The following guidelines are based on years of hiking experience and are intended to insure that everyone's hiking experience will be safe and enjoyable.

  1. If you have not hiked with the Club before and do not have a regular exercise routine, we suggest you try a moderate speed (2.5-3.0 mph) and distance (4-6 miles) in-town hike first and work up to the longer faster hikes. If you are unsure if the hike is right for you, call the leader whose phone number is included in the hike schedule.

  2. Unless the hike is designated as a "Pet Hike", no pets are allowed.

  3. Be sure you wear suitable clothing and shoes. Above ankle hiking boots are recommended for rugged hikes, off-trail hikes, stream crossings, rocky trails and mud/snow conditions. Hiking sticks may prove handy on some hikes. Dress in layers, preferably using wick away fabrics. Pay attention to the weather report. Be sure to bring suitable rain gear if there is a possibility of rain or snow. In cold weather, wear gloves, a hat, ear coverings and a wind resistant outer layer. In warmer conditions, be wary of wearing too many layers, especially if the hike departs early in the day when it is likely to be cooler.

  4. Always bring and drink plenty of water. Hydrate well before the hike and don't wait until you are thirsty to drink. People frequently ask, "How much water should I carry?" This is a difficult question to answer, since some people need more water than others. However, it is always better to bring too much water than too little. During hot/humid conditions, a good rule of thumb is to carry one quart of water for each hour you plan to hike. Ask the hike leader if there will be an opportunity to replenish water on the hike and plan accordingly. Consider purchasing a bladder for carrying lots of water. If you are inclined to sweat a lot, it is recommended that 50% of your fluids be a fortified drink, such as Gatorade, to replenish lost salts. Also, on long hikes bring high energy snacks and eat frequently to keep up your energy level.

  5. In addition to proper hydration, wear sunscreen and a hat on warm sunny days and know the signs of heat illness, which can have serious repercussions.

  6. Insects can be a real nuisance on summer woods hikes, so bring a bug repellent (those containing DEET are stronger). If some of the hike is off-trail, wear long pants and consider tucking them in your socks to make it harder for the insects and poison ivy.

  7. On longer hikes in remote areas, it is a good idea to pack a small first-aid kit that includes blister treatments and bring an extra pair of socks.

  8. Be sure to read the hike legend in the hike description (terrain, distance and speed). Pay heed when the hike legend indicates that the hike is Challenging or if the hike description includes phrases like "rugged", "lots of bushwacking" and "big hills". If you are unsure if you are physically fit enough, contact the hike leader before you hike.

  9. Arrive at the hiking venue at least 10 minutes before the hike is due to start, so the hike leader can complete sign-ups and start the hike on time. To ensure you are credited with mileage, write your name legibly on the sign-up sheet and, if the hike has multiple distance options, note the mileage you plan to hike beside your name.

  10. Please don't ask to start early, since the rules say everyone should start at the same time. The leader may waive this rule if the hike is in a mall or an organized non-Club event, like the mini-Marathon or a charity walk.

  11. Unless the hike is self-guided and the leader gives you permission to go ahead, always stay behind the leader. Most leaders allow this, but always ask. If the hike is self-guided, sign the sign-up sheet and obtain directions before you leave.

  12. Practice "Leave no Trace" -- pack out what you pack in, including toilet tissue. Respect private property and obey all rules of the area where you hike. Smell, but please don't pick the flowers.

  13. When hiking on a road, walk on the left facing traffic. Use sidewalks when available and cross at marked crossings.

  14. If you are having difficulty (e.g., ill, twist ankle, develop a blister, hike is too fast) or feel you must leave the group, be sure to inform the hike leader.

  15. As a courtesy to new members and guests, wear your name badge when hiking. Go out of your way to make guests feel welcome.

  16. You are responsible for any minor guests you bring on the hike.

  17. Try to use the restroom before a hike. Hike leaders should schedule adequate breaks, however, do not hesitate to ask for a stop. Depending on the conditions, bathroom facilities may not be available, so come prepared for the woods.

  18. As a courtesy to others, please leave cellular phones turned off unless you are expecting an important call during the hike.

  19. If you have doubts about any of the guidelines listed above, please ask the hike leader before the hike starts.

  20. Thank the hike leader at the end of the hike and consider volunteering to lead a hike yourself. It is very rewarding.