We want everyone to return safely from a trip into the mountains, out on the water, or anywhere in the backcountry. Whether a day hike on a local trail or a multiday expedition, please complete a trip plan prior to departure and leave it with a family member or friend who can be responsible for initiating a response in the event that you don't return according to your anticipated schedule.
What is a trip plan?
A trip plan is a document that details your travel plans. It should be left with a trusted person who is available for the duration of your trip and who is capable of reporting you missing in the event you do not return as scheduled. A trip plan is used during search and rescue operations to assess the nature of the activity, the possible scenarios involved, and the magnitude of response required.
We encourage everyone heading into the backcountry to complete a trip plan and leave it with a responsible person. A sample trip plan can be downloaded using the link above. For less intensive trips (for example, a short hike on a local trail with frequent traffic), at a minimum, please let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return, but a full trip plan is recommended.
What should a trip plan include?
- Contact details for you and everyone in your group: name, age, address, and cell phone number
- Pertinent medical issues for everyone in your group: health and physical ailments
- Other unique information about your group that may be important during a search operation
- Departure date/time and planned return date/time
- Nature or focus of trip: hiking, climbing, boating, snowmachining, etc.
- Itinerary: trail name, map highlighting planned route, and additional details noting key trip elements, such as, “Leave Carlanna Lake trailhead, hike to Avalanche Chute waterfall area, have lunch and take pictures, come back to Carlanna Lake trailhead.”
- Vehicle/boat/plane/snowmachine description(s) for transportation used during your trip or remaining at the trailhead: Make, model, color, license plate number or boat registration number of aircraft tail number
- Communication and location equipment being carried: cell phone, GPS, SPOT satellite messenger, Garmin inReach satellite communicator. ~~ fully charged and extra batteries ~~
- Gear and equipment that may help during a search operation: tent color and model, tarp or emergency blanket color, etc.
- Additional information that you can include: description of clothing and footwear, photo of the bottom of your shoe, details of pets joining you, food and water types and amounts being carried, GPS coordinates
What if our plans change during the trip?
If you know there is a potential for your plans to change based on conditions or weather, you should include your alternate trip details in the same trip plan AND inform your trip plan contact upon engaging in your alternative plans.
If your plans change due to unforeseen circumstances, inform your trip plan contact. If contact is not possible, consider abandoning your trip.
Any reliable information is better than no information. At a minimum, leave a note in a plastic bag in an easy-to-find location detailing your new trip plan.