As someone who hikes fairly frequently, I have noticed a marked increase in trail use over the last 10 years. Like all activities involving the human race, more people can sometimes equal more rudeness, carelessness and frustration, most of which can be virtually eliminated by adhering to a few (mostly) unspoken rules.
For instance, who has the right of way on a trail?
The hierarchy so to speak goes like this:
- Bikers yield to hikers. That being said, I have often stepped out of the way of a stream of bikers furiously peddling along the path-it’s just easier.
- Hikers yield to horses- although that is something I have yet to see a horse on a trail in Nova Scotia.
Hiking Etiquette When hiking with others:
- Like bikers, hikers are supposed to travel single file. If it’s a wide trail,hikers can ignore this.
- Keep to the right side of the trail when you are being passed, and step to the left of someone you intend to pass. A little warning is nice-something such ” Hi, passing on your left” in case someone is deep in thought. You don’t want to scare some out of their skin.
- When descending a hill, any oncoming uphill hikers have the right of way. If the uphill hiker is me, I may step out of the way just to have an excuse for a breather.
- Let faster hikers pass. And pass slower hikers. Pass me pleeeaasse.I am going this pace to enjoy my surroundings. Everyone should be able to go at the pace they best prefer.
- Quiet is better. Many use hiking in nature as a way to escape the maddening crowd and all it’s hubbub.
- Although it may be tempting to leave your mark, many parks discourage rock stacking. Keeping the trail ‘footprint’ natural includes staying on the trail, refraining from picking flowers, making sure to pack out garbage and not changing the landscape in any artificial way.
- When taking pictures or a break, move off the trail when other hikers are coming.
- Speaking of others, it’s common courtesy to at least nod hello when meeting others along the trail. In saying that though, don’t hold hikers hostage with lengthy conversations unless it’s something both parties seem to be enjoying.
Hiking Etiquette When Hiking with Pets
- I am all for letting my dog run off leash, but in many areas it’s not permitted. Some people afraid of dogs, often with good reason.Sometimes other dogs are afraid of dogs, or are aggressive towards other dogs. Keep your pet and others safe. Check the rules-there are usually signs at the trail head.
- Please clean up after your pet. Yes, it’s gross to carry a bag of doggie doo with you but how much more is it to have your beautiful hike spoiled with unsightly heaps of you-know-what. Just do it.
- If you are lucky enough to be in an area that allows your pet to be off leash or if you are hiking with a group that allows dogs off -leash, please make sure they are under your control. The dogs, not the group.
- Pack out your garbage. Please don’t spoil my hike with your coffee cups and I won’t spoil yours. Ok?
- Stay on the path. No sense squashing more flowers and grass than necessary and that’s what happens when we wander off path-or walk 3 or 4 abreast.
- Let someone know where you are going and hiking alone is usually not a great idea. People worry, you know?
- Be prepared. Here’s a list of the minimum gear you should carry on a day hike.
- Above all enjoy your time in nature
Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.