There is very little that can compare with a getaway to the Great Outdoors, filling your lungs with fresh air, stretching your legs, and savouring the wondrous countryside. Trail hiking allows us to do exactly that, and whether you are following a well-trodden path, or are being more adventurous, this is one of the best activities which allows us to reconnect with Mother Nature.
But just because we are going back to basics, that doesn’t mean that we should forget about the manners which should accompany time on the trails. For the benefit of you, those in your group, and others using the trails – here are five professional tips for good trail hiking etiquette.
1. Give way to uphill traffic
This is one of the first unwritten rules you should recognise when trail hiking, particularly in busy areas. It is only logical that those heading downhill at a faster pace should yield to hikers who are heading, more slowly, in the other direction. Going up is harder work, and so it can be easier for those going down to step aside and let the ‘uphillers’ pass without losing their momentum.
2. Take your mess with you
As a general rule, don’t leave a trace on the trails. Of course, this goes for things such as plastic and paper waste, but it should also apply to leftover food and items which can decompose. Not only can they take a while to decompose, but they can also be unsightly for fellow hikers, giving the trails the feel of a rubbish dump. Here is an article on two legendary trail litter pickers!
3. Stay on the trail
You might think that you are smart by taking a shortcut, but in truth, you could be putting yourself and the environment in danger. There is nothing clever about bulldozing your way through some plants, and in some cases, the areas around trails might actually be private lands. Then there is the potential for a nasty slip or fall which is caused by an obstacle which you can’t see on the ground below you. It makes sense to keep to the paths provided.
4. Tame the tech
If you are a habitual smartphone user, you aren’t alone. It should be remembered that telephones can be very useful while trail hiking, as they offer a way to contact emergency services, but don’t let your device become a nuisance. That means making sure you are not blocking anyone’s path when stopping to take a selfie or photos of your surroundings. And try not to play music too loudly, as this can detract from the peacefulness of the trails.
5. Wear ethical sports gear and a smile
Where do you buy your hiking and sportswear? With a huge number of people around the world affected by poor working conditions, ensure you choose a brand with a strong code of ethics.
Meanwhile, a love of nature is something we can share, and it is possible to foster a community spirit simply by being friendly. That means being courteous, and extending a polite hello to those fellow hikers who you pass. Nobody likes a grump, so be a happy hiker!