Do you want to learn something new? Most of our hikes have an educational component. Our Trip Leaders are super knowledgeable about all of Pittsburgh (and its surrounding areas) and share stories along the trails. In addition to the “that’s pretty neat” information you’ll learn, we offer trips focused on a specific topic or skill. From birding and tree identification to nature photography and local history our educational hikes will certainly teach you something new!
Getting Ready to Go
- Complete an Assumption of Risk Form.
- Check the weather forecast for the location. Set aside the appropriate equipment and clothing for the predicted temperature and conditions.
- Review the meeting location address and directions.
- Weather appropriate clothing (preferably non-cotton layers).
- Hiking boots or comfortable walking shoes appropriate for the terrain.
Please arrive at least 15 minutes before the scheduled start time for check in. This gives the Trip Leaders enough time to collect Assumption of Risk Forms and start the trip on time.
Venture Outdoors provides multiple directions for accessing the meeting location including GPS coordinates, closest address, Google map link, and driving directions from Pittsburgh. Please review these directions in advance and plan your route to allow ample time for travel and onsite preparation. The Trip Leaders’ cellphone numbers are provided as a courtesy, but they may not be available by phone during check-in. Any necessary contact should be made at least 30 minutes before the trip begins. It is the participant’s responsibility to arrive at the meeting location 15 minutes prior to the start time. Please arrive early as trips cannot be delayed for late arrivals.
Use of trekking or hiking poles is a personal choice. They are not an expected piece of equipment for Venture Outdoors hikes; however, they may provide additional stability along uneven terrain, support on descents, and footing on creek crossings.
Trip Leaders make every attempt to plan routes that include bathroom stops at or near the meeting location or during the trip. The type and availability of facility depends on the time of year and location. Urban settings and many parks offer flush toilets or port-a-johns. Some locations do not have bathroom facilities and participants are encouraged to practice Leave No Trace principles when going in the woods. The Trip Leader will share specifics about bathroom facilities at the beginning of the outing, and details are often provided in the pre-trip information sheet.
What to Bring on the Trip?
- Signed Assumption of Risk Form
- Water (plan for one liter for every two hours of activity)
- Food (snacks/lunch)
- Rain Gear (jacket and pants)
- Small daypack
About the Weather
No! We love hiking in the rain! With the appropriate clothing you can be comfortable in a variety of weather conditions. We encourage participants to pack a rain jacket and pants on all activities because the weather in Southwest PA is variable. It’s smart to keep a towel, change of clothes, spare shoes, and a plastic bag in your car so you’ll have dry clothes for your return trip and a place to stow your damp or wet items. Umbrellas are a great option for urban hikes. Wear the appropriate footwear for the trail or street conditions.
If the Trip Leader determines that trip conditions exceed the group’s comfort level, the trip may be cancelled. If this decision can be made during regular office hours (9 AM -5 PM, Monday-Friday), participants will be called and emailed by staff. If the decision is made outside of regular office hours the Trip Leaders and on-call staff try to decide at least two hours in advance. Weather is variable and the Trip Leader may opt to cancel the outing at the trailhead or make modifications during the trip.
Thunderstorms are a potential cause for trip cancellation. If a trip is canceled due to the weather forecast, participants will be notified.
The Venture Outdoors staff and Trip Leaders monitor local radar and forecasts to assess when, where, and for how long a thunderstorm is predicted to occur and use this information to decide whether to cancel, continue, or modify a trip. For example, a Trip Leader may choose to delay the start of a trip to let a short storm pass, and then continue as planned. He or she may choose to cancel the trip if waiting for the storm to pass will make it difficult to return on time or otherwise negatively impact environmental conditions.
The leaders made the trip — they were excited about the topic and extremely patient with all the hike members who were asking innumerable questions about the flowers, trees, vegetation, etc. — we all learned from each other.