Nothing compares to a day spent in the great outdoors. With the sun shining down and the birds chirping around you, the wilderness is a wonderful place to be. Unfortunately, you may not always have the great outdoors all to yourself. When sharing the trail with other hikers, the things you do can have an impact on their experience as well as your own. Keep reading to learn six simple rules for trail etiquette that you should practice on your next hike.
1. Allow Others to Pass
In the same way that vehicular traffic comes with certain rules for right of way, there are also rules for hiking. If you’re moving more slowly than someone traveling in the same direction, step aside to let them pass – you should also step off the trail if you’re taking a break. When descending a steep slope, step aside to let hikers pass who are ascending – ascending takes more energy than descending, so it is polite to give them the right of way.
2. Don’t Disturb Anything
When hiking in the great outdoors you should be respectful of nature but there are other things that should be left alone as well. For example, if another hiker has created a cairn to mark the trail, be respectful and leave it be. You should also be mindful of not leaving anything behind yourself – dispose of trash properly, even things that are biodegradable.
3. Be Polite to Other Hikers
If you’re hiking to get away from it all you probably enjoy the solitude, but you can’t always expect to have the great outdoors to yourself. If you come across another hiker on the trail, you don’t necessarily have to stop for a length conversation, but you should at least be polite and say hello. It’s also a good idea to share important information about the trail, if you have it – a warning about a hazard up ahead or other pertinent information.
4. Leave No Trace
There are specific rules for hikers to “leave no trace” but the most important have to do with the disposal of human waste. If you need to relieve yourself, move at least 200 feet from any trail, campsite, or body of water before digging a hole. To give you an idea, 200 feet is about 40 paces for the average adult. It never hurts to take a few extra paces, either.
5. Put Your Phone Away
The whole point of being in the great outdoors is to be in the great outdoors, so don’t ruin it by spending the whole time on your phone! You can snap a few pictures, maybe check the weather forecast, but otherwise you should disconnect and put the phone away.
6. Be Responsible with Pets
If you’re bringing a dog with you on the trail, be prepared to clean up after him. Always keep your dog on a leash to prevent him from running off the trail and disturbing wildlife. Keep in mind as well that, as much as you love your dog, other hikers might not so keep your dog close.
Whether you’re out for the day or taking an extended hiking trip, it never hurts to brush up on your trail etiquette. When you follow the rules, it makes for a more pleasant experience for everyone.