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5 Rules of Trail Etiquette All Hikers Should Know

May 09, 2018 2 min read 4 Comments

5 Rules of Trail Etiquette all Hikers Should Know. Visit idhikethat.com and learn what

Because hiking is a very popular activity among many, you are bound to encounter other hikers on the trail.  

Do you know the "unwritten rules" of hiking?

It is important all hikers know and abide by these 5 rules of trail etiquette:

1.  Keep a good reputation among the hiking community.

Hikers are known for being some of the friendliest people out there.  Let's represent the hiking community in the best way possible by being friendly on the trails.  Give a smile and say hello to other hikers passing by.  Everyone will have a more enjoyable time when we are all neighborly.

2.  Stay on the trail and share the trail.

Know the rules for sharing the trail with other hikers:

  • If you or someone in your group needs to take a break, step off the trail so that others can pass.
  • If you are going downhill, yield to those hiking uphill.
  • If you are hiking in a group, don't take up the whole width of the trail.  Allow others to pass.
  • Bikers yield to hikers and horses, and hikers yield to horses.
  • Stay to the right, pass on the left. 
  • Stay on the trail.  Taking shortcuts and cutting switchbacks are both a no-no and can cause land erosion. 

3.  Nature now, technology later.

Most people are hiking because they want to enjoy the nature surrounding them.  They want a little break from all the noise.  Do yourself and those around you a favor and keep your cell phone turned down, or better yet, turn it off.  Trust me, you will enjoy your hike so much more when you can enjoy the sounds of nature rather than the notifications on your phone.  Those around you will thank you, too.

If you like to listen to music while hiking, use an earbud!  

4.  Practice Leave No Trace.

Practice good stewardship by following the 7 principles of Leave No Trace.  For example, remember that what you pack in, you must pack out.  This includes banana peels and pet waste.

5.  Take only photos, leave only footprints. 

Respect the wilderness and let it be.  Leave trail marking cairns alone and do not build cairns for fun.  Learn the role that cairns play on the trail. Do not take any souvenirs home.  Protect natural resources by staying off of muddy trails to prevent further damage, and avoid hiking where there is not already a trail.


We all want to have a pleasant hiking experience.  Let's do our part in respecting the environment and those around us who are enjoying it, too.

What are some other rules of the trails?  We would love to hear new ways we can be a good citizen in the great outdoors.

4 Responses

Sandy Wilhoit
Sandy Wilhoit

November 23, 2018

Uphill hikers have the right of way.


May 15, 2018

Spot on! Thanks for sharing this. Would love it if everyone understood these things. Most regular hikers do I think, it’s the infrequent or occasional hikers who don’t. But there are plenty of people who break the rules (cut trails, camp illegally, use drones in NPS) and they need to be held accountable. If we all do our part, hiking will be a better experience for everyone.

R A Barks
R A Barks

May 10, 2018

Please keep your dogs under control. I’ve been attacked and it is terrifying to have strange dogs run at you. Everyone thinks their dog is nice, but I don’t know your dog.

Rebecca Harriett
Rebecca Harriett

May 10, 2018

Keep pets on a leash! Even friendly pets can disturb wildlife & scare other hikers.

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5 Rules of Trail Etiquette All Hikers Should Know