Not having friends to go hiking with is the most common reason I hear people say that prevents them from going on their dream adventures. I get it. I had this problem for years before I finally figured out how to find like-minded people.
When I started hiking I was in college. In the spring months after class was done for the day, my roommates and I would go to nearby hiking trails and do a mile or two. But after I graduated college, I wanted to start doing harder trails. I wanted to do the SoCal Six Pack of Peaks and Mt. Whitney. But we all graduated and moved on with our lives in different directions. It was easier to make friends in high school and college because of the close proximity, I mean who else are you going to be friends with? But in adulthood, you go through different seasons of life, you start exploring different activities and want friends that understand you.
I used to sit around and wait for someone to go with me, then honestly, I got tired of it and started going solo. Although I love going solo, I also love the company. I love someone to share the experience with and to have the company. It’s also great motivation when you have a supportive community of like-minded people who just get you.
What do you do when none of your existing friends are into adventuring?
You make new friends! It doesn’t mean you need to stop being friends with the folks who just aren’t interested in hiking (unless you just don’t want them in your life anymore), it just means you need to put yourself out there and make new friends.
Often we’re friends with people that we’re in close proximity with. Your high school and college classmates and roommates, your co-workers, your neighbors. We’re friends with these people because they’re right there. But how about making friends with people who might not be right there but they’re people who have more shared interests with you.
How to find people who like hiking?
Thankfully we live in a world where we’re all connected through social media and our devices.
Yes, you’re going to have to put yourself out there just like dating. New friends don’t just fall into your lap, especially when you’re focusing on trying to make friends with people in a specific community.
Facebook Groups are an amazing way to make new hiking friends. Chances are, you are already part of a few Facebook Groups, whether they’re hiking specific or not. When I started looking for hiking friends, this is where I started. I wanted more hiking girlfriends so I joined Girls Who Hike LA and posted on there that I wanted someone to go to Mt. Baldy with. I found a woman to join me on the trip!
I kept doing this for trips where I wanted people to join me. I just kept putting myself out there and over time, I found my tribe essentially. A group of badass women I love connecting with. They don’t all live near me, some are on opposite sides of the state. But it’s ok because we make time to meet up in the mountains together.
There are so many other groups. There are women-specific groups, co-ed groups, I’m sure there are also male-specific groups (I just know of any off the top of my head), and location-specific groups.
There’s a Facebook Group for John Muir Trail hikers, for Mt. Whitney hikers, for Glacier National Park, for Southern California, for backpackers in general, for vegan and vegetarian hikers, Girls Who Hike state-specific chapters. Literally so many.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and do a little research. Some might be a miss and you’ll see you don’t get along with every hiker under the sun, that’s ok. But there are people who match you perfectly and are willing to join you on the adventures you dream of.
Another great resource to make friends is Instagram! You start following other outdoorsy people, commenting on their photos, chatting with them through DM’s and invite them to hike with you.
Don’t be a creep! But otherwise, I’ve met a couple of girlfriends this way. We just started connecting on Instagram and ended up meeting up in person and hanging out!
Don’t know where to start? Start looking at popular hashtags or people who tag companies that you love like REI. You’re going to need to do some research on this one, and thankfully Instagram recommends other accounts for you to follow.
We have so many resources at our fingertips!
You can look for hiking events held on MeetUp.com then join in! You’re all going hiking together in a group!
I’ve never used this option, but I know many hikers who have! I usually was the one hosting group meetups through Facebook Groups.
Going to Events
Going to events and meetups is a great way to make friends! There are some events that are free (like the ones in Facebook Groups) and there are events you need to pay for.
1. Look through the Facebook Groups you join and see if anyone is hosting an event or meet up in your local area.
2. A lot of your favorite hiking bloggers and influencers usually host group trips where you can join us to a cool destination like Patagonia or Iceland. Look around and see who is hosting a group trip.
4. There are also classes you can take. REI and the Sierra Club often have local classes where you can learn a new outdoor activity or a skill set. Some are paid and some are free classes. This is a great place to meet people either at your specific skill level or people who are interested in the specific outdoor activity that you’re into.
Meet People On the Trail
This is one of my favorite ways to meet friends. Literally, chat with people on the trail! Just say hi, introduce yourself and start chatting. Sometimes you won’t hike together the whole time, or sometimes you’ll end up hiking the whole way together.
Stranger danger is real, so use your gut and good judgment.
Pacific Crest Trail Hikers often end up making friends on the trail and continuing on together.
On my second Mt. Whitney attempt, I was solo. On the way up the trail, I hopped around and made friends with either solo hikers or different groups of people. On the way down, there was a solo guy hiking down, and we ended up hiking down to the cars together. It was great having the company.
When I did the High Sierra Trail, one of the last days was going to be hard. I was with a group of ladies, but I wanted to get up and start hiking at 3am. It was going to be a long day and most of the trail exposed, so I wanted to get a head start in the dark. When I start hiking in the dark, my body just goes. I don’t have the sun beating down on my head tiring me out, and my body and mind don’t register what I’m doing, I just go. It’s a great way for me to cover miles. So the ladies I was with didn’t want to start hiking at 3am. So I asked other hiker groups to see if anyone wanted to join me. We had been leap frogging on the trail the whole trip and had time to chat here and there. Thankfully someone agreed to go with me! I am so grateful for this guy joining me and keeping me company. He even gave me my trail name, Hot Mess.
Now that we’ve gone through all the different ways I know how to make hiking friends, you have no more excuses!
Just like dating, you need to put yourself out there and try. It’s ok to post to groups asking people to go with you. No one thinks any less of you, in fact, you might make a friend who is possibly thinking the same thing but is too scared to post. So just do it. Don’t be afraid.
When it comes to making hiking 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 take that first step.
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