nature and not just the fresh air and exercise.

With this in mind, I decided to form a group so that we can all appreciate the rich bio-diverse Kogelberg and surrounds. In the hopes that someone who may be feeling the way I felt, would join and also become active in the efforts to educate themselves on how to conserve what we have on our doorstep. 

It’s the small things we do that can make or break a fragile eco-system. Sometimes we don’t even think we do harm.  Example: Obviously, we know that to litter is wrong. Take the trash and bin it properly. But we also believe – this apple core is bio-degradable so that can be tossed in the bush. But it has no business being there. We have to be so careful not to introduce all the things that apple can bring in, e.g. bacteria and disease to that specific eco-system.

This is what I have done to begin building a social hiking group.

Step 1: Post to your local Facebook Community Page

Provide a brief description of your objective and hit the send button.
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Step 2: Create a WhatsApp group

I added all the people who commented their numbers as well as friends who wanted to join. Don’t add people who have not asked to be added. We got 30+ after 12 hours!

Step 3: Give people the group aim on WhatsApp

Below is the note I posted to provide the aim of the group.

#HappyHikers in a nutshell
• We are not a hiking club
• Anyone can post where they are planning to hike, when and where to meet
• You are welcome to join any hike posted - just let the poster know to expect you
• You do not have to be super-fit, but the poster should note if the hike is strenuous
• If a group hikes, you are welcome to post a few pics afterwards - "to make the rest of us jealous :)"
• If you invite others to join you need to ensure you keep pace with your slowest hiker
• Enjoy - Be safe - Be kind

Step 4: Post your first hike details

Below is the note I posted to invite group members to the first hike.

Hi all, We are going to do a relatively easy hike.
Details are as follow for those who can make it:
- Meet in the car park at Kleinmond Golf Club
- Sunday 10 Nov 8:00 am
- Bring water, snacks and wear sturdy shoes.

Hoping to see a spider orchid!!! We are walking the contour path to Kasteelkop and should be back in 3 hours. I planned this hike so we can meet each other and see how fit everyone is. It will help us plan future walks so that everyone can join and enjoy.
 
This hike is not very steep and is approx 6kms in total.

Step 5: Enjoy

Not everyone who joined from the first Advert will pitch for the first hike. But you will undoubtedly meet new people and when you post your pics to the group more will join in the fun.

I made sure our first hike was not too strenuous so that we could see how the group gels, and what the various levels of fitness are. Spending quality time getting to know everyone, so that, going forward, we have people who feel comfortable in the group.
Here are some pics of our first hike – and yes!!! We did get to see a magical little Spider Orchid. We also saw 5 more different Orchidaceae species afterwards.
Patricia Kissane
Patricia KissaneKleinmond
After swapping the fast-paced Jozi corporate train for Kleinmond. I love hiking in the Cape Floral Kingdom. I have an interest in TP Stokoe and hoping to find the scarce Mimetes Stokoe.