Trail Etiquette 101
Those on the trail typically have a common goal: to enjoy being outside doing something we love. There are rules in place for trail uses to help us enjoy the trail together. Sometimes you may share the trail with single-use users, and other trails may be designated multi-use trails where you share with various user types. To make sure you and other users can enjoy the best experience while on the trail, it’s best to know right of ways and trail etiquette.
Right of Ways
In most cases, non-motorized trail users include mountain bikers, hikers and horseback riders. Mountain bikers are expected to yield to hikers, since bikes are considered more maneuverable than hikers. Because horses can be skittish and can scare easily, both hikers and bikers should yield to horses. We recommend stepping off the trail on the downhill side of the horse if you pass them on a single track trail.
When hikers come across other hikers, the uphill hiker has the right of way. This is because a hiker coming downhill has a better vantage point of the trail and will probably spot the uphill hiker before the uphill hiker has a chance to see the downhill hiker. The second reason is that uphill hikers have to build more momentum to continue going up. It’s polite for the downhill hiker to step aside and let the uphill hiker pass to not lose momentum.
Now that we have covered the rules of the trail, next comes trail etiquette we can extend to others we come across on the trail to respect their enjoyment. While there are right-of-ways in place, it is respectful to let those going faster pass by. A biker or hiker may catch up to you and you should let them pass.
In the reverse scenario where you’re the one who has caught up to another trail user, say “hello” as you come up behind them. We all get in the zone while hiking. Those ahead of us may not hear us as we approach from behind them. Saying “hello” alerts the trail user ahead that you’re behind them and gives them the opportunity to let you pass. Make sure to offer a “thank you” as you pass.
We love hiking with friends. To keep from causing congestion, hike in a single file line, and make sure the person in the back knows to make the others ahead in the group know when another trail user comes upon the group. A good way to inform the group of this is to say “Hiker/biker back”.
Overnights on the Trail
If you’re spending the night on the trail, whether through hiking or going for an overnight, make sure you camp at least 100 yards off the trail, and do your best to not be visible from the trail. This gives you privacy from passing trail users, and doesn’t interrupt the trail experience for the trail users.