Hiking Etiquette

June 10, 20143797048134_1f4a930f48_o

The time has come for tennis shoes and hiking boots to carry us down rocky and dusty trails. But before you hit the dirt, take into consideration some basic hiking etiquette. Fellow hikers and wildlife alike will appreciate you for it.

1.Leave it be: As gorgeous as those wildflowers are, they belong to the earth. The minute you pick that flower, it can no longer be consumed by local creatures or enjoyed by hikers to come. Instead, bring your camera along. That picture will last you a lifetime, while the flower will wither in no time. Remember, the earth is just on loan to us.

2.Keep Dogs Leashed: I, for one, love letting my dog off his leash, and so does he, but it’s not the best idea while hiking. For one, dogs are unpredictable. Even if you have your pooch highly trained, you never know when he or she will catch a whiff of something they like and run off. Not only that, it’s better to keep them close if you come across any danger, such as moose. Moose’s natural predators are wolves, and will often become overly aggressive at the sight of dogs, confusing the two. Keeping your dog on its leash will allow you to keep it from spooking a potential threat.

3.Stay On the Trail: Similar to not picking flowers, it’s important to stay on trails. The creation of those trails involved destroying a strip of vegetation. Straying off the trails creates a similar effect. In order to leave your trail the way you found it, you need to do as little damage as possible.

4.Don’t Feed the Wildlife: It’s dangerous for them and for you, simple as that.

5.Be Aware of Bikers: Not until I moved to Chicago did I think this was something that needed to be mentioned. On your hike, you will undoubtedly run into some bikers, no matter how rugged your trail is. Keep your ears open for them. When they yell, “on your left,” keep to your right, and when they yell, “on your right,” keep to your left. It’s simple, but somehow not universal knowledge.

Hiking is a great form of exercise and a great activity to do with friends, but it’s important to be mindful of our interactions with nature. Be kind to fellow outdoorsman, to the wildlife, and to the earth.

-Malissa Stark

Photo Credit: Flickr/ Ed Coyle

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