Recreational hiking has long been a social activity. Along with the increasing popularity of recreational hiking in the early 20th century came numerous hiking clubs.
In the New York City metropolitan area, clubs such as the Paterson Ramblers, The Wanderbirds, The Tramp and Trail Club, The Fresh Air Club, Naturfreundes and local chapters of Appalachian Mountain Club and Green Mountain Club formed so hiking enthusiast could share their passion with like minded people.
Throughout the last century, the popularity of hiking clubs continued to grow. Today the NY NJ Trail Conference, the umbrella group for many of the region's hiking clubs, boasts of over 100 member hiking organizations with a combined membership of over 100,000 people. Yet the social aspect of hiking is not limited to clubs. Families and informal groups of friends are often seen hiking together and many a solo hiker has spent time walking with another solo hiker he met on the trail.
While the Internet age has done little to change the actual hiking experience, it has changed (or at least increased the ways) the way hikers meet. There are numerous Internet bulletin boards and forums where hikers seek other hikers to hit the trail with. Their popularity, however, is dwarfed by Meetup.com.
Meetup.com is a website that brings together people with similar interests and hikers have discovered it to be a fantastic way to meet other hikers. Some of the meetup clubs serve specialized groups (women, gays, young or older people, singles, etc.) while others are open to just about anybody who can walk. Here is a sampling:
The Next Adventure and Hiking meetup is based in New York City and has over 2,700 members. Their list of hiking-related activities includes backpacking, day hiking, trekking, mountaineering, night hiking and thru-hiking in addition to numerous other activities.
The Body Basics Burn the Fat Hiking Group focuses on health and includes a nutrition lesson before each
The NY/NJ/PA Hiking Group has over 1,200 members and their focus is on "Having a good time and leaving no trace of litter on our lands."
The NJ Fourty Plus Hiking Club meetup caters to hikers of a certain age who want to hike with others in their age group. This group has 196 members even though it's very new.
The Hiking and Nature Meetup makes "an effort to be as inclusive as possible by offering hiking at all levels, from short relaxing hiking trips to 20-mile hiking challenges." They "also do rock scrambling, rock climbing, wilderness skills classes, weekend hiking trips across the northeast, and adventure travel trips all over the world."
The New Jersey Hiking Biking Outdoor Fun meetup group with over 900 members prefers to "hike at a moderate pace," enabling members "to enjoy the scenery and take breaks."
This list barely breaks the surface of the various hiking groups available on Meetup.com. Some run trips to places like Kilimanjaro, the Andes, the Himalayas and other exotic destinations, while most focus on hiking locally. No matter what your age, hiking ability and hiking goals are, there probably is a hiking group on Meetup.com for you.
Don't forget the traditional hiking clubs either. While the Paterson Ramblers, The Wanderbirds, The Tramp and Trail Club and other early hiking clubs are long gone, there are still many traditional hiking clubs in the region. The Appalachian Mountain Club and Green Mountain Club still exist (though the Green Mountain Club no longer has NJ or NY chapters). Some of the many other area hiking clubs include Harriman Hikers, which focuses on singles, Weis Wyanokie Wanderers whose hiking is not only confined to the Wyanokies, the German American Hiking Club which caters to those with a German background or an interest in German culture and the Union County Hiking Club which offers up to six hikes a week.
So if finding someone to hike with has been keeping you off the trails, no more excuses. There is a hiking club out there for you.
Find your own hiking group.
Newark Outdoor Recreation Examiner Brian Sniatkowski has been writing about the outdoors and other subjects since 2005.
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