If you’re new to hiking, it’s worth your while to take time to learn about the basics of walking trails such as hiking etiquette.

Hiking etiquette helps to keep the peace among walkers and protect the environment and wildlife that live there. It can also be used for humour as some ramblers answering the Ordnance Survey questionnaire point out.

Essentially, having good manners is common courtesy, but there are a few rules you should know about hiking etiquette before hitting the walking trails.

1. Rights of Way 

When you meet other people along the trail, there are general rights of way that should be adhered. 

Right of way on hiking trail

Without exception, hikers should always let horses pass. Animals are unpredictable so it’s safer to step aside and let them through. 

The general rule is that bikers yield to hikers. However, in practice, it’s not always cut and dry. If a biker is behind you, it makes sense to let them pass as they are moving at a faster pace. If you meet on a narrow trail approaching in opposite directions, the ramblers have right of way.

Hikers that are heading uphill have right of way over hikers coming down. On flat, narrow paths, courtesy is expected. Common sense suggests to let the smaller group passed first. 

If a hiker or group of ramblers moves up behind you, stop and let them pass. The fact they have caught you up suggests they are moving quicker than you. 

2. Meet and Greet? 

Whenever you meet other hikers along the trail, it’s common courtesy to say hello. If the weather looks unpredictable, you may want to stop and exchange information such as how much further the trail goes on for. 

If there is a potentially dangerous stretch of the trail or a problem on comers are heading towards – such as a felled tree or loose cows – stop and give them prior warning. 

3. Noise 

Noise pollution is something hikers head out into nature to get away from. Few ramblers will be impressed if they encounter rowdiness and disruptions. If you want to listen to music, wear earphones. When you’re with friends, try not to mess about, scream, shout or throw things. 

Hiking etiquette

4. Do Not Litter 

Another common-sense rule. Hiking etiquette has a mantra which says “Leave No Trace”. This essentially means keeping the environment clean and taking your food wrappings with you. 

The only acceptable food waste is bits of bread or leftover sandwiches you scatter for the birds or biodegradable fruits such as apples. Note that fruits with skin (bananas, satsumas) can take months to decompose so take them with you.  

5. Stay on the Trail 

The amount of rainfall we experience in the UK can often leave puddles on muddy walking trails. Hiking etiquette suggests it is better to walk through the puddles rather than trying to circumnavigate the water and trampling over a grass verge. This helps to protect the wildlife and vegetation. 

No matter where you are in the world, you will find hiking etiquette follows the same rules. Exploring nature is a wonderful experience so respect hiking etiquette and don’t ruin the experience for other people. 

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