Anatomy of a good hike leader

From lowering blood pressure and decreasing anxiety to reducing the risk of a heart disease diagnosis or reversing the course of diabetes, the benefits of hiking are numerous.

The American Hiking Society also includes weight loss, stabilizing cholesterol levels and reversing the effects of osteoporosis among the many benefits. Hiking can be more than a good time — it can be good for you.

Novice hikers, however, might not want to go it alone on the trails, and that’s where hike leaders come in.

One of the most important traits to being a good hike leader is to be able to provide a perimeter of structure and direction without controlling every aspect of the hike. You must be informed and have good hiking skills, survival skills, first aid experience, and ability to be flexible with the situations as they arrive.

Risk management skills are a priority. Reviewing the trails, trail maps, and possible alternative trail access ahead of time is crucial. The ability to review hiker’s expectations and skillset prior to an event will better ensure that there is a good match between the hike and the hikers. A good leader must be prepared for a variety of situations before they occur so that you can minimize and, hopefully, prevent unpleasant or unsafe situations from occurring in the first place.

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