Trail Etiquette We Should All Practice

August 9, 2016

Knowing these bits of trail etiquette will help us all get along as we get around in the outdoors. Common sense and some courtesy allow everyone to enjoy the wilderness.

Stay on the trail. Avoid walking around puddles and mud so you don’t widen the trail. If you are part of a group, hike single file to lessen your impact. If there is no trail, spread your group out a bit so you don’t create a worn path.

Don’t use or create cut-throughs on switchbacks. This increases the chance of further erosion.

Follow Leave No Trace principles. Dispose of waste properly, minimize your impact, leave what you find, respect wildlife, etc.

Travel quietly so others can enjoy the wilderness experience. For example, don’t blast your music.

Don’t take breaks on the trail where you would block the travel of others. Find a durable surface off to the side.

Don’t take bathroom breaks on the trail. Move about 200 feet, or about 40 adult paces, off trail and out of sight. Bury your waste.

Right of way trail etiquette

Yield the right of way when it’s called for. Hikers traveling downhill should give way to those going uphill. The hiker going uphill usually has a smaller field of view and might have a steady pace going. However, sometimes the uphill hiker wants a breather, so let that person decide. Faster hikers overtaking others should announce themselves, then the slower party should allow them to pass. Because mountain bikers are moving so fast, hikers usually yield the right way. When encountering those on horseback, hikers should step to the downhill side of the trail and give way. Don’t make any sudden movements and keep your voice calm to prevent spooking the horse.

Be courteous but be safe

Be safety conscious but don’t be rude. Greet fellow hikers with at least a simple hello. When people traveling in opposite directions meet, sometimes it’s a good idea to share information about trail conditions or water sources. However, get moving again if someone makes you feel uneasy.

If everyone participates in following a more courteous code of conduct, all backcountry users benefit.