With a growing number of people on the trails these days, it is important to remind everyone about trail etiquette so we can all have the best experience.
It is great that a high amount of people are outdoors enjoying the trails, but it is also important that we remember to be safe and courteous of other individuals on the trails. Trail etiquette does not just involve our interactions with others either, it also encompasses proper care to the trails and nature as well. Trail goers do not just include individuals on foot, there are plenty of bikers and horse back riders too, which increases the risk of accidents if a trail is not being shared properly.
Here is an easy to learn guide to ensure you are being respectful to individuals and the environment when your out on the trails.
- Before heading out on a trail, research any conditions, regulations, or special concerns of the area. Some urban trails for example, are now designated one-way trails to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
- Familiarize yourself with the trail route.
- If you notice the trail route is pretty difficult, consider choosing an easier trail based on your physical capabilities and experience.
- Pick a low use times time to go on the trail to minimize excessive human activity in the one area at a time. However, it is important that you pick a time that ensures you have enough time to complete the trail in day light.
- Check the weather before you head out on the trail.
Bring the Essentials:
- Food and water to keep you fueled, and zip lock or larger bags to store your rubbish.
- A hat, sunscreen, and insect repellent.
- Proper footwear, and suitable clothing for the weather.
- A helmet if you’re cycling or trail riding.
- Travel in a group of 3 or 4 in case someone gets hurt. It is also important to go with others if you have never been to that trail before.
- Take a whistle, and for longer journeys bring a hiking survival kit and first aid kit.
- Pets are best left at home. If you do bring them, keep them on a leash, away from the water, and bring doggy bags to clean up after them.
- Stay on the trail path, do not create shortcuts to decrease soil erosion and to respect the privacy of people living along trails.
- Avoid making loud voices and noises to respect the serenity of nature.
- Watch for poisonous plants, wildlife and falling rocks.
- If you drink water that is not from home it must be purified.
- Walk, ride or cycle in single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Travel on the right of the trail and pass on the left.
- If a person is climbing up a hill they have the right of way if you are climbing down.
- Bike riders yield to hikers and horseback riders; hikers yield to horseback riders.
- Unless you are passing someone, try keep a good distance between yourself and other hikers.
Have Manners Toward Mother Nature:
- Pack it in, Pack it Out: take your trash home with you. It is the simplest yet most fundamental thing you can do for the environment. The saying: “Take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints” is important to follow.
- Leave flowers, wood, rocks, and plants on the trail so others can enjoy them.
- Do not break branches off the trees.
- Do not build structures, fire rings, furniture or dig trenches. Fires are not allowed on the trails except in campsites that approve it.
- Do not assume certain foods are biodegradable.
- If you have to bury human waste, make sure you do it at least 100 metres from any water.
- If you camp, leave your site cleaner than you found it. Make sure your campsite is at least 60 meters away from water sources, so animals are able to come drink the water.
- Do not disturb plants or wildlife. In many federal or provincial jurisdictions its illegal. Removing archaeological artifacts, dead wood, fossils or other geological features is not permitted.
Extra Tips- Hiking with Children:
- Dress them in bright colours so they can be located easier.
- Bring extra food and feed them often to avoid irritability.
- For longer trips bring a backpack carrier. Practice using it at home so you are well prepared.
- Do not bury disposable diapers.
After reading this guide, I hope you are more knowledgeable about trail etiquette and will use these valuable instructions moving forward. If everyone continues to do their part, fun will be guaranteed for everyone and Saskatchewan Trails will continue to be available for years to come.
If you ever witness or come across any vandalism, please report it to the organization managing the trail.