Trail Skills Badge

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Description:  Trail Life Handbook

(First Printing)

Trail Life Handbook

(Second Printing)

1. Trail Ethics  
a. Explain how being a good steward and observing the low impact camping method applies to Trail Skills. pp. 139-142, 163 The Trailman's Oath:  We will "do our best to.. be a good steward of creation."


As stewards of God's creation, we endeavor to enjoy the land without disturbing or destroying it.  We should practice Low-Impact Camping:

  • Pack in only what is necessary,
  • Stay on the trails
  • Leave no trace
  • Practice fire safety
  • Dispose of water and wastes properly
  • Seek to leave an area cleaner than when we arrived
b. Explain the Hiker's Code and how a hiker should be responsible and learn the buddy system. pg. 158














pg. 147

The Hiker's Code - You are responsible for yourself, so be prepared:

  • With knowledge and gear.  Become self-reliant by learning about the terrain, conditions, local weather, and your equipment before you start.
  • To leave your plan.  Tell someone where you are going, the trails you are hiking, when you will return, and your emergency plans.
  • To stay together.  When you start as a group, hike as a group and end as a group.  Pace your hike to the slowest person.
  • To turn back.  Weather changes quickly.  Fatigue and unexpected conditions can also affect your hike.  Know your limits and when it is wise to postpone or turn back.
  • 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's Code with others.


Leave an Activity Plan with parents or other leaders:  where you are going, when you will depart and return, who is going with you,  why you are going, what you are taking, and how you can be contacted in an emergency.


See: The Buddy System

2. Trail Safety
a. Describe how to identify poisonous plants in your area such as poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, stinging nettle, and Flowering Poodle Dog Brush (Sticky Nama).


pg. 137 Learn to recognize the plants common to your area.  Trees and plants can be recognized by their leaves, bark, height, color and their overall shape.


The only poisonous plant in our area is Poison Ivy, which identified by:

  • Green leaves of three
  • "Hairy Vine"
  • Thumb shaped wedge on leaf (not always visible)
  • See: Poison Oak


Outside Sources are available online, at bookstores, and in libraries that describe and show pictures of common poisonous plants.


b. Describe how to identify venomous snakes in your area such as rattlesnakes, coral snakes, or water moccassins A list of Venomous Snakes of California can be found here:

If you do encounter a snake, stay a safe distance away.  Most people are bitten on the hand or arm when they "attempt to kill, capture or harass a snake", or to reach for what they believe is a "dead" snakes.


Discuss how to avoid encountering a snake.

c. Describe natural hazards you might encounter on a hike including river crossings and what to do if faced with them. The Trailman's Handbook, pp.148-149

  1. Lightning
  2. Tornadoes


Others hazards not in Trailman's Guide:

  1. Hiking and Wildlife
  2. How to Cross a River 
3. Equipment
a. Describe the clothing necessary for hiking, including proper footwear and socks. pp. 146-147 Also see "Clothing" in the Backpacking Gear List
b. Explain the limits on how much weight you should carry and how much water you should take  






pp. 144-145

Various sources say limit backpack weight to 1/4 - 1/3 of your body weight.


Professional backpackers say limit weight to 25-40 lbs, depending on the conditions of your hike and the duration.




  • Plan to drink 8 cups of water per day - more if you are on a strenuous hike or camping/hiking in hot temperatures.  Water adds a lot  of weight to your pack, though, so carry an essential amount of water AND a portable water filter or purification supplies.
  • Water can be supplied in a number of ways when hiking near water sources
    • Tablet treatment
    • Filtration
    • UV treatment (with special UV devices)
c. Demonstrate proper packing and necessary items for a day pack for a day hike.


Note:  At Troop 317 we're taking the "day hike" to mean a short, overnight backpacking trip vs. an extended backpacking trip.

pp. 144-153 Online sources:

4. Navigation
a. Explain how an orienteering compass works. pp. 153-156
b. Explain what a topographic map is and what the contour lines and map symbols mean pp. 150-153
c. With an orienteering compass, take a reading.
d. With an orienteering compass, orient a map to North.
e. With an orienteering compass and a topographic map, show one method of adjusting for magnetic declination. pp. 154-155
f. With an orienteering compass and a topographic map, demonstrate finding your location using bearings to landmarks. Trailman will have to demo.  Attempt to do while completing number 7 below, or on any hiking trip where we have supplied a topographic map, such as the Vogel State Park hike.


See #7 below for local ideas.

5. Measurements
a. Measure the average length of your pace. Troop orienteering course exercise - 50' is marked for pace measurement.
b. Using pacing and the felling method, measure the height of a building, tree, flagpole, or other tall feature. Troop orienteering course exercise - measure a light pole.   Only the Felling Method is required, other info is provided simply for more info.

c. Demonstrate course direction finding in daylight or moonlight without a compass or GPS receiver. At Night:


By Day:

6. Do one of the following options:
a. Complete an orienteering  course of at least 1 mile and 5 stations The Troop has an orienteering course on NewHeart— Participate in the orienteering activity with your integrated Patrols.
b. Complete a compass course of at least one mile and 8 bearings
7. Using a map and compass together, take a five-mile hike with your patrol or troop. Participate on one of our Hit the Trails or Backpacking Adventures and assist in navigation using a paper map.