Outing Guidelines

Outing Guidelines

Safety and Responsibility

Participants in SO! outings are solely responsible for their own safety. The leaders of SO! outings are untrained volunteers who plan, organize, and lead the outings, but have no special training or expertise in outdoor safety or hazards and are not responsible or liable for the personal welfare and safety of the participants. Each participant is the only expert regarding his or her own abilities, and is solely responsible for choosing outings appropriate for his or her physical and medical ability, for taking proper clothing, equipment and provisions, and making appropriate decisions in response to terrain, elevation, and weather conditions and their inherent hazards (such as falling objects, lightning, avalanche, hypothermia, and injuries caused by others.)

Outing Difficulty Ratings

All outings organized by Seniors Outdoors! have a difficulty rating. Some trips are designed with optional routes to accommodate a range of abilities, but not all outings will accommodate all abilities. It is your responsibility to choose trips that are within your ability. If you are uncertain, check with the trip leader.

The following are the trip ratings used by Seniors Outdoors!

  • Easy: Usually less than 4 miles in length on smooth, well-defined trails, with elevation gains up to 400 feet.
  • Moderate: May be up to 8 miles round trip, generally on established trails that can be rocky and steep in places, With elevation gain up to 2000 feet.
  • Hard: May be longer than 8 miles in length and/or greater than 2000feet of elevation gain. May be on poorly defined trails or off-trail. For experienced, physically fit hikers only.
  • Most Challenging: May be especially long, have a large elevation gain, be over particularly difficult and/or exposed terrain, or involve significant scrambling or bushwhacking. For hikers in top shape seeking a challenge.

Length: Total length of trip in miles, whether out and back, circle, or through hike.

Elevation: Total elevation gain in feet, including extra ups and downs.

  • Mountain Explorations: These hikes will generally be hard or most challenging hikes, which typically include some off-trail exploration, scrambling, bushwhacking and occasional exposure. Due to the exploratory nature of these hikes, when the outing is listed on the schedule only a general location may be given without the customary details. The route for the day will be up to the trip leader. Return to vehicle times will be unpredictable.

The Primary rating for outings assumes the participant completes the entire trip. Some trips may have an easier option as well. If this is the case, it will be mentioned in the description.

Anticipated Pace Descriptions

The pace, or speed, of a hike is a very subjective matter and difficult to describe or quantify. A description of fast or moderate may depend largely on the fitness level and experience of the individual. However, in an attempt to give potential participants at least a general idea of the expected pace of an outing, the leader may use the following terms or other language to describe that expected pace.

  • Easy Pace:  A comfortable walking or strolling pace, with frequent breaks.  Example – a nature walk.
  • Moderately Easy Pace:  A comfortable pace, with plenty of ability to have conversations.
  • Moderate Pace:  A steady hiking pace for those in decent shape. Regular short breaks, depending on the terrain.
  • Moderately Brisk Pace:  A quicker hiking pace, with less frequent breaks to catch one’s breath, and regroup.
  • Brisk Pace:  A quick pace, with fewer and shorter breaks.

Meeting Place Abbreviations

Outings will meet and depart from the following locations:

  • Animas City Park (ACP): For some outings to the north or out Florida Rd. The park (a narrow grassy area) is located on E. 2nd Ave. immediately north of 32nd (just north and east of North City Market). Note that it is on the WEST side of the river, so coming from Main Ave., you do NOT cross the bridge! Meeting area is on 2nd Ave just after turning north off 32nd St.
  • Fairgrounds (FG): The parking lot at the La Plata County Fairgrounds, next to North Main at 25th Street. This is mainly for use in the summer and early fall if the Rec Center lot is occupied by the produce stand.
  • Purgatory Resort (PURG): At the entrance, unless otherwise specified.
  • Durango Community Recreation Center (RC): for overnight trips and most outings to the north. The Rec. Center is located at 2700 Main Ave. Please park in the south lot between Main St. and the ball fields however if the fruit vendor is set up there, use the next lot south, by the fairgrounds.
  • Santa Rita Park (SRP): For outings to the south or either direction on Hwy. 160. The park is located at the intersection of Hwy 160-550 & Santa Rita Drive, or 1 mile South of Doubletree Hotel. We gather behind the Santa Rita Park Sign. Overnight parking is not allowed at SRP.
  • Tamarron Resort (TAM): Tamarron – parking lot at Tamarron
  • Trimble Crossing (TC): West side of parking lot in front of the hardware store
  • Trailhead (TH): At the trailhead or other location for some outings
  • Twin Buttes (TWIN): Twin Buttes parking lot next to the gas station on Hwy 160 west of town.

Before the Outing

Choose outings that are within your ability. Check the outing difficulty rating, outing pace descriptions, distance, and elevation gain. If you are not sure, contact the trip leader and discuss the specifics of the outing so you can make a safe judgment.

Pay attention to the meeting place and time for the outing. The meeting places listed above are the most common, but many outings start at the trailhead for the hike or other location.

Inform the trip leader if you have special needs or requests. Make sure the leader is aware if you have any medical condition, such as diabetes or a heart condition, which could affect your well-being on the outing. If you want to meet the group at a different location, or desire to do a modified version of the outing, contact the trip leader before the outing.

RSVP on time and show up on time. If you indicated that you will attend, but need to cancel, notify the trip leader. ALL outings require an RSVP except Downhill Skiing, Wednesday Easy Walkers, and Wednesday Wanderers or unless noted otherwise.

Read guidebooks and maps regarding the outing. Be informed of where you are going.

Have a Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue Card. Strongly advised!

Have any necessary permits.

Note that firearms are not permitted on any SO! Outings or function.

Pack your daypack with all the items you may need. Don’t get caught unprepared! Bring adequate food and water, and be prepared for wet or cold weather. Take plastic grocery bags for trail trash and to put your wet/muddy boots into after the trip, so you don’t get someone else’s vehicle dirty. See Packing List for Day Outings.

Wear orange clothing during hunting season, or use one of the Club’s orange vests. For backcountry winter trips Seniors Outdoors! recommends that participants carry appropriate avalanche recovery equipment (beacon, probe and shovel.)

Check to see if dogs are permitted. See Guidelines for Taking Dogs on Outings.

If you need to get back early, make plans for transportation.

Be ready for carpooling. If you will be a passenger, take along the correct amount of money for the carpool fee (specified in the outing description). As you may be a driver, make sure you have enough gas and room for passengers, and take along an extra vehicle key.

At the Meeting Place

Sign the Outing Attendance List.

Welcome guests and new members, and help inform them of procedures.

Alert the trip leader of any medical conditions that could create complications on the outing.

Pay attention when the trip leader is reviewing the travel route. Participate in the process of setting up carpool arrangements.


Understand the route if driving and keep track of the vehicle behind you.

Pay the driver the carpool fee if a passenger.

At the Trailhead

Pay attention when the trip leader is making announcements. Make sure you understand the route and ask questions as necessary. Know who is carrying the radios, first-aid kit(s), emergency beacon and cell phone.

Choose the appropriate group to go with (hard, moderate or easy option; faster or slower pace).

During the Outing

The trip leader will distribute the Club’s two-way radios to be taken on the trip. If you carry a radio, turn the power on. It should already be set on channel 6.3. Do a radio check. Use radios for necessary communications only. Carry it where you can access it quickly.

Stay with your group and keep track of others in your group. This is especially important on trails that are not clearly marked. Never walk off on your own or head back to the trailhead without letting someone know where you are going.

If you leave the trail for a potty break, leave your pack next to the trail, so the trail sweep doesn’t pass you and leave you behind. If the group comes to a fork in the trail, wait for the person behind you and make sure that person takes the correct trail. If you are the designated sweep, stay in the sweep position. If you need to move up, assign another sweep and give him/her your radio and first-aid kit and inform the trip leader of the change.

Educate yourself on hypothermia, lightning, altitude, and avalanche and know what to do. Take breaks as necessary to drink plenty of water and eat snacks to maintain your energy.

Control your dog. See Guidelines for Taking Dogs on Outings.

Practice “Leave No Trace” outdoor ethics. Don’t tarnish our reputation. Pickup trash along the trail.

It is your responsibility to follow the relevant laws and regulations of the area in which the outing takes place.

After the Outing

Return equipment to the trip leader.

Help the trip leader with a head count to make sure everyone has returned safely.

Take the trip duffel(s) at the end of the trip if you will be the next trip leader.

Respect the vehicle you are carpooling in. Do all you can to prevent getting the vehicle dirty by putting your wet/dirty items in plastic bags.

Packing List for Day Outings

Following is a general list of items needed or desired for day outings. The actual items to be taken on each outing will depend on the type of outing, season of the year, and elevation. Don’t get caught unprepared for wet or cold weather, or other unexpected conditions!

Personal identification
Emergency contact information
Water, 2 quarts
Lunch and snacks
Emergency food
Hiking boots and socks
Hiking stick or trekking poles
Hat with visor
Rain gear
Vest, sweater, or jacket
Warm hat or head band
Extra socks
Lip balm with sunscreen
Insect repellent
Handkerchief or tissue
Toilet paper
Money for car pooling
Extra vehicle key
Health Insurance card
Signal mirror
Personal first-aid kit, moleskin
Repair tape
Matches or butane lighter
Candle or fire starter (Steel wool works great.)
Pocket knife
Flashlight or headlamp with extra batteries and bulb
Space blanket
Wading shoes, if crossing streams
Guide or reference books
Plastic bags:

  • For trash pick up
  • For wet and dirty clothing and boots
  • For used toilet paper
  • To ‘scoop’ your dog’s poop

Small trowel for digging cat holes for human waste
Pad to sit on
Cell phone
Water treatment tablets or filter
Avalanche equipment
If biking – tool kit, spare tubes and pump
Change of shoes and socks for after trip
Water treatment tablets or filter
Avalanche equipment

Guidelines for Taking Dogs on Outings

Dogs are permitted on many of our outings at the discretion of the trip leader. If dogs are not allowed the outing description will specify “No dogs.” Before bringing your dog, you must contact the trip leader and give an RSVP for your dog. Dogs always need an RSVP.

Reasons for dogs not being allowed on an outing may include:

  • Conflicts with other trail users
  • Protecting desert country cryptobiotic soil crust
  • Damage to groomed cross-country ski trails
  • Difficult trail conditions, such as drop-offs, unstable surfaces, etc.
  • Hiking in National Parks, such as Canyonlands, where dogs aren’t allowed on trails
  • Doing one-way hikes with shuttles, where your dog would need to be transported in someone else’s vehicle
  • The emphasis of the outing is educational
  • The outing leader simply prefers not to have dogs along.

Hiking with a dog can be a positive and rewarding experience, but it can also result in a less than satisfactory experience for other people. The difference is primarily due to the behavior of the specific dog.

Desirable Behavior:

  • Friendly
  • Stays with owner
  • Obedient obeys voice commands
  • Not protective or aggressive
  • Does not mooch others for snacks during breaks or lunch

Unacceptable Behavior:

  • Intimidating hikers
  • Barking excessively
  • Jumping up on other people
  • Begging food from people
  • Chasing wildlife or livestock
  • Bumping people
  • Shaking water or mud on people

Dog Owner Responsibilities:

      • Bring a leash and water for your dog (if adequate water is not available on trail).
      • Put your dog on a leash if it starts to chase wildlife, creates unsafe conditions on the trail or disturbs others while hiking or taking a break.
      • Keep your dog under control at all times.
      • During lunch, tie your dog up so it doesn’t disturb others.
      • Drive your own vehicle.
      • ‘Scoop’ the poop when it’s on the trail. Remember to take along a plastic bag for this purpose.

If you see a dog exhibiting problematic behavior, bring it to the attention of the dog owner (or the trip leader if you prefer to have it mentioned anonymously). The dog owner needs to know, and will hopefully welcome the information. If these guidelines are conscientiously observed, no further action or more rigid policy should be required.