Day Hiker School

Day Hiker School (DHS) is for all who wish to hike safely in Colorado. It is a segment-based program – combining online class and group work with in-person field days. The school is intended for ALL skill levels, from new hikers to experienced hikers who wish to brush up or fill holes in their skill set. The goal of DHS is to provide skills and create confidence when hiking in the beauty that is Colorado.

DHS teaches the foundational skills emphasized by the CMC. As such, DHS can be a substitute for Wilderness Trekking School (WTS) as the prerequisite requirement for the CMC’s more advanced or specific schools (mountaineering, backpacking, scrambling, and others). Also, it can be used to satisfy the WTS requirement on Hiker Classification Change Forms.


All CMC members, 18 and over, who intend to hike with CMC should take either this school or WTS. DHS is designed specifically for members whose life-style or work schedule does not allow for a commitment to the WTS intensive, multi-week in-class experience. Those who can make the WTS schedule work are encouraged to take WTS.

Topics covered in DHS include:

  • The 10 (or more) essentials – what to pack and the best sources for gear.
  • The overarching principles of backcountry safety and making risk vs. reward decisions when day-hiking.
  • Techniques for both on and off trail hiking.
  • Basic map & compass skills: orientation, navigation, and route-finding – these can be developed further in CMC’s advanced navigation classes.
  • Weather – what to pack for Colorado’s changeable weather conditions.
  • Nutrition and hydration – What to bring and how to prepare for a day hike.
  • How to prepare for an unexpected overnight stay – skills that can be further developed in CMC’s Wilderness Survival School.
  • Basic snow travel and avalanche awareness – these skills can be further developed in CMC’s dedicated avalanche schools.
  • Leave No Trace concepts -- how to be a better backcountry citizen using low impact techniques.
  • How to avoid, recognize and handle wildlife encounters.
  • Knots – We will teach basic knots used for hiking – The Knot Tying School can build on this knowledge

The course consists of five segments –

  1. Dryland Travel – foundational hiking skills
  2. Map and Compass – Learning basic navigation skills
  3. Survival  – What to do when things go wrong
  4. Snow – Self arrest and other basic skills for snow travel
  5. Graduation – Planning and preparing for a hike to a specific point


To graduate DHS, students must complete all five segments within two years from the end of the month they first register. Each segment consists of an online lecture, required reading material, and a quiz. Students must complete all of these items for each segment prior to signing up for the related in-field portion. The in-field portions will be available on the CMC calendar.

Please contact Mike O’Connor at or 303 933-3100 with any questions.