Trail etiquette is something you should defiantly familiarize yourself with before you start out on a hike. While most parks or locations have rules you must follow while on their property, there are also unspoken rules knows as trail etiquette that should be followed as well.
Knowing trail etiquette will not only make your time on the trails more enjoyable but will also help to keep you and others that are out on the trail safe.
- Keep dogs on a short leash – This is important! Dogs need to be kept on a short leash and in your control at all times. This is not only for the safety of fellow trail users but also for the safety of your beloved pet. You may love the dickens out of your fur baby, but most trail users won’t and it’s rude to allow your pet to interfere with other trail users. I for one get extremely irritated when a dog runs up and jumps on me while I am in the middle of a hike. I have actually had dogs jump on me, knock me down, and growl at me; all the while their owners just say “oh don’t worry, he’s friendly'”. So keep those fur babies on a leash! They should never be allowed to interfere with other trail users!
- Step aside on a downhill slope – If you are hiking downhill, the person going uphill has the right of way. Step off to the side and allow them to pass. The thought process behind this is that the person going uphill is working harder and needs to keep the momentum to reach the top than the person that is traveling downhill.
- Yield the right of way to horses and bikers – In simple terms, they are bigger and it’s harder for them to stop and/or move over. You should move over when you see them approach or when they notify you that they are approaching from behind. Proper etiquette states that when it is hikers vs. bikers that hikers have the right of way, but lets face it the bikes are bigger and are moving faster, so hikers should yield the right of way to them. However, bikers should not always expect it as common etiquette states that bikers will yield to hikers. If you come upon a horse, move over and in a calm voice talk to the rider so the horse is aware of your presence.
- Take a walk and bury the poop – That goes for both you and your pet. You should walk at least 200 ft from a trail (that’s about 80 human adult paces), campsite, or body of water to do your business. Dig a hole 6-8 inches deep, do your business, and then cover it up. If your pup needs to take care of business either pick it up and carry it out or bury it like you would human waste (200 ft from the trail).
- Keep noise to a minimum – You should keep all noise to a minimum, as to not disturb other hikers or animals. This includes your voice level. Remember to turn cell phones down or off while on the trail.
- Take your trash with you – Nothing is more irritating (other than a strange dog jumping on you) than to see trash on the trails. If you pack it in, then pack it out. If you need to, carry a plastic bag with you to put trash in so it doesn’t soil other items in your backpack. You should never throw trash (or food) on the trails.
- Allow groups to pass – If you come upon a group of hikers, step aside and allow them to pass. It’s easier for you to move over than it is an entire group.
- Leave the cairns alone – Don’t know what a cairn is? Brush up on your hiking terms here. While cairns are against the Leave No Trace initiative they should still be left alone as many hikers use them to find their way.
- Announce your approach – If you are approaching someone from the rear make sure to announce your approach with a simple “hello” or “approaching”. If you are approaching to pass a simple “passing on the left” will suffice.
- Stay to the right, pass on the left – Much like the roadway, when you are being passed you should stay to the right of the trail, and if you are the one doing the passing then you should pass on the left.
- Hike single file – When hiking as a group, always hike single file and stay on the trail. You should never take up more than half the trail.
- Say hello and be friendly – No one likes Mr. grouchy pants. Always say hello to follow trail users. Doing so allows other trail users to remember you, which may come in handy if you get lost or hurt on the trail.
- Move off the trail for a break – If you need a break, remember to move off the trail a ways so as not to obstruct the trail from other users.
- Leave what you find – Leave nature where it belongs and only bring back photographs and memories.
- Walk through puddles, not around them – Yea you might get muddy, but you should always walk through the puddles unless you can walk around them and still be on the trail. You should not walk off the trail to get around a puddle.
- Don’t feed or chase wildlife – Leave them alone. Feeding them and chasing them screws them up in the head and then they end up having huge psychotic meltdowns and have to see a psychiatrist.
- Stay on the trail – Unless you need to do your business or take a break, stay on the trail. It follows the leave not trace initiative. Vearing off the trail can cause damage to fragile plants, erode trails, and can hurt others that may be below you by loosening rocks and causing them to fall.
Have I missed any? Leave a comment below and let me know!