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Leave a Detailed Itinerary When You Hike

Posted by HikerCass at Apr 24, 2015 01:05 PM |
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Whether you plan your hikes weeks in advance or wake up with an itch in your feet, taking a few extra minutes to sketch out a detailed itinerary and sharing it with friends or family is always worth it. You can print ours or create your own—we show you how.

Creating a hiking plan and leaving it with friends or family is a hiking safety basic, and one to cultivate into a habit. It prevents unnecessary panic and, in an emergency, can save precious time for search and rescue responders.

Printable hiking itinerary

Want an easy way to leave all of the right information for your hike with your emergency contact? Click on our Hike Itinerary Form to download and print it. The fill it out and leave it with a friend.

Key elements in any itinerary

If you'd like to create your own itinerary, be sure to include the following key elements:

Panic time

  • If you have not heard from me by (time) _______ on (day) _______ of (month) _______, call search and rescue at 911 and report me as overdue.

Benefits of a backup plan

Whether you plan your hike a week ahead or wake up with an itch in your feet, taking a few extra minutes to sketch out an itinerary over coffee is always worth it.

Creating an itinerary also forces you to think about, and include, a backup plan. If you hike regularly, it's inevitable that something—from wildfire to a washout to a full trailhead—will force you to change your plan A on the fly.

If you've already picked out a second option (and you're prepared with the maps and info you need to hike it), you'll save yourself a ton of unnecessary stress.

Information about yourself and your hiking partner(s)

  • Name
  • Age
  • Medical issues
  • Level of outdoors experience


Information about your hike

  • Trailhead name and county
  • Planned trails and route
  • Camping locations and sites
  • Backup plan
  • Time of departure
  • Expected time of return

Information about your gear

  • Boot size and type
  • Tent color
  • Outerwear color
  • Vehicle make, model, color and license plate

There's an app for that!

Don’t want to notify your emergency contact every time you go for a hike? Check out the Bugle app. The app, developed by two Washington hikers, allows you to create an activity itinerary, as well as set a panic time. If you don't return on time, the app will automatically alert your emergency contact.

Want to learn more? Check out our search and rescue resource page.


This article has been adapted from one that appeared in the March+April 2015 issue of Washington Trails magazine. Join WTA to get your one-year subscription.