By Guest Instructor Tedi Searle, celebrated backpacking influencer, fitness instructor and trail runner.
Hiking, backpacking and trail running is always more fun with friends. In fact not having people to go with is one of the most common reasons more people don’t get outside. If you can relate–you’re not alone. I get it. I’ve been there too.
I used to sit around, waiting for a roommate or boyfriend to go with me. Finally I got tired of the waiting and started looking for other people to go with. Going solo can be great, but it’s nice to have someone to share the experience with. The company is great and there is safety in numbers. A group of like-minded people who just ‘get it’ is always so motivating!
I started searching for people and opportunities.
Find Friends Who Get Outside
What if you’re friends aren’t into the outdoors?
You make new friends! It doesn’t mean you need to stop being friends with the folks who just aren’t interested in hiking or backpacking (unless you don’t want them in your life anymore); it just means you need to make new friends.
We live in a world where we’re all connected through social media and our devices. Facebook Groups are an amazing way to make new hiking friends. Chances are you’re already part of a few active groups already.
This is where I started my search for new adventurous friends. I joined several trail running groups, kept putting myself out there, and eventually found my tribe. Some of my badass group of trail runners live on opposite sides of the state and country. We love to connect and make time to meet up in the mountains together.
Search for specific groups:
- BIPOC groups
- Co-ed hikers
- Location-specific pages like John Muir Trail, Lover’s Lane Loop or Glacier National Park
- Vegan, Paleo or meat lovers united
…and many more!
It’s ok to post to groups and say that you’re ready to join them. You might make a friend who is thinking the same thing but too scared to post. Why don’t you go for it and be the trail leader? You may not connect with every hiker under the sun, and that’s ok. But there are people who are willing to join you on your bucket list adventures!
Another great resource to make friends is on Instagram! Start by following outdoorsy people, commenting on their photos, chatting through direct messages and inviting them to hike with you. I’ve met great friends this way. In fact, that’s how me and Melanie Webb, the founder of WebbWell became friends! We started connecting on Instagram, met up for a hike, and now here we are, collaborating on backpacking and hiking fitness!
Don’t know where to start? Search popular hashtags or people who tag outdoor fitness brands who you respect. Instagram makes it easy by recommending accounts to follow.
You can look for hiking events hosted on MeetUp. It can be hit and miss, but is worth a try!
In-person Events and Outdoor Fitness Retreats
Live events are great places to make outdoor fitness friends! I love attending Ragnar Relay Trail Races. Join a team looking for additional team members or create your own team. What a great way to meet new runners and friends to get outside on the trails.
Brands including REI and Sierra Club often host local classes focused on outdoor activities and skills. College recreation departments offer outdoor adventure classes. This is a great place to meet people either at your specific skill level or people who are interested in the same adventure.
Hiking bloggers and outdoor influencers often host group trips. Think of cool destinations like Patagonia, Iceland, New Mexico, or Utah! I’ll be joining WebbWell to host hiking and backpacking fitness retreats in 2023–stay tuned!
Getting outside and on the trail is one of my favorite ways to meet new friends. Chat with people on the trail! Say hello, introduce yourself and start chatting. You might not hike together the whole time–other times you’ll hike the entire trail together
Caution: trust your gut and use good judgment before joining a stranger outdoors!
There are no more excuses now that I’ve shared my favorite ways to make friends to hike, backpack, and trail run with! Just like dating, you need to put yourself out there and try.
When it comes to making trail friends, you might have a couple of hits and a couple of misses. It happens. You’ll discover what type of people you mesh with and who you don’t, just like with anything. Just because you’re all into hiking doesn’t mean you’ll always align with personalities. But you won’t know until you try.
Courage comes from action, so don’t be afraid to take that first step!
About Tedi Searle
Tedi Searle, also known as Endorphin Junkie, is a 500 hr YRT yoga instructor and certified fitness professional pursuing her Ragnarian Immortal this year (12 Ragnar Races in one calendar year).
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