Getting Started

How to Enjoy our Walks:

A Step-by-Step Guide

In an activity as casual and fun as ours, getting started is easy. Show up at a hosted event (find one under Walk Soon on the Home page), look for someone who looks like he or she knows what’s going on, and tell him or her,  "I'm new. How do I get started?" We are all happy to help!

Finding Events

By 'event', we mean Volkswalks, Volksbikes, Volksskis or Volksswims. Swimming and Skiing events are not offered regularly in Oregon or SW Washington. There are two direct event sources on this website: Walk Soon--traditional hosted events and Walk Now--Map-Guided Events also known as Year-Round Events or YRE's.To find our hosted events right now, select Walk Soon on our Home page, and choose from the list. Each walk has a Point of Contact who will answer any questions you have about the upcoming event. You may also join our MeetUp Walking Oregon and SW Washington, Like and Follow WalkOregon on FaceBook, subscribe to our printed magazine NW PathFinder, or subscribe to WalkList our free weekly email walk announcement for the latest information and news.All events are open to everyone regardless of race, creed, color, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or gender.  We encourage all to participate to the best of their ability.

At our hosted events, you will usually find a table covered over with brochures. Most people come away with a handful of them. These will tell you of future events, both the hosted type and the map-guided Year-Round Events.

Year-Round Events (YRE) (found under Walk Now) usually consist of a "start box" located at a health club, hospital, hotel or large store that offers access at convenient hours. A start box may be a stand-alone podium, a binder, file box, or a two-drawer file cabinet. Contained inside are instructions, sign-in sheets and maps. These require you sign a waiver on a log sheet and to take an envelope or start card with you.

Some YREs have a checkpoint for the route. It is usually a question about some permanent feature along the route. It could be the name of a statue you will pass, the color of a house along the route or the number of steps on a footbridge that you cross. This insures that you complete the entire distance. Don't forget to bring a pen to write the checkpoint answer!

YREs differ from Hosted Events in some important ways. These are unmarked and require the use of a map and directions. We devote a lot of effort to making these easy to follow. You follow the route on your own, at nearly any time convenient to you. YREs must be completed during daylight hours for safety reasons.


Each event has a specific start point. If it is a hosted event, there will be volunteers handy to guide you through the simple, one-minute process. You will be asked to sign a liability waiver, and then you will receive a numbered start card that we need returned when you finish the walk. There will also be maps with directions.You are welcome to participate at absolutely no charge, though you must still complete the registration form. Those who participate for distance or event credit pay a modest fee (usually $3.00) at the start.

Typical Event

Hosted events are usually well marked using the popular pink arrows and spotted pink tape. Follow the markings or the instructions on your map. Don’t be afraid to ask other walkers if you cannot figure out a marking or instruction. We’re great about “Corner Conferences" since we’ve all been lost or befuddled at some point on a walk. Besides it gives us an opportunity to talk with another person. We usually have a checkpoint with water and a restroom. Volunteers at the checkpoint will mark your start card as you pass.

Most Volkswalks and Volksbikes are friendly to children - we like routes that favor strollers. Wheelchairs are also welcome and we accommodate them whenever possible. If a route is NOT suitable for either or both, our brochures tell you why. Most clubs offer alternate routes for wheelchairs and strollers. That said, we have routes for all walk types desired from sedate parks paths to beaches to rough paths and high reaches.

Walk Difficulty Rating
Our walks use a Number and Letter rating system. Many walks will also include an explanation for why a walk has a particular rating.




Part 2 - TERRAIN

1 Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Probably suitable for strollers and wheelchairs. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: up to 200 feet. A Almost entirely on pavement.
2 Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Probably suitable for strollers. May not be suitable for wheelchairs. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 200 - 1000 feet. B A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
3 Some significant hill or stair climbing. Not suitable for strollers or wheelchairs. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 1000 - 2000 feet. C A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky/rooted paths or soft sand.)
4 Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 2000 - 3500 feet. D A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.
5 Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: more than - 3500 feet. E The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.


When determining elevation gain, if a route goes up for 50 feet and down for 50 feet and back up for another 75 feet, the cumulative gain would be 125 feet.

A route that is mostly on flat pavement would be rated 1A.

A beach walk would be rated 1C.

A route with moderate hills on well-groomed trails would be rated 2B.

Remember that nasty weather can make an event much harder to complete!


With few exceptions, the finishing point is also at the start point. Turn in your start card so that we will know that you completed the event. Otherwise, we may have to send someone to go looking for you! And that's it. Don't forget to grab a brochure or two before you leave.


Those participating for distance and event credit carry two special booklets. At the finish table of Hosted Events, a volunteer will place an ink stamp in each book. One booklet shows how many events you have completed; the other shows the total distance you have covered. You can only receive one event credit per walk per day, but you can walk or bike an event more than once if you want more distance credit. You stamp your own book at Map-Guided events.


If you need more information, please visit one of the hosted events. There is nearly always a volunteer who is dedicated to assisting new walkers. Here is even more information from our national organization, the American Volkssport Association. You can also visit our Contacts Page and drop us a note.