Trail Etiquette 101: 5 Basic Rules Every Hiker Should Take Note

Trail etiquettes are there for a reason. Not only does it mean respecting other hikers and adventurers, but it could also mean safety for everyone along the trail.

Let’s be honest: We all want to have a ball of a time when hiking. We don’t want to deal with rude behavior along the way because it could dampen our spirits. 

If you don’t want that happening to you, you should take the initiative to be respectful to other people and apply what you believe is appropriate.

It doesn’t mean that you have to be all friendly and chit-chatty to other hikers. Just be your best self, and everything else will follow.

While we all wish for a safe and secure hiking trip, we should also consider our attitude on the trail. We might not know it, but it could jeopardize our whole experience.

These etiquettes are basic rules that we often overlook and take for granted. Believe it or not, these basic rules are sometimes the only thing that’s keeping us safe from any harm.

Now that we’ve laid down the general know-hows for you, we’re ready to take this discussion into a more detailed one. Here is a list of five basic rules that you should never forget when hiking:

Step aside on slopes

Hikers tend to look down at their footing when climbing up a slope. Of course, we all want to be sure about the steps we are taking to avoid injuries.

Given this fact, it’s best to give the right of way to those going up the slopes.

If you’re already on your way down, step aside and allow the hikers going up to take the slope first. This way, you’ll both be doing each other a favor — lesser chances of bumping into each other and potentially harming yourself.

Speaking of slopes, we highly recommend purchasing hiking poles for your next trip. It can help you traverse slopes easier.

Let cairns be

Cairns are stunning. We get that. And we’re sometimes tempted to take a closer look by touching them.

While there’s no written “no touching” rule about the cairns we find during our hiking trips, it’s a fundamental respect for these human-made piles of rock to be admired from afar. You don’t need to re-arrange them or, worse, topple them over.

Hikers sometimes use it as a location mark, so it’s best if we leave them be. We don’t want to be the cause of miscalculation of steps for other hikers.

Say hello to other hikers

You pretty much know by now that there’s a huge probability that you will encounter other hikers during your trip. You can’t expect to be alone on your hike, especially when you’re taking national parks and public trails.

This basic rule doesn’t require you to start a conversation with other hikers. You only need to be decent enough to say hello to the people you pass along the way.

A simple hello could make someone smile, especially those who are on the verge of giving up on their hike. It could brighten someone’s day, so take that chance.

Leave no trace

You probably have seen many times as a sign of warning on trails and parks. But that reminder isn’t enough for some hikers, so we’re putting it here: The trail is not a vast depository of waste.

This is nature we’re talking about here. It’s basic human decency to properly dispose of your trash like snack wrappers, papers, or even food waste—especially when you’re camping for days.

Even your campfire should be well taken care of. You must learn how to handle it carefully without leaving a trace or marks of fire once you put it out.

We all should learn to respect our surroundings because we need to maintain it for the next generation to experience.

Take care of your dog

If you’re bringing your dog with you, make sure to be responsible for all their actions. It’s also your job to keep them safe from harm.

Taking a dog to your hike is an excellent task that needs focus and attention. Please don’t be complacent about it.

You must bring essential items to keep them hydrated. More so, you should also bring poo bags for when they do their thing.

Don’t expect nature to do the cleaning for you. You’re the owner; it is your accountability.

Sum Up

You might think that these are pretty obvious points. But hey, ask yourself, do you apply these rules when you go hiking? 

If you doubt yourself even for just a second, then that’s where the purpose of this discussion comes in. It serves as a stern reminder for all you hikers out there to be mindful of your actions and attitude towards other people and the environment.

You don’t need much effort to follow these basic rules. It should be part of your reflex by now if you love hiking.

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