Frequently Asked Questions


What are the hikes like?

The Club offers a variety of different hikes in areas around Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and D.C. Some hikes include special activities and/or stops, such as swimming holes, wineries, battlefields, farmers markets, river tubing, Atlantic beaches, etc., although most hikes are of the through-the-woods variety. Most hikes have both a moderate (5-9 miles) and a long (9-13 miles) option and take hikers on mountain trails through woods and stopping at scenic viewpoints. In addition, the Club's hike schedule also list the cumulative elevation ascent and descent, so that hikers can determine if the hike sounds suited to their ability and enjoyment.

How many different hikes does the Club offer?

The Club knows of over 200 different hikes within a 2-hour drive of D.C. and some of the hike leaders enjoy finding new hikes to lead, so the chances of discovering a new hike on the Club's schedule are very good. There are also some favorite Club hikes that are done on an annual basis.

Who leads the hikes?

Hikes are led by volunteers, most of whom are Club members. Almost all hikes have a hike leader and a hike sweep. The leader's job is to lead the group during the hike, mark trail intersections with directional arrows and find a suitable stopping place for lunch. The sweep's job is to ensure that no hiker is left behind and to pick up the directional arrows. The hike leader and the hike sweep are generally the people listed on the schedule after "Leaders", although in some cases, other leaders and/or sweeps may help out during the hike. The leaders will usually have scouted the hike ahead of time and can generally answer questions regarding the particular hike.

Why isn't there a rating as to the difficulty of the hike?

Rating systems are usually based on two factors: distance and cumulative elevation ascents and descents. CHC believes that providing this information is more helpful to hikers, as some hikers find certain types of hikes more or less difficult than other types of hikes.

What should I bring on a hike?

Hikers are encouraged to bring sufficient water and food for a day's outing in a daypack or fanny pack with individual First Aid articles, a whistle and extra clothing according to the season. Sturdy boots or shoes are a necessity. For the winter months, hat, gloves and an extra pair of socks are recommended. For the summer months, hikers are encouraged to bring plenty of water - more than you think you will need.

When will the bus return to the metro Washington DC area?

We will make every effort possible to return to 16th and I St. N.W. no later than 6:30 p.m., with corresponding earlier stops at the other bus departure points. However, there is no way to guarantee that a problem might not cause the return to DC to be later than 6:30 p.m. Therefore, if you have important plans for a Saturday evening (e.g. tickets to the Kennedy Center), we do not suggest that you come on that day's hike.

Will I receive supplemental information about the hike in addition to what is on the Web site and in the quarterly schedule?

During the drive to the trailhead, the hike leader will explain the role of the hike leaders, the use of directional arrows at trail junctions, and the responsibility of hikers when they leave the trail for any reason. The hike leaders will also provide each hiker with a trail map, review it and alert the hikers to any obstacles, such as a stream crossing or a change in trail blaze colors. In addition, the hike leaders will circulate throughout the bus to answer any questions.

What costs are associated with each hike?

Transportation costs and, if applicable, park fees are listed in the description for each hike. Hikers with the appropriate annual park permits do not have to pay the park fees.

How do I pay for the bus/hike fee?

Pay for our bus hikes using CHC’s Meetup site. Otherwise, the hike leaders will collect the hike/bus fee en route to the trailhead and, if applicable, the park entrance fee if a hiker does not have a park pass.

What are the benefits of using a bus?

By using a bus for transportation, CHC can offer a much greater variety of hikes. In particular, linear hikes that involve different starting and ending points can be done more easily with a bus than by car. Touring buses that have 47 seats and a bathroom are customary, although other sized buses may be substituted on occasion. One of the best benefits of using a bus is that the bus is driven by a professional driver, which makes the bus ride after the hike much safer as compared to private vehicles driven by hikers who may be sleepy following the physical exertion of the hike. The bus also allows hikers the option of reading, sleeping or socializing during the ride to and from the hike location.

Can things be left on the bus during the hike?

Yes, hikers can leave non-valuable items, such as reading material, extra food or a change of clothes, on the bus during the hike. Valuables should never be left on the bus and neither CHC nor the bus company is responsible for any lost or stolen items.

Are there post hike refreshments and, if so, are they included in the price of the hike?

At the end of the hike, beer and a variety of soft drinks, iced tea, or lemonade, as well as snacks are available for the hikers. The cost of the beer and soft drinks is $2.00 and $1.00, respectively, and the snacks are complimentary. Payment is on the honor system; please be aware the hike leaders provide these refreshments from their own funds and are not reimbursed by the Club.

How much water should I bring?

Although the amount varies depending on each hiker's physical condition, the trail and weather conditions, and the hiker's pre-hike level of hydration, a general rule of thumb is to bring 8 ounces of water per mile to be hiked. Thus, for a 10 mile hike, you should consider bringing 80 ounces of water, which is a bit more than a 2 liter bottle. Please plan to bring with you enough water for the entire hike.

Where do I meet the bus?

Each hike description states whether the bus will follow either the Maryland or Virginia bus route, not both. For details on the pick up locations, please see our departure schedule. In some cases the bus may follow another route and therefore have only a single bus pickup (usually at 16th & I Streets, NW, in DC), which will be clearly indicted at the beginning of the hike description.

Are dogs allowed on hikes?

Dogs are never allowed on the bus. Check with the hike leader for non-bus hikes as to the possibility of bringing a dog, as circumstances vary for each hike. If allowed by the leader, a dog must always be kept on a leash during the hike.


What is the age range, male to female ratio and average number of hikers on a hike?

The age ranges of our hikers are generally from 20-somethings to 60-somethings; however, all ages are welcome, so long as they can do the hike. There usually is a higher participation of women than men on many outings. In good weather (spring/fall), the bus is often full or nearly full (42 to 47 hikers, including leaders); the average number of hikers on a bus hike has historically been around 40 hikers.

What physical abilities should I have to enjoy CHC hikes?

It is recommended that hikers be able to keep a 2 mph pace. CHC usually expects hikers wishing to participate in the long hike to hike at a pace faster than 2 mph to ensure that the hike is completed on time.

When do I have to decide if I am doing the moderate or long hike?

This varies by hike. Many of the CHC's hikes are structured so that the long hike "add-on" portion comes at the end of the moderate hike, which allows for all hikers to start together and hikers to choose between the moderate or long hike upon reaching the end of the moderate hike. However, in some cases, the moderate and long hikes start at different locations, which mean that hikers must make their choice before leaving the bus. The hike leaders will provide the relevant information concerning choosing between the moderate and long hike either on the bus or during the hike.


Who runs the Club?

CHC is run by annually elected officers who handle the Club's operations. Officers receive no benefits other than the personal satisfaction of being involved in the Club's activities.

Are donations to the Club tax-deductible?

The Capital Hiking Club is not a charitable organization. Voluntary donations and hiking fees are not tax-deductible.

Does CHC assume liability for injuries?

Hikers are responsible for their own safety and must assume risks and liability for all outings. CHC leaders, officers and representatives shall not be liable for any injuries, loss or damage to persons or property, direct or consequential, arising out of any trips or Club activities.


How do I reserve or cancel a hike reservation?

Please reserve or cancel by using the web site. Hikers without reservations are welcome to "walk on" the bus subject to seat availability. Hikers who must cancel their reservations are urged to cancel on so that those on the waiting list may signup and the bus is not delayed.

Why reserve or cancel before Friday?

The hike leaders must confirm or cancel the bus on Friday. If there are not a sufficient number of hikers (generally a minimum of 20 hikers) with reservations for the hike, the bus will be cancelled. Reservations and/or cancellations can still be made on Friday, but knowing this information ahead of time helps the hike leader determine whether or not to confirm or cancel the bus.

What information do I need to give when making a reservation?

The hike leader will need your name, your choice of bus departure point and a phone number where you can be reached after normal office hours.

Does it matter what phone number (home, office, cell) I give when making a reservation?

It is important to provide a number where you can be reached most often in case of a hike cancellation or other unforeseen development occurs.

Will I be notified in the case of a hike's cancellation?

In the case of a bus cancellation or road closing due to snow or other hazards, the hike leaders will email/call hikers with reservations to inform them of the cancellation of the hike. At the hike leaders' option, the arrangement for carpooling in place of taking the bus.

Are reservations required for non-bus (e.g., moonlight, trailhead, carpool and/or Urban Trailers) hikes?

Because non-bus hikes do not have a seating capacity restraint, there is generally no requirement to make a reservation. However, it is a good idea to let the hike leader know that you plan to attend for trailhead and/or carpool hikes, so that they can plan accordingly.

If I make a reservation and fail to show up, will I be charged?

The club charters the bus each week, and every seat is paid for…whether is filled or not. No-shows or cancellations after the stated cancellation cutoff day/time will not be offered refunds.