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Hiking Etiquette On The Trail

First-time hikers are understandably excited to hit the trail. However, before you do, it’s essential to know common trail hiking etiquette and best practices. This means you know how to respect other users and the trail itself. Good trail etiquette helps all users stay safe and protects our trails for future generations to enjoy

Knowing Who Has The Right Of Way On The Trail

Hiking is a fantastic way to get away from the chaos and hustle of regular life and find some time to be by yourself or with friends and family. However, you’re going to encounter other people at some point, especially on a popular trail or at busy times of the day. Since it’s not always possible to fit everyone on the trail at a time, you’ll need to know the fundamental right of way for trails.

Like on highways, faster-moving trail users should always pass on the left. As most routes are used by hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders, it’s necessary to know the etiquette of each user. More often than not, the horses will always have the right of way, then hikers, and finally those on bikes.

Right Of Way For Hikers

  • If you’re a solo hiker, move to the side when approaching bigger groups moving in the opposite direction. It’s easier far for one person to stop walking than it is for a whole group.
  • When you’re heading downhill, defer to hikers going uphill. This is a common courtesy to uphill hikers since they’ll be using more energy coming up.
  • Although mountain bikers should technically yield to hikers, you don’t always know if other people will follow the trail etiquette. Always pay attention to other trail users, and you’ll avoid needless injury.

Right Of Way For Horse

  • When you’re hiking, yield to horses on the trail because horses can have a more challenging time moving on the trail path.
  • When you encounter a horse, position your body downhill. Step off the path on the downhill side because horses that bolt on the trail have a tendency to run uphill.
  • Saying hello to the rider will help the horse understand you aren’t a threat. 

Right of Way For Mountain Bikers

  • As a biker understand you need to yield to everyone else. Bicycles are faster and easier to maneuver than a horse or a hiker.
  • Always pass others on the left. Don’t assume they know you’re behind them; shout, “On your left” as you approach, so they know you’re coming. Don’t wait until you’re already passing them, as you never know if they’re about to side-step something on the ground.
  • Bikers traveling downhill should defer to all riders heading uphill except if the trail is designated one-way or downhill-only traffic.
  • Be mindful of your speed, particularly when passing hikers. Also, use a bike bell when you go around blind corners, so other hikes know you’re coming.