Hiking with a group is a great way to make friends and increase your outdoor skills while doing an activity you love. But there are some stereotypes about outdoors access that can keep people from setting out on trails.
From pop culture notions of who gets to be a hiker to tongue-in-cheek roundups of hiker stereotypes— from outdoor magazines, stereotypical images of hikers tend to be cis white male.
The rest of us struggle to see ourselves represented outdoors. Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild was so popular because it offered women who wanted transformative adventures a literal road map for it. It made it more acceptable to commit to a long-distance hike.
Because marginalized groups including BIPOC and LGBTQ folks haven’t always felt welcomed outdoors, we can consciously or self-consciously limit our participation. We stick with day hikes while dreaming about longer backpacking trips. We favor popular trails over more remote ones out of concerns for our safety.
Concern for how LGBTQ-friendly a group trip will be can keep queer folks from signing up for group outdoor adventure trips.
These seven LGBTQ outdoor groups run outdoor adventure trips for queer people. Some trips are exclusively for queer folks while others welcome allies or take an intersectional approach, like LGBTQIA plus BIPOC participants. Trips range in length from day hikes to multi day backcountry trips.
1. The Venture Out Project
The Venture Out Project offers wilderness trips for queer and trans folks, plus day hikes organized by volunteers. Some trips are ally-inclusive but most are LGBTQ-only.
Their event schedule includes ski trips, family camping trips, rafting trips, and backpacking trips. Trips are for adults, with separate youth trips available for ages 13-17. Current trips include multi day raft trips in the southwest and New England hiking and backpacking trips.
The organization gets extra points for inclusivity by targeting other audiences that haven’t historically been welcomed outdoor, like a queer plus-sized backpacking adventure planned with Unlikely Hikers.
The Venture Out Project was founded by Perry Cohen, who identifies as trans and queer. Prior to founding The Venture Out Project, Cohen worked for Outward Bound, which runs experiential wilderness programs for youth and adults, and Camp Aranu’tiq, a sleep away camp for trans youth.
2. Wild Diversity
Portland-based Wild Diversity wants to connect BIPOC and LGBTQ2S+ communities with the outdoors through education and adventure. The group serves BIPOC and LGBTQ+ adventurers with an emphasis on outdoors equity and access and decolonization of outdoor spaces.
They offer skill building classes like paddling workshops, day hikes, and resources like a gear library. In addition to their outdoors adventures, Wild Diversity offers BIPOC swim classes, outdoor leadership development, and a youth ecology program.
The nonprofit was founded by Mercy M’fon Shammah to support BIPOC outdoor folks and diversify the outdoors industry.
3. OUT There Adventures
OUT There Adventures runs LGBTQ+ youth outdoor adventures. Operating in the Pacific Northwest and California, this group partners with outdoors organizations including Northwest Youth Corps and Outward Bound on youth rafting and backpacking programs.
OUT There Adventures was founded by Elyse Rylander, who noticed the lack of LGBTQ+ youth outdoor programming. The organization’s goal is to empowering queer young people by connecting them to the natural world.
4. Get Out and Trek (GOAT)
Get Out and Trek (GOAT) runs outdoor trips and events, including multi day events. They haven’t resumed trips due to Covid, but GOAT is still playing an active role in making the outdoors inclusive of LGBTQ people.
GOAT maintains an annual Outdoor Equality Index, which examines outdoors engagement with the LGBT community on an industry level. Given the huge data gap that exists with the queer outdoor community, GOAT is putting in the work to increase transparency, raise awareness, model inclusivity, and gain trust. Companies can be nominated to take the Outdoor Equality Index or volunteer themselves to demonstrate their allyship with and inclusion of queer outdoor travelers.
GOAT was founded by Keith Oberlin, a multipart athlete who felt like an outsider in the outdoors and wanted to make the outdoor community more inclusive.
5. LGBT+ Outdoors
LGBT+ Outdoors strives to connect queer people to the outdoors and to one another while breaking down the stereotypes commonly held about queer people. Their local ambassadors organize events near them; current ambassadors are in Texas, Colorado, Ohio, and New Jersey.
LGBT+ Outdoors hosts Outdoorfest, a camping conference event where you can learn can learn fly fishing basics, discover how to capture your outdoor adventures on video, plan a #vanlife adventure, and connect with other queer adventurers. For 2022, Outdoorfest will be held in Texas and Colorado.
OutVentures offers LGBTQ outdoor adventures in the greater Seattle area. Founder Ed Ferguson started OutVentures in 1994 to spend more time in nature, making this one of the older LGBTQ outdoor organizations in existence.
Upcoming queer outdoor trips include camping, backpacking, a community potluck, and an e-biking trip to Glacier National Park.
7. Unlikely Hikers
Unlikely Hikers is an inclusive community for those who are underrepresented outdoors, including LGBTQ+ hikers.
Unlikely Hikers started in 2015 as an Instagram community. Their Instagram community is still very engaged — you can tag #unlikelyhikers, #mybodytookmehere, and #fatandoutdoorsy if you want to be featured, but these days the group is branching out with group hikes.
Group hiking chapters are planned. You can learn more about future group hikes or sign up for their Ambassador program at their website.