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Hike Leader Guidelines



The main hiking day for the South Bay Ramblers is Saturday. Please schedule local hikes from 6 to 10 miles in length on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month. Allow 20-to a maximum of 25 hikers to attend. You may post longer hikes or hikes located outside of the South Bay (i.e. East Bay) on any other Saturday or Sunday. We also welcome midweek or evening hikes.

While it’s best to contact the leader if you see an error in their meet-up, as part of the South Bay Ramblers community spirit, any organizer can correct spelling errors or clarify the directions on how to get to the meet-up location. However they are to refrain from changing the RSVP Limit (the number of hikers invited.)

Every leader must designate a sweep in advance of the hike or at the trailhead. Losing hikers is not what we do and we encourage every level of hiker to get fit.

The organizer of this group or designated assistant organizers reserve the right to change or cancel a hike if we feel it is not in line with the guidelines set forth in this message.


Hike Difficulty – Please post the hike difficulty (easy, moderate or strenuous) at the top of the hike page. Include miles, elevation, anticipated length of the hike and who your designated sweep will be..

Hike Description: Post a hike description, carpool location if there is one, and directions to the trailhead. Highlight any unusual condition (i.e. river crossings, extended sun exposure, etc.) A good example can be found at the following link:

RSVP Limit: (25 Maximum Number of Hikers per Hike) These guidelines may be subject to minor modifications if deemed appropriate by the hike leader. The number of hikers on a hike should be set at the discretion of the hike leader to a maximum of 25 based on the type of hike and the size of group you are comfortable leading. The maximum number of hikers should NOT exceed 25 under any circumstances unless we are hosting a special event such as the annual picnic.

RSVP Times – RSVPs should be set to open up 2 weeks prior to the hike. If people RSVP too far in advance, they are more likely to cancel.

Waiting List: A waiting list is recommended but set an RSVP limit and stick to it. Do not up your RSVP limit just because you have hikers waiting on the waiting list.

Hike Cancellations: Please post your cancellation policy in your hike details, especially during the rainy season.

Email Announcement: Send an email to the members 2 weeks prior to the hike letting them know you have posted a new hike and that the hike is open for RSVPs.


Scout the Hike: Unless you are familiar with the hike you have volunteered to lead, you should scout the assigned hike prior to the scheduled date. Locate the trailhead, assess trail conditions and establish a snack/lunch stop.

Meet Hikers: Meet the hikers at the designated meeting spot at least 5-10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time. Be on time and start the hike on time. Wait no more than 5 minutes past the scheduled departure time for late hikers. There is no such thing as running late for a hike.

Carpool: Choose a carpool location where members can meet and drive together. We assume most cars gets 15 MPG on mountain roads so we should reimburse the driver accordingly. The recommended amount is approximately 10c per mile plus any park fees but this should be negotiated with the driver.

Forecast Weather Considerations: Be aware of forecast weather conditions which could influence the safety of the hikers and the protective clothing which may be required. These conditions would include possible thunderstorms, heavy rains, and/or flooding, heat waves, snow and freezing rain.

Water & Food: Ensure all hikers have adequate water and food for the hike. In hot weather, one quart of water per person for every three hiking miles is recommended. Make sure that all hikers have brought lunch food or snacks if the length and time of the hike warrants this.

Leader Authority: Based on the leader’s best judgment that a hiker is not physically capable of completing the hike and/or the hiker is not properly equipped for the hike, the leader has the authority to deny a hiker the right to participate in the hike.

Brief All Hikers on the Following Items: Hike overview, safety precautions and emergency procedures, hike restrictions (if any), environmental concerns (litter, etc.), possible dangers of dehydration, untreated water, bees, ticks, snakes, poison oak, pit stops, lunch break, and swimming/wading policy if applicable.


Review Trail Maps: Each leader should have a trail map. Show the trail map to the hikers and explain the hike route, key intersections, hike terrain, scenic views, possible exit points if any along the trail in case of problems and approximately what time the hike is scheduled to end.

Count and Introduce the hikers and Assign and introduce the “Sweep”: If a sweep was not arranged in advance of the hike, assign an experienced hiker to be the “sweep” (last person in the hiking group) and give this individual the first aid kit and whistle.

Inform the sweep that their duties will be to reorient confused hikers, provide first aid materials from the first aid kit to any injured hiker and to assure that all hikers are in front of the sweep and that no-one is left behind. The hike should not leave the trailhead until one of the hikers accepts the responsibility for being the sweep.


Take Leader Actions: Be the lead person at the front of the hiking group. If leading at the front becomes inadvisable for some reason (i.e., assistance required for a weak hiker), the lead should be passed to some other reliable hiker with knowledge of the remaining hiking trail. Make sure the new lead hiker is aware of possible confusing intersections ahead and will take appropriate action to prevent the hikers from making wrong turns on the trail.

Maintain Control of the Hiking Group: On the trail, wait at every trail junction or stop every 30 minutes or so to insure that all hikers are still with the leader. It is the leader’s responsibility to keep the hiking group intact between a leader and a sweep. This does not infer that all hikers must remain together. If a hiker insists on leaving the group, that hiker will be informed that he/she is now on his/her own. He or she will no longer be considered as part of the hike group and assumes all risk for safe return to the parking lot. If it is apparent that someone cannot keep up, it is advisable to send him/her back with someone.

Watch for Lost Hikers: If any hiker is unaccounted for, the leader must assess the situation and is expected to use good judgment in determining the best course of action to find the lost hiker(s).


Count Hikers: Ensure all hikers are accounted for at the hike terminus before returning to the parking lot.
Attend to Missing Hikers: If a hiker is determined to be missing at the terminus, the leader must initiate action to find the lost hiker(s).

Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
Disclaimer - short form for all hikes June 21, 2016 12:52 PM Glenn N
Posting Photos August 16, 2012 8:39 AM Glenn N
South Bay Ramblers Hiking Disclaimer December 10, 2011 4:09 PM Dawn
Hike Leader Guidelines October 14, 2013 2:21 PM Dawn
RSVP Guidelines and Etiquette March 21, 2016 5:49 PM Lori T
About South Bay Ramblers Hiking Group May 23, 2017 8:57 AM Lori T

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