There are a few unspoken rules that come along with trails and hiking that you won’t see posted on the trail signs. Proper hiking etiquette not only helps all trail users have a positive experience but it also helps steward the trails for years to come.
Here are 7 tips to not be “that person” on the trails.
1. Right of way
Knowing who has the right of way while hiking can feel like one big game of rock, paper, scissors. But it doesn’t have to be so hard. Just remember: Horses first, hikers second, then bikers.
When hikers are passing each other, the uphill hiker has the right of way. When mountain bikers and hikers pass each other, bikers are expected to yield. However, it may be easier for the hiker to yield if the biker is coming in with some speed. Communication will do wonders if you are thinking twice about who has the right of way.
2. Be prepared
Doing your research is essential for any length of hike. Being underprepared could put yourself and others at risk. You should know how far your hike is, how much water and food you’ll need, how to navigate the trail, and what first-aid equipment you should bring (and how to use it).
3. Stay on the path
- even if it’s muddy. It’s what your hiking shoes are made to do! If your shoes aren’t equipped to take on mud, they’re probably not the best choice for hiking. Hiking off of the path can cause damage to the trail and disturb fragile vegetation around it.
4. Don’t litter
With more people getting out on the trails (which we love!), it’s important to be even more mindful of what’s getting left behind. Take all your trash with you, even things that came from the earth like fruit peels, apple cores, or carrot sticks.
5. Hike on dog-friendly trails if you bring your furry friend
Do research beforehand if you plan on bringing your furry friend on your hike. Not all trails are dog-friendly and the ones that are, probably require leashes. Pack out your dog’s waste and put it in the trash to respect wildlife and other hikers.
6. Don’t disturb wildlife
Wildlife is just that. Wild. Never try to pet or feed wild animals. They are unpredictable when they’re surprised or disturbed and can cause harm to you or those around you. Play it safe and give wildlife as much space as possible.
7. Hike quietly
Even if you’re in a large group, make a point to enjoy the sounds of nature and hike in low voices (unless you’re in bear country - learn how to hike in bear country at National Park Service’s website).
Wherever and however you get out on the trail, make sure to respect others and take in the beauty that is the great outdoors!
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