Trip Leader Track

The CMC Trip Leader Track can seem daunting at first. That's why we wanted to break it down for you simply and concisely! This page will help detail your journey, whether you're going to be a hiking leader, a technical trip leader, a mountain biking leader, a snowshoe leader! It's all about the process. We appreciate you taking that first step!

This page will help provide information for CMC members who wish to become Trip Leaders for hikes and snowshoeing, and for existing Trip Leaders to specialize in certain other kinds of trips that require additional training. Here is how we break down the two types of trip leaders: 

  • A General Trip Leader is an active CMC member who is authorized to lead trips in which hiking, snowshoeing and backpacking are the main activities.
  • A Specialized Trip Leader is an active CMC trip leader who is authorized to lead hiking and snowshoeing trips, and trips requiring additional leadership skills. The General Trip Leader can become a Specialized Trip Leader by completing one or more Leader-in-Training (hereafter referred to as LIT) trips beyond the two LIT trips required to become a General Trip Leader.  

The Safety & Leadership Committees of each group will help be responsible for governing existing trip leaders and for processing applications to become trip leaders. If your group doesn't have a liaison of some kind for leadership, your process will go through state via the Education Director. Here are the groups' following contacts for leadership:

Prerequisites to Become a General Trip Leader

  1. Be a current CMC member.
  2. Go on at least 5 CMC trips, of which at least three are not school field trips.
  3. Have a valid Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certificate or equivalent.

It is preferable to complete WFA before Trip Leader School, but concurrent enrollment in TLS and WFA is acceptable.  

Before signing up for WFA, make sure you apply for a FREE WFA spot in our state Hybrid WFA program. In exchange for leading 6 trips over 2 years, CMC State office will make your WFA free for as long as you wish to commit to trip leading.

How to Become a General Trip Leader


1. Complete the Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course. If you have already have a WFA certificate which has not yet expired and will not expire within six months of your application for trip leader, you are exempt from taking this course.  If you have evidence of medical competency that you think supersedes WFA, you need to contact the WFA School Director to get an exemption.

2. Complete Trip Leader School (TLS), which consists of 4 hours of classroom, followed by a Scenario Session.  The Scenario Session consists of up to 4 hours of discussion where the focus is on dealing with various real-life scenarios potentially encountered when leading trips. Information on attending Trip Leader School can be found here

3. Evaluation LIT.  This involves leading a real trip with an Instructor Leader (or existing Leader of your choosing) who is not related to you and is not your “significant other”.  All applicants have to receive a favorable recommendation from the Instructor Leader of record for the second LIT trip. The second LIT needs to be completed within twelve months after completing TLS.

If you plan to lead normal hiking and/or snowshoe trips, the second LIT trip may be of any hiking or snowshoeing classification.  Hiking trips are allowed to have portions with difficulty up to class 3 scrambling, but cannot have any advanced technical components such as ice climbing or rock climbing, which have additional requirements. A list of Denver Instructor Leaders is provided here. For all other groups, contact your group's Safety & Leadership chair as detailed above. The potential new trip leader and the Instructor Leader must fill out the LIT Evaluation Form when the trip is completed. 

Within 18 months of completing TLS, complete a Trip Leader Application. Scan this application form as well as the LIT Evaluation Form for the second LIT trip. Attach these scanned documents as well as the PDF copy of your WFA certificate to an email and send the email to Keep a copy of whatever you send. The safety and leadership chair as listed above, reviews and approves leader applications when all requirements are met and when there are no questions regarding the applicant.  Once an applicant is approved, Membership Services and the applicant are notified. Membership Services then inputs the approved leader’s name into the CMC system and the new leader may begin scheduling trips.


Lead Trips with Youth


Once you are a General Trip Leader, you are well on your way to leading trips with youth and families. The Youth Summit Trip Leader is a new role as of February 2021. For more details on this role, click here.

Youth Summit Trip Leaders are asked to complete an online module about leading youth, Mandatory Reporter training, and fingerprinting before they are signed off to lead without a member of the Youth Education Programs (YEP) team.


Becoming a leader of trips other than hiking, snowshoeing, and backpacking


CMC also offers bicycle, skiing, fly fishing, and technical trips.  Each of these types of trips has additional requirements for the trip leader.


Technical Trip Leaders (TTL): 

The following requirements apply to State CMC Technical Trip Leaders:

  1. Be a current CMC Trip Leader in good standing with your CMC regional Group.  (Please contact Denver Group about trip leader training)
  2. Have the mountain skills adequate for the type of trip. (links to corresponding activity standard).  
  • Top-rope rock and/or ice climbing 
  • Sport climbing
  • Traditional rock climbing
  • Multi-pitch rock climbing
  • Ice lead climbing
  • Alpine climbing
  1. Regardless of experience, co-lead at least one tech trip with an experienced technical trip leader and receive a positive evaluation by that leader for the specific technical trip classification.  Additional co-leads may be needed.
  2. Receive approval by their CMC Group.  In this case, the Technical Climbing School committee.

How to apply to be a Technical Trip Leader is detailed here:

  • The Tech Trip Leader Application can be found here.  
  • State TCS Committee will review applications monthly.
  • Technical Trip co-leads will be scheduled with applicants as available.  The Committee will provide applicants a list of Tech Trip mentors to reach out to.
  • If you desire to lead trips in more than one Tech trip type, it’s often possible to schedule a co-lead that combines them.
    • Example 1: Sport and Trad climbing could be combined in a trip to a crag that has a mix of climbing types, e.g. North Table Mountain, Boulder Canyon
    • Example 2: Trad and Multipitch climbing could be combined in a trip to Eldorado Canyon State Park.
  • Sport or Trad co-leads also qualify you to lead top-rope trips.

How to stay current on TTL is detailed below:

  • TTLs agree will lead trips at or below their current level of ability.
  • State TTLs must maintain standards that apply to Trip Leaders statewide. (WFA, Avalanche, etc.).  These are outlined in the State Trip Leader Manual.
  • Stay up to date on current CMC trip and operating policies.
  • TTLs must lead a technical level trip once every year for State to retain TTL status. This trip can be offered to the general membership OR a trip while teaching in CMC Schools. 

To add technical trips to, Tech Trips Leaders should select “State CMC” as their Group when entering trips into the CMC database.


Q: What if I’m already a technical trip leader for Denver Group?  Is there anything else I need to do?

A: Denver Group technical trip leaders who were ‘grandfathered’ in by DS&L in 2018 may continue to lead technical trips.  Please enter these trips as “State CMC” into the CMC database moving forward.

Q: I’m a Denver Group member, but I’m only interested in leading technical trips.  What does this mean for me?

​A: This is ok!  You still need to take Trip Leader School, have current WFA, and Avalanche Education (if applicable), etc.  Please reach out to the Tech Climbing School Committee for your co-lead(s).  Nearly all climbing trips involve an approach hike.  We can assist with paperwork needed to update your Denver Group hiker classification and/or general trip leader status.
Q: I still have questions… who may I contact? A:  Please contact TCS Committee member Brian Le Blanc  


Bike Trip Leaders:

Members who want to become bike trip leaders need to do the following:

  1. Become a general trip leader.
  2. Successfully complete a subsequent leader in training (LIT) trip mentored by an Instructor Leader qualified to mentor such trips.  During this trip, the leader in training needs to demonstrate:
  • Knowledge of the rules of the road.
  • Ability to manage cycling group dynamic situations, including regrouping at intersections or junctions for changing directions where members could become separated.
  • Familiarity with the selected route
  • Knowledge of general bike maintenance:  tire repair, chain breakage, brake problems.
  • Carry a first aid kit with cycling items.
  1. The Instructor Leader will need to complete an evaluation form and email a scanned copy of it to the Groups' Safety and Leadership Chair as detailed above. Once approved by the Committee, the CMC Office will update the leader’s profile to state that she/he is authorized to lead bike trips.
  2. These criteria apply to either road bike or mountain bike trip leaders.
  3. Wearing a bike helmet is required for bike leaders and bike trip participants.
  4. It is recommended but not required that bike leaders complete a bike maintenance class offered by a bike retailer, bike safety organization or a similar organization

Short biographies of Denver Instructor Leaders can be found here. Check our calendar to connect with a bike leader! Need help finding one in your area? Contact the Education Department to get connected. 


Ski Trip Leaders: 

Note that the ski trips being addressed here include all types of skiing except downhill at a resort. Nordic, cross-country, skate, backcountry, telemark, and split-board are all included. 

To lead the included ski trips, a leader must be general trip leader and complete a subsequent LIT trip with an Instructor Leader who is qualified to lead ski trips at the level which the new leader wants to lead. The Instructor Leader will need to complete an evaluation form and email a scanned copy of it to the Groups' Safety and Leadership Chair as detailed above. Once approved by the Committee, the CMC Office will update the leader’s profile to state that she/he is authorized to lead ski trips.

Ski trip leaders must have a skier classification rating equal to or greater than the trip they are leading. Ski tours are classified Easy, Moderate or Advanced with sub levels of I, II, or III. Participants on ski trips must also have a skiing classification equivalent to or higher than the level of the trip for which they have signed up, or obtain permission from the trip leader.


Fly Fishing Trip Leaders:

To become a fly fishing trip leader, you have to:

  • Become a general trip leader.  
  • Complete Denver Group Fly Fishing School, a comparable class in the club, or have equivalent experience.
  • Complete at least one Fly Fishing trip scheduled by the Fly Fishing Section.
  • Demonstrate the following Flying Fishing trip requirements during a Leader in Training (LIT) Fly Fishing trip:
    • Members of the trip must let the LIT trip leader know where they will be fishing and their estimated return time.
    • LIT schedules a return time and place for the group to meet at the end of the day; this necessitates that all members have a timepiece.
    • LIT is aware of the need for trip members to “Buddy up” with another member of the trip and keep in touch with them while fishing.  (This requirement is for safety. If one of the two individuals needs help, then the other one can locate the rest of the group along the river or lake and assist as required).
    • Review safety and etiquette guidelines for Wading Fly Fishing with the members on trip prior to fishing.  (These topics are covered in the CMC DG Fly Fishing Handbook used in the Fly Fishing School).
  • The LIT evaluation form is available here. The Instructor Leader will need to complete the form and email a scanned copy of it to the Groups' Safety and Leadership Chair as detailed above. Once approved by the Committee, the CMC Office will update the leader’s profile to state that she/he is authorized to lead fly fishing trips.

Short biographies of all Denver Instructor Leaders can be found here. For other groups, feel free to check out the CMC Calendar for a trip or trip leader of choice. Need help? Contact the office