Our beautiful Pacific Northwest is a great place to explore, but you wouldn’t want to go to a fancy restaurant and not know which fork to use, right? Etiquette is important, be it at the dinner table or out on the trails. Proper trail etiquette helps everyone have a good experience and preserves our trails.
Here are some simple rules to follow:
- Leave No Trace: It may seem like a small thing, like a beer can, candy wrapper, or banana peel, but it all adds up. We have some beautiful hiking trails right in our backyard, but that also means they get a lot of traffic; if every person left a piece of trash, soon the trails would look like trash cans. Take only pictures, leave only footprints, and carry out your trash.
- Stay on the Trail: Sometimes you’re tired and want to take a shortcut, or you want to go off the trail to get that perfect selfie, but nature is more fragile than it may seem. You can help preserve the natural beauty by staying on the trail so our kids and grandkids can also enjoy this bounty.
- Right of Way: A hiker going uphill has the right of way. If you’re going downhill, be courteous and move to the side to allow the uphill hiker to pass. For mixed-use trails, hikers should always yield to horses. Technically, bikers should yield to hikers, but they are often moving fast; it may be safer for you (the hiker) to yield to them instead.
- Dogs on Leash: It’s great to explore the outdoors with our four-legged friends. Check if dogs are allowed on the trail (AllTrails.com can help you search for trails where dogs are allowed). Bring a leash; most trails that allow dogs require they are always leashed. Even when off-leash dogs are allowed, you may want to keep your dog on a leash for their safety. Pick up after your dog, and please carry the bag out. It’s not fun for anyone to walk on a trail with waste bags hanging from branches or the danger of stepping in poop left behind.
- Say “Hello”: A cheery “hello” from another hiker always beam me up. It’s a simple gesture but can brighten up someone’s day and make the trails a bit friendlier.
Happy trails! You can join our own “Issaquah Highlands Hiking Group” on Facebook.
Photo (top): Avi hiking at Lake Ingalls, located in Chelan County.
Avi Singh is an Issaquah Highlands Hiking Group leader and Issaquah Highlands resident.