HikeSafe Program

The hikeSafe Program is a joint effort of the United States Forest Service and New Hampshire Fish and Game. The program helps promote hiking preparedness and can educate you on the basics of what to bring and what to do to stay safe in the backcountry.

The hikeSafe Program promotes the following Hiker Responsibility Code:

  • Knowledge and gear. Become self reliant by learning about the terrain, conditions, local weather and your equipment before you start.
  • To leave your plans. Tell someone where you are going, the trails you are hiking, when you’ll return and your emergency plans.
  • To stay together. When you start as a group, hike as a group, end as a group. Pace your hike to the slowest person.
  • To turn back. Weather changes quickly in the mountains. Fatigue and unexpected conditions can also affect your hike. Know your limitations and when to postpone your hike. The mountains will be there another day.
  • For emergencies. Even if you are headed out for just an hour, an injury, severe weather or a wrong turn could become life threatening. Don’t assume you will be rescued; know how to rescue yourself.
  • To share the hiker code with others.

Hike Safe Card

Part of the program involves the voluntary Hike Safe Card: in 2015 the state of New Hampshire, recognizing that on average about 60% of the rescues in the state are for hikers and climbers while only 14% of rescues are for the hunters, anglers, boaters, and OHRV riders who had been funding Search and Rescue up to this point, created the voluntary Hike Safe Card program. Hikers, climbers, paddlers, backcountry skiers, and other outdoor users who have this card are exempt from liability for their rescue costs*, and all of the funds raised through this program go into the Search and Rescue Fund. Hikers and other outdoor users contributing to this program have helped to eliminate the Search and Rescue Fund deficit.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is authorized to sell voluntary Hike Safe Cards for $25 per person and $35 per family. You can purchase a card through the Fish and Game website for the calendar year.

*An individual may still be liable for response expenses if the actions that created the need for the emergency response meet criteria set forth by legislation (RSA 206:26-bb).

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