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Saturday, November 19, 2016



Maybe you've noticed hikers sporting colorful Arizona Hiking Group patches and wondered what they represent. Since they became available in September, several hundred trekkers have attached patches and stickers to their gear in hopes of running into other group members while out on the trails.
Members on a group hike in McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Arizona Hiking Group is a virtual meeting place, photo-sharing site and educational resource on Facebook. Established in September 2012, the group has grown steadily to over 7000 members. Group admins seek to foster a friendly, nonsense-free zone where hikers of all levels and backgrounds feel welcome in sharing their experiences and asking for advise. Haters, trolls and off-message interlopers will feel the swift swing of the "ban hammer" because the group values on-topic dialogue. Issues such as heat-related hiking tragedies, trail etiquette, land stewardship and preparedness are vigorously discussed with the goal of promoting safe, leave-no-trace hiking practices. As the group grew in numbers and diversity, members voiced a desire to develop ways to connect with fellow hikers in real life.
In response, group leaders produced the patches and stickers and began organizing events and hikes. In the few months since the patches first went into the wilderness on the hats and backpacks of hikers, dozens of "patch sightings" have been shared on the Facebook group page. It's turned into a sort of a Pokemon Go exercise, except with real people. Social events such as camping, cookouts and learning opportunities are also being added to the calendar. There are no membership fees, but if you want an optional logo item, they are sold at just over cost with the profits used to fund events.
Arizona Hiking Group:

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