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How to Observe Proper Hiking Rules & Trail Etiquette

When you visit the park system or camp out in the wild, follow hiking rules and trail etiquette so that others can enjoy themselves, too.


  • Step 1: Prepare for everything Take an extra supply of food and drink in case of emergencies and anticipate all weather with the gear you pack. Inform others about your itinerary, don't hike alone, and accept your personal limitations.
  • Step 2: Educate yourself Observe proper hiking rules and educate yourself about terrain conditions ahead of time, including environmentally delicate areas your presence could endanger. Find out about local regulations regarding camping, fishing, and hunting.
  • Step 3: Wear hunter orange Wear at least one article of hunter orange clothing in unfamiliar terrain or possible hunting areas. Cover your backpack with orange.
  • TIP: Get rest regularly on the hike. You're not out to defeat the elements or some imagined competition. Soak up the beauty.
  • Step 4: Leave it how you found it Make sure to pack up whatever you unpacked when you stopped, and never leave behind litter. The flowers may be pretty or the stones old, but neither are yours. Leave it all where you found it.
  • Step 5: Be respectful Show respect for the wilderness and others by not talking loudly or blasting your music. Playing around and screaming obnoxiously to hear your echo get old fast for everyone on the hike.
  • Step 6: Ensure safety Ensure others' safety by passing those you overtake on the trail on the left, using good manners and announcing your presence first to avoid startling them. Hikers going downhill should yield to those going up.
  • TIP: Keep animals on a leash, no matter how well trained you think they are, and clean up after them.
  • Step 7: Do your business out of the way Move well off the trail to relieve yourself. Dig a hole at least 6 inches deep and 200 feet from a body of water.
  • Step 8: Report damage and vandalism Stay on the trails when moving through the wild. Notify the authorities later of damaged or destroyed trails or trail signs. Trail etiquette is good citizenship.
  • FACT: The National Institute of Health warned in 2009 that acute mountain sickness affected 20 percent of mountain climbers, hikers, or skiers at altitudes between 6,300 to 9,700 feet, causing fluid in the lungs or brain swelling. Over 14,000 feet, most people had symptoms.

You Will Need

  • Preparation
  • Education
  • Proper clothing
  • Respect for nature
  • Good manners
  • Good citizenship

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