Trail Sisters

Trail Sisters

Hiking group unites women who share love of outdoors

By Sonia Duggan

Winter, spring, summer or fall, a vibrant community of adventure seeking women connect to hike trails together in North Texas and beyond. 

The group, aptly named Hikerbabes, is a women-only group united by a love for the great outdoors and a commitment to stewardship and camaraderie. Its mission is rooted in the belief that “every day spent in nature is a gift,” fostering well-being of body, mind and soul through the transformative power of hiking. 

Hikerbabes chapters throughout the United States and beyond are free to join and offer a positive, supportive network for women of all ages and all walks of life, ensuring that each member feels empowered and inspired on their journey.

At the core of the network is Monique Redmon of Bend, Oregon, and her lil’ hikerbabe, a boxer-mix rescue named Brodie. 

Redmon said she started hiking in her 30s to escape the routine partying lifestyle and create a healthier path. She documented her hiking adventures with Brodie on Instagram and soon attracted a large following. 

“So many women reached out via Instagram [@momohiker], asking how to hike on their own, find friends who hiked,” Redmon said. “So, I decided there was a need.”

Redmon started with a women-only hiking challenge — 100 hikes with no timeframe, no rules, hike your own hike. In one year, she said she had 5,000 followers who then “started reaching out wanting to be an ambassador and start a local chapter.”

In less than seven years, Redmon’s community of Hikerbabes, a name inspired by Brodie’s nickname, has grown to 150,000 members led by over 300 ambassadors in 217 global chapters.

“I could have never imagined Hikerbabes would grow to this magnitude,” she said. “Obviously, there are lots of women out there that wanted to find their people. Women who say ‘YES’ to adventure.” 

Ambassadors unite

Pre-pandemic, Redmon said there were about 80 Ambassadors and 40,000 members in the Hikerbabe community.

“A positive of COVID is it brought people back to the outdoors and a simpler mindset,” she said, adding “nature is the best cure for mental health issues.”

But because there is no fee to join, Redmon said she had to get creative to support the community’s fast growth in 2020-2022, which was no longer supported by its small online shop.  

“My 20 hour a week labor of love became a 50 hour a week job,” Redmon said. “So, I started the VIP program.”

The goal of the ambassador VIP program, said Redmon, is to get 3-5% of the HB community to chip in $10 per year to sustain the growth, raise funds for cost of running the community and the ambassador incentive program. 

“It has become my life mission to show every woman that they can do hard things and they are capable of more than they will ever know,” she said. “I am beyond grateful to all my ambassadors who believe in my mission and share their passion for the outdoors with their members.”

Chapter ambassadors are Hikerbabes that take the lead to plan and host events, answer questions, and more.

When Redmon started the North Texas Hikerbabes chapter in January 2023, Wylie resident Martha “Marty” Wolf, a member of Hikerbabes DFW since 2020, joined and quickly assumed a co-ambassador role. Her reason, she said, was “I want to empower women to get outdoors no matter what age or shape or health history they’re in.” 

Wolf, a cancer survivor since 2012, knew the value of staying active, having participated in a Dallas dragon boating group for female cancer survivors for five years until being invited to join Hikerbabes.

Wolf said being active has helped her with the side effects of chemo including weight gain, depression, neuropathy and much more. 

“I’m not in the best shape and sometimes chemo side effects get in the way,” she said. “However, I’m living my life to its fullest like there’s no tomorrow, one step at a time.”

Co-ambassadors are responsible for planning and hosting one event a month, and between the chapters’ three additional co-ambassadors, Wolf said they host “weekly and weekend” hikes. Additionally, she plans social events for everyone to get to know each other, helps keep members active on Facebook and manages the Instagram page. 

“Currently, we are about 800 members and counting,” Wolf said.

Joining a hiking community

It was a Facebook post about a local afternoon walk/hike that caught the attention of Wylie resident Michelle Costello. 

“The timing was perfect,” said Costello, 49, who is a self-proclaimed introvert. “I was looking to get in more steps, and I love being outdoors, so I decided to step outside my comfort zone and go for it.” 

On the hike, Costello met Wolf and a fellow co-ambassador along with a group of women. 

“We had a fabulous afternoon hike in Wylie,” she said. “Everyone was so nice, patient, positive and fun.”

After learning about the chapter and plans for future events, which involved hiking, along with yoga, kayaking, paddle boarding and social events, Costello said, “I realized this was really something special and was excited to be part of this group.” 

Wolf refers to member and fellow breast cancer survivor Arlene Cornwall as the “most matured and experienced” Hikerbabe in both NTX and DFW.” 

Cornwall, 85, belonged to a women-led hiking group in Seattle for 30 years. “We hiked, snowshoed, skied and traveled, so I had a big void to fill,” she said. Since joining the NTX group, she said, “Hikerbabes has been a godsend for me. I love the variation of hiking and fun events, including a lot of paddle boarding in the summer and chances to travel as well.”

Another member and avid hiker, Trisha Thompson, also previously belonged to women’s outdoor adventure groups in Texas. 

Thompson, who recently retired, splits her time between Springtown in the winter and Idaho in the summer. She first joined the Spokane, Washington/North Idaho Hikerbabes group in 2021 after relocating because she wanted to find other women like herself who liked to hike and were “willing to go frequently.”

“The Hikerbabes are welcoming,” she said, “and you will feel like a part of the group before the end of your first hike.”

Since joining, Thompson said she attends about 40 hiking events every year with the groups including some urban hikes such as Lake Benbrook and Marion Sansom Park.

The chapter’s newest and youngest co-ambassador is Abbie Greusel. The Dallas resident, who is in her 40s, joined in September 2023 because she didn’t want to do solo hikes and was looking for a hiking buddy. Greusel has since completed “around 14 hikes” with the group, from as near as the Heard Museum and as far as Palo Duro Canyon.
“This group has shown me that other women have the same passion as I do, and it has kept me motivated to do more miles and more hikes,” she said.

Greusel encourages anyone who is thinking about joining to “just try it,” adding that the hardest part “is showing up for the first one.”

Fun for all levels, ages

Everyone hikes for their own reasons and fitness is not emphasized on the hikes specifically. 

Planned group hikes are typically at the moderate level, said Redmon, ranging from five to seven miles, “but our ambassadors host anywhere from beginner to overnight backpacking and out-of-state retreats, socials and more.”

“We organize all levels of hikes, camping, water sports in the summer, yoga with different skills sets from easy, to moderate, to hard, to extraneous,” Wolf said. “We leave no one behind. Everyone is welcomed no matter age, shape, or physical level condition. Members must follow trail etiquette and know their limits.”

Costello said being part of Hikerbabes keeps her “on track with her fitness goals” and so much more. 

“Having the opportunity to explore new places and try new things with a fabulous group of women has been amazing,” she said. “These ladies have become dear friends and spending time with this inspiring group of women has really been a blessing for my mental health as well.” 

When planning hikes for the NTX chapter, Wolf said she “likes to go above and beyond” by hosting two- or three-day hiking retreats to state or national parks. To celebrate her birthday in November last year, Wolf planned a multi-day Hikerbabe trip to Palo Duro Canyon State Park. 

“The plus side is the traveling and friendships that come out of this,” Wolf said. “Babes trust me and love my planning and organizing so all they need to do is show up and enjoy the shenanigans.” 

On all hikes, members who are up for a challenge can log their miles toward a specific goal. The reward is often a badge, much like a Scout one, Hikerbabe gear, and a photo and shout out on social media.

“There are optional challenges to keep you motivated if those are your goals,” Thompson said. They include the 100-hike challenge, monthly challenges and an annual challenge which she “really enjoyed” doing for the last three years.

“For 2024, it is the Trailblazer Challenge where you can hike anywhere from 100 to 750 miles for the year to earn a finisher badge,” Thompson said. “I am hoping to make the 750 this year.” 

Last year, Wolf said, the NTX chapter hosted “about 77 outdoor events, not counting the ones canceled due to weather.”

“We currently have several local hikes, zip line, urban strolls, state parks planned, a weekend retreat hike for the upcoming April 8 total eclipse and a longer retreat in Puerto Rico this summer,” she said.

Chapters that have ambassadors also participate in monthly events and Hike for a Cause events throughout the year that help the community to be a better place, said Wolf. The chapter’s March Hike for a Cause is an animal shelter, June is a local food bank, September is clean ups and October is breast cancer awareness.

The Hikerbabes VIP program is in full drive, said Redmon, adding that last year they took 32 women to Croatia, 21 to a camping retreat in the Canadian Rockies and many more. 

Cornwall is one of the many active VIP participants. She said she already has plans for VIP Hikerbabes trips to “Yosemite, sequoia trees, kayaking in Monterey Bay and hiking Big Sur in October.”

Redmon said she is looking forward to the VIPs exploring Patagonia in March, Nepal in May, and in September “doing the 100 and 107-mile trek” in the Cotswolds of the UK.

“The future is bright for Hikerbabes,” she declared.

Follow or join the Hikerbabe community:

IG: @HikerBabesNTX

FB:  Hikerbabes Community: North Texas Chapter