Ahh… hiking etiquette. Simple rules that many don’t follow. Maybe it’s because they don’t know them or because they choose to not follow them. Whatever it may be, let’s take a look at what some of them are.
Pack In → Pack Out
Whatever you take on the trail with you, make sure you carry it back out with you. Trash, pet waste bags, food, cigarettes, etc. We all know the phrase about leaving the place cleaner than you found it, and the outdoors is no different! If you’re already good about cleaning up after yourself, I encourage you to look around you on your hike and find trash that others have left behind. Sadly, you’re very likely to come across trash at some point. Scraps of food, glass, or even plastic bottles can be very harmful or deadly to the wildlife around us. Keep the environment and animals safe by cleaning up!
Probably one of the most important rules to know while on the trails is who has the right of way.
Hikers and Bikers. When it comes to hikers and bikers, the bikers are always supposed to yield to the foot traffic. However, this rarely happens. Bikers are usually moving so fast down the hills that they often can’t or won’t stop. Because of this, it’s easier for hikers to quickly get out of the way. If you’re on foot, be aware of your surroundings and be watching for bikes if you suspect you will come across some.
Horses and Hikers. For horses, it is always the safest option for hikers to yield. Horses can easily get spooked so make yourself known to the riders and horses. Simply go off to the side of the trail and let them pass. Don’t try to pet them or talk to them unless the owners say you can. Sometimes, the owner might give instructions on how to pass or what to do if their horse is scared, so be ready for that.
Dogs and Hikers. When it comes to hiking with dogs, you are always to yield to everyone else. Pull off to the side if you see people coming towards you. Some people don’t like dogs, so they don’t want one approaching them on their hike.
Hikers and Hikers. This one is very simple. If you’re going down and someone is going up, always yield to the traffic going uphill. However, if it’s more flat, it works just like the road. Stay to the right and people will pass to the left.
Bringing Dogs on Your Hike
First and foremost, please, for the love of all things good, if your dog is aggressive or reactive in any way, leave it at home!
Second, keep your dog on a leash! Now, I’m all for letting your dog off-leash if it has a good recall. I tend to let my dog walk off-leash because she always stays close by and comes when called. When she’s off, I am very aware of what’s around. If you see or hear a person coming, please put your dog on leash. It’s incredibly unsafe to let your dog just run up to someone or even other dogs, which leads to the next point.
Never let your dog run up to other dogs. This is SO unsafe! It doesn’t matter how friendly your dog is, it should never be allowed to just run up to someone else’s dog. Not everyone’s dog is like your dog. When you pass by another dog, don’t even let them sniff each other. You should pull off as far as you can to the side and let the others pass. However, if both owners have agreed that their dogs are friendly, and they are showing signs of playful behavior, you can allow them to meet. Still, be sure to keep it controlled and safe.
Respect Nature and Those Around You
Respecting Nature. When you’re out on a hike, please leave what you find. Don’t pick flowers, carve trees, etc. Always be sure to stay on the designated trail. Going off of your trail could be detrimental to the environment around you… even if it would make for a good Instagram post.
Respecting Other Hikers. Hiking is meant to be peaceful and quiet. When you are out on a trail, try to stay quiet. You don’t have to whisper, of course, but don’t yell and disturb other hikers. Try to keep phone use to a minimum. If you’re taking a picture, don’t get in the way of those passing through. If you are stopped on the trail, move off to the side, so others can go around. Also, always be friendly by saying hi to the people you pass.
Hiking is meant to be fun and enjoyable. However, it’s also important to have proper etiquette, so that it can be those things. Hopefully we can all put these rules into better practice so that we can have fun and hike on!