man and a woman walking on a trail

Trail Etiquette

Walking is usually done in public spaces that belong to all of us, so it’s important to be respectful of the space and of the other people who use the space. Here are some tips to keep walking a good experience for all of us.

Respect our Trails

  1. Don’t toss your trash—not even biodegradable items such as banana peels. It is not good for animals to eat non-native foods and who wants to look at your old banana peel while it ever-so-slowly decomposes? If you packed it in, pack it back out.
  2. Don’t feed the wildlife. While many animals stay hidden, others are not so shy. Giving these creatures food only disrupts their natural foraging habits.
  3. When bringing a pet on a hike, be sure to keep it on a leash and under control. Don’t forget to pack out pet waste as well.
  4. Leave what you find. The only souvenirs a hiker should come home with are photographs and happy memories (and maybe an improved fitness level!).
  5. Relieve yourself on the trail only when necessary and where no other walkers are present. When relieving yourself outdoors, be sure to do so 200 feet away from the trail and any water sources. Follow Leave No Trace principles.
  6. Walk through the mud or puddle and not around it, unless you can do so without going off the trail. Widening a trail by going around puddles, etc. is bad for trail sustainability. Just because it looks easy to cut the corner off of a switchback doesn’t mean it is a good idea. Help preserve the trail by staying on the trail.

Respect Other Walkers

  1. Walk quietly. Speak in low voices and turn your cell phone down, if not off. Enjoy the sounds of nature and let others do the same.
  2. If taking a break, move off the trail a bit to allow others to pass by unobstructed.
  3. Hikers going downhill yield to those hiking uphill. While bikers are technically expected to yield to walkers, it’s better to be safe than right, walkers often yield to bikers.
  4. Individual walkers should yield to groups of walkers.
  5. When about to pass another walker from behind, say something such as “Hello”, “Passing on your left”, or “Coming up behind you” to announce your presence and remember to stay on the trail when passing.