Top 10 Trail Etiquette Tips


Trail etiquette is getting more and more important as the numbers of people that wander outdoors continually increases. Check out our list of tips here.

By Shelby Kisgen

  1. Pick a Side: Whichever side the country drives the cars is typically a good rule of thumb that you should also walk on that side of the trail. It creates less confusion and keeps groups in an orderly, single-file line.
  2. The Beauty of Passing: If you are a slow-moving party with toddlers, and a fast-moving trail running group comes barreling down the trail behind you, move aside. Do not damage the flora and fauna surrounding the trail in your effort to do this. Just snatch of the kids, contain the dogs, and scoot over so that the faster people may pass. Attention faster people: communicate your thanks and do not be in such a hurry that you knock into someone. Respect for all speeds on the trail is key to possessing good etiquette.
  3. Leave No Trace: This is a common saying and it refers to reducing your mark upon nature. Littering is unacceptable. Nothing is more infuriating for a nature enthusiast than spotting litter. If a napkin blows out of your hand, hustle and retrieve it. If you see another person’s litter, pick it up. Not for them, but for the fellow hikers who also hate it, for the animals, and for the environment itself.
  4. Keep It Clean, Folks: I actually mean your language. Freedom of speech and all that, yes I know. If you are in an isolated stretch of trail and you twist your ankle and let loose a sailor-approved word, or you decide it is time for a raunchy joke, fine. But keep in mind that little ears are in the woods, especially around tents and camp sites. Tell your jokes, use your freedom of speech, but do not insult the parents of the children camping right beside you.
  5. Greet People: One of the best things about hiking is making friends on the trail. Do not be so absorbed in stranger danger that you refuse to call out a friendly greeting. Use common sense and do not engage a threatening person, but the vast majority of people on the trail are just looking for a relaxing time in nature. Be polite and look for the best in others.Nature trail sign with stick figure hiker
  6. Equine Interaction: If you find yourself smelling the beautiful scent of horse in the air, prepare yourself. Contain your dogs and children and move in a more organized manner. Horses are flight animals and the last thing you want to do is cause an accident by spooking them. Address the riders and give them the adequate space to pass. Since horses are the faster moving group, they have the right of way
  7. Motorized Vehicles: These folks are controversial for their fumes and noise, but they are also very handy to have around in an emergency due to their quick access for help, so play nice. No matter your personal views on the matter, if the trail says it is legal for them to be there, it is legal. So smile and make a friend. Maybe you will have your opinion changed, maybe not, but either way you will be using good trail etiquette and making your mom proud of your manners.
  8. Dogs: Believe it or not, some person on the trail might be absolutely terrified of your sweet Fido. Follow any leash laws of the trail, as the fines can be hefty. If the trail allows for loose dogs, call your companion back to your side when strangers approach on the trail. It makes for a more calm passing in general, and then if the stranger wants to pat your dog, it is by their choice and not by his jumping, not that sweet Fido would do that of course.
  9. Know What Voice to Use: By all means sing and holler as you hike if that is your stress outlet. That is your “outside” voice and since you are outside, it makes sense to use it. However, as you see people in the distance, lower to your “inside” voice when conversing with your trail partners. The approaching people might be in nature for the sheer stillness and silence. Your rendition of Mary Poppins would certainly ruin that, and make you the topic of all their jokes for the remainder of the hike.
  10. Group Size: Hiking in huge groups creates more challenges with passing others, preventing litter, and keeping noise at moderate levels. It also puts more strain on the trail, especially if conditions are already favorable to erosion. Two to six is a lovely trail size and more polite for other hikers who need to navigate the trail around you.

Teenage girl on departure to outdoors with hiking camping backpack


Blogger & Multiple Contributor at

Shelby Kisgen is an experienced camper and hiker from Wyoming, USA.  She is a true nature enthusiast who enjoys sharing her experiences through freelance writing in her first blog:

When she is not enjoying the great outdoors she is duelling her husband in tennis, eating, or reading a book.

Shelby was the first of many to write articles for the Camping for Women website.

She just loves to combine her love of the outdoors with her passion for writing.  Her current blog is

2 thoughts on “Top 10 Trail Etiquette Tips

  • December 2, 2018 at 10:12 am

    I think whether it’s driving or camping or general life you should always use these basic etiquettes. Some great points here for anyone who wants to start new and I must say, taken some pointers from it. The main ones in relation to being nature-friendly and respecting it. Thanks for sharing.

  • August 12, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    Some fab advice! So important to keep nature clean, and to respect other’s experiences out in the wild!


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