Trail Etiquette

The past few hikes I have noticed an increasing number of people on the trail which I love to see. However, I also noticed a lack of good hiking etiquette and that got me thinking those hiking might not be aware such a thing exists. As a beginner hiker myself the thought never occurred to me there might be a set of unspoken rules on the trail until I experienced my first encounter. I was hiking downhill and didn’t yield to the hiker coming uphill. He was very polite but also reminded me that he had the right of way. I apologized we said our good byes and carried on with our own adventure. The remainder of the hike I thought about that encounter and wanted to know if there are other things that I am not doing that I should be. I wanted to know what other common unsaid “rules” are observed on the I did what most would do and googled it when I got home. I was pleasantly surprised to find a wealth of information on the subject matter through several articles and blogs. Now I will pass along what I have learned and condense to the items I have found most helpful in my trail adventures. Below are a few of those hiking trail good practices to follow and keep in mind when you are "getting the fox out there."  


Trail Traffic

  1. Hikers going downhill yield to hikers going uphill.
  2. Stay to the right and pass on the left.
  3. Hiking right of way, it goes horses, hikers and then bikers. Hikers should safely move out of the way of those on horseback. Mountain bikers should always yield to hikers (see image above).
  4. Don’t obstruct the trail, if you need to take a break please move off to the side of the trial providing a way to allow others to pass by.
  5. Larger groups should hike in a single file line.
  6. Solo hikers should give way to larger groups who are hiking in a single file line.
  7. Stay on the trail and not to wonder off creating/cutting new trails.
  8. Leave the rock cairns alone, don’t add or remove any rocks they are serving a navigational purpose.

Trail Dogs

  1. Hike on dog friendly trails and keep control of your animal.
  2. Keep dogs on their leash if signs are posted to have animals leashed.
  3. If trail is permitting off leash dogs, please always keep your dog within a line of sight and under control.
  4. Keep your dogs on trail so they don’t bother the wildlife or disturb the flora and fauna.
  5. Clean up after your pet and don’t leave your poop bags laying on the side of the trail for others to pick up (even if you plan on picking it up on your way out).
  6. Bring plenty of water for your pet, they get overheated and need water just like us.
  7. Check the climate and terrain of where you are hiking with your furry friend, make sure you are not hiking in the dead heat, middle of the day on a trail with no shade.

Trail Behavior

  1. Have a trail plan before the hike, let someone you know you are going on the hike, approximate time expected to be back and where for safety reasons if something does go wrong on your day trip or overnighter.
  2. Be friendly to other hikers are again this is for safety reasons so if a rescue is needed other hikers can help direct the rescuers to you. Also, you can find out trail conditions ahead and do the same in turn for other hikers.
  3. Hike quietly, speaking in low voices and turn your cell phone down, if not off. This is the time we all like to escape from it all and enjoy the sounds of nature while allowing other hikers, bikers and trail goers to the to same.
  4. Trail potty time, sometimes we just can’t hold it until getting back to the trail head so remember if nature calls be sure to do so 200 feet ways from the trail and any water sources.
  5. Leave No Trace – don’t toss your trash even it if is biodegradable like food items such as apple cores, banana or orange peels. It is not good for animals to eat non-native foods and who wants to look at your old remains while it slowly decomposes. If you pack it in, then pack it out.

Comment on this post (1 comment)

  • Gary says...

    While waiting for horseback riders and their horses to pass on the trail, a hiker should move off the trail a respectable and safe distance, and continue (or start) talking. Horses eyesight is such that they don’t recognize hikers with their backpacks and other gear on as being humans, which can spook the horse and place the rider at risk. Take the opportunity to say hello to the rider or riders and compliment their horses.

    February 06, 2019

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