Trail Etiquette - Play Nice in the Outdoors

by Christine Reed - Division Manager - iConquer Adventures


There are still places where you can walk a lonely trail in the capital W Wilderness and spend a day all alone getting “back to nature”. If you are the average American looking for a great hike within an hour drive of your city or are visiting a National Park, this is likely not your experience. Whether I am hiking in the Front Range outside Denver, the White Mountains in New Hampshire, or the Grand Canyon I know I will be among friends—sometimes thousands of them.


In order to share the trail, I must abide by a certain etiquette and expect my fellow hikers to do the same. Here is a short list of ways to share what you love and keep from making enemies on your favorite trail.


  • Say hello! – Smile, nod, acknowledge other humans. You both like the same thing and you're both doing what you like!


  • Uphill has right of way – Hiking uphill is hard, stopping and starting to let others pass seriously messes with your momentum. However, if the uphill hiker waves you on, they may just have been looking for an excuse to take a break anyway.


  • Don’t stop in the middle of the trail – If you need to rest, tie your shoe, dig around in your backpack for something, etc. Step off the trail, so you don’t cause a traffic jam.


  • Let faster hikers pass – If somebody suddenly appears behind you, and they weren’t there before, they are probably walking faster than you. Offer to let them pass, so that everyone can continue at a pace that’s comfortable for them.


  • Keep music/podcasts/phone calls to yourself – Even on crowded trails, hikers generally still want to get that outdoorsy nature feeling. So if you prefer music or podcasts, please use headphones.


  • Keep your pet leashed and under control – If pets are allowed on trail, keep them leashed and under your control. To somebody who is afraid of dogs, your assurance that “he’s friendly” really is no assurance at all if the animal in question is running at them full speed.


  • Groups yield to single hikers or pairs – As large groups tend to move slowly, there will likely be single hikers and pairs wanting to pass throughout the day. Having somebody near the back of the group call ahead so the group can cohesively allow others to pass is helpful.



The most important thing about trail etiquette is to bring a good attitude. It is easy to forget that some of your fellow hikers may be new to the outdoors. They may not have learned the basics, but just heard how great hiking was and thought they’d give it a go. Good for them—welcome them into the fold, teach them our ways, and remember Hiking is for everyone.


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