4 Common Sense Pointers for Hiking Trail Etiquette

By Leanne Arnott  


Have you ever gone hiking and come across a fellow hiker that won't move over to let you pass on the trail? Or you find you're following a trail of snack wrappers, garbage and unsightly used toilet paper?

So you don't:

a) gross out fellow hikers and:
b) Respect the environment and the rest of us please follow some basic hiking etiquette and common sense.

1) Stay on the trail -- Trails have been created for a reason. They protect the surrounding area from mass trampling and destruction and maintain easier access into the area you are hiking.

Do not take any shortcuts that deviate from the trail. That means no shortcutting on switchbacks, no walking beside any manmade stairs and absolutely no trampling on any alpine or subalpine meadows. (Some of these flowers and shrubs can take up to 50 years to grow).

If you need to pass a slower hiker or someone wants to pass you make sure you let him or her pass. There's nothing more frustrating when hiking than another hiker who hogs the trail. Move over, let them pass and continue enjoying your hike.

2) Pack out what you pack in -- There's no need to leave a trail of garbage or anything else along the trail or anywhere in the area.

Bring along a small zip lock bag to place all of your garbage into while you're hiking. Seeing garbage along the trail is both unsightly for fellow hikers and potentially dangerous as it can attract a number of animals including bears.

3) Leave no trace, take only memories and pictures -- Do not pick any flowers or shrubs. In fact do not pick anything from the environment you're hiking in. Not even rocks. These are all part of the area you are in, many of them take decades to grow, they are all part of the eco system and it is only selfishness that can potentially create a depletion. If you are tempted then think about it this way: If every person hiking where you are took or picked the same thing, how long would it take until there is nothing left.

Remember too that the wildlife living there depend on the preservation of their natural environment for survival. Let's not mess it up.

4) To pee or not to pee -- We all need to do it; it's just a matter of where. If there are restrooms you're in luck but if you're hiking more in the backcountry a little use of discretion is highly recommended. Nobody wants to see your wads of toilet paper or anything else for that matter so please do your business at least 150 feet away from the trail, stream, lake or any other body of water. If you're experiencing a bowel movement (this happens too, especially day or multi day hiking), dig a shallow hole first and bury your you-know-what. Pack out your used toilet paper too.

Following these four basic hiking trail pointers will keep fellow hikers from growling like bears at you and help to keep our hiking areas in better condition for all of us and the animals that live there.

Happy Hiking!

The Importance of the Plan - Safety in Hiking

By Jeremy P Stanfords  


Nature fascinates, of that there is no doubt.

It beckons many to its pathways and canopy corners, entreating long walks and longer days. But those days can quickly turn to folly if precautions are not taken. The purpose of an afternoon may be relaxation, but that does not preclude good sense. A hiking trail is more than just an excuse for exercise, after all; it is a reason to be careful.

Before any trip is attempted, consider always these easy steps:

One: know the location. Before venturing anywhere do simple research to learn the hours, trail ratings and rules of a park or walking area. Spontaneity may excite but it can also bring complications. It's better to plan.

Two: Check the weather. An all too easy mistake is to think of everything but the sun. Look to the forecast and avoid traveling with high chances of storms or too high temperatures. The woods will not appeal if they're soaked in humidity.

Three: Find a companion. Often a hiking trail provides solitude, a chance to just... breathe. There's no comfort, though, in being alone if an accident should occur. Even a bruised ankle (and an even more bruised ego) could become a difficulty without help. Try instead to move in groups. Sacrifice the quiet for the practicality.

Four: Tell someone. This is not to be a secret. Share the schedule before leaving, offering the intended arrival and return times. Do not just wander on a whim. Let others know. This becomes the best defense against any possible problems.

Five: Pack the right supplies. Never assume the day will be perfect. Never think there is nothing needed beyond the open air. Always bring (at least) water, a cell-phone, a coat, insect repellent and some form of first-aid kit. Carrying a pack, even a small one, will allow for easier toting. Prepare for the unexpected.

Six: Understand limitations. Novice hikers should never challenge advanced trails. The very young should never be forced to match the pace of adults. And even the experienced walker must still remember the importance of turning back. It is better to underestimate than overindulge. Resilience is a gradual thing. Have patience and it will come.

These are not bold suggestions. They are not even difficult. But they become invaluable to insure safety and comfort, which should always be the main concerns; even more than thrills.

Nature does not lose its wonder by simply applying sense, it merely becomes accessible and that is always needed.