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Hiking Etiquette

Posted by Sharon Harrington on

If you’re hiking along a narrow trail and a bicyclist is approaching you, what do you do? Who needs to yield when you’re facing another hiker on an incline? How do you handle one more person in a shelter? Hiking etiquette may seem like common sense, but there are a few “rules” to follow if you want to avoid being the scourge of the hiking community.

Bikers Yield for Hikers Yield for Pack Animals

The easiest way to remember who has the right of way on a trail is to think of what is most “natural” to see in the woods. Animals have the right of way over any other traveler (they are the most “natural” traveler), and hikers have the right of way over bikers. Motorized vehicles, like ATVs, should yield for bikers, hikers or animals.

Uphill Hikers Don’t Stop

Unless the hiker heading uphill steps aside for a break, the hiker heading downhill should be the one to stop when two hikers meet on an incline. This allows the hiker heading up a mountain to maintain his or her momentum, which can be hard to get back if the going is tough.

Keep Nature Peaceful

It is more than acceptable to have conversations or listen to music when you’re enjoying your time outdoors, but remember to do it at a respectful volume. Wear headphones with the volume low enough that you can hear anyone or anything that is coming your way. When you’re at a shelter, keep the volume low enough that other people can’t hear your music.

How to Pass

If you find yourself approaching someone from behind and you know that you’ll want to get ahead of him or her simply announce your desire to pass. You can keep it as simple as, “On your right!” Be loud enough to be heard and give the person enough time to step aside.

Squeezing into a Shelter

If you’re the first person to arrive at a shelter you get to pick the best spot to sleep in. But, keep in mind that once the shelter starts filling up, you may need to move your belongings. If you are a single person, it is best to set yourself up next to the shelter wall so that if a group comes in they can all be beside one another. It is also good practice to keep your belongings as close to you as possible; don’t spread out. Most shelters are built for five or six people, but can accommodate more. If the shelter seems to be full but can fit one more person if everyone slides a little closer, this should be done when an additional hiker shows up. However, don’t expect a full shelter to make a bit more room if for someone who shows up in the middle of the night or someone who has a tent or hammock.

Anytime you are outdoors you will likely run into another human or two. Knowing how to properly pass someone on the trail is a will help those interactions go a little smoother.