I remember this hike like it was yesterday, even though it was years ago.

I confidently led a convoy of hikers to a new-to-me trailhead far from home.

I was positive that I knew the route to get to the trailhead when we took off.

Boy, was I wrong.

There were U-Turns, dirt roads, and a pile up of Moms in minivans trying to follow me as I begged Siri to just tell me where the damn trailhead was.

There was about to be mutiny in my own car as my own young children were just done being confined to their carseats. In desperation I kept throwing all of our post-hike snacks (ie candy) into the backseat.

That’s always a recipe for disaster.

Rule #1 Always know how to get to the trailhead (p.s. My kiddo is safe in this picture. This vehicle was parked and not moving, that’s the Wyoming wind, not wild hair from a car ride.)


Eventually, after a stop at a gas station to ask directions we found ourselves at the trailhead.

Our kids were all hungry and emotional, parents were grumpy and annoyed and I felt horrible.

I’d led my friends astray, promised on something that I couldn’t deliver because of my own arrogance.

As you can imagine, the hike didn’t go so well either.

My mistakes navigating us to the trailhead put a dark cloud on the whole day and we were behind on schedule, racing an afternoon thunderstorm.

But, we learn from our mistakes.

In fact that’s the best way to learn, even though it sucks in the moment.

I learned a lot from that adventure.

Since I never want to repeat it I came up with a plan and created a checklist.

Now, I look at this simple list before I even load my gear and head out the door and it’s prevented us from doing all the “wrong” things before a hike.

Does that make me crazy?

Or do I just like a good plan?

Do you have a pre-hike checklist?

Today I’m sharing mine with you.

Feel free to copy and paste and adjust this list so that it fits your needs.

Rebecca’s Pre-Hike Checklist

  • Where are we going?
  • Do we know how to get there?
  • What’s our route when we get to the trailhead?
  • Do we have a navigation tools (ie map, GPS) or knowledge of the trail?
  • When are we leaving?
  • When do we plan to return?
  • Who knows our plan?
  • What’s the weather in town?
  • What will the weather be at the trailhead?
  • What will the temperature difference be between the trailhead and the summit?
  • Do we need to throw any items into our car or packs that aren’t part of our regular packing list (ie snowshoes, trekking poles, extra gear or equipment for friends who might be hiking with us)?
  • Do we have a full tank of gas?
  • Do we have a fully charged cell phone? Do we have my cell phone charger in the car?

What’s on your pre-hike checklist? Drop a comment below!



10 comments on “13 Questions I Ask Myself Before Every Hike

    • Something we never want to run out of! Or something to filter water if we’re near a lake, river, stream, snowmelt etc…

  1. Check driving route to TH?
    Take 10 Essentials?
    Add other items if needed: micro spikes, extra
    clothing layers, extra water, bug spray, etc
    Cell phone and locator charged?
    Gas in car?
    Trail conditions?
    Bear spray?

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