Author Topic: Beginner Backpacking Classes in NE Ohio  (Read 1597 times)

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Offline BPO

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Beginner Backpacking Classes in NE Ohio
« on: December 08, 2015, 10:19:56 PM »
I received the following email from Bill in NE Ohio. Perhaps some of you from that part of the state can direct him to a few outdoor stores or clubs offering beginner bp classes and perhaps guided trips. Post here. I'll direct him to this thread for answers. Thanks!

Hello!  I'm a resident of NE Ohio and am writing to inquire about professional guides--in particular, someone who could teach me (or me and my wife) the basics and essentials of backpacking and to guide us on a trip over a couple days or so.

I've heard that some states keep lists of professionally certified guides.  Do we have any resource here in Ohio for finding such a person?

Thank you so much for any suggestions.
I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright. ~Thoreau

Offline Scratch

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Re: Beginner Backpacking Classes in NE Ohio
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2015, 09:45:49 AM »
I'm not sure if it is possible to find "certified" guides in Ohio, because there is so little wilderness here. Most of the certification program I know about focus on the backwoods areas where mountain skills are needed, and the possibility of getting lost are good. There isn't a spot in Ohio where you can't walk a couple miles before you hit a road.

Wilderness First Responder certification is something that you might look for from a guide who will be leading trips, but again, Ohio has no place where rescue is more than a couple of hours away, so as long as the guide knows CPR that is probably all they need beside a charged phone.

I don't know the classes offered in the outdoor stores in NE Ohio but there must be some. REI will be opening a store in Cleveland in 2016, according to their website. I would guess there are guide services companies in Pennsylvania, down by Ohiopyle that do river guiding that might also have backpacking courses.

(I knew there was a post somewhere that backed me up on that story about there not being any point in Ohio that was more than a mile or so from the road. In this 2009 post BPO used mapping software to find the most remote area in Ohio, 1.25 miles from the nearest road,  in the Shawnee Wilderness Area.),61.msg1576.html#msg1576
« Last Edit: December 10, 2015, 06:03:23 PM by Scratch »
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Offline Glenn

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Re: Beginner Backpacking Classes in NE Ohio
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2015, 08:42:32 PM »
It's not NE Ohio, but in Dayton we have a fellow named Andy Niekamp (trail name: Captain Blue) who is very experienced, and retired early to hike. In his spare time, he operates Outdoor Adventure Connection, which features guides who are Wilderness First Responders. (Except me - I often assist with beginner trips, but don't lead them.)

He offers beginner-level trips, mostly on the Twin Valley Trail (Dayton Metroparks), with an emphasis on teaching basic skills in an enjoyable manner (no death marches here.) He has two rules: If you're not having fun, let a leader know. If you don't feel safe, let a leader know. We've had a lot of fun with these groups. Our last trip included a fellow from Westlake, and the trip before that had someone from, I think, Akron.

If you want to know more, go to (I don't get paid for what I do, so I have nothing to gain here. I just think he does a really good job.)
I'm never sure whether I've got 35 years of backpacking experience, or one year's experience 35 times.

Offline Andy

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Re: Beginner Backpacking Classes in NE Ohio
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2015, 01:30:28 PM »
One good option is backpacking groups on, especially the Hopeless Wanderers group. They're in NE Ohio, and very beginner-focused. I go on trips with them sometimes just because they're a great group of people. They also have frequent gear and skills seminars.

« Last Edit: December 11, 2015, 01:35:29 PM by Andy »
When the first Europeans landed in the Americas, they described it as one vast untouched wilderness. This was about the highest compliment they could pay to the Native people who had lived there for thousands of years. -Bill Mason

Offline silver_beetle

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Re: Beginner Backpacking Classes in NE Ohio
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2016, 10:59:46 AM »
I'm a little late to the party here, but Appalachian Outfitters in Peninsula offers classes, though they don't have anything on their calendar at the moment.

Also, the LL Bean store in Lyndhurst has classes. I sat in on a winter hiking class back in December. It was pretty interesting, and the staff were really helpful and engaged.
"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."
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