Planning Your Outdoor Adventure

An important mission of the Placer County Mountain Rescue Team is to provide the public with wilderness safety education, and to help prevent individuals from getting lost or injured in the first place. Please take a moment and utilize these resources before you plan your next trip, to be sure you are well-prepared to enjoy the wilderness intelligently and safely.


Always carry these items with you. Even if your plans are just for a quick hike or picnic. Be ready for an unexpected emergency. These items do not weigh much and can generally be placed into a gallon-size Zip-loc bag and fit into a small backpack.
  1. Navigation (Map, Compass, GPS)
  2. Sun protection (Sunscreen, Lip Balm, Sun Glasses)
  3. Extra clothing (extra socks, gloves, hats, clothing layers)
  4. Light source (headlamp or flashlight)
  5. First-aid supplies (an assortment of bandages, disinfectant, insect repellent)
  6. Fire starters (waterproof matches, lighter, starter material)
  7. Repair kit and tools (knife or multitool)
  8. Extra food (even if going for just a short hike - eg, Jerky, nutrition bars)
  9. Extra water (and water purification tablets)
  10. Emergency shelter (bivy, space blanket, garbage bags, etc)


Safe trips begin with good planning and communication with your group before you leave home. Here are some things you should do before every hike or back country trip.
  • Tell loved ones as precisely as possible where you are going and when you will return. Give them this information in writing!
  • Check the weather forecast and road conditions.
  • Be familiar with backcountry safety practices. Consider taking an avalanche class by attending a certified program if you plan to visit the back country in winter.
  • Know the relative strengths and weaknesses of your group and plan your itinerary accordingly. While on your adventure keep lines of communication open within your group so you know the welfare of your group at all times.
  • Plan to keep the group together as a single unit, within sight and hearing range at all times.
  • Make sure everyone (including children) know what to do if they become lost or separated from the group.
  • Know the risks you will be facing and communicate often with your group to make sure everyone is doing OK.
  • Use resources to gain knowledge about your trip. Use web resources, local experts, guide books, topographical maps and software to prepare for your trip.
  • Know your route beforehand and know what to expect. Prepare for contingencies and unknowns. Duration, Difficulty, Elevation Profile, Navigation Issues.
  • Plan out potential camp sites and consider emergency contingencies.
  • What will the snow conditions be like? Soft, hard, mixed? Will you need snowshoes or crampons?
  • Remember - everything takes twice as long in winter than in dry, "fair weather", conditions. If you plan to winter camp, be proficient with camping in dry, "fair weather" conditions first.
  • Make sure you have proper gear and clothing systems adequate for the conditions you will be facing. Do not wear cotton in cold or wet conditions - it will not insulate when wet.
  • Make sure to pack the 10 essentials!
Now you are ready to have fun!

If you do Run Into Trouble,


Do you know what to do if you are lost and alone in the wilderness? Basic rules if you are alone in the wilderness are Sit, Think, Observe, and Plan before you go into action.

Sit down and stay put until the fear, anger, and or frustration has gone from your system.

What do you have that can help you in this situation? Your mind is your greatest survival tool!

Where should you stay? If you told someone where you were going, people may be searching for you. Is there an open area where the searchers would have a better chance of seeing you?

In most cases the priority should be as follows.
  1. Find or make shelter against the elements
  2. Build a fire for heat
  3. Signal to attract attention
  4. Find water


Check these links before leaving home. Plan your trip well and be prepared for all weather and road conditions. Obtain all required permits and leave a written travel plan with a friend or family member. Remember to take the 10 Essentials. (Note: Mountain Rescue Team is not responsible for content on external websites.)


NOAA Weather - Clickable and scrollable interactive map for forecasts near your precise destination.

CAL TRANS - California road conditions for trip planning.


Sierra Avalanche Center (Central Sierra)
Shasta Avalanche Center (Mt. Shasta)
Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center (Eastern Sierra)


National Parks in California - Campground, Trail and Permit information

California State Parks - Campground, Trail and Permit information

California - National Forests
Angeles National Forest
Cleveland National Forest
Eldorado National Forest
Inyo National Forest
Klamath National Forest
Lake Tahoe Basin Mgmt Area
Lassen National Forest
Los Padres National Forest
Mendocino National Forest
Modoc National Forest
Plumas National Forest
San Bernardino National Forest
Sequoia National Forest
Shasta-Trinity National Forest
Sierra National Forest
Six Rivers National Forest
Stanislaus National Forest
Tahoe National Forest

Nevada - National Forests
Humboldt National Forest
Toiyabe National Forest

Permits are required for use of most State and National Parks and Wilderness areas. In addition, National Forests and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wilderness areas also require permits in many instances. Click on the appropriate links above for current information.

Snow Park Permits - CA - Required to park in certain locations when accessing the back country during snow months.

Maps and Trails - Topographic Maps

USGS Maps - Official USGS Survey Maps

US Forest Service Maps - Maps from the US Forest Service


Government Offices

CA Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES)

CA Dept. of Transportation

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

National Weather Service

Placer County Sheriff's Office

US Forest Service