Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Hiking Classes

Special note: For current schedule of hikes go here.

1. What is the distance of a typical hike?
At the beginning of the session we average about 6 miles on terrain that is gradual to moderately steep. Toward the end of the session we average about 7-8 miles on various terrain, including some extended and steep terrain. Our hikes are physically challenging! We move about 3 miles per hour.

The instructor sets the speed of the group on our hikes. It may seem fast to many students at the beginning but as the session progresses most students find the pace "comfortable" and a good workout. Students must be able to hike 5-7 miles on mountain trails at the beginning of the session. Since we will have a large group, it is important that everyone can meet the required minimum level of fitness.

2. Where do most hikes take place?
Typically, we hike in the State Parks and greenbelts within 20 minutes driving time of Cabrillo College. Nisene Marks, Henry Cowell, Fall Creek, Upper UCSC, Pogonip, Moore Creek, Wilder Ranch, Gray Whale, Natural Bridges, Medicine Buddha, Santa Cruz Circle Trail, Upper Cabrillo, Elkhorn Slough, Upper Arana Canyon, and Byrne Forest are examples. For previous semester schedules go here. We occasionally hike along the beach shore and through local neighborhoods of special interest.

3. What is the main emphasis of the class?

The class is designed to be fun and challenging. We will learn a little about flora and fauna, history, and other special attributes of an area but the main emphasis is movement and physical fitness. We will not stop much and "smell the roses". Since we move nearly the whole time, it is recommended that interested participants return at a later time to fully explore an area.

4. Where do we meet for the first class meeting?
We typically meet for the first class in Parking Lot K next to the tennis courts at Cabrillo College. After the first class we typically meet in the middle of the Cost Plus/Ross parking lot on River Street in Santa Cruz for carpooling. There may be other hikes that we meet elsewhere. Always consult the current schedule link from the main Hiking page on this website. If you are meeting us at the hike site, be sure to consult with me as to the exact location.

5. How do I sign up for the class?
See the Cabrillo College Extension schedule of classes.

6. Can I sign up for the class after the session has started?
Contact the instructor for late adds.

7. What do I need to bring along on our hikes?
Layered clothing, energy snacks, water, sunblock, insect repellent, hat, small back or fanny pack, small plastic bag, and rain gear/small umbrella if variable conditions.

Good footwear is absolutely essential. Running shoes will work, but some trails can be rough, steep and muddy. Light-weight hiking boots are generally best. Students arriving with unsuitable footwear will not be allowed on the hike. Good hiking socks are also important.

Hiking in the redwoods (the majority of our hikes) often start with cooler (and occasionally downright cold) temperatures and then warm up as the day goes on. Layers of lightweight clothing are helpful. Heavy coats and non-breathable clothing are not recommended.

8. How do I get in contact with the instructor?
See my contact information.

9. Are hikes dangerous?
Although we try to minimize the potential dangers inherent in hiking, circumstances can sometimes be beyond our control. Trails can be slippery, narrow or not maintained properly. Many other factors may arise that could be dangerous as well.

10. How about things like poison oak (we will be near it on every hike), ticks, bee stings, mountain lions and rattle snakes?
All of these possibilities exist while hiking. We will near poison oak and ticks on most of our hikes. Yellow Jacket stings can occur in the late summer and fall. (Natural bug sprays typically found at health food stores are advised. Some research indicates that "Deet" type sprays may be dangerous. Click here for more information.)

Special note: If you have had acute allergic reactions to insect bites be sure to carry a device like an EpiPen with you on each hike. Please also inform the instructor of your sensitivity.

11. What do we do in case of rain?
I will email the group a day or so ahead of time if last minute decisions will have to be made. Significant rain will result in cancelation of the hike but, within reason, we will try to have the hike. Rain gear and a small umbrella are strongly advised on potentially rainy days.

12. Can dogs, children, friends or family members come along on some of our hikes?
No, since there are liability issues involved.

13. What about going to the restroom?
We will be near very few restrooms. It is important to avoid caffeinated drinks the morning of a hike. Be sure to use the restroom just before we leave for a hike. On the hike itself we will take occasional short "restroom" (behind a tree) breaks. Special note: We will leave no paper in the woods. Bring a small plastic bag to haul out the paper.

14. What if I arrive late for a hike?
Arrival time is 9:30 AM and we leave soon after. If you arrive late, go home! Do not try to catch up with the group as it is too easy to get lost.

15. What about special health issues or other disabilities?
Students with disabilities, including ÒinvisibleÓ disabilities such as chronic diseases, learning, and psychological disabilities, are encouraged to make an appointment with the instructor to explain their needs and appropriate accommodations. Any health or other issues that may influence a hike should be discussed confidentially with the instructor.

16. If I misplace my schedule, where can I find out about the next hike?
Current schedules are posted here.

17. What about parking at Cabrillo?
Students may purchase a parking permit for the whole semester during registration or daily permits for $2.00 at machines located in the parking lots. Parking regulations are strictly enforced at Cabrillo.

18. What is the smoking policy?
Smoking is generally prohibited during our hikes.


picture of cutting of giant redwoods

Cutting of the old growth redwoods for the lime industry (circa 1880) by A. R. Moore



We are accepting (working or not plus accessories) cellphones, iPods, MP3 Players, laptops, digital cameras, all small computer accessories, inkjet printer cartridges, energy bar wrappers (foil inside) and corks to help raise funds for the Orangutan Conservancy, Santa Cruz SPCA and Save Our Shores. Over 3600 cell phones, 50,000 corks, and 40,000 energy bar wrappers have been kept out of the landfill and refurbished or recycled in environmentally-safe ways through our program. They can be given to Phil. Read about the increasingly sad plight of the Orangutan (which is Malaysian for "person of the forest"). orangutan baby