Boulder-Based Timberline Adventures Celebrates 40 Years of Nationwide Biking and Hiking Tours
Owner Barb Hoyt reflects on low-impact travel, running a business as a woman in the outdoor industry, and what she hopes for the future of Timberline Adventures
BOULDER, Colorado — In 1982, Dick Gottsegen wanted to leave his career in divorce law behind and bike, and that’s exactly what he did. But then, people began to follow him, and before he knew it, Timberline Adventures, a Boulder-based cycling and hiking tour company, was born.
At roughly the same time, Barb Hoyt was dipping her toes into world-traveling. As a young adult, she organized tours for Girl Scouts, class trips, and youth groups. Her first job out of high school was Bike Trip Leader for American Youth Hostels. She began guiding professionally in 2015. By traveling the globe with her family and friends, she gained a deep appreciation for world cultures as well as an intense need to keep exploring.
In 2017, the opportunity arose for Hoyt to buy Timberline Adventures from the current owner, Dave Harris. At the time, the industry was dominated by men, but that didn’t deter her. “Being a woman creates a different perspective that is appreciated by many of my guests. Women in adventure travel is also a growing industry, and women like to see companies that are not male-dominated,” says Hoyt.
When Hoyt purchased Timberline Adventures, the outfitter included hiking and biking trips, and once she signed along the dotted line, Hoyt inherited a company that had come a long way since the earliest days of Gottsegen. During his time as owner, Harris had taken piles of Gottsegen’s handwritten notes and paper brochures and created a digital presence for the company by improving an outdated website, installing booking software, and using social media as a marketing tool. Hoyt would further improve Timberline Aventure’s digital presence by updating the website for today’s audience and investing more in social media.
Four years after purchasing Timberline Adventures, Hoyt is set to celebrate its 40th anniversary and everything she’s accomplished in her years of ownership. Long gone are the days of Gottsegen’s handwritten contacts on index cards and paper brochures. Hoyt has taken Harris’s vision of the company and further developed it into a thriving nationwide operator with a strong digital presence that brings visitors into dozens of national parks and on multi-day cycling and hiking adventures across the country. The company’s new website now contains videos, dozens of cycling and hiking tours with dates and details, an option for developing your own custom trip for your group, a travel blog, a newsletter, and several social media accounts.
Key to Hoyt’s success was her focus on creating tours in less-visited national parks. While Timberline Adventures had offered tours in popular national parks like Rocky Mountain, Zion, and Joshua Tree, Hoyt expanded the tour company to include more unique locations where there are fewer crowds and where her guests leave less of an environmental impact.
“While I truly believe all of all my trips are wonderful, I just love those that take guests into less-visited national parks, like North Cascades, Guadalupe Mountains, Isle Royale, and Great Basin. Out of the list of least visited national parks in the nation, we’ve got tour itineraries in every one of the hikeable parks, save for a handful in Alaska that are extremely remote,” says Hoyt.
Timberline Adventures’ most popular trips include the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim, the Isle Royal, and new for 2021, A Cycling Odyssey from Maine to Florida along the East Coast Greenway.
“For our 40th year, I wanted to do something big. So, I arranged a two-month cycling tour along the East Coast Greenway, a 3,000-mile trail linking major cities on the east coast from Maine to Florida. Broken into four parts, guests can ride the whole trip or just the portion of their choosing. This will be the first-ever fully supported cycling tour on the Greenway,” says Hoyt.
The East Coast Greenway Cycling Odyssey is not the only new tour for 2021. Hoyt is also pleased to announce a Virgin Island Hiking and Snorkeling Tour, an intro tour in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons, a tour in Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park, as well as several custom tours. In celebration of Timberline Adventures’ 40th anniversary, she’ll be scheduling some old favorites and pulling some original itineraries out of the files for a fresh update for the 2022 season.
Hoyt’s goal is to lead every tour in her portfolio. But with 150 tours and counting, she has to have help to run them successfully year-round. Hoyt employs more than a dozen part-time guides who mix their Timberline Adventures tour guiding with other jobs, such as ski instructor, teacher, and park ranger.
For the immediate future, Hoyt’s goal is to have a banner anniversary year that will carry Timberline Adventures’ momentum forward. “We will always remain a small company, so 40 tours a year is right where we would like to be, including one international hiking odyssey tour, one extended bike tour, and now an annual cross-country bike tour. We will continue to add new tours to our itinerary and rotate the ones we already have, leading people to come back to us year after year,” says Hoyt.
When asked if she could pick a favorite tour, Hoyt laughs, “They’re all so unique, there’s no way I could pick a favorite. However, I always love guiding in my home mountains on the Adirondacks Hiking Tour. No other tour company runs a multi-day hiking tour in the area, and I’m really proud that we do.”
For more information, visit timberline-adventures.com.