We often have a long and a short hike. Long hikes vary from 3 to 6 miles (or longer). Short hikes vary from 1 to 2 miles. The schedule usually contains information about the length and relative difficulty of the hikes. As you become familiar with the hikes and the hike leaders, you will know what to expect. Please take into consideration your abilities when choosing to attend a hike. Hiking generally is more strenuous than walking on pavement in your neighborhood.

October through May, we typically hike in the afternoon; June through September, we typically hike in the morning. However, starting times are subject to change based on the hike leader’s schedule and plans for the hike. The monthly schedule contains details about the start time and where to meet.

In winter, wear layers of clothing to keep warm. Hiking warms you up pretty quickly – you can remove or add layers as needed based on your internal temperature. You also will want some type of head covering, gloves, and warm socks.

In summer, dress lightly; however, we recommend wearing long pants due to poison ivy and insects.

Most important – wear appropriate shoes. This is not a walk. This is hiking in the woods, with rocks, leaves, mud, and streams. Your shoes will get muddy; they may get wet. Hiking shoes are designed for hiking – walking and running shoes are not.

Sometimes we hike in areas where there is no trail. Sometimes we have to climb over felled trees and boulders. Appropriate clothing and shoes will enhance your enjoyment of the hike.

It is extremely important to bring plenty of water, especially in summer when you lose water due to perspiration and evaporation. The group will stop frequently in hot weather to cool down.

Snacks also are beneficial. Hiking is a strenuous activity; you may need a pick-me-up along the way. Trail mix, grapes, raisins, whatever keeps well in spite of the weather and is easy to eat while you are walking through the woods.

The club occasionally undertakes a long hike with lunch on the trail. The hiking schedule will tell you if you should bring lunch. Again, you’ll want something that keeps well in spite of the weather and is easy to eat while sitting on a log or leaning against a tree.

Other items to bring if available: a whistle to let people know where you are if you do become separated from the group, a compass to determine which way to proceed, a small first-aid kit, and bug repellent, especially during tick season.

Last, but not least, you will want a backpack, daypack, or bag to carry your water, snacks, and other paraphernalia.

The hike leader is familiar with the trail and sets the pace. You should strive to stay with the main group, behind the hike leader. The reason is simple. You could become lost and disoriented. Some of the areas where we hike are quite dense and forested; it is very easy to become separated from the group. Although we try to keep track of all individuals on a hike, the Louisville Hiking Club cannot assume responsibility if you miss a turn and become lost.

The hike leader will have the group stop occasionally, usually at forks in the trail, to allow the hindmost participants to catch up. The leader also will indicate when there is a shortcut back to the start for anyone uncomfortable with continuing. Should you decide to backtrack, please find a friend to accompany you and inform someone (usually the sweep) who can pass the word on to the leader.

Most hikes have a sweep, that is, someone at the back of the line to help stragglers and to help ensure people do not get lost. When the hike leader sees the sweep, he or she knows that everyone has caught up with the main group and it is safe to move on.

According to a newspaper article published in 1945, you should see “a hiker stow away food after a five or six-mile jaunt in the brisk air” (The Courier Journal, Louisville, Kentucky, Sunday, November 25, 1945, section 4, page 4).

Club members usually go out to eat after a hike. We try to select a different restaurant each week. The meal is a great opportunity to get to know your fellow hikers.

The club occasionally requires reservations ahead of time (for example, a church is cooking just for us or a small restaurant needs to have supplies/staff on hand). When this occurs, please follow the instructions on the schedule to make your reservation by the date indicated.

If we have a bus, we encourage you to ride it. The bus allows time to talk and make friends and gets you to the right place, on time. NOTE: The bus generally drives directly from the hike to the restaurant so if you do not want to eat with the club, you have to drive yourself. The fare varies depending on the distance to the hike and whether the park requires an entrance fee.

If a bus is not available, we encourage people to carpool. The club occasionally arranges a meetup location for carpooling if the hike is some distance away or trailhead parking is limited.

Several times per year the Louisville Hiking Club goes on a weekend trip to a national or state park or forest in Kentucky, Indiana, or another nearby state. These trips are coordinated through the club’s Secretary. You will find information about upcoming trips in the News section and on the monthly hiking schedule. Please make reservations with the Secretary and make payment before the trip.

Every December the Louisville Hiking Club has its yearly Christmas party. We typically have a catered meal and a DJ with music and dancing. It’s always a surprise to see hikers decked out in nice clothes! Members bring inexpensive, wrapped gifts to give out as door prizes, and we have a silent auction for items donated by members. The club recognizes officers and individuals who led hikes throughout the year.

The first Saturday in May, the Louisville Hiking Club goes to Clifty Falls State Park in Madison, Indiana. We usually rent a bus for this outing because the hike is a one-way trip. We take a sack lunch to eat before the hike. The main hike is 5 ½ miles from the falls at the north end to Clifty Inn at the south end of the park; however, there are several shorter options. (Note: The trails are rated rugged to moderately rugged and there are several steep ascents, including one ladder.) You may participate in one or more Derby jackpots in hopes of winning back your bus fare. After the hike, we eat supper at the Clifty Inn, then watch the Derby and divvy up the jackpots. Many members will tell you this is the best hike of the year.

To become a member, you must hike with the club twice. Once you have completed two hikes, tell an officer of the club that you want to join. The officer will arrange for the club to take a vote. After club members approve your application, you’ll need to provide your contact information and pay your dues.

The club emails the monthly schedule of upcoming hikes and activities as well as informational notices about hikes and club members. Membership also gives you priority over non-members when making reservations for motel or lodge accommodations on weekend outings.

Dues are collected yearly. A single membership is $20.00; family membership is $30.00. Dues are used to cover club expenses, for example, copies and postage, web site maintenance, meetup, bus rental, deposits for weekend trips, and the Christmas party. Members receive a detailed account of club income/expenses annually; plus, the books are always open for members to review.

Officers are nominated and elected at the end of each year to serve from January through December of the following year. All officers are volunteers who generously give their time (and often their money) to maintain the club.