Tiffany | Co-founder
My name is Tiffany and I started hiking five years ago as a new hobby to help cope with stress and depression. I completed my own personal 50 hike challenge in 2015, which was very rewarding for me. I found my park, pushed myself to new limits, and did things that I couldn’t imagine actually doing when I was younger like kayaking, snorkeling, parasailing, and climbing waterfalls.
When I was a kid I had a thirst for adventure and a desire to be in and learn more about nature. I was constantly shuffling between watching Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, and PBS (and of course Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network), and it instilled within me a love and appreciation for animals and nature— even bugs, though I steer clear of them. However, coming from a black family, I was limited on doing a lot of the outdoorsy stuff that I always see white families doing, even to this day. I was always considered the ‘weird’ or ‘white-washed’ member of the family because of my love of animals and nature, along with my desire to do things like hike or swim. It was and still is a stereotype that black people don’t go outside, swim, or care for animals the way white people do. I thought something was wrong with me and tried for years to try and ‘acclimate’ to things that I felt were appropriate for me as a young black girl.
When I finally did start hiking, it helped me to re-affirm who I am today and validate my feelings about animals and nature. I still tune in to Netflix to watch nature documentaries! I love the outside world and I feel more people of color should too and shouldn’t be ashamed of it. That’s why I took to Instagram and started blackgirlstrekkin. Instagram showed me that there’s a whole world full of people of color who love many aspects of the outdoors. Be it hiking, climbing, surfing, snowboarding, skydiving or other outdoor activities, we’re making it known that we’re here and we’re just as connected to nature as everyone else. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing there are other people like me out there on the trails, knowing that I’m not alone.
When I first started hiking, I hardly ever saw people of color out on the trails. Even when I visited Yosemite National Park and met park ranger Shelton Johnson, he expressed that he didn’t see many Black people in the park. That conversation was the initial spark I needed to try and make a difference and to try and see if I could inspire people over Instagram or in person to get outdoors. It’s amazing to feel connected to nature. It gives me a drive and passion to pursue those things that I care about: preservation and protection of natural lands (and the animals that live there) while showing that representation DOES matter. That’s what I’m trying to do. That’s why I made this group. Black women are strong, beautiful, independent, and wonderful and I want to show the world that we’re here and we matter. We’re here to empower other black women and people of color while connecting to the outdoors. We’re trekkin’ it!
Michelle | Co-founder
I’m Michelle and I’m a self-proclaimed nature nerd. I have a B.S. in Marine Biology from San Diego State University and a Masters in Biology from Miami University. My favorite outdoor activity is trying to identify plants/animals and anything that requires me to be on a boat. My passion for environmental science has given me the chance to explore deserts in Mexico, rain forests in India, and flooded forests in Guyana. But my favorite places to explore are the natural spaces at home in Southern California.
Growing up, I frequently heard that my interests and career choices were unusual for a black person. I was, and still am, often the only black woman in many educational or professional environmental spaces. These experiences fuel my passion for diversifying outdoor spaces and the field of environmental science, which is why I didn’t think twice about co-founding Black Girls Trekkin’. Through BGT I hope to create a safe space where women of color can be their whole selves while exploring the outdoors.
When I’m not on the trails with BGT, you can probably find me being indecisive about where to eat with my boyfriend, doing bad karaoke with my friends, figuring out how to make time to take an aerial class, or saving up for sustainable/ethically sourced clothes to add to my closet.
Nicole Snell | Adventure Leader
I’m Nicole and I met Tiffany on Instagram a couple of years ago and I was ecstatic when she told me that she was starting a hiking group and asked if I’d like to join!
I’ve been an athlete and adventurer my entire life. I grew up in the desert and would explore the fields and washes after school and on weekends. I lived close to Joshua Tree National Park and would go there to camp, hike, climb and explore among the amazing rock formations. I was always on the go, played Volleyball and ran Track in high school and was always looking for something new to discover. Although I was limited in the types of activities I could try because of my location, it never stopped me from wanting to embrace new experiences.
When I moved to LA, I participated in as many activities as I could; which were pretty much all the things I never got to do as a kid! That meant horseback riding, sky diving, white water rafting, fencing, hang gliding, archery, kayaking, snorkeling, surfing, ice skating, scuba diving and of course hiking. In 2016 I went on a solo trip to New Zealand (traveling is one of my passions!) where I completed my longest hike to date, The Tongariro Alpine Crossing. That 12 mile trek sparked the hiking bug within me and from that point on I was hiking every trail I could around Los Angeles and finding new trails to explore in every city and country I traveled to. I have completed 3 of the Six Pack of Peaks and am going to redo all 6 of them this year with Black Girls Trekkin’!
What I love most about being a member of BGT is that it gives black women the space to try new outdoor adventures, connect with like minded women, discuss issues that are specific to the intersections of being black and female and support each other as we explore new interests. This is more than a hiking group, it’s a community. We are women from all walks of life with a love of nature, the outdoors and adventure and BGT has brought us together!