By Cherie Baxter
So you’ve made it your goal to get out hiking more and what better way than with other outdoorsy people wanting to do just the same. Sometimes our friends and family aren’t always up for the trek. Hiking groups can be the perfect way to meet new people, whether you prefer lighter to moderate climbs or want to hit the more challenging mountain hikes or lengthier trailways. Hiking groups can be a great way to improve the experience. Always be mindful that you are prepared for the difficulty level you choose as well as equipped with proper footwear, water, food and any other items you may need. It can be a great idea to layer your clothing for day trips to adjust to your heat level and depending on the weather changes as the day progresses. Most leaders are not specially trained so hikers are responsible for themselves. Share a laugh, break a sweat, get out in nature and make new friends!
Outdoor Club of Victoria
Active for over 70 years, the Outdoor Club of Victoria has been organizing outdoor activities for people just like you. Mostly the group focuses on hiking trips on a weekly basis but sometimes they even schedule biking and camping trips as well. A wide range of difficulty levels are available from easy to much more challenging hikes. Posted hikes are given ratings of elevation gain, distance travelled and trail conditions to help you choose which hikes are the best for you.
An annual membership application and fee is required for this club. Cost is $30 for a single person and $50 for a couple expiring January 31st of each year. As the group arranges day and overnight trips , when carpooling, you are required to pay the driver for gas and “klickage”. Hikes continue rain or shine so always ensure that you pack accordingly.
Victoria Club Tread
A well liked hiking group for Victoria and surrounding areas is Victoria Club Tread. A group that has been running for over 25 years with a wealth of information on trails and outdoor experiences. They don’t limit themselves to staying in the Victoria area and have planned hikes both travelling within North America to the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon and other locations as well as travelling for hiking destinations in Britain, Italy, Spain and France.
Membership is a yearly fee of $25 covering the club’s insurance and other yearly incurred costs. The club hosts quarterly social gatherings. If you want to give this group a try, they will even let you try your first 3 hikes for free. This may be the perfect way to get you out challenging yourself while meeting other people who love the outdoors as much as you do.
Victoria Outdoor Meetup Club
Meetup is a popular website to join groups within your area of similar interests. Within Meetup there is the Victoria Outdoor Club which has a ton of options to get you out of the house and outdoors with over 3,000 members. This Meetup group is a club member of the Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC (FMCBC). They arrange group get-togethers for hiking, kayaking, cycling, paddling, backpacking, mountaineering and they are open to your suggestions if there is something else you have been wanting to try.
Membership is free to signup through the Meetup website and the cost for each event depends on the event being organized. Like most arrangements, when carpooling you will need to pay the driver for gas and basic wear and tear costs.
Garden City Wanderers Volkssport Club
For an easier way to get yourself started, there is the Garden City Wanderers Volkssport Club which prides itself on providing a fun, friendly, non-competitive, family-oriented atmosphere for their planned walks. Most walks are usually 10kms but some range 5-7 kms and all walkers are encouraged to go at their own pace.
Membership is only a yearly fee of $10 for a single person and only $15 for the whole family. Each hike is an additional $1-$2 depending on the hike.
In today’s day and age, a great way to keep on top of groups is within the so commonly used site, Facebook. Using the search function, you can find groups like Hiking & Walking Group – Victoria, B.C., and Hiking – Victoria Style just by searching keywords like ‘Victoria’ and ‘hiking’.
Some groups are public and some are closed. Public groups can be viewed by anyone on Facebook so always use precautions when meeting. The closed groups are only for people that have been authorized to join by the group administrators. As they are organized through Facebook, there is no Facebook membership fee but you can inquire what expected fees for each hike would be. This can be a great way to meet local people interested in the same outdoorsy adventures as you are.