Being in nature is one of my favorite things to do, especially when I get to spend my time out on the trails. Popular trails are becoming more crowded then they ever have before, and unknown trails are being discovered.
With more people getting outside especially right now, knowing the ins and outs of what good trail etiquette looks like is important for maintaining a positive trail atmosphere. Lately, I have been running into some frustrating encounters on the trail. When you adventure on a trail there are some simple etiquette practices that you should follow. Here’s a refresher on trail etiquette that every hiker should keep in mind.
1. Horses, hikers, and bikers
The hierarch of the trail is important. Horses have priority, followed by hikers and then bikers. Always check to see what kinds of travelers you will be sharing the trail with. If bikes or horses are allowed, you should be prepared to encounter them.
Pro Tip: I always yield to bikers, they’re moving so fast I don’t want to cause anyone to get hurt so I just step aside.
2. Yield to uphill traffic
Going uphill is hard work and changing up your speed because someone is coming down can ruin anyone’s momentum. That is why people traveling uphill have the right away and you should always yield to them.
Pro Tip: Sometimes people will take the opportunity to stop and catch their breath, that should be the choice of the hiker who is going up the hill.
3. Stay to the right, pass on the left
Just like the rules of the road. If you want to pass someone from behind, get their attention by shouting out “on your left.”
4. Leave no trace
Clean up after yourself, even things like apple cores and banana peels can take some time to decompose so take them with you. The same goes for cleaning up after your dog if you bring one with you. There is nothing worse than stepping in a pile of dog poop. Also, stay on the trail. It’s there for a reason.
Pro Tip: Banana peels take about a month to decompose so take it with you.
5. Be friendly
Everyone is out on the trail to have a good time. Be friendly and say “hello” to those you encounter on the trail. However, if you don’t feel comfortable around another hiker, just keep it moving.
6. Tech and the trail
Whether you’re listening to music or taking pictures and/or videos be aware of your surroundings. Make sure you’re not blocking the trail or holding other hikers up. Music should be played through headphones, and not your phone’s speaker. Hiking allows you to get away from, the annoyances of everyday life. Enjoy yourself while you’re out on the trail, and don’t be wrapped up in social media while you adventure.
7. Keep your dog leashed and under control
If you are bringing your dog with you, make sure you keep him/her leashed and under control. While I love dogs, I also don’t trust them at all times. Also, some people have a legitimate fear of dogs, especially larger ones so be sure to respect other hikers.
8. Do not disturb wildlife
Just like you need your space, wildlife requires it’s space. Keep your distance from the wildlife you encounter.
9. Be aware of your surroundings
Know the rules of hiking in specific areas. For instance, hiking in bear country and knowing what to do if you encounter a bear on the trail will be critical.