Activities focused on observing and learning more about the natural world.

The primary focus of Naturalist Trips is learning about the natural world. Topics may include identifying flora, fungi, or fauna, discussing geology, learning about edible plants or social uses of plants, exploring ecological or geologic processes, or pursuing the ecology of various plants and animals. This activity is all about helping participants connect deeper with nature, seeing details that might otherwise be missed. It is about showing participants things in the natural world that might make their experience in the wilds richer and deeper.


Trips may occur on maintained or unmaintained trails, in urban and suburban parks, along the beach or shoreline, and along roads. Trips will travel at an average pace of 2 mph or less for viewing or studying nature. These may include multiple stops.


  • Easy - Up to 4 miles and up to 600 feet of elevation gain round trip.
  • Moderate - Up to 8 miles and up to 1,200 feet of elevation gain round trip.
  • Difficult - Up to 12 miles and up to 2,500 feet of elevation gain round trip.
  • Strenuous - Up to 14 miles and up to 3,500 feet of elevation gain round trip.
  • Very Strenuous - Over 14 miles or over 3,500 feet of elevation gain round trip.

Leader Rating

In addition to the route difficulty, a Leader Rating is specified for each activity. This provides the leader with a way to modify the baseline route difficulty based on specifics of how they will lead the trip. The following are examples of criteria a leader may consider in setting the Leader Rating.

  • Casual: Average pace less than 1 mph and no technical challenges or special skills needed
  • Easy: Average pace 1-1.5mph, or some route challenges (e.g. rough trail, log crossings, steep terrain)
  • Moderate: When the initial pace or intermittent pace will be faster than 1.5 mph so the group can reach the places where they plan to explore nature. This might be like hiking at 2.5 mph to Spray Park or Berkeley Park where then the group slows down so they can look at flowers or discuss the geology. The average pace for the overall trip would drop significantly at that point and most likely be < 1.5mph overall.
  • Challenging: When the trail is rocky and rough, making the travel more strenuous than one might think from the distance or the pace.