5 Quick Rules of Hiking Etiquette

You have had a busy week at work. That big report is due and the phone just keeps ringing off the hook. You are stressed to the max but it is all worth it. You are going hiking this weekend. The time finally comes for your peace and quiet as you start walking. You are enjoying nature and all if its beauty. Then all of a sudden you start to hear music. You round the corner and see it. A group of about 10 people partying it up in the middle of the trail. Beer cans everywhere, music blaring, and tents set up in the middle of the trail.

This scenario would ruin any hiking trip. While this may seem extreme, there are things like this that happen on the trail all the time. Continue reading this article to see the 5 quick rules of hiking etiquette.

1. Electronics
Quality time with the kids.
Quality time with the kids while on the phone.

Many hikers go hiking to get away from all on the noise and distractions that deteriorate our lives. They want peace and quiet on the trail and do not want to hear you talking on your cell phone. If you must talk on your phone it should be an emergency and you should try to get away from everyone else.

You should never be listening to music openly on the trail. Here recently I was hiking on the trail and ended up getting behind a guy with speakers attached to his backpack with country music playing. It was very annoying. Having headphones in is considered acceptable but you should not let it impact your safety and friendliness on the trail.

2. Right of Way

When hiking on the trail there are simple rules of right a way. When meeting a fellow hiker on the trail, the uphill hiker has the right of way. The down hill hiker will see the uphill hiker first and it is much harder for the uphill hiker to start back after hiking. In some cases the uphill hiker may want to take a break and let the downhill hiker go ahead. Either way, it is the uphill hiker’s choice.

No choice but to get in line on this hike.
No choice but to get in line on this hike.

If you are hiking in a group then you should let the solo hikers go on about their way rather than holding them up and forcing them to be a part of a group. No one likes to get stuck behind a group of hikers and not be able to get around them. The same goes if you are a solo hiker moving slower than other hikers. Step aside and let the faster hikers go on about their hiking.

Hikers are usually the slowest people on the trail. They should get out of the way of bikers and horses so that they can go along their way. Horses can get spooked so you do not want to surprise them.

3.  At Camp

First off, do not set up your camp in the middle of the trail. Get off of the trail and set up in camp (following local regulations of course). Remember that most campsites are first come first serve (Here in the Smokey Mountains you must reserve your campsite online which throws first come first serve out the window.) When other hikers hit the bed be respectful and do not make lots of noise. Don’t make lots of noise after dark.

4. Practice ‘Leave No Trace’

notrace Leave no trace is a set of ethics for the outdoors. Without getting into too many details basically you want to take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints. Everything you pack in must be packed out. DO NOT leave your trash. Don’t bother the wildlife and especially don’t chase bears. You can find more about Leave No Trace at their website.

5. Just Be Courteous

Many people when asked about trail etiquette say that saying a quick hello when meeting someone on the trail is important rather than not speaking at all. I find this interesting but as I look back I always like meeting a hiker that is willing to return my hello rather than the ones that can’t even make eye contact or acknowledge you are there.

Take the time to say hello when on the trail.

Being courteous also mean you are respectful of others on the trail by moving off of the trail when you are stopped. You should not hog the facilities acting like your are the only person in this world. letting others look at the views and getting out of their way so that they can take pictures is important also. If you must smoke make sure you stay down wind better yet just stay away from me with those.

As a final note I want to say that almost everyone I meet on the trail is very friendly. I feel that the hiking community is some of the friendliest and respectful. But as the saying goes ‘One bad apple spoils the bunch’. It is because of these hikers that can’t be respectful that causes articles like this to be written.

Comment below and tell us about a time you encountered someone not following simple rules of trail etiquette.