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Hiking Etiquette

From the National Park Service

Stewardship Monday, August 14, 2023

Hiking is one of the best ways to spend time in the great outdoors. With more than 400 national parks across the country, the opportunities to get out and take a hike are nearly endless. Whether you’re hiking alone or in a group, be sure to follow the written and unwritten rules of the trail. Proper hiking etiquette helps instill respect for other trail users, and it promotes stewardship of the land.

The best thing you can do when hiking is to remember the “golden rule”: treat others the way you would want to be treated.

Here are some main points of hiking etiquette.

Know your right of way. 

Check signage for the trail you are hiking, and follow the correct right of way yields. Signs may vary from park to park, but these are the general guidelines of yielding on the trail:

  • Hikers coming uphill have the right of way. If you’re descending the trail, step aside and give space to the people climbing up.
  • Bicyclists yield to hikers and horses or other pack stock. Come to a full stop and step to the side to give the right of way. Be mindful of the plants or animals that are near the trail if you must step off the trail. Bicyclists should always ride within their abilities. Before your visit, check individual park regulations to see if biking is allowed.
  • Hikers yield to horses and other pack stock. Slowly and calmly step off to the downhill side of a trail. If you approach from behind, calmly announce your presence and intentions. Horses and other pack stock can frighten easily, so avoid sudden movements or loud noises.

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