Basics - Trail Etiquette

Even though what most of us hikers enjoy on the trail is a good share of peace and solitude, we know that we’ll eventually end up sharing the trail with others. That’s why good trail etiquette is an important skill to make things more pleasant for everyone.

Trail Etiquette Tip 1 – Say Hello

Hiking is a social activity and a simple “hello” can go a long way toward fostering a positive and friendly atmosphere on the trail. Also, if you’re about to pass a hiker from behind, saying “hi” is a good way to announce your presence. Finally, it’s important to remember that hiking entails risks, that’s why greeting people on the trail will help you be remembered in case something goes wrong or you go missing.

Trail Etiquette Tip 2 – The Slowest Hiker Should Lead

One of the basic principles of hiking as a group is to keep everyone together. If you have the fastest hiker leading the group, they’ll leave the slowest hikers behind and, unless they’re constantly looking behind to check, it could be several minutes before anyone realizes someone is having issues.

For safety, have the slowest hiker lead. That way if they have to stop, the whole group can stop together.

Trail Etiquette Tip 3 – Tech on the trail

One of the greatest things the wilderness has to offer is that chance to get away from the noise and annoyances of everyday life. Phones are good to have on in case of an emergency, but their use should be limited to such. If you have to make a call or want to take a picture, always be mindful of your surroundings and find a safe place to do so, where you won’t disturb others. When it comes to music, make sure you bring your headphones so that only you can hear your music. Remember to keep your music quiet enough, so that you can still hear others on the trail.

Trail Etiquette Tip 4 – Leave No Trace

The Center for Outdoor Ethics has created a list of seven rules everyone should follow to minimize their impact on nature. There’s a lot to go over, mainly about the dispose of waste, minimizing campfire impacts, and respecting wildlife. Just follow the link to check it out, and when in doubt, remember this mantra: take only photographs, leave only footprints.

Trail Etiquette Tip 5 – Step Aside to Take Breaks

If you are tired and want to get a snack or drink you shouldn’t go too far off of the main trail, but neither should you stop in the middle of the trail. Make sure you step aside so others can easily pass you. Ultimately, simply remember the old adage, “treat others like you would like to be treated”. Be friendly to others you encounter on the trail and they will return your friendliness.

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