Gone Clubbin'

Bozeman-area hiking groups.

For most outdoor enthusiasts, solo outings are nothing out of the ordinary, and adventures with pals usually involve the same person or persons that one has been trekking with for years. As is often the case, schedules get crammed and the old buddies can’t or won’t be available, and a solo sojourn just doesn’t feel safe, nor as rewarding as one shared with likeminded company. Fortunately, finding those likeminded strangers isn’t as difficult, dangerous, or creepy as it may seem. New friends and new faces to share one’s wilderness wanderings are easily found by simply joining a club. Just remember “Hikers’” club, not “Bikers’” club.

Hiking, adventure, and mountaineering clubs have a long and rich history. Many “Old World” clubs are rooted and loosely based on the sporting-club traditions that originated in the mountainous regions of Europe. Such clubs often had rigid membership requirements, unique rituals, and identifying garb: a patch, pin, or walking stick. Thankfully, modern hiking clubs are much less formal and much more diverse. Most hiking and adventure groups are now more about education, camaraderie, safety, and refinement of outdoor skills, as opposed to lederhosen and yodeling. Chances are that any place with mountains and trails has one or more hiking clubs, and the Gallatin Valley is no exception.

ASMSU Outdoor Recreation Program
Geared toward the university community, the Outdoor Recreation Program offers day trips, overnights, and even longer outings. Most of these trips will have an associated fee; however, every outing is educational and well planned. The program also offers educational courses on outdoor skills. For more information, go to montana.edu/outdoorrecreation or call 994-3621. 

Bozeman Adventure Club
Looking for a new hiking partner? The Bozeman Adventure Club is a well-organized, diverse bunch of folks who range in age, ability, and interests. This club is known for its laid-back and open structure, and its welcoming vibe. In addition to hiking and other outdoor activities, the BAC schedules social events such as local distillery and brewery nights. Visit meetup.com/Bozeman-Adventure-Club for more info. 

The Bozeman Women’s Activity Group (BWAG)
The BWAGs comprise the best-known hiking club in the area, which has been building friendships and enjoying outdoor excursions since 1969. As the name implies, BWAG is for women, and at present this group has over 200 members of all ages. While the BWAGs focus on hiking during warmer months, they also bike, ski, and snowshoe depending on the season and the activity choice of the group. To find out more, go to bwags.org

Bozeman Outdoor Enthusiasts
This club is geared toward the more experienced, faster-paced outdoor athlete. Group size is limited to 12 people for each outing. In addition to hiking and backpacking, this group also mountain bikes and cross-country skis. For more information, visit meetup.com/Bozeman-Outdoor-Enthusiasts

The Scouts
The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are excellent, time-tested ways to introduce kids to the outdoors. These programs have long been known to foster a life-long appreciation of outdoor pursuits as well as ethics. In addition to hiking and backpacking outings, scout troops offer a whole host of other activities to keep youngsters engaged with each other and their community. Check out montanabsa.org or gsmw.org for details.