Whether you are hitting a scenic trail in the mountains of China or hiking in your backyard, it is important to know proper hiking etiquette. This etiquette defines how you should behave when you hit the trails. Whether you are new to the world of hiking or an experienced hiker, here are a few etiquette tips that you should be sure to follow, next time you hit the trails.
Know the Hiking Hierarchy
More than hikers enjoy trails. You may also come across bicyclists or even horseback riders that are out to enjoy the outdoors. In these cases, there may not always be room for both parties to pass. When you come across horses, it is proper to stand off of the trail. If at all possible, stand on the downhill side. The reason you should yield to horses is because they are constantly on alert looking for predators. Speak to the rider so that the horse recognizes you as human and try to stay calm to prevent from startling the horse. When it comes to bikers, you may both be able to pass. In this case, stay to the right and yield if they are going uphill. If there is not room for both of you on the trail- stop and step to the side. Bikers will have a much harder time getting out of the way than a hiker will.
Uphill Traffic Has the Right of Way
Have you ever been tackling a tough uphill trail at a steady speed, only to be interrupted by the guy that is quickly moving downhill? This can be aggravating. In cases where both parties cannot fit on the trail, the uphill traffic has the right of way. This is true unless the hiker that is moving uphill signifies that you may come down. Some look at this as a chance to rest. Additionally, you should also stay to the right on trails.
Like the roads of the United States, it is recommended to stay on the right of trails in China and pass on the left. However, it is also nice to give a warning before you come up behind someone. You can shout “On your left!” If this is too formal for you, however, a friendly hello and asking to pass works just as well.
Preserving the Trail
This hiking etiquette rule can be observed in several ways. First, be sure that everything you bring leaves with you. This also includes biodegradable items, such as apple cores or banana peels. While they will decompose with time, it takes a while and they definitely don’t improve the scenery. If you choose to bring your dog, be sure that you are willing to clean up after it. Nobody wants to step on dog “presents” as they are trying to enjoy a hike. Finally, be sure that you stay on the trail. The trails are made for a reason and when you wander, you can erode the trail, loosen boulders and rocks, and damage fragile plants.
Be Courteous with Your Use of Technology
The amazing scenery may seem like a great time to take pictures, or you may even want to listen to music as you hike the trail. However, be courteous of those around you. Keep your phone on silent and refrain from taking pictures unless you are out of the way of others that are also enjoying the trail. You can store your camera in an Adventure Lion waterproof bag when you’re not using it. If you are listening to music, keep it to a respectable noise as it comes out of your headphones. Remember that many people head to the trails to get away from technology for a little bit, so do not disrespect the natural sounds of the hiking environment.