Frequently Asked Questions

  • Check out our Essential Eligibility Criteria page to make sure you meet the minimum requirements to participate.

    Trailhead is for incoming first-year TXST students only.

  • Participants will assume the responsibility for many decisions affecting yourself during the activity. However, trip leaders have final authority and will not hesitate to dismiss those (at their personal, financial, expense) whose conduct is detrimental to themselves, the group, the activity site, or fails to follow University and Trailhead Codes of Conduct.

  • No, this trip does not count as New Student Orientation. That is a separate university requirement you are required to attend prior to starting school in the Fall Semester.

    Trailhead can be considered an extension of the orientation experience, providing more opportunities to connect with other incoming students before that first day of class!

    More information regarding New Student Orientation can be found here: 

    We strongly encourage that if you are from out of town, that you try to register for an New Student Orientation session just prior to the start of your Trailhead program.

  • Two weeks prior to your trip, leaders and participants will meet online to discuss the experience and answer any questions you have. Additionally, it's an opportunity to virtually meet the other students that will be joining you in your first big adventure as a Bobcat!

    Pre-trip meetings are mandatory, and will take place online. You will receive an email with the link to the pre-trip meeting after registration.

  • Trailhead registrations are, in general, non-refundable. If your spot on the roster can be filled, a refund will be processed. If you are unable to participate fully in a trip due to inadequate fitness or undisclosed conditions, your registration fee will not be refunded. 

  • There is a maximum of 10 participants on a Trailhead backpacking program.

    For all Trailhead programs, we use a participant to leader ratio of 10:2.

  • Students will receive an email (to the email account used to register) with specific information including:

    • Where and when to meet
    • All clothing and equipment recommendations and requirements 
    • …and a lot more information to prepare students for the experience! 
  • Participants can either drive themselves or be dropped off early by someone else.

    Participants will need to arrive in the specified parking lot that you received in your email after registering for Trailhead. Participants will need to arrive by 6:00AM on the first day of the trip.

    If you are traveling from out of town, we strongly encourage staying in San Marcos the night before. Check out some of the great options SMTX has to stay!

  • All pre-trip communication will happen via the email address used to register. 

    You MUST check your email account regularly after registration to avoid missing any important information!

  • All Trailhead payments are a non-refundable commitment/registration fee of $350 and are due upon registering for your Trailhead experience. 

    Programs are all-inclusive: food, transportation, equipment, etc. 

    All payment and registration is completed online. Only debit/credit card payments will be accepted.

  • Yes. Trailhead trips are drug-free, alcohol-free, and weapon-free environments. Tobacco, vapes, e-cigarettes or similar devices are prohibited. All students are required to follow the Texas State University Codes of Conduct while participating in the Trailhead program. Any students in violation of these or other stated rules may be removed from the program with no refund and be subject to university sanctions.

  • Cell phones are permitted during the Trailhead experience, but not necessarily encouraged. We understand in this digital age that it is important to take photos. However, our leaders will ask that you refrain from using your cell phone for anything other than taking photos and videos during the trip in order to truly immerse yourself in the wilderness experience!

    Note: Trailhead locations are remote, and cell service is not reliable. Leaders do have satellite communication systems on-hand if cell-service is unavailable.

  • No! Most meals and snacks are included in the registration cost during the program. During on-the-road travel to- and from campus, students will be responsible for their own meals (either packed or purchased on the road).

    Participants are encouraged to bring a small amount of non-perishable personal snacks for travel days.

  • Lots of great and healthy food! We are always active and moving at Trailhead, expending a lot of energy. Your specific menu will vary, but some typical backcountry meals include…

    • Breakfasts: Cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, french toast
    • Lunch: Sandwiches and wraps
    • Dinner: Pasta, stir fry, quesadillas, burritos, mac and cheese, jambalaya
    • Snacks: Crackers, cookies, fruit, veggies, trail mix
    • Beverages: Hot chocolate, tea, coffee, water
  • No! Most meals are vegetarian/vegan friendly and we have alternatives for those meals which are not. 

    Please indicate that you are a vegetarian on your Health Form and when registering. If it is not shared with trip staff, accommodations cannot be made for your specific dietary requirements.

  • No. Please be sure to include all information regarding your allergies on your Health Form and upon registration. 

    You may be contacted by Trailhead staff to gain more information. If you think speaking to someone directly would be beneficial, please indicate as such. 

     We can plan a menu around most food allergies. However, if it not listed on your Health Form, we cannot accommodate for your specific dietary requirements.

  • No. Please be sure to include all information regarding dietary restrictions on your Health Form and upon registration.

    As long as you let us know what your restrictions are, we will almost always be able to accommodate them. Don’t hesitate to contact Trailhead staff if your dietary restrictions require an explanation, or would benefit from a discussion. 

    We have accommodated many diets in the past, including kosher, halal, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free, along with having accommodated a wide range of food allergies. However, if it is not listed on your Health Form, it cannot be accommodated.

  • All participants are required to read and meet Trailhead's Essential Eligibility Criteria (EEC). Any questions not answered here can be asked by emailing

  • You will have access to bathroom facilities during travel days, and at the start/end of the backpacking portion of your trip. 

    Your leaders will teach you what you need to know while backpacking!

  • No. Trailhead staff carry a well-stocked First Aid Kit and are trained accordingly. However, if you find yourself frequently using a specific over-the-counter (OTC) medication, you may want to consider bringing a small supply with you.

  • Please be sure to bring them and take them as prescribed. Take special care to bring and keep accessible fast-acting medications (epi-pens or asthma inhalers, for example) if you have these prescribed. Also, be sure you have noted these medications (along with dosage) on your Health Form.

    If you begin new medications (or stop taking previous medication at your doctor's request) after filling out your form, please let us know by emailing

    A Trailhead experience is not the time or place to stop taking a prescribed medication unless approved by your doctor!

  • Due to backcountry sanitation concerns, consider wearing glasses whenever possible. 

    However, contacts can be used safely while on a Trailhead experience with proper precaution. 

    Be sure to bring 1-2 extra pairs, plenty of solution (usually a 4oz travel size is sufficient), and extra hand sanitizer. Some people like to bring a travel-size mirror as well. 

    Still bring your glasses as a backup! 

  • We encourage ALL participants who have periods to make and pack a “period kit.” The changes in diet and activity level often cause females to get their period when they are not expecting it. Here is a great resource for building a period kit.

  • No! Trailhead programs are designed for beginners. While a basic level of physical fitness is necessary, there is no expectation to be proficient in backpacking activities. 

    Your leaders will teach you what you need to know for your program. You should anticipate that the experience will be a genuine challenge, along with being a wonderful, fun, and valuable experience even if you have gone backpacking before.

    While we take every precaution to make this program beginner-friendly and plan the program with student safety in mind, there are inherent elements of risk beyond our control. These risks include but are not limited to the potential of accidents or illness while traveling to and from activity sites, or while participating in physical activities in rugged mountain, wilderness, and river terrain. While we do not assume liability for personal injury or death, every effort is made to minimize these risks.

  • Doing any kind of regular exercise may help you feel more comfortable with your Trailhead experience. To help you intentionally prepare, here are a few options that you can additionally consider:

    • Footwear: Whatever you intend to wear while backpacking, make sure to spend some time breaking them in. Do this by wearing them on short or long hikes around town, or wear them throughout the day. 
      • Wearing them with the same socks you'll wear on the trip will give you a better idea of if you might experience any blisters or areas that rub your foot wrong.
      • Consider walking with a full backpack, to simulate an experience closer to backpacking. You'll notice the difference with just a couple of full water bottles! 
    • Start a walking routine: Even just 20 minutes a day will provide some benefit! Try to incorporate longer walks, varying incline and decline, and modify your speed to keep your walks & hikes interesting! 
      • Boosting aerobic capacity will allow you to hike longer and steeper routes more comfortably!
    • Consider strength training: Most strength exercises will provide you with some benefit on the trail. Think about all the body parts that have to work while hiking!
      • Any exercises that train the following will help out:
        • Core (abdominals, obliques, back)
        • Legs (quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves)
        • Hips (hip flexors)
        • Shoulders
        • Ankles
        • Feet
  • Chances are that you may already have many of the items that you need (no need for fancy outdoor name brands - just check the tags for synthetic (i.e. non-cotton) materials - think quick-dry/moisture wicking fabrics). If you don't already have them, consider borrowing from friends or family. Another option to consider is thrift or second-hand stores. If you dig a little, you can often find great synthetic clothing at very affordable prices.

    Additionally, clothes can be found relatively inexpensively at stores like Amazon, Target, Walmart, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls. 

    One item we don't recommend borrowing or getting thrifty is Footwear:

    • We encourage you to purchase and wear your boots/trail shoes at least for 2 weeks prior to Trailhead to break them in.

    Remember that Trailhead provides all technical equipment including:

    • Tents
    • Sleeping bags
    • Backpacks
    • and headlamps

    If you want more outdoor-specific clothing or gear, some reputable outdoor retailers include:

  • As with anything else, do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. 

    Email us at

What is Trailhead?

Who can participate?