5 Hiking Trail Etiquette Rules

What is the hiking trail etiquette and why is it important? The trail etiquette are the 5 basic rules of hiking. In order for everyone to have a pleasant experience it’s important to understand what to do when you’re out on the trails in the back-country. Here are the 5 rules for hiking that you need to know.

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WHO HAS THE RIGHT OF WAY? uphill or downhill?

When you’re out hiking chances are you’ll come across other hikers on the trail. What happens if you’re going uphill and another hiker is coming downhill? Who has the right of way? When you are coming downhill, you have a better view of all of your surroundings and when you’re coming uphill you are focused on the narrower space in front of you. This is why the hikers going uphill have the right of way. You should always yield to uphill traffic and stick to the right to let them pass on the left.

It’s also common courtesy to give the right of way to a group of hikers if you’re hiking solo.



Hikers and mountain bikers can also share trails. Depending on where you are, there may be trails indicated for hikers only and for mountain bikers only. In order to get to these trails you’ll usually have a shared trail. Hikers have priority over mountain bikers. With that being said, be aware of your surroundings. It’s possible that a mountain biker is unable to make a complete stop, in this case use common sense and move to the side to let the biker pass.

If you’re on trails that indicate that there are also horses, the horses have priority over everyone. You must step aside and away from the horse (for your safety) in order to let them pass by.

Always check the signs indicated so that you understand and you’re aware of who you’re sharing the trails with.



When planning your hiking adventure with your dog make sure to choose dog-friendly trails. You should only bring your dog with you if he is fit for hiking (if he is not aggressive and obeys).

When hiking with your dog, you must yield the right of way to everyone else including mountain bikers and horses.

Your dog should be kept on a leash and should be kept on trail in order to avoid damaging plants, disturbing wildlife as well as running away to find another hiker.

It’s also important to pick up after your dog and not to leave any waste behind.



If you’re bringing your camera or phone to snap some pictures or videos make sure you are aware of your surroundings and that you’re not blocking anyone who would like to pass by.

It’s not recommended to play music while hiking. Loud noises disturb others around you as well as wildlife. If you’re considering listening to music bring a pair of earphones with you. Make sure you are able to hear (most people will keep one earbud out just in case) in case someone needs to communicate that they would like to pass you.

If you need to answer a phone call due to an emergency please speak low and always be respectful of others.



The trail etiquette also includes the Leave No Trace Principles (view the blog here Leave No Trace: The 7 Principles). They’re important principles that will teach you how to plan ahead, how to minimize your impact, how to respect wildlife and much more.

the 5 hiking trail etiquette rules that you need to know

Thank you so much for reading this blog! Let’s be friendly, respectful, and let’s have fun!

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