Any regular hiker will know there are several unwritten rules relating to trail and hiking etiquette.
Here are ten of the most followed practices:
When out of the trail, try to enjoy the natural sounds of the wilderness and avoid talking in LOUD voices. Plus, it is nice to switch off the cell phone or other electronic devices.
Don’t block the trail
If stopping on the trail for a short break or similar other reason, move to one side to make it easier to other hiking parties to walk past without being obstructed.
Don’t leave trash behind
Avoid leaving anything behind on the trails or other wilderness destinations. This even applies to banana skins or similar items that will naturally biodegradable.
It isn’t a great idea to leave non-native foods behind that will be picked up by animals. Anything that is taken on a hike should be packed back in the day-pack and returned to base.
Yield to fellow hikers walking uphill
Any hiker walking downhill should give way to those walking uphill
Yield to horses
Horses are big and cumbersome and can get spooked. So if you see a horse, step aside and be quiet and let them past. Don’t hide out of view as this can trigger the “predator in hiding” response in a horse.
Theoretically cyclists should yield, but in reality, stopping a bike moving off to the side, then restarting, especially on a hill, is not going to happen.
So when you are out on the trail, expect cyclists to barrel around you. The polite ones will give you plenty of warning that they are coming, some will leave it to the last minute to yell “on your left”, giving you a minor heart attack in the process, while others just whoosh by…this last group are the reason for most parks setting them as having to yield!
Pets on the trail
If planning on taking a dog on a trail made sure you are visiting one of the dog-friendly destinations.
A dog should be kept under control and on a leash at all times. Plus, it is necessary to pick up the pet waste and return that to base (it shouldn’t be left behind on the trail).
Avoid feeding the wildlife
While it might be tempting to feed the many different species of wildlife noticed in the wilderness, it should be avoided because it can impact the natural habit for foraging.
Plus, much of the wildlife is shy or hidden and would prefer not to be disturbed.
Avoid picking up souvenirs while walking along the trails. Souvenirs from walking in the natural surroundings should be kept to happy memories and photographs.
If it becomes necessary to relieve yourself while out on the trails, make sure to move away from the main walking trails (or any water sources).
A good distance to move away is at least 150 ft.
Preserve the trail
Try to walk within the confines of the trail. Walking around puddles or mud will soon cause problems and isn’t great for trail sustainability.
While it looks more inviting to cut the corner or pass by puddles of mud this will have a negative impact in the long-term and is less efficient at preserving the trails.
Your boots should be waterproof, so use this feature!
If a hiking group includes a number of people, try to avoid taking up the entire width of the trail. Make sure to let others get past when they are nearby.
Abide by the rules of hiking etiquette and make it easier to have a more enjoyable experience while minimizing any negative impact on the environment.
Get on with fellow hikers and avoid creating a nuisance and avoid dropping litter.
Always remember to take back to home base any item that you originally packed in the hiking pack, including food and drink packaging and even pet waste.
Matt Green, is an avid hiker and lover of the great outdoors. He is always planning his next big trip or hitting the trails for a solo hike.
He’s traveled extensively to many remote regions and has plenty of experience exploring various terrains, and stories to tell.