Introducing the Four-Legged Hike Leader Badge

In recognition of the importance of our four-legged friends, we’re thrilled to introduce our newest badge: the Four-Legged Hike Leader! Learn more about how to qualify, and get your furry friend on their way to becoming a hike leader today.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
April 01, 2024
Introducing the Four-Legged Hike Leader Badge

Everyone knows that adventures are more fun with friends. This golden rule applies to adventures with our furry besties as well. These four-legged adventurers earn just as many miles - if not more! - than their two-legged counterparts, and it’s high time we recognized their service to outdoor exploration with a badge. That’s why we’re thrilled to finally introduce the Four-Legged Hike Leader badge!

At The Mountaineers, we have a rich-history of volunteer-led programming. Our volunteer leaders are trained by the volunteers who came before, growing a coalition of people empowered to give back to our community. With an average of six biped-led activities a day, it’s high time we start offering trips for a broader audience. We believe all beings should feel belonging in the outdoors.

The Four-Legged Hike Leader badge has been piloted by our Foothills Branch (serving Seattle’s east-side - the foothills of the Cascade Mountains - a perfect training ground for exploring new programs). They have built up a small but mighty group of four-legged hike leaders who are ready to train and mentor those who are excited to introduce others to the transformative power of outdoor experiences.

Milton Dygert, one of our first Four-Legged Hike Leaders, and the bestest buddy around..jpgMilton, one of our first Four-Legged Hike Leaders.

As with our two-footed hike leaders, our four-legged hike leaders must complete a mentored hike and Wilderness First Aid (WFR). They also need to have participated in Mountaineers (or equivalent) training while demonstrating sound judgment, strong leadership skills, and technical proficiency in the following: 

  • Group leadership and/or herding
  • Use of topographical maps and compass and/or sense of smell to find their way back
  • Identification of hazards and actions to avoid injury
  • Emergency preparedness (how to summon help should it be needed)
  • Methods to remove mud from fur before hopping back in the car to come home

If you’d like to join this new cohort of leaders, or know some buddy who would make a good four-legged hike leader, please visit our badge page to learn more and get signed up for our first informational seminar.

Learn More & Get Hike Leading

Meet our Four-Legged Hike Leaders

IMG_0234.jpgClarence is a 2-year Mountaineers member and enthusiastic new hike leader. He spends most of his time in urban parks, but loves nothing more than swimming in the open water. Clarence is famous for loving cold plunges of all kinds: alpine lakes, Lake Washington, puddles, and potholes. He's dabbled in mountain biking, but his true passion is ski touring. He's a hard-charger and is completely fearless, even when a beaver is chasing him (it may have happened more than once). His specialties include Volcano Season ski touring and alpine lake hikes during the fall. Join him this October for a Larch March!

chowder.jpgChowder's true passion, aside from napping on a warm laptop or in a sunny spot on the couch, is boating. He loves all things water-adjacent: sailing, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, water skiing, wake boarding, and just plain chillin' on a cruiser boat. Together with his brother Felicia, Chowder rules his local Seattle neighborhood. With this new badge, he hopes to lead urban and naturalist hikes, showing off his expertise in the local flora and fauna. And bonus: he'll keep you safe from any manner of rodent!

Maddie.jpgMaddie has been a member of The Mountaineers since she was a little pup, so just over three years now. She's a graduate of our Woofer course and specializes in remote wilderness rescue. Half-German Shepard and half-Husky, she's at home in any mountain environment. Her favorites include leaping high in the air and diving into the snow like a fox, wading (not to be confused with swimming) in Lake Washington, and biting her leash when she's walking in town. Join Maddie this spring for a romp in the snow before it completely melts out.

IMG_2630.heicZephyr is a relatively new Mountaineers member, having learned about us through her work on a recent "rent a goat" trip to mow some grass at Magnuson Park. When she's not busy clearing out the brush, she loves to follow her hooves wherever they will take her, preferably away from her brothers, who require a high tolerance for head-butting. This fiercely independent gal feels most at home on rocky scrambles. Join her this summer and if you're lucky, she'll crawl into your lap during one of the (many) snack breaks.

Bear.jpgBear comes from a family of Mountaineers, joining a long line of passionate outdoor adventurers and advocates. He enthusiastically takes the leads on hikes, and may even occasionally be up for a surprise game of hide-and-seek in the bushes. He will ferociously protect you from squirrels with a savage bark, and will lovingly reward your smallest efforts with drooling kisses. We recommend you pack your 10 Essentials with Bear - that rain protection might come in handy with the slobber.

bayley's cat.jpgIvy is one of our most senior and beloved four-legged hike leaders. Don't let her look of disdain fool you - she is at her best when she's outside. She cares deeply for her fellow hikers, taking time to nourish them on the trail with homemade biscuits (she kneaded them herself). Ivy likes to hike at a relaxed pace, building in plenty of time for bird watching and plant identification. Her favorite plant is the fern, and will often rub her cheek again the fronds as a form of forest bathing. She's also been known to take a mid-hike snooze in the sun. All to say, we're prrrretty excited for Ivy to join our team of four-legged leaders. 

Become a Four-Legged HIke Leader today

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Marie Wilson
Marie Wilson says:
Apr 01, 2024 06:17 AM

I’m seriously looking forward to signing up for any or all of their trips! Hope one of mine can follow in their footsteps! Nova is our best bet, excelling at all but mud removal… my rugs indicate some work is needed there still.

Michelle Peterson
Michelle Peterson says:
Apr 01, 2024 06:59 AM

Okay that was just cruel to those of us who do want to allow dogs along on hikes.

Becky Robbins
Becky Robbins says:
Apr 03, 2024 01:41 PM

Awe, there are a number of leaders who allow and bring dogs on trips. I just wish my cats would come and stay on trail. They aren’t allowed cuz they are sneakers!

Sarah Hess
Sarah Hess says:
Apr 01, 2024 08:46 AM

Will my goldfish qualify? She is most interested in the water based programs, and has her Water Safety Instructor certification.

Leigh Noble
Leigh Noble says:
Apr 01, 2024 07:18 PM

I’d go on any trip with Clarence !! Frida would make a great trip leader as she as her herding skills are impressive.

Annie Marie Musselman
Annie Marie Musselman says:
Apr 02, 2024 08:38 AM

Can I go hiking with Zephyr???? The goat? How do I sign up??? Please!

Becky Robbins
Becky Robbins says:
Apr 03, 2024 01:40 PM

Me and my three forest wandering, tree climbing kitties are trained and ready to earn their badge!