How To Find Walking And Hiking Groups

Pat’s street in Oregon: “The allure of a sidewalk that draws me to explore it.”

Portland, Oregon


By Pat Jewett

In 2023, a friend mentioned she didn’t know how to join a walking group, which was a wakeup call for me. I have a walking website,, but I realized that despite having a website devoted to walking, I did not have anything on the site about how to connect people to walking.

Walking is accessible to everyone, but where does one find people to walk with? How do you connect with walking clubs and start a healthy habit of walking?

One of the easiest ways to find people to walk with is to join Meetup (which is usually free). Once on Meetup, you’ll need to create an account and then search for hiking or walking groups. In the Pacific Northwest where I live, we are very lucky to have many hiking and walking groups. 

If you enjoy walking and like to lead people on walks or hikes, consider starting your own Meetup Group. There is a fee to start a meetup but the advantage to having your own meetup is being able to set the parameters for pace and do the kind of walks that you want to do. I’m in meetups that go walking and birding, and we also learn about the architecture of downtown historical buildings. There’s a meetup in Portland, Oregon that does nothing but take walks that are highlighted in the three walking books of a Portland author. One of her books is a book about stairs. 

Facebook is also another source to find groups aligned with walking or hiking. GrouperWalks has its own Facebook page. In Portland we have Facebook groups focused on waterfall hikes. You can look for groups that focus on certain trails, like the Pacific Crest Trail or other long-distance trails. These groups may not involve group walks but it’s a great resource for finding new places to walk or hike, and of course you can contribute with your own photos and comments about your walks. As you start looking for these groups Facebook will help you find more groups and events. 

The American Volkssport Association (AVA, or “America’s Walking Club”) has walking clubs across the United States and these clubs are always looking for new members. The best way to participate in AVA walks is to search for local clubs and get in touch with the club that is near you. Often, AVA clubs have their own group walks that are not always posted on the AVA site. 

I have been involved with the AVA since 2003. For the first four years I did the walks, but I was not in a local club nor was I a member of the AVA. I joined a local club and it literally changed the course of my life. I was still struggling with the death of someone I had been married to. I became involved with creating routes, being the President of a club, managing a website for our state organization and being part of AVA’s Publicity Committee. I also began traveling with AVA club folks, to attend two-to-three day walking events. 

Now, because of my involvement with the AVA, I have friends from across the United States and Canada. The fun part of volkswalking (i.e., noncompetitive walks) is coming to a walk and always walking amongst friends and walking with new people. I never know who is going to show up. The AVA promotes walking for fun, fitness, and friendship. As I am aging I am finding that friendship and social connection is the main reason I enjoy volkswalking. 

There are some other organizations that offer walks and hikes, such as GirlTrek, Shorewalkers, FreeWalkers, and EverWalk. Many cities and communities have local hiking clubs, and city parks often have recreational programs and sometimes have a senior hiking or outing program. Many community colleges have noncredit courses that offer hikes, or trips that involve hiking or walking. 

The AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) offers Neighborhood Walks in many cities during the spring and summer. The AARP supports the Walk, Roll and Stroll movement so they often walk slower than most walking groups (‘Walk, Roll and Stroll’ is a term that helps remove the stigma of being disabled).  

Often when I am looking for information on my website I will google hiking or walking and see what comes up. Sometimes that leads to clubs or organizations. Organizations and clubs often offer walks and hikes on their calendars. Members walk for free and sometimes nonmembers have to pay. This can be a great way to check out a group and see if you enjoy it or not. 

Finally, try googling ‘hiking clubs in your [community or city]’. Also, try browsing through the back of local hiking books. Sometimes they will have a list of walking and hiking groups. 

I hope this gives you ideas about finding walking and hiking groups. Don’t forget that some of the most rewarding walks may also involve a short walk around your neighborhood. Some of my favorite walks involve leaving my home and going on a meandering walk, exploring and being in the present moment, wherever my feet take me.

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