How To Find New Hiking Partners: 11 Places To Rally Your Adventure Crew
Meet new people and get outside.
Sometimes it's hard to find a partner or group to head into the backcountry with. It may be that you don't have a network of friends who share your interests, or it may be that your interests are slightly different or more "intense" than most of your friends' are.
Fortunately, there's no need to worry. Nowadays, there are plenty of ways to find other like-minded adventurers. Check out a few of the suggestions in this list and you'll be well on your way to finding a new hiking partner in no time.
1. Join the outing clubs of your local colleges & universities.
I was surprised the first time I found out that many universities' outing clubs don't require that you're a student in order to join. Others may not really care or bother to check. If the school is large enough and there are enough graduate students, you may blend in and go undetected.
Besides organizing trips, outing clubs also usually offer some pretty great deals on gear rentals and potentially even also classes. A few years ago, I took an excellent set of free workshops put on by MIT's Outing Club, called Winter School. They brought in outside speakers and had tons of great lectures to teach people how to hike and camp in the snow.
2. Check for fliers and ask around at local outfitters store.
Drop in to your local outing goods store and try to find the corkboard covered in fliers. Most outfitters are pretty plugged into the local adventure scene and will usually have information about events, movie screenings, or other get-togethers with outdoorsy folks in the area.
3. Put the word out on Facebook.
You might not think you have any outdoorsy friends... until you put the word out that you're looking. You may find that an old friend from high school is also looking to get out outside more.
You could also try posting about the kind of trip you're looking to do, and see if any of your friends introduce you to some of their other friends who also share the same interest. The mutual connection means you'll have someone to vouch for your suggested partner.
4. Ask around at the office.
Send out an email blast at the office and see if any of your coworkers are interested in taking a trip with you. You should be loose about the details so that you have some veto power if the people who respond aren't exactly what you're looking for.
Ideally, it would be nice if you're not heading out with someone who works directly above or below you, if you're worried about weird vibes. It'd be best to find people in other departments where there's not much professional overlap and no potential personnel issues -- in case they snore in their sleep or get hangry when you run out of trail mix.
5. Attend a wilderness medicine or skills class.
One of the best ways that I've found to meet motivated, eager adventurers is to take a high-level class. Specifically, the kinds of people who take wilderness medicine classes like Wilderness First Responder (week long) or Wilderness First Aid (weekend long) tend to be experienced, kind and conscientious outdoorsmen and women.
If you're interested in learning more, check out my experience taking a Wilderness First Responder class, or find some local Wilderness First Aid classes in your area.
6. Find a local outdoor group on Meetup.com.
Meetup.com is a pretty well-known site for finding groups of like-minded people in your area. They even have a category specifically for "outdoor" meetups. Search the site to see if there are any active hiking or backpacking groups in your region.
Even if you don't attend the group's formal events, you can still use the site to message other members who share common interests, and network your way into finding a new adventure buddy.
7. Join the "Hikers & Backpackers" Slack community.
While normally used for internal business communication & chats, Slack has started to be used for more public communities and interest groups. Hikers & Backpackers is a young Slack community with different channels broken out for US regions.
You can chat with other people in your area to learn about new places to plan a hike, or talk about gear or other backcountry topics.
8. Find regional outdoor associations.
Anytime you have a large region of wildlands, there's usually an organization that helps organize volunteers and donations to keep it protected. Some well-known organizations include the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) or the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC).
If you don't know of any off the top of your head, go on Google and search for your area plus "hiking club" or "hiking group." Some outdoor associations offer young adults trips within the program. If they don't have a young adult program, maybe you could start one!
9. Organize a trip on your town's local subreddit.
If you're in a decently populated area, chances are there's an active subreddit full of people posting about local topics. The stereotypical reddit user tends to skew towards young and liberal, but you can find all sorts of people on the site.
I've had luck posting about trips I was thinking about doing and asking for feedback or advice from people. Anyone who's knowledgeable enough about the area to discuss trail options is probably a great candidate for a potential hiking partner.
10. Look for guide programs in your area.
Finding a local guide program is another option if you're looking to tackle a harder or more remote trail with some help. Obviously, you'll have to pay for the guide's time, but it can be a great option if you feel like pushing far past your normal comfort zone.
11. Meet people on the trail.
I always try to take a few minutes to chat with people I encounter on the trail. You already know their interests overlap with yours since you're on the same path at the same time.
If you have a great conversation with someone, exchange emails to stay in touch. I hit it off with a lean-to neighbor on Mt. Greylock a few years ago and we still stay in touch and have gone on a bunch of trips together since then.
You never know where you'll find your next hiking partner!
Cover photo: Nick Tort
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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.