Hiking Safety

Safe Hiking In New Hampshire And Where To Get Your Hike Safe Card

Hikesafe logoWe want you to be safe on the trails! The NH Fish and Game Department and the White Mountain National Forest are partners in a mountain safety education program called "hikeSafe" to help get the word out on what hikers need to know. Buy your voluntary Hike Safe card today -- every purchase supports NH Fish and Game search and rescue efforts. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is authorized to sell voluntary Hike Safe Cards for $25 per person and $35 per family. It covers the calendar year from the date and time of purchase through December 31.The card is valuable for anyone hiking, paddling, cross country skiing or engaging in other outdoor recreation. People who obtain the cards are not liable to repay rescue costs if they need to be rescued. 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).


Buy Your Hike Safe Card Today


Other ways to purchase a Hike Safe Card:

Hike Safe: It's Your Responsibilty

Length: 7:01 | Transcript: Hike Safe: It's Your Responsibilty
Hike Safe Card FAQ's

Is there a physical card that I can put in my wallet?

No. The information can be printed out by the consumer at the time of purchase or may be downloaded as a pdf on a smart phone.

How long is the card good for?

The card covers the calendar year from the date and time of purchase through December 31.

Is the card only for hikers?

This card is not just for hikers. It’s for anyone who participates in an outdoor sport or activity. Like a hunting or fishing license, the Hike Safe card provides protections from certain liabilities for rescue costs. For details about rescue liability, see (RSA 206:26-bb).

For hunters and anglers, the purchase of a hunting or fishing license offers expanded opportunities and the same protections.

Does the full cost of the card go to the Search and Rescue Fund?

Yes. Revenues from sales of the voluntary hike safe card will go into the Search and Rescue Fund, with the exception of the transaction fee (currently $3) that goes to the vendor of the automated issuance system to cover the cost of processing the information.

If I have a valid NH hunting or fishing license, do I need a Hike Safe card?

If a person has a current New Hampshire hunting or fishing license, current Off-Highway Recreational Vehicle or snowmobile registration, or current boat registration, they receive the same benefit.

What is considered a "family" for hike safe card purchases?

For purposes of purchasing a family Hike Safe Card, families include the hike safe cardholder, his or her spouse, and his or her minor children and minor stepchildren, as well as those under guardianship, as of the date of purchase.

How much revenue is the card expected to generate annually?

Hike safe card sales brought in more than $75,000 to the Search and Rescue Fund in 2015, the first year they were available. "People seem to appreciate having a way to contribute to our Search and Rescue readiness, at the same time they get the peace of mind that if an incident occurs, reimbursement costs are covered,” said Fish and Game Col. Kevin Jordan.  

How many search and rescue missions does Fish and Game conduct in an average year?

From 2006 through 2014, Fish and Game conducted an average of 180 search and rescue missions each year.

Why is there a deficit in the Search and Rescue fund?

The Search and Rescue fund is supported by a $1.00 fee collected for each boat, snowmobile and OHRV registered in New Hampshire. That typically brings in about $180,000 a year. Annual Search and Rescue expenditures (typically about $350,000) have exceed revenues by more than $200,000 in recent years. Sales of Hike Safe Cards are helping to offset this deficit.

Will the hike safe card fees resolve Fish and Game’s broader funding troubles?

The card is a step in the right direction, because it creates a means for the broader public that relies on Fish and Game services to help pay for those services, but it is not a cure-all. The deficit in the Search and Rescue Fund has contributed to Fish and Game' larger funding dilemma. Learn more about Fish and Game’s funding situation at wildnh.com/funding.

Is the Hike Safe card accepted outside of New Hampshire?



hikeSafe Hiker Responsibility Code 

As part of this program, the Hiker Responsibility Code is posted on hikeSafe signs at all major trailheads in New Hampshire. The code applies to all hikers, from beginners on a short hike to experienced outdoor enthusiasts embarking on an expedition. Please practice the elements of the code and share the code with fellow trekkers. This will help increase responsibility and reduce the need for Search and Rescue efforts.


You are responsible for:

  • 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.

The Ten Essentials:

  • Map
  • Compass
  • Warm Clothing: Sweater or Pile Jacket, Long Pants (wool or synthetic), Hat (wool)
  • Extra Food and Water
  • Flashlight or Headlamp
  • Matches/Firestarters
  • First Aid Kit/Repair Kit
  • Whistle
  • Rain/Wind Jacket and Pants
  • Pocket Knife

Also important to take on day hikes:

  • Sturdy Footwear and Extra Socks
  • Watch
  • Trash Bag (for trash or rain protection)
  • Light Plastic Tarp or "Space" Blanket
  • Guidebook
  • Insect Repellant
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Gloves or Mittens
  • Personal Medications
  • Cord/Rope
  • Gaiters
  • Extra Batteries

For overnight trips and groups add to 'The Ten Essentials':

  • Sleeping Bag
  • Foam Pad
  • Tent or Other Shelter
  • Stove, Fuel
  • Pots, Cup, Bowl, Spoon
  • Food
  • Water Purification
  • Toothbrush, Towel, etc.
  • Extra Clothing
  • Extra Warm Clothing:
    • Insulated Parka
    • Extra Mittens
    • Balaclava
    • Insulated Boots
    • Overmitts
  • Snowshoes

Add for above Treeline:

  • Crampons
  • Face Mask
  • Ice Axe
  • Goggles
  • Add for Avalanche Terrain:
  • Avalanche Transceiver
  • Avalanche Probe
  • Snow Shovel