The hike has a diversity problem. Although people of color make up nearly 40% of the US population, about 70% of people who visit forests and national parks are white, according to 2018 data from the National Health Foundation. Why? One possible reason is that the archetype of an “outdoors” person has long been anything but inclusive, primarily aimed at white, able-bodied, straight-sized people.
However, hiking groups across the country are changing that narrative and making the great outdoors safe and accessible to everyone, regardless of race, gender, body type, physical ability or sexual orientation. They do this by advocating on social media, removing barriers (e.g. organizing wheelchair accessible hikes), creating communities that make underrepresented groups feel welcome and included, participating in outreach programs mentorship and, of course, many group hiking adventures.
Whether you want more hiking in your life for the fitness component, to nurture your relationship with nature, or to immerse yourself in a warm and welcoming community, here are seven inclusive hiking groups across the United States for you to check out.
Location: Based in Dallas, Texas, with ambassadors across the United States
Members: 7,800+ members in Facebook groups and 12,500+ Instagram followers
About the club: As its name suggests, this 501c3 nonprofit founded in 2019 aims to connect the LGBTQ+ community to the great outdoors, encourage IRL connection, and bring diversity to the traditionally heteronormative outdoor industry. “We’re here to let our community know that the outdoors is for them, and it’s a place you’re welcome to be – even when it feels like bars and clubs are the only places you can go. can be yourself,” says Justin Yoder, founder of LGBT+ Outdoors. . On the program this year is LGBT Outdoorfest in Texas and Colorado, where participants will camp and learn many outdoor skills, including archery, wilderness first aid and cooking over a fire.
How to join: Visit the Local Chapters section of LGBTOutdoors.com, join the main Facebook group and follow @LGBTOutdoors.
Location: Based in the Pacific Northwest with a national community
Members: No formal membership, over 18,400 Instagram followers
About the club: Founded in 2018, Disabled Hikers is more than just a club of like-minded people coming together for a fun ride, although that’s part of it. Its mission is to celebrate the experiences of people with disabilities and create great change. “Disability is still incredibly underrepresented in outdoor activities, but people with disabilities are just as interested in hiking as anyone else and have a right to access nature,” says the founder. and Director Syren Nagakyrie. “In addition to hikes and group events, we are advocating for accessibility and inclusion, publishing trail guides and launching leadership development programs.” For example, the group recently hosted wheelchair-accessible rides through redwood parks in Northern California, and all events are disability-focused and centered on creating supportive and safe experiences for everyone. hiker.
How to join: Follow @disabledhikers on Instagram, join the Disabled Hikers Community Facebook group and subscribe to their newsletter at disabledhikers.com for event updates.
Location: Los Angeles, California
Members: Host events for up to 45 people each month, 34,000+ Instagram followers
About the club: The Black Girls Trekkin group was founded in 2017 by and for black women who crave community and outdoor adventure. Allies of all races and genders are also welcome. The group holds monthly events throughout Los Angeles County and often takes out-of-town trips. Whatever the route, one thing is certain – Black Girls Trekkin is up for a challenge and knows how to have a good time. Example: The members recently braved the snow to climb a mountain and went to Joshua Tree for a fun camping trip.
How to join: Follow @blackgirlstrekkin on Instagram and join their mailing list at Blackgirlstrekkin.com.
Location: Founded in Los Angeles, California
Members: 25,400+ Instagram followers
About the club: In 2017, Evelynn Escobar founded Hike Clerb, an intersectional and 501c(3) women’s hiking club, to help make the outdoors a place where Black and Indigenous women of color can feel safe, seen, supported, and collectively healed in nature through monthly hikes. . In 2021 alone, they held numerous sold-out events in Los Angeles, Toronto and New York, where the band gathered in Central Park to honor the site where Seneca Village’s African-American community once elected residence. Beyond the hikes, the clerb also participates in mentorship programs supporting underrepresented youth in Los Angeles, instilling in them the belief that they too belong in nature. “It’s been the most rewarding journey to see how this has taken shape and the tangible impact we’ve had in the community as a whole,” Escobar says of realizing this inclusive outdoor fantasy.
How to join: Follow @hikeclerb on Instagram and sign up for the newsletter on Randonnéeclerb.com. Other ways to support the clerb: attend virtual or in-person events, participate in social media, and donate money to help cover costs.
Location: National Sections, founded in California
Members: 43,700+ followers on Instagram
About the club: Embracing culture, family and the outdoors is the essence of Latino Outdoors, founded in 2013. They do this through three key programs centered on creating inclusive outdoor experiences, promoting Latinx stories and promoting leadership development. Expect plenty of group day hikes (with delicious conchas, tamales and dulces as hiking snacks, no less), but also plenty of other outdoor adventures – think ice skating, camping, hiking, biking and climbing – many of which are family-friendly.
How to join: Follow on Instagram @LatinoOutdoors and visit latinooutdoors.org for upcoming events.
Location: Washington, Oregon, Los Angeles, Vermont, Texas, Colorado
Members: Over 6,000 Instagram followers, over 1,300 members in Chapter Facebook groups
About the club: Find the Outdoor Asian team that does all outdoor activities together: hiking, mushroom picking, climbing, surfing, fishing, building sandcastles, etc. However, the most valuable thing about being a member is the sense of friendship and community created by a shared love for the outdoors, which has, until now, been a challenge for the Asian and Islander community of Peaceful to find in outer space. According to co-founder Christopher Chalaka, “The magic is when we discover new ways of being ourselves and with each other, a transformation that seems to be so easily triggered by the joy, mystery and awe that thrive within the framework of mountains, forests, plains and seas.
How to join: Follow @outdoorasian on Instagram and join a Chapter’s Facebook group to stay informed of upcoming events in your area.
Location: Worldwide, headquarters in Portland, Oregon
Members: 140,000+ followers on Instagram
About the club: Jenny Bruso, an inclusive and body-positive outdoor community, national hiking group and forthcoming podcast, founded Improbable Hikers, in 2016. “We easily accept nature’s diversity, but struggle to extend it not only to other humans, but to ourselves even if we are nature,” says Bruso. This spirit of humans being the embodiment of nature, their mission to uplift the underrepresented in the outdoors, and their no-hiker-left-behind policy are just a few of the things that make Improbable Hikers a welcome space for anyone seeking healing and connection in nature, including people of color, queer, trans, non-binary, disabled and neurodivergent.One of their most recent treks involved a climb on the Chumash Stolen Lands in Los Angeles with stunning views from the top and a donation to the Chumash Indian Museum.
How to join: Follow on Instagram @unlikelyhikers. Join the mailing list to receive updates on upcoming rides and group events.