8 Rules




Do you use hiking etiquette when enjoying the trails?

Hiking etiquette isn’t there to ruin your fun. It’s not there to interfere with your right to public land. It isn’t there to boss you around and make you feel controlled.

Etiquette ensures that you, me, and everyone else can enjoy the hiking trail the same.

It’s there to give us all an understanding of how to hike responsibly to preserve hiking for everyone and for the many generations to come.

The 8 Rules of Hiking Etiquette

There are eight unwritten rules of hiking etiquette that all hikers should know about and live by.


1 – Understand Your Right-of-Way

Understanding your right-of-way and whom to yield to when using the trail is essential.

Hikers should only yield to other hikers who are going uphill. But there’s nothing wrong with yielding just because you want to be friendly.

Everyone should yield to horseback riders. Horses, at times, are freaked out by hikers and bicyclists, and yielding to them while talking to the rider, will help calm the animal down.


2 – Announce Yourself

When you see other hikers, cyclists, and horseback riders – say hello in a loud enough voice that they hear you.

If you startle someone, they could get hurt. This is especially true for horseback riders.

It’s good to make yourself known.


3 – Stay on the Trail

If there is signage telling you to stay on the trail, you should stay on the trail.

Generally, it’s best to stay on the trail most of the time. You risk getting lost or encountering hazards if you get off the trail.

If you decide to leave the trail, only do so if you know how to navigate off the trail.

8 Rules of Hiking Etiquette

4 – Don’t Harass Wildlife

Don’t disturb or harass the wildlife.

The forest is their home, not yours. So treat them with respect while you’re in their home.

In most cases, it is illegal to harass or harm wildlife.


5 – Know the Trail Conditions

It’s best to know what the trail conditions will be like before you go.

Research the trail on All Trails or a map to understand how rugged it will be.

You should also pay attention to the weather to know if the trail will be wet, slick, or dry.


6 – Use Headphones

If you must listen to music on the trail, use headphones.

It is disrespectful to play music on a radio while hiking. Not everyone wants to hear your music. Most people want to listen to the sounds of nature.

Using music as an excuse to alert wild animals of your presence is a lousy excuse.


7 – Safety First

Always put safety first.

Don’t do risky things that might result in injury or death if you get hurt and need emergency assistance, the ones who have to rescue you are also at risk.

Safety should be your main priority.


8 – Gear Up

Bring the right amount of gear with you.

Make sure you have plenty of food and water that can last a few days.

Make sure you have a flashlight with extra batteries.


I hope these eight unwritten rules of hiking etiquette help you help others enjoy the trail. If you could add a ninth rule, what would you add? If you enjoyed reading this article, be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter for more.

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Thanks again for checking out another one of my articles and until next time, I’ll see you on the trail!

Shawn Gossman

Shawn Gossman

Founder, Hiking with Shawn

Howdy folks! My name is Shawn Gossman and I founded Hiking with Shawn. I’m an avid hiker, cyclist and outdoorsman here in the Shawnee National Forest. I was born and raised in Southern Illinois and never want to leave. Click here to learn more about Shawn Gossman

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