Trail Etiquette

z91971036Etiquette is defined as “the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.” It’s basically knowing how to do what you’re supposed to do. Of course there are silly customs that don’t make a ton of sense, like putting a napkin in your lap or taking your hat off indoors, but there are also bits of etiquette that do make sense. Many hiking etiquette rules aren’t just polite, but there’s actually good reasoning behind them. If you’re into hiking, it’s good to know proper trail etiquette.

  • On the up and up – If you hike around the Ozarks, you know a thing or two about hills. It’s not uncommon to come across multiple inclines and declines on a single hike. So what do you do if you’re hiking downhill and another hiker is heading uphill? Proper etiquette in this situation is to give the person walking uphill the right of way. It’s less physically taxing to walk down a hill than it is to walk up a hill, so the logic here is that the guy doing the harder work doesn’t have to add to his task by accommodating the guy doing the easier feat.
  • Open up your chatterbox – Depending on the popularity of the trail and the season, you might run into other hikers every few hours or you might only see one other hiker in a whole week. You should take the opportunity to chat for at least a little bit. You’re about to walk where the other person just was. You can get a little info about what’s coming up on your trip. You don’t have to swap life stories, but at the very least a “how do you do” is good etiquette.
  • Can you hear me now? – The technology we have at our fingertips is amazing and it’s only getting better. It’s totally possible to text, talk, and tweet the whole length of some hikes. But don’t. That defeats the purpose of being out on a hike, and other hikers may not appreciate it. Your phone should be used for photos and emergencies.
  • 4 legs, 2 legs, no legs – No, it’s not the name of a terrible rap trio. You might find yourself on a trail that allows hiking, cycling and horseback riding. If that’s the case it’s good to know the etiquette for who yields right of way to whom. The order of priority goes Horses>Hikers>Bikers.
  • Now you see it, now you don’t – You might have heard people preaching leave no trace. Some are more extreme than others, but it really is a good practice. Staunch leave no tracers will say take only pictures leave only footprints.


  1. […] Greet other hikers, learn right of way, and know the dos and don’ts of hiking. […]

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