Planning a Hike

Two Months in Advance:

  • Schedule the outing with the school or agency contact person. Descriptions of possible hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains.
  • Submit the Hike Request form.  Our outings coordinator receives the information which goes into our “Take-a-Hike Newsletter”. If you specify in the form that you need a bus, the  request goes to Bus Coordinator. Outings using a bus require a at least 4 weeks lead time.
  • If you submit a Hike Request and have not received a copy of the bus order from the Bus Coordinator, Dan Butler, within a week of submitting your request, please contact him.
  • Look at the instructions for each park under “Info for Leaders” and make a reservation when required.
  • Make sure the outing is included in the ICO newsletter by attending the monthly meeting or by notifying the Secretary.
  • Recruit a second leader to serve as a co-leader on the outing. If unable to lead the outing yourself, recruit a leader to take your place. Meetings are a good place to recruit a co-leader. A phone list of leaders is available.
  • Encourage the teacher to make connections between ICO outings and the school’s curriculum. For instance, ask what the students are studying and suggest relevant activities.

The Week Before:

  • The week of the outing, confirm the outing with the school or agency and the co-leader. Recruit additional volunteer assistance. An email list of volunteers is available from the volunteer coordinator.
  • If possible, visit or call the school or agency to let the participants know what to expect. Discuss the trip length, meeting place and time, Planning for Your Trip, and The Rules on the Trail.
  • Download either Trip Permission Form – English [PDF: 70KB] or Trip Permission Form – Spanish [PDF: 70KB]. Print these PDF (Portable Document Format) forms to pass out to participants.
  • Check with the school or other agency to find out if children who will participate have asthma, an allergy to bee stings, or other medical problems that might cause difficulties during the outing and request that they bring needed medications.
  • Require that the agency provide one responsible adult for each ten youngsters. For instance, parents, teachers, and assistant teachers are suitable, not 18-year-old siblings or cousins.
  • Contact the park you plan to visit to verify that your group is expected.
  • If possible, call or e-mail volunteers a week prior to an outing to invite them to participate.
  • Bring extra packs and water bottles.

Planning for your Trip!

  • Get a good rest the night before
  • Eat a good solid breakfast
  • Wear light-colored clothes (T-shirt and jacket)
  • Wear a cap or hat
  • Wear long pants, unless your teacher indicates shorts are appropriate
  • Wear socks and sturdy comfortable, closed shoes suitable for hiking
  • Put sunscreen on face, neck, and arms

What to bring:

  • Waiver and permission slip (the participating agency’s and ICO’s)
  • A jacket, sweater, or sweatshirt
  • A medium or large plastic bottle of water (no soda)
  • A simple lunch
  • Daypack/bookbag (ICO has daypacks available on loan for the day of the event. Contact your ICO leader in advance if needed).
  • Sunglasses
  • Optional: camera, whistle

What not to bring:

  • Radios 
  • Pets
  • Do not burden yourself with too many things to carry (you will get too tired)

The Rules on the Trail

  • Follow leaders’ instructions at all times
  • Stay between front and rear leaders on the trail
  • Stay on the trail; do not cut across switchbacks
  • Do not throw rocks or pick plants
  • Do not litter
  • “Freeze like statues” when animals, e.g. horses or snakes, are nearby. After freezing, slowly back away from snakes.
  • Never approach or touch animals.
  • Move to the uphill side when a bicyclist approaches.
  • Take only photographs; leave only footprints
  • Have a good time!

Changing the date or destination of a hike requires 10 days advance notice. Please contact Dan Butler,  Bus Coordinator.

Watch the WEATHER REPORT in order to make an informed decision regarding cancellation. A cancellation must be made at least 72 hours in advance.
Discuss the cancellation with the teacher. In deciding to cancel, remember the interests of the children and use common sense.
(To cancel a bus or if a bus has not arrived,  call (323)225-7000, Extension 111 or 110 Monday through Friday from 5:00am to 8:30pm.   The after hours, weekend and holiday number is 323-326-8288.  It is a cell phone that is assigned to one of the dispatchers.   Please immediately reschedule for a new date with Dan Butler the ICO Bus Coordinator, as this eliminates the 8 week waiting period.)


 The Day of the Hike:

  • Things to Bring

    In addition to wearing and bringing the same supplies as the participants, your backpack should include an accident report form, first aid kit, extra water, a plastic bag to pick up litter on the trail, and the school’s phone number. You may also want to bring some extra water bottles, hats, and backpacks for kids who may have forgotten them.

  • Arriving at the Park

    On the day of the hike, be at the park before the bus is expected. Tell the ranger you are leading a school group hike for the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority. They usually waive your parking fee; if not ICO will reimburse you (keep the receipt). Tell the agency person to be sure the bus driver knows the directions to the park, to bring a map, and to be prepared to give directions.

  • Bus Arrival/Setting the Tone

    When the bus arrives, it is important to set an exuberant mood for an exciting hike. Talk with the teacher about initial plans for the hike and get the children immediately to use the toilets and retrieve their lunches and belongings from the bus. (If the bus was quite late, determine the driver’s name and bus number and when it actually arrived at the school, and report these to the ICO Bus Coordinator, who can report driver problems and lateness to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.)Only adults with waivers and students with waivers and permissions slips should be allowed to hike.Confirm that the bus driver will remain at the park.  If the bus driver says that he or she is leaving for more than a short period of time, e.g. for a lunch break, call the dispatcher immediately, before the bus has time to leave.  Ask if the driver has permission to leave you, and if so what arrangements have been made for your return.  Make sure the bus driver knows that you are making the call.

  • At the Trailhead

    Have the teacher count the participants (categorize them for yourself by students, agency personnel, and volunteers/parents for your report). Introduce yourself and the co-leader, as well as volunteers. Check hikers’ and adults’ packs, store unmanageable sacks on the bus, and redistribute loads as necessary. Make sure everyone has water or access to it. Make sure shoes are laced properly! Encourage use of sunblock, as appropriate. Quickly review the rules and talk briefly about the park being visited.

  • On the Trail

    Keep the group together and wait at all forks in the road until everyone can be seen. Be mindful of limitations of weak or heavier persons. Tell the fast ones to slow down and the slow ones to speed up.Find interesting things to point out. Discuss plants, animals, and terrain, mindful of age group considerations.

  • Lunch

    Find a spot for lunch that allows everyone in the group to have a place to sit. Set the boundaries within which everyone is allowed to walk and sit. Have the teachers make another head count after the lunch break and be punctual getting back to the bus, especially on weekdays. Allow 15 minutes for toilet time before the bus leaves.

  • Ending the Hike

    Before the bus leaves, thank everyone for coming and encourage them to come again on their own with family and friends to enjoy the park again.

After the hike:

  • Tell the agency person to verify the departure time and the arrival time at the school when signing the form for bus drivers.
  • After the trip, complete the Trip Follow-up Report within two weeks and mail to the ICO Treasurer, required for insurance purposes. You can use this online Trip Follow-up Report form.
  • If any incidents occurred, fill out other forms as appropriate.
  • Deliver waiver forms to:
    Elizabeth Neat
    E-mail: ean1948@gmail.com

Helpful Information from Frances Sparky Sotcher




CHECK US OUT ON: Facebook iconInstagram icon


8 + 6 =