Bark Hike Leader Training Guide


Note on COVID Policies: Bark’s COVID safety policies are changing as cases, vaccination rates, and guidance from Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) change. Please check our COVID fieldwork safety protocol for general guidelines on Bark’s current fieldwork protocol and check in with Misha ( for more specific guidance and policies. If you, as a hike leader, have requests for stricter COVID policies for a hike you’re leading than Bark is currently requiring, please let us know.

Notes on webpage format: This webpage fomatting is difficult to read! Please use this google doc for an easier formatting to read: 

Table of contents:

Overview of steps to plan a hike

On and before the hike:

Choose a project or a theme

Deciding which area to bring your hike to can include several factors:

  • If you have been to a timber sale, development project, trail, or other relevant part of the forest and feel passionate about the area, this will always help make a good hike. Additionally, if you know a Forest Service project is in an important planning phase and could use some public attention, this adds urgency and interest to the hike attendance.
  • Coming up with a general theme and then picking a place that best exemplifies what you are describing can be as compelling as going to an area with an active proposal. If you are interested in a particular ecological, political or social theme and would like to plan your hike around this instead of a specific project or comment deadline, just be sure to consider how it ties into Bark’s work and vision for Mt. Hood, and how to leverage the information presented in the letters written at the end of the day.
  • Other factors can be based on access due to weather or distance. The majority of people on the hike will remember the general information about the Forest Service and logging, rather than the specifics of the area. A good hike can be anywhere the hike leader shows interest.

Find a #2

Once you have an idea in mind, reach out to someone you think may be interested in helping to lead the hike with you. Preferably someone you know in the Bark community who is also a hike leader, but it could also be a close friend that you trust to support you.  All Bark hikes need to have a #2 so you can feel supported and to help deal with anything unexpected

Draft a hike description

Send a description of the hike and area to for use on the website event, social media, and in the Bark Alert. To get the best attendance, it is best to send these descriptions at least 2 months before your hike date. See a current hike description for an example. A hike description should include:

  • The general location and theme
    • The hike’s difficulty- try to describe what participants should expect for the hike as accurately and in as much detail as possible. Some items to include are: 
      • Distance
      • Elevation gain
      • The surface participants will be traveling on
        • Will there be a pavement, a maintained trail, off-trail? For how long?
        • Could it be slippery, an uneven surface, wet, or will ground sink underneath their feet?
      • Any particular challenges such as steep trails, rough terrain, or difficult streams to cross.  Will participants need to climb over or under logs?
      • How much participants can expect to start and stop (should they expect lots of breaks for discussion?)
  • Driver Expectations
    • ​What type of roads can participants expect to encounter?
  • A photo for the event (we can help you find one if needed!)
  • A short bio for yourself (and your co-leader, if you’ve found one!)

Research your hike

Use the resources in the Bark office and on the website to learn about the project or area you are visiting. has a list of all current proposals in Mt. Hood. With each project, there are relevant documents that have information about the area. This includes NEPA documents and environmental analysis. You can also look up the area’s Watershed Analysis and the Land Resource Management Plan here: watershed analysis will offer more depth into what is happening in the area beyond the timber sale.

Try to find as many different sets of maps as you can for your project area. Different types of maps will help the hike attendees understand where they are, why it’s significant, and will also allow folks to come back and show the area to others.  The agencies (Forest Service or BLM) will have a map, and there are various topographical maps (Forest Service, USGS, National Geographic, etc.) that you can use. Google-Earth is another great resource for aerial images of the area. 

Draft an outline

Start an outline of discussion topics for the hike. This should include an introduction to Bark and Bark’s land acknowledgement, an overview of the Forest Service or BLM and public lands, Purpose and Need for logging (as stated by the Forest Service, if applicable), forest ecology features, cumulative impacts, etc. This will help keep the information organized as you get through the day. It’s usually good to have some planned stops on the hike with corresponding talking points. Be prepared for three commonly asked questions: Elevation of the sale, size of the sale, and nearest known public site (for example, one mile from Bagby Hot Springs, or two miles from Buck Lake, etc).

Consider including a list of a few possible information highlights. Bark-Abouts can be a good excuse to dig deeper on issues and ecology you have been meaning to read more about, but haven’t found the time. This is your hike, if you aren’t having fun then no one else will.  Don’t cover a topic because you think you should; rather spend time covering the topics of real interest to you – enthusiasm is contagious and will flow from you to the group. For instance, look up specifics on a tree species, brush up on lichen names, or research the history of the area. If you are using field guides, bring them along on the hike for others to peruse during lunch or downtime.


Scout your hike

Scouting your hike means going out to your hike location (and potential hike location) to get a sense of the terrain and figure out the flow of the hike. Often themes of a hike are determined once you have visited the area firsthand. While you’re scouting, pay attention to the terrain and how you’ll best describe the hike for participants and stage your stops on the hike so that they clearly convey your topic. For stops along the hike where you plan to talk to the whole group, consider spots that can accommodate a clustered or circular group discussion (i.e. not along steep, narrow trails).

Go out to the area and make good notes of markers along the way to share with drivers. Never assume they know an area. Multiple field checks are great, but most important is a final check within a week of the hike. Road conditions and weather change. Be prepared. When you go out to the area make good notes and mark (Bark can provide flagging) important features (both on the road and in the forest) along the way for yourself and to share with drivers.

Depending on the size of the project and location of roads, try to hike a demonstrative route of the timber sale or other area. If an obvious route is not apparent, look back on the outline and begin to make a set of points in the area that may be a good place for talking points. Begin to connect those points and then walk the route you have chosen, including a good lunch stop. Getting people into and out of cars is difficult. Scope out the parking spots; look for pullouts that are big enough for multiple cars. Hikes with only one parking stop for the cars are easier to manage, but they are not always best if the area is large and good examples of your talking points lie far apart. Flagging your route ahead of time with some distinctive flagging (and using Avenza) is a great way to avoid getting off-track.

Safety considerations while hike scouting:

  • Where is the closest definitive care (hospital, urgent care center)?
  • Where is the closest phone or phone signal?
  • Are there potential hazards on your hike? How can you avoid these hazards? If they can’t be avoided, how will you mitigate their risks or deal with the hazards if they arise? 

Plan a “gateway” meetup

We always invite folks in communities outside of Portland to meet us closer to the forest. The locations and time for meet ups can be flexible based on your hike destination. If you are confused about where a good secondary meetup spot would be, just contact a Bark staff person.

After you choose a gateway meet up site and time, please let us know. We like to know by Monday morning the week before your hike at the latest. Here are some suggestions for meetup locations:

  • Estacada – Harmony Bakery at 221 SW Wade St.
  • Sandy – Highway 26 corridor meet up: Hoodland Shopping Center, at the traffic light, on Hwy. 26 in Welches, or the Zigzag ranger station (there are public restrooms at the ranger station).
  • Hood River – For hikes in the upper Hwy. 35 corridor the junction of Hwy. 35 and the Cooper Spur Road works well. If you won’t be travelling that far south on 35 then a site in Parkdale (e.g. the Hood River ranger station) or at the Hood River Park & Ride on Hwy. 35.


The week before the hike

Contact people you know are interested in Bark-Abouts and may be more likely to go if they know you are leading. Be sure to understand and include a link to our expectations for drivers in any of your own outreach:

Create a fact sheet: two-sided, highlight the timber sale/project/area facts (acreage, type of logging, watershed etc.) as well as talking points for writing letters. There may be a fact sheet already existing, so check with Bark staff. If space allows, include map of area on back side of factsheet.

Pick up at Bark:

  • Hike box
  • Mt. Hood map
  • First Aid Kit
  • Waivers
  • Pens & Cardstock for letter writing
  • Donation envelopes
  • Copies of maps and/or factsheets of sale
  • Copies of additional outreach materials (check w/ Bark staff for suggestions)

For folks who will be driving the carpools, write or type a few copies of driving directions to the hike from the Hollywood Grocery Outlet, 4420 Ne Hancock Street

Make sure to look inside Bark’s first aid kit, and be familiar with the items inside. If you feel like something might be missing, contact a Bark staff person right away.

If hike is in the winter, check weather the day before the hike for snow passage:


The day of: the Portland meet-up

Arrive at the Hollywood Grocery outlet BEFORE 8:45am on Sunday. Once you have a critical mass, round everyone up and discuss:

  • Waiver forms – Make sure everyone signs in, even if they think we have their information! If someone gets lost this is your most immediate way of identifying them. (This process looks different with COVID procedures! A lot of people send in their waiver ahead of time, so you will get communication about who still needs to sign their waiver and COVID screening)
  • Carpools
  • Numbers for counting off (if group is large)
  • Check clothing for people’s comfort – it is OK to give improperly prepared people the boot, they can bring the whole hike down a bad path. If your hike is going to be cold or wet, you can also bring Bark’s box of extra clothing and lend out extra clothes to participants.
  • Look at a map of Mt. Hood and point out where you are going
  • Give directions to the drivers        
  • Exchange cell phone numbers with drivers (although often phones are not useful in the forest)
  • Determine if anyone needs to be back by an exact time
  • Identify the first meeting spot (Usually it is good to meet up sometime before turning onto logging roads and later to meet back there before leaving the area).

On the hike

In your hike’s introduction you should include participant and hike leader introductions, Bark’s land acknowledgement practice, a rough itinerary for the day, and a safety conversation. It’s a good idea to get participants’ names, pronouns, and interests for the hike during introductions. This can help you recognize what things folks would appreciate more elaboration on. You can also then take the map back out and show participants where they are; this helps them feel oriented and more connected to where they’ve come so far. The safety considerations you discuss will depend on the hike that you are leading. For instance, I usually tell people to be certain a tree is still alive before leaning on it, who has the first aid kit, stay close to the group, know your physical limits, etc. Consider the weather and terrain and remind hike participants relevant safety tips based on expected weather and terrain covered.

You can find a guide to Bark’s land acknowledgement practice attached to this page. If you are unfamiliar with the practice, think there is a more up to date version, or have any questions, please reach out to Misha ( for assistance.

Follow your outline and plan. Try to be calm as distractions and changes occur. Most people are happy just to be out in the forest and are going to be forgiving of any fumbles. Don’t worry about having to carry the conversation at all times.  But, keep the hike moving – spend between 7-15 minutes per stop; spending less time makes the hike start-and-stop too much and spending too much more time causes people to get bored (and sometimes cold!). Have someone take pictures!  We use these in our web outreach and mailings, and they’re important for demonstrating that we care about the forest and getting folks out to the places we’re trying to protect.

Don’t forget to occasionally count off to be sure everyone is with you.


Write letters to the appropriate agency or elected contact either at lunch or at the end of the hike (if you are confused about who to write to, just ask a Bark staff person). When you return to the cars to leave, make closing points:

  • Everyone shares their favorite part of the day, or the most interesting thing they learned
  • “Apples, thorns, and seeds” (if group size allows: have everyone share the best thing from the day, the worst thing, and the thing they would like to follow up on and learn more about
  • Becoming a member of Bark (you can hold up a donation envelope and explain that members make Bark possible. If you are a member, it can be good to mention that.)
  • Volunteering opportunities (leading a Bark hike, Free Mt. Hood committee, groundtruthing, wetland and beaver surveys)
  • Remind folks to give their drivers gas money!

Common safety hazards

Bark offers an annual day-long Forest First Aid training with the Rosehip Medic Collective. Please inquire about when the next training is being held and consider attending! Please see the Rose Hip Medic Collective training guide for more safety information attached at the bottom of this page.

Remember these guiding medic principles: 1) Do no harm; spread calm; 2) Don’t create a second patient; 3) Stay within your scope; 4) Know what to do when you don’t know what to do; 5) Slow is smooth, smooth is fast; and 6) It’s not our emergency

Here’s a link to a good overview of an initial patient assessment system:

Hypothermia: In winter, hypothermia is probably the most important consideration.

  • If there is a problem, don't be afraid to end the trip early and get out.  Hypothermia can kill. 
  • People can often maintain their body temperature while moving, but as soon as they stop, the body temperature starts to drop. It is better to have several short lunch breaks rather than one long one. If anyone starts to get cold, start moving again. 
  • If someone is feeling cold, things that may help include: jumping jacks or running in circles, drinking water (dehydration is a contributing factor), changing into dry clothes, putting an emergency heat pack in their armpits or groin (these are in the first aid kit – they are inexpensive, don't be afraid to use them).
  • Symptoms: shivering, numb extremities, quick shallow breathing, nausea, loss of coordination, slurred speech, confusion, aggressiveness. 
  • A person may not know they are getting hypothermic, or not want to admit it.  If you even suspect there is a problem, act on it.

Dehydration: In summer, dehydration is probably the most important consideration

  • Make sure folks are drinking water (caffeinated beverages don’t hydrate!)
  • Signs of dehydration include: dry skin on lips, flushed skin, dark urine, fatigue, irritability
  • Have patient rest in the shade, begin rehydration with water and/or electrolytes, continue for at least 2 hours (.5-1L/hr), monitor.

The Medic Wiki page has a ton of resources on basic first aid treatment principles:

Checking and De-naturalizing Privilege

Think about: How might my privileged identities (as a man, white person, a cisgender person, a person with class privilege, an able-bodied person, a thin person, a citizen, etc.) affect my hike leader work?

Oppression is the act of using power to empower and/or privilege a group at the expense of disempowering, marginalizing, silencing, and subordinating another group. Oppression theory is an absolutely essential tool for anyone interested in leading public hikes. Good hike leaders enable their communities to do good political and community work, and go about that effort conscious of the effects of white supremacy, class exploitation, patriarchy, heterosexism, imperialism, globalization, ageism, ablism, sizism, cissexism, xenophobia, monoculturalism, capitalism, and other systems of oppression.

Intersectionality holds that the classical models of oppression within society, such as those based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, class, or disability do not act independently of one another; instead, these forms of oppression interrelate creating a system of oppression that reflects the "inter-section" of multiple forms of discrimination. We cannot be the best advocates possible for Mt. Hood without recognizing intersectionality and working to dismantle oppression in our everyday language around "public land" issues.

If you witness, experience, or unknowingly contribute to oppressive behavior on a Bark hike:

  • Contact Bark Staff to fill out an incident report.
  • Be accountable for your mistakes. Take complaints about your behavior or treatment seriously.
  • Say that you’re sorry.
  • Ask if there is anything that you can do.
  • Know that it is not another person’s job to explain or educate.
  • It is your job to educate yourself and seek out information.
  • Ask the person if they want your contact info.
  • Be willing to enter mediation.
  • Ask Bark staff for guidance/support.

Know whose land you are on. There are plenty of resources out there to help you educate yourself about the land that you are occupying and its original inhabitants. Find out if the tribes or nations are still in that area. If they are not, find out why not. Have they been forcefully relocated? Pushed out in another way?  Acknowledge that you are on occupied land when you say where you are or where you are from. This is an important way to disrupt the “myth of the disappearing native.”  Bark has put together this resource:

After the hike

Check in with Bark Staff about the hike and arrange for the hike box to be returned to office.

Upload you photos from the hike to Bark’s Flickr:

Password: Hoodlover351*

Give yourself a pat on the back for connecting people to a special place they otherwise wouldn’t have seen! You are fundamental to Bark’s work and the public’s attitude toward the forest! THANK YOU!