Frequently Asked Questions & Answers
Are beginners welcome?
Absolutely -- people with all levels of experience are welcome on our hikes, wilderness camping & backpacking trips, and snowshoeing trips -- including total beginners. Although a substantial portion of our hiking club membership consists of people with lots of hiking and other outdoor experience, many beginners join and participate each year.
Do I have to be a member to participate?
No you don't, and there's never a requirement to join. However, most people who plan to come on our trips more than once or twice a year do join because members pay $30 less per day trip ($100 less per overnight trip) and qualify for significant discounts by pre-paying for a minimum of 3 trips (with higher discounts, which can cut the fee almost in half, if you pay for 10, 20 or 30 in advance). You're more than welcome to try one or more of our hikes as a non-member if you wish (or, if you're sure you want to be a member, you may join before your first hike).
How do I become a member?
Simply go to the Trip Reservations page, print out the form, fill it out, and send it to our postal address with a check or money order (for several reasons we've never taken credit cards). If you come on a hiking trip or other outing as a non-member, you also have the option of joining by paying the membership fee by check or cash while on the trip.
How do I reserve for a trip?
Payment is required in advance for all hiking trips (except when space is available at the last moment). To reserve, go to the Trip Reservations page, fill out the form, and send it to us with a check or money order for the appropriate amount. If less than a week remains before a hike or other trip, please contact us first to make sure space is still available (although anytime a trip is full, you'll be contacted and given a choice of being put on a waiting list or choosing another date -- or both). When your payment is received you'll be e-mailed a confirmation with details about the trip and the departure time. If you'll be meeting us at our destination, driving directions will be sent a few days before the trip.
What if I can't keep up with the group?
That's unlikely as long as you don't sign up for a hike that's beyond your level of fitness -- and assuming you're someone who can walk at a reasonably normal pace for stretches of time without stopping. If you're not in great shape and/or don't want an intense workout, start with an easy hike, which is typically 5-6 hilly miles done at a leisurely pace, usually with substantial rest breaks. If you're an experienced hiker who gets regular aerobic exercise, you may want to begin with a higher-level hike. When in doubt, please call for advice before reserving for your first hiking trip.
What about bears, snakes, ticks and other risks or dangers in the woods? And how about getting lost or injured?
The risks of hiking and the other outdoor activities we offer are very low -- much lower than many people imagine. Injuries are extremely rare on our hikes, and are usually limited to a twisted ankle (avoidable by walking attentively) or an occasional cut or scrape on a rock or branch. Most wildlife give us a wide berth and we've never had any kind of problem. Lyme disease? The odds of contracting it on our hikes are minuscule (we've had 3 known cases in 38 years). And part of the job of your guide is to make sure everyone stays safe and no one gets lost while hiking.
I'm on a tight budget. Is there a way to reduce the cost?
The least expensive way to participate is to become a member and take advantage of membership discounts (above). Consider pre-paying for at least 10 day trips, if you can afford to do so (you can take up to 3 years to use all pre-paid trips), which comes out to just $50 per person, per hike, if you're providing your own transportation, or $60 per hike if you're riding with us from NYC. Or if you have a car and can carry passengers from Manhattan, you may take advantage of our extra low "drivers' rate" (available to just 1-2 drivers per hike) which includes reimbursement for gas & toll costs.
What kind of people come on the trips? And what's the age of most members?
Our trips have always attracted a congenial group of people -- a mix of women and men, singles and couples (the majority are single and come by themselves), of diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, and ages (from very young to seniors; the largest number are in the 20s-50s range, although we also have a substantial number of hikers in their 60s and quite a few in their 70s and even 80s -- all ages 7-and-above are welcome). Our members share an affinity for nature and the outdoors, and tend to be friendly, interesting people who are often a delight to be with. While the makeup of each hiking group is unique, it's very unlikely that you'll feel out of place. Many members who have met on our hikes have become close friends (and there have been quite a few marriages among members).
How are your trips different from those of other groups and businesses?
Here are a few differences. Unlike most hiking clubs and other groups in the NYC metropolitan area and elsewhere, we provide round-trip transportation from Manhattan for those who need it (other participants drive directly). We offer an extremely large and unique repertory of lovely and often spectacular day hike locations (a total of over 150), including many that are little-known and off-the-beaten path (on some trips we don't see another soul all day). We do also visit well-known mountain areas and hike on famous trails like the Appalachian Trail. Most local hiking clubs and businesses return regularly to a limited number of locations and trails, especially those reachable by bus or train from places like NYC (such trails tend to be heavily used), whereas 95% of our trips are to areas that can't be reached by public transportation, and we don't repeat most of our huge selection of day hikes more often than once every 1-3 years.
At the risk of sounding like we're unabashedly tooting our own horn, we're frequently told that the quality of our trips is unrivaled (raves are common, and some who have gone with other hiking groups tell us our trips are "absolutely the best"). One reason, some say, is because of leadership. The hikes offered by most clubs are led by volunteers, and most businesses that offer outdoor trips hire relatively low-paid guides, some of whom have limited experience. In contrast, all of our trips (80-90 per year) are led by Charles Cook, a well-known outdoor author/expert and professional hiking guide (who has been referred to in the media as a "hiking guru"). Charlie is one of the best-known hiking and wilderness guides in the Northeast, and he's hiked 75,000+ miles since the early 1970s. Among his many personal adventures, he was one of the first 100 people to hike the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in a single trip.
What if I'm too busy to participate?
Remember that a day of hiking and relaxing in the natural world is almost always wonderfully restorative and can be memorable. Imagine spending this coming Saturday or Sunday in a quiet, gorgeous, and/or spectacular natural setting, breathing fresh, fragrant mountain air, de-stressing, having fun with a great group of people, enjoying some exhilarating exercise, tasting some adventure, and experiencing deep relaxation, a feeling of refreshment and renewal, and a heightened sense of well-being. We hear constantly from participants who tell us that after a day of hiking "in the wild" they feel much more peaceful, relaxed, and centered, and that their work week goes infinitely better. You'll find that setting aside a day every week or two for hiking and communing with nature offers extraordinary benefits.
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