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The ultimate guide to LGBTQ+ hiking and outdoor groups

Hiking is more popular than ever especially after living through a global pandemic, which forced us to deal with self-isolation, causing us to crave nature even more. But how LGBTQ is it? Dani Heinrich explores.

Nature helps us deal with anxiety and stress, it helps us to relax and to slow down, according to Harvard Medical School research.  

National Parks have been more crowded than ever, and so many people opted for a vacation in nature that it caused a campervan and RV shortage across the U.S. Outdoor tour companies felt the effects of the surge, too. 

Dani Heinrich at Arches National Park in Grand County, Utah. (Photo Credit: Dani Heinrich)
Dani Heinrich at Arches National Park in Grand County, Utah. | Photo: Dani Heinrich

Outdoor Activities for Queer Travelers on the Rise
At The Venture Out Project (TVOP), an organization that arranges backpacking and wilderness trips for queer and transgender outdoor enthusiasts, most of their trips sold out before the summer even started. “After being stuck at home for over a year, some of us with unaccepting family, I think a lot of queer folks could really use some queer joy,” said Anna Seilier, Communications Specialist for TVOP. 

Even people who have never hiked before are opting for outdoorsy getaways this year, ranging from day hikes to glamping weekends to longer backcountry backpacking trips. But for LGBTQIA+ folks, hiking isn’t as simple as it is for straight people. In fact, it can be quite daunting. Several stories of lesbian and gay hikers who were murdered because of their visible sexual orientation have made headlines in the past, but also the fact that in 27 states there are still no laws protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity can turn a seemingly simple activity like a backpacking trip into a nerve-wrecking undertaking.

Connecting with LGBTQIA+ Hiking Groups and Outdoor Organizations 
Over the past few years, more queer hiking groups and organizations have popped up. Social media has been a great tool for typically underrepresented groups to connect and to find each other, reaching millions of people all over the U.S. LGBTQIA+ hiking organizations aim to educate, to create a sense of community, and to get people who don’t have any hikers in their social circles to live out their passion and offer them a support system. 

Regardless of your skill level – experienced hiker or a newbie nature lover – joining a hiking organization can be rewarding for a lot of reasons: you get to enjoy the outdoors with like-minded people, and you connect with other queers who share your love for nature and hiking. Along the way, you also learn fundamental outdoors skills, the right gear for long hikes and camping trips, and how to make your first overnight camping trip a success. 

The Venture Out Project (Photo Credit: The Venture Out Project)
The Venture Out Project | Photo: The Venture Out Project

If you don’t fit the bill of the stereotypical hiker – usually a fit, straight, white cis man – and you find the thought of heading out into the woods by yourself intimidating, check out the following LGBTQIA+ hiking groups & organizations.

Out There Adventures 
Elyse Rylander founded Out There Adventures, a non-profit adventure education organization in Seattle. She focuses primarily on LGBTQIA+ youth trips and is committed to improve the quality life for queer youth through educational activities. Out There Adventures offers kayaking, climbing and multi-day hiking trips.

Venture Out Project (TVOP) 
This organization based in New England and the Pacific Northwest offers wilderness trips for LGBTQIA+ hikers. They offer day hikes, campouts, river rafting trips, youth- and women-centered camping trips as well as hike for people of color. The Venture Out Project’s most popular age range is 25 to 35, with 36- to 45-year-olds close behind. It recently launched a US-wide volunteer program in every U.S. state. Keep an eye on their Instagram account to find out how to sign up for TVOP road trip events in your area.

Unlikely Hikers 
Jenny Bruso, a queer hiker from Portland, Ore., created the Unlikely Hikers. She organizes group hikes that she wants to be 100% inclusive: gay, transgender, disabled, non-binary, people of color, and indigenous. Everyone is welcome! Unlikely Hikers has chapters across the U.S. and you can find out about upcoming hikes in your area by signing up for their newsletter.

Queer people of color love to hike, too! (Photo Credit: iStock)
Queer people of color love to hike, too! | Photo: iStock

QPOC Hikers 
In Seattle, native New Yorker Jasmine Maisonet wanted to create an outdoor community for LGBTQIA+ people of color in the Pacific Northwest, which Maisonet calls home now. QPOC Hikers offers a monthly group hike as well as an annual overnight backpacking trip to Barclay Lake, Wash. You can sign up for hikes on the QPOC Hikers Facebook page or the QPOC Hikers’ website.

How to Find Local LGBTQIA+ Hiking Groups in Your Area
Many cities in the U.S. have smaller queer hiking groups, which you can usually find on You can find the largest gay and lesbian hiking groups listed here, but a quick search for LGBTQ+ or queer groups in your area will show you hiking groups near you. Larger cities like New York City often have various groups, for example LGBTQIA hikers, Backpacking Gay Men of NYC, and Gay Men’s Over 40 Hiking Group

Group of friends sitting on a mountain with a great panoramic view. and Wilderness Society-Pride Outside’s interactive map are two ways to connect with other outdoor groups. | Photo: Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash

Facebook is another great resource to find queer hiking groups near you – make sure you select “groups” when you do a search. Local groups will be shown first, and most post group hike events.

The LGBTQIA+ Outdoor Groups Map 
Two organizations, the Wilderness Society and Pride Outside, teamed up to build an interactive map that displays all LGBTQ+ outdoors groups in the U.S. to connect queer nature enthusiasts and to find a local group in their area. If you run your own queer outdoor group, you can add it if it’s not listed on the map.

This article first appeared on our sister site Vacationer.

BWM Staff

Our Staff Writing Team works hard to bring you great content and share news & events from the bear community and beyond.