Etiquette is an important way to show your respect for the environment you are in and the livings things around you. Here are some basic niceties that will be appreciated out on the trail.
Leave no trace:
This tagline can be found on signs in nearly every park around. If you bring something into an environment be sure to bring it back out. Take care to ensure that everything from candy wrappers to the old dirt stuck on your boots (which may be carrying non-native organisms) is not left behind at the trail. Pro tip: if you see trash laying around, pick it up. Everyone hiking after you will certainly appreciate it.
- When you are moving quicker than someone you can easily pass them on the left. It helps to let them know you are coming by simply saying “on your left”.
- If coming toward another trail-goer, the person who is coming up hill has the right of way. However, keep in mind that if you are on a technical or narrow section of trail when you notice the other person, get to a safe stopping point before stepping aside.
- Avoid taking up the entire trail, even if it doesn’t seem busy.
For the most part, hikers are friendly people. All you usually have to do is smile and be polite.
Most of us love dogs, but looking up to find one running at you unencumbered can be uncomfortable. Most trails require a 6 foot leash, but at the very least have an extendable leash on your pet to keep them from getting too far. Also, be sure to clean up after them when they inevitably make a mess.
Stay on the trail:
If you stray from the trail you will begin to widen it by killing the plants that you step on. This is no good. If you are worried about mud perhaps you ought to find the nearest sidewalk and save the trails for dry sunny days.
Keep it quiet:
Having loud conversations and listening to music on your portable speakers can really take away from the experience for those around you. It is best to speak softly and use headphones while you are on the trail.
Spotting animals is a highlight to any hike. When you do see an animal it is best to respect their space and move slowly around them. If it’s fairly large, I make sure that I can continuously see the animal as I move past it. If you encounter a predator you need to give it as much space as possible and move slowly as to avoid threatening it.
Now go make the trail a better place for all!
Michael J. Flora