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Outdoor Club of East York

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A. Factors to Consider

1)      purpose of the hike – eg. exercise, social, look at birds, plants or trees, explore the history of the area

2)      area to hike – eg. distance from Toronto, terrain

3)      availability of parking and the cost, if any or public transit access

4)      the season, the specific date and start time

5)      what will the hikers need to know eg. do participants need hiking boots, icers, bug repellent, rain gear or warm clothing for the lunch break

6)      difficulty of the hike and how to advertise it

  • Easy– You will walk at a relaxed pace, often spending time to look at things of interest along the route.  This includes city walks and some country hiking.  Hiking experience is not necessary as distances are reasonably short, usually under 12 km

  • Moderate – Generally longer distances and there may be some rough or steep sections along the trail.  This level requires a reasonable level of fitness with longer distances over 12 km
  • Strenuous – A good level of fitness and stamina is required.  You should expect rougher terrain, plenty of hills and/or longer distances (over 15 kms)

7)      other info to include in the ad – the date and start time, description of the terrain such as hilly or sandy beach, length of the hike and duration, whether or not it is a loop, map number, if applicable, if a pub or coffee stop is a post hike option and leaders name, email address and telephone number

B. Prehike, if needed

1)      if you are unfamiliar with the trail or have not hiked it recently, it is a good idea to do a prehike

2)      if you are unable to do a prehike, you can contact the local trail association or conservation area or someone you know who has hiked the area recently to determine the current condition of the trail

3)      during the prehike, note any debris blocking the trail, decide where the lunch break will take place, find locations for pit stops if the trees are bare and/or the area is likely to be heavily travelled

4)      determine if current conditions require any special equipment that should be communicated to the participants eg. icers or poles

5)      note any points of interest that you want to point out to the group

6)      determine if biting insects, ice, mud or water may require a change of route


A. Leader

1)      the primary duty is to manage the hike and to be responsible for the conduct of the outing

2)      the leader:

a)      leads the hike as planned and advertised, or changes the plan based upon weather, trail conditions or the abilities of the group

b)      decides the timing and location of the lunch stop and other stops

c)      responds to events/problems which arise during the hike

d)      communicates with the group throughout the hike, especially if changes are made to the plan or problems arise

e)      carries the completed waiver form on the hike in an accessible location

B. End Person

Assists the leader by ensuring that no hiker falls behind her/him, periodically counts the group, reports problems or potential problems to the leader and acknowledges any hiker who has been asked to post

C. Participating Hikers

1)      by signing the waiver, hikers agree that they are physically fit and do not have any medical problems that would affect their ability to complete the hike and that they will follow the instructions of the leader/organizer

2)      hikers should have proper footwear and adequate food and water for the hike

3)      hikers should carry a whistle, a cell phone and a basic first aid kit to care for blisters, minor cuts and scrapes,  along with advil and/or any other medications that they may expect to need


A. Before the hike begins

1)      have the members of the group sign the waiver

2)      ask hikers if they have a completed Health Information Form in their knapsack

3)      observe hikers to determine if they are properly equipped for the outing, if you are unsure, ask if they have sufficient water, lunch, snacks

4)      appoint an end person

5)      at the start of the hike, make announcements

a)      introduce yourself and the end person

b)      if there are new hikers, welcome them to the group and have the members of the group introduce themselves

c)      describe the hike, i.e. the distance, pace, trails that will be hiked, points of interest, how pit stops work, estimated length of the hike, details of a refreshment stop afterwards, if applicable

d)      advise the group of the probability of encountering biting insects, poison ivy or any other hazard

e)      if rain is expected, advise of the importance of rain gear to avoid hypothermia in all seasons

f)       describe the following:

i)       that the leader and/or end person will count the group periodically to be sure no one has strayed from the group

ii)     posting (a hiker may be asked to post where there are a choice of trails to take, the post must be acknowledged by the end person before rejoining the hike)

iii)   whistle code (one means stop, two means come to the person who blew the whistle, three means as quickly as possible)

iv)   trail blazes that the group will be following (white blazes, blue blazes, conservation or other trail blazes, how turns on the trail are indicated)

6)      ask hikers to walk behind the leader and in front of the end person during the hike

7)      answer questions about the hike

B. On the trail

1)      the leader’s primary responsibility is to lead the hike as described

2)      follow the map and be aware of where you are on the trail at all times

3)      the leader sets the pace for the group, not the hikers behind you (fast hikers will try to “push” the leader to hike more quickly)

4)      the leader determines when and where stops will occur eg. when hikers request a stop for clothing adjustments, pit stops, rests, lunch, to let the slower hikers catch up, to see points of interest, before crossing a road, after climbing a style or after a difficult part of the trail

-     if the leader has waited for slower hikers to catch up, be sure to give the slower hikers at least a five minute rest before moving on

5)      maintain communication with the end person throughout the hike – the end person should communicate any potential problems to the leader, eg. hikers who are having difficulty keeping up or feeling unwell

6)      take into account changing conditions and alter the length of the hike, the trails used or the pace of the hike as needed

7)      during breaks, observe the group for hikers who are having difficulties, are out of water, have sore feet, etc.

8)      all hikers must be accounted for at the end of the hiker before the group disperses

9)      ensure that everyone’s car starts and is able to move before leaving the parking lot


1)      The responsibility of the leader is to manage the problem by assessing the situation, weighing the options and deciding on an action plan, then delegating responsibility to carry out the plan

2)      Remember that the leader is responsible for the whole group, not just the problem hiker

3)      Communicate the problem to the group and keep them up to date as the situation unfolds

A. Lost Hiker

1)      recount the group to be sure you really are missing someone

2)      blow your whistle twice to bring the group to the leader, repeat the whistle code a few times to see if the person rejoins the group

3)      using the waiver sheet, determine who is missing and find out when and where they were seen last, call the lost hiker’s cell phone

4)      ask the group about the person’s behaviour when they were last seen

5)      consult the map to see if there is a likely place where the person may have gone missing, i.e. a turn onto a side trail

6)      there are two possible action plans:

a)      if the leader feels the situation is not critical and can be fairly easily resolved, the leader will appoint one or more search team(s) of a minimum of two people, appoint one person to lead each group and give the team(s) specific instructions as to where to search, until what time and where to meet the hike leader after searching

b)      if the leader feels the situation cannot be safely handled by the group, call the police or EMS as soon as possible, be prepared to communicate the name of the missing person, their contact information, the area and time when the person was last seen and any other relevant information

c)      both plans may be activated if the leader feels it is necessary

B. Injured Hiker

1)      when someone sustains an injury, blow the whistle two or three times to gather the group, depending upon the severity of the injury

2)      determine if the injury can be treated by someone in the group with knowledge of first aid, or if EMS should be contacted

a)      if the injury is minor, the leader or another trained hiker can give first aid (if the leader gives first aid, appoint another hiker to keep the group together and take responsibility for the group)

b)      if the injury is serious, the leader should immediately assign the following tasks:

i)       have a trained person give first aid, if available;

ii)     call EMS giving details of the injury, the current location, and follow the instructions provided by EMS, determine where to meet the EMS team; who will go to meet them 

iii)   if EMS cannot be reached, appoint a group to stay with the injured person and another group to go for help, appoint a leader for each team; and

iv)   determine the leader’s most important responsibility (usually it will be to lead the rest of the group to the end of the hike to ensure their safety)

C. Waiver Forms

See club policies for full details.


If would be helpful if each leader and hiker carries the following equipment in their backpack:

-          trail map or guidebook

-          whistle

-          compass

-          headlamp or small flashlight (and spare batteries)

-          waterproof notebook and pencil

-          small knife

-          lighter or waterproof matches

-          space blanket

-          duct or gorilla tape

-          personal first aid kit

-          cell phone

About us

We have a large, active membership of all ages and backgrounds. Most are from Toronto and the GTA. We always welcome new members who share our passion for outdoor activities.

On any week of the year, our calendar will have numerous trips and events – weekdays and weekends. Some are multi-day trips but many are just for the day. Each event is organized and led by a club member.

Contact us

Outdoor Club of East York
P.O. Box 65126, RPO Chester
Toronto, ON  M4K 3Z2

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