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Trail Etiquette

January 8, 2021

Trail Etiquette

Written by Katy Ward, Outdoor Adventure Manager

When you hit the trails, you are probably looking for some quality time in the peaceful wilderness. Chances are, you will run into someone else with the same mindset. You’ll have to share the trail, but who is supposed to step off and let the other pass? Do you just both awkwardly squeeze through a space meant for one person? Or do you both step off and do a little dance until someone quickly walks through, avoiding eye contact? Believe it or not, there is a proper way to handle this situation.

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Hiker v. Hiker

You’re hiking to the top, pushing for your destination and someone is coming down the trail in front of you. What do you do? Proper etiquette says that you have the right of way. Hikers headed away from the hike’s destination should move to the side, allowing upwards hikers to pass. This is because the hike up is almost always harder than the hike down. It boils down to common courtesy; if you have seen the views, allow others to get there too.

When hiking in a group, be sure to be kind. Stay in a single file line as much as possible, but especially when others are common. Keep voices low, allowing others to enjoy the sounds of nature. Avoid playing music through a loudspeaker of any kind. This can be disruptive for others and for yourself. Take your time in the woods to listen to the noises God has melded into a beautiful song.

Hiker v. Biker

Avid mountain bikers can zip around corners and down trails, which can be intimidating to a hiker. The first instinct is for the hiker to move to the side, but etiquette has the biker yielding to the hiker. Most mountain bikers will call out when they are coming quickly down a path or around a corner, to alert any possible pedestrians.

While proper etiquette says the hiker has the right of way, it is going to be easier for the hiker to move out of the way. It is important for either party to stay alert for each other, to avoid any possible accidents. If it is safer to move out of the way, forget etiquette and stay safe.

Hiker v. Horse

When you are hiking, it is probably rare to run into a horse, but it is not unlikely. If this should happen, correct etiquette allows the horse and rider to pass first, whether they are coming up or down. They are the slower party and horses can be flighty, so it is necessary to let them do their own thing. Hikers should move to the side and admire the beautiful party as they pass.

Remember to be soft and quiet when a horse approaches. You do not know what may trigger them. Stand still and under no circumstances should you reach out to pet the horse unless the rider offers first.

Be Kind. Be Courteous.

Overall, just be kind and treat others as you would like to be treated. If it seems appropriate to move out of the path, even if you have the right of way, just do it. Throw a smile and a “hello” to the passerby and continue your trek as soon as possible. Enjoy the sights and sounds that the woods have to offer.