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Hiking Rules & Trail Etiquette

Hiking Rules & Trail Etiquette There are some very basic Hiking Rules and Trail Etiquette that ensure that your Hiking experience does not damage the natural environment or the experience of fellow hikers. They are all common sense and they take little to no effort to follow. Be a good ambassador of Hiking and take the following guidelines into account:

Before you go Hiking
  • Know your own Physical, Mental and Technical Abilities and your Restrictions. Adjust your plans accordingly. In this way, you can prevent problems that might cause personal injuries or injuries to others.

  • Make sure you are well-informed about the trails you will take, the Hiking Terrain Conditions as well as Hiking Weather Conditions. Have a detailed and up to date Hiking Map with you. Check with local authorities for last minute updates and firsthand information.

  • Make sure to be well-equipped for your intended hike and Terrain/Weather conditions. Take enough food and drinks for your intended hike. You may also bring more if you want.

  • Inform people of your itinerary and your expected time of return. If possible, call those who are not joining you at regular intervals so they know where you are.

  • Avoid hiking alone. Hike in a Group consisting of at least two fellow hikers. In case of an accident, one person will then be able to stay with the injured while the other goes for help.
While Hiking
  • Be environmentally aware. Natural environments that facilitate great Hiking experiences are being threatened enough as it is so do not add to this. Do not damage any flora and fauna that you may encounter.

  • Do not litter. Take all your waste with you and if you should stumble on somebody else’s waste, be the better person and take it with you. Organic material, though decomposable, should be buried or taken with you to avoid animal feeding on it. All you should leave are your footsteps.

  • Urinate at a fair distance from the trail and possible water sources. For bigger ‘contributions’, make sure to dig a hole. Use any fuel to burn any toilet paper that you might have used. Extinguish the fire and cover up the hole.

  • If you are going to use soap or detergent for washing yourself or clothes, make sure to do it at least 100 meters from the nearest water source. Use biodegradable products.

  • Stay on the trails and do not go wandering off. By using the trails, you ensure that you will not further disturb nature and it will minimize the chances of getting lost.

  • If you notice any damage to the trail or trail signs, make sure to note down the exact location and notify the proper authorities. Damaged or destroyed trails or trail signs can cause serious difficulties for other hikers.

  • Do not disturb the environment by shouting or playing loud music. People go back to nature for the peace it can offer.

  • If you plan to camp, make sure that you know the local regulations concerning camping and making fire. Many places will have designated camping/fire areas and it is often illegal to camp or make fire outside of these designated areas.

  • Make sure you know the local regulations regarding fishing/hunting before you do so. In most cases, you will need a local permit to fish or hunt.

  • If you plan to take your dog along for your hikes then make sure to check local regulations and keep your dog on a leash at all times if the local regulations require you to do so.

These are some points to consider regarding Hiking Etiquette. In general, adhere to the local regulations and to the regulations of your own conscience. Remember that you only get what you give so do nothing that may harm other hikers as well as the environment.

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Article Comments
Hiking Equipment
Friday 26th February 2010 at 10:33:42 AM  

Hello, I try my best to follow the etiquette you have outlined. I find it quite upsetting when I visit outdoor places (be it in the city or in the countryside) and find evidence of other people not following the “Leave No Trace” philosophy. What can be done other than educate people? Regards

Saturday 18th September 2010 at 1:23:38 PM  

I am a brand new hiker. I have a question re: etiquette. When a trail is only wide enough for one person and three or four are approaching you -who should yield? The one going up or down?

Wednesday 29th September 2010 at 7:51:39 PM  

I believe the answer to your question is that the person traveling uphill has the right-of-way

Monday 6th December 2010 at 7:58:41 AM  

Hikers traveling downhill should yield to uphill hikers. It is amazing to me that even many "experienced" hikers have no clue about this rule. I''ve had friendly discussions on the trail with some rather smug individuals who swear it''s the other way around and they should know better.

Always yield to the uphill traveler, unless they would rather rest and let you through.

Wednesday 29th December 2010 at 10:53:23 AM  

Sorry, but I feel you are wrong. I have been hiking for 44 years now and the same rules apply to hikers as to drivers. ALWAYS yield to the hiker coming down hill. When hiking up hill you have more control then a hiker coming down. It''s common sense and common courtesy.

Monday 10th January 2011 at 8:30:04 PM  

Sorry Shannon, the person traveling up hill has the right of way. The logic is inertia, it is harder to to restart after stopping. Although most times the person coming up the hill will be more than glad to stop for a second to catch their breath and environmental issues may make the uphill yield, like slippery rocks, steep grade, or the downhill is committed before seeing the uphill. It all comes down to just try to be friendly.

David M.
Wednesday 3rd August 2011 at 3:36:13 PM  

It seems sensible to me to allow the larger of the two groups to have the right of way. It''s just easier. Myself, I always offer the other person or group to have the right of way. At least one third of the time, the other insists that I go by. Anytime that you are offering consideration to another you take potential for conflict right out of the way. And...i almost 100 percent of the time receive a smile for it!

Bikram Boro
Tuesday 31st January 2012 at 9:44:02 AM  

At first Happy New Year to all your "abc of HIKING" family.
Hello, i am belonging to Guwahati, Assam- India. I have newly formed a Adventure Club in my territory for the youth just recent. And really i got lots of knowledge from your website. Here by i would like to thank you for help others like this tips of way. God Bless you all.

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