Hiking is a wonderful way to connect with nature and get some exercise, and it's important to remember that you're sharing the trails with other hikers. Hiking etiquette is all about being respectful of other hikers, the environment, and wildlife. By following these simple rules, you'll be able to enjoy the trail and leave it better than you found it.
Always be prepared for the unexpected and carry 10 essentials with you. Let your family or friends know about the trail you are hiking and the expected time to be back home. I have hiked/backpacked on every continent except Antarctica, and still got lost while coming down the Mount Tenerife’s old trail. It took six hours, and plenty of post-holing to find the trail and as now I am on the King County Search and Rescue team.
Stay on the Trail
This is the most basic rule of hiking etiquette. It's important to stay on the designated trail, even if it means walking through mud or puddles. Not only does it protect the environment, but it also helps prevent erosion.
Yield to Uphill Hikers
Hikers coming uphill have the right of way. If you're descending the trail, step aside and give space to the people climbing up.It's easier for downhill hikers to stop and start again than it is for uphill hikers.
“You need special shoes for hiking—and a bit of a special soul as well”. – unknown
Share the Trail
Remember that you're sharing the trail with other hikers, so be sure to share the space. If you're hiking with a large group, be sure to hike single file to allow others to pass. When hiking with a group, it's important to maintain a safe distance between each other. If you can smell someone's deodorant or sweat, you're probably too close. If you need to stop for a break, step to the side of the trail to allow other hikers to pass.
Leave No Trace
Always pack out what you pack in. Don't leave any trash on the trail, and be sure to dispose of waste properly. This means packing out everything you bring with you, including trash, food wrappers, and even toilet paper.
Don't disturb wildlife or their habitats. Keep your distance, don't approach animals too closely and for goodness sake don't feed them.
Control Your Dog
If you're hiking with a dog, make sure it's under control at all times. If your dog is more interested in sniffing other hikers' butts than the trail, you should probably leave them at home.
Say hello to other hikers and be polite. It's a great way to make new friends and connect with others who share your love of hiking. Besides it is generally good to be polite and smile often.
The best thing you can do when hiking is to remember the golden rule - treat others the way you would want to be treated.
So, pack your bags, lace up your boots, and hit the trail with these hiking etiquette tips in mind!