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You’re new in San Diego — or maybe just new to walking and hiking — and you want to hit the local trails with other individuals. How do you get plugged into the hiking community around here?

The Sierra Club’s San Diego chapter offers the most number of possibilities. As it has for six decades now, the 15,000-member local chapter offers hundreds of outings a year for anyone wishing to get some exercise and explore San Diego County’s natural environment at the same time. The club boasts a dedicated cadre of well-trained outing leaders who lead bicycle and ski trips as well as hikes and overnight backpacking treks. Some of the outings are conducted under the auspices of sub-groups within the chapter, such as the North County Group, the Coasters Group, and the Bicycle, Family, Photography, and Sierra Singles sections.

The Sierra Club’s official newsletter, the Hi Sierran, lists highlighted outings of interest to the general membership. However, by visiting sandiego.sierraclub.org, you can get access to all outings announcements by clicking “Get Outdoors” and then “More About Outings.” Each entry includes information about difficulty, mileage, and elevation gain associated with the outing.

All Sierra Club outings are open to the general public, though it is usually necessary to contact the outing leader or assistant leader for reservations. The leaders of any physically challenging outing will “screen” participants, trying to ensure that each participant has the necessary skills and stamina to complete the trip safely. All participants must sign a liability waiver before the outing begins.

To learn more about the Sierra Club and its outings program, you may also drop by the San Diego chapter office at 8304 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, Suite 101, just west of the 163. Office hours are Monday through Friday, noon to 5 pm. Phone: 858-569-6005.

The widespread use of the internet has proven to be a boon for other hiking associations, both old and new. Check out the decades-old San Diego Hiking Club at sandiegohikingclub.org. The venerable organization Walkabout International emphasizes urban and suburban walks, and sometimes offers backcountry hikes. Visit walkabout-int.org for more information.

Of recent origin are various virtual “meetup” associations that can be found by visiting the site meetup.com and searching for San Diego hiking. Several meetup groups with titles such as “San Diego County 4255 Square Miles Walking/Hiking,” “Hiking for Fun in San Diego,” and “Footsore Fiends” each boast hundreds of members and organize a handful of hikes each month. The informal outings draw anywhere between a few to a couple of dozen participants, and members are allowed to post on the website digital photos of their experiences on the trail.

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traci_madison Aug. 20, 2009 @ 10:34 a.m.

I love the free activities organized by different Meetup.com hiking groups. There's no pressure to join anything, no political agenda, and no requirement to attend any get together. Once you sign up (free), you get email invitations to all the activities you're interested in. You can choose to RSVP Yes or No, or sometimes Maybe, anonymously.

Hikes and other activities are well-described and you can review events online after each outing. Meetup.com also offers hundreds of other interest groups, so if you're looking to get out on the town or the water, there's a group for you too.


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