So you’ve decided you want to share your love of the outdoors with others, but how do you encourage people to hike with you? Or maybe you have hosted some hikes where no one showed up and are losing motivation to continue to host. Many of us have been there before, and it’s not a good feeling. However, before you throw in the towel, check out these tips and tricks for encouraging others to join you on your outdoor adventures, including input from our awesome hiking community.
1. Reach Out to Those Close to You
This is a wonderful place to start, especially if you have friends or family members who have expressed interest in getting outside or improving their health. Something as simple as “Hey, do you want to join me for a walk in the woods?” can go a long way. Encouraging them to invite others can also help spread the word and get people out to join you on the trails. Asking someone to co-host the hike with you is another good option and ensures that you will at least have one hiking partner to enjoy nature with!
I have been personally asking friends/acquaintances who have expressed interest and encouraging them to invite their friends. A general post to my Facebook wall followed up by an in-person conversation or even a text. It’s worked well so far. – 10,000 Women Trail Project Trailblazer Alex from Columbus, Georgia
Asking for a co-host helps get additional people involved. – Natalie from Ballston Spa, New York
2. Advertise Your Hike
In the age of social media, we have a lot of avenues to spread the word about events. Submit the hike to the Hike it Baby calendar then announce the event and share the link to the event on your personal or local hiking group social media pages (such as Adventure Mamas, Hike Like a Woman, Women Who Hike, Hiker Babes, Hiking the Adirondacks, etc.) to help spread the word quickly. If you have children, you can also advertise your hike to other parents at your child’s school, at playdates or in conversations on the playground. Also, don’t forget to mention the trial membership for new families to Hike it Baby.
Here in Florida, it’s a beautiful time of year to be outside. I started hiking alone to get familiar with nice trails in the area. Then I posted in our elementary school’s Facebook page to see who might be interested in joining me. I got tons of interest so I started my own hiking group and had our first hike last week! It was great! – Kim from Tampa, Florida
3. Be Inclusive
While some of your hikes are likely more advanced than others, hosting hikes that are more inclusive to everyone is a great way to encourage others to join you. This can happen in several ways. For one, be sensitive to those who are just starting to hike and may not know what to expect. When posting about your hike, using language such as “all levels are welcome” or “a great hike for beginners on up” can help reassure anyone who is debating if they are physically ready for your event. Also, if your hike requires special equipment (such as snowshoes, spikes or trekking poles), having extras that you can loan out or host at a location where they rent out equipment can help get people out to your event.
As someone BRAND NEW to hiking, I will say that I feel shy about committing to hikes because I would hate to hold people up and interfere with their enjoyment. So, if novices are welcome, please put a big welcome mat out or we might assume we should skip a good time. – Alicia from Northern Virginia
In winter, gear is a problem for a lot of people and thinking they are going to be cold. I have two of everything so loaning gear to people before they buy helps a lot. By the second hike, they show up ready with new shiny gear! No one wants to buy before they know if they will enjoy it. Also, keep it fairly easy if you have a lot of new people joining. As a leader, be inclusive … drop back and talk to everybody and make them feel a part of the group. – Kristy from Spokane Valley, Washington
4. Give Options When Possible
I started hosting Solo-Saturday hikes in November with my local Hike it Baby branch, and for the first few months, I would have no-shows or only one person join me. I was starting to get discouraged, but I gave it one more try, and I had a eureka moment. Why not give people options? And I discovered people LOVE options! Letting them choose from a list of times, days and/or locations meant they were more likely to commit to an event. The first time I tried this, I got nine mamas in attendance and it was awesome! You can do this in a number of ways. For example, Facebook gives you the option to post a poll to see what options people prefer. You can even have them add some options of their own! You may not be able to make everyone happy regarding what works best for them, but it will give you an idea of what works for most people.
5. Be Consistent
If your schedule doesn’t allow for much wiggle room regarding days or times, consistency can also draw people to your hikes. For instance, if Sundays are your trail days, you can host a hike every first and third Sunday of the month and change up the location to add variety (or give people location options to choose from). When people know that there will be a hike on certain days of the month, they may be more likely to make room on their schedule to attend your hikes.
I find consistency to be a huge draw. I host a trail hike pretty much every Sunday morning (and recruit hosts when I can’t). The location varies, but there’s always a Sunday hike on the calendar. I think it also helps that it’s on a weekend when the whole family can join. I’ve noticed that many people bring the entire family the first time but will come solo with kids once they get to know the group. – Corey from Wilmington, Delaware
6. Reminders Leading Up to the Hike
Let’s face it, with so much going on in our daily lives, it’s easy to forget things here and there (or everywhere in my case), so finding ways to remind people of your upcoming hike is important. Now, I’m not suggesting that you make yourself a nuisance and post reminders every day. However, posting discrete reminders such as “the weather looks like it’s going to hold up for our hike!” or “I don’t know about you, but I have had a long week! I am so looking forward to our hike on Saturday!” ensures that the event stays fresh in their minds while also amping up the anticipation.
7. Provide Incentives
Sometimes people need a little more motivation to show up. For me, this came in the form of donuts. I posted that I was stopping by to pick up some before the hike (my treat) and asked for orders. This served three purposes: It increased the motivation for people to show up, it served as a final reminder for the hike, and it gave me a rough estimate of how many people I could expect. This can also work with healthier options, such as fruit, granola bars, trail mix, etc. Other incentives can come in the form of merchandise or Hike it Baby membership giveaways, or even the promise of a stellar view (with a photo to prove it).
8. Don’t Give Up!
Even if you end up hiking alone, posting photos from your hike can give people a visual of what they are missing. Plus, it can give you an opportunity to scout out the area and find new routes to try for next time. I recently had a no-show hike at a large nature preserve that turned into a magical experience and the discovery of an amazing trail. The photos I posted from that hike received a ton of comments, and I had a number of ladies join me on my next hike.
Sometimes people just need a little push of encouragement to try something new and realize how incredible and renewing a walk in the woods can be.
Photos courtesy of Rebecca Hosley.
- How to Start Hiking Regardless of Fitness Level
- 10K Women Trail Project: More Than a Challenge … It’s a Community
- Who Inspires You: Gaining Inspiration and Perspective on Trail
How do you encourage others to join you on hikes? Let us know in the comments below!
Anyone can register for the 10,000 Women Trail Project, whether they are part of Hike it Baby or not. Simply go to www.10KWomenTrailProject.org and sign up. Once you log hikes, you will be entered to win cool prizes every month. It’s that easy! Think about friends you can invite to register and get hiking. The project goes through September 1, 2018.