There are a number of largely unwritten rules of the hiking trail that let hikers get along with each other.

As with many things in life, it comes down to the old adage “treat others as you’d like to be treated”

Rules of the Hiking Trail

Make sure that you never do any of the following:

Deviate Plan

The basis behind filing a route plan is to let would-be rescuers know your whereabouts in the event of becoming lost or getting caught up in an emergency.

Any hiker that completely deviates from the original plan will make it difficult for others to find them especially in the remote regions. A great strategy is to at least file an alternative route in addition to the original plan.

Emergency Services

In the ‘Great Outdoors’ rescue services are a much stretched resource. It’s not appropriate to call mountain rescue because you’re a little bit tired or because you’ve run out of water.

This would take this essential resource away from someone who might really need help and probably won’t impress the first responders very much.

However, if you genuinely need assistance then don’t leave it too long before requesting help. Every second counts in an emergency and could make the difference between life and death.

Natural Landscape

It’s not up to you to decide what goes where in nature, so resist the temptation to pull-up flowers, light fires, dig holes, move rocks or cut new trails. Aim to leave the environment exactly as you find it.

Other Hikers

Noise is good – up to a point. If you’re hiking in an area where animals such as bear and moose may be regular visitors then making a degree of noise can let them know that you’re coming so that they can make a getaway before you get there. A bit of singing, hand clapping or a bear bell is all excellent ideas.

But if your level of noise crosses a line or if you’re coming up to a campground, then it can become an irritant to wildlife and other hikers and can ruin everyone’s day.

Throw Rocks

Listening to rocks roll their way down a hillside or rocky slope can be a tempting idea. But bear in mind that hikers further down probably don’t want to get hit by falling debris.

Travel unprepared

Make sure to hike with the proper supplies such as clothing (to match the climate) and emergency gear (first-aid kit, whistle, pocket knife, fire starter, space blanket, etc).

If traveling unprepared, there is a great danger of experiencing difficulties while out in the wilderness. The further ventured into the remote backcountry, the more difficult it becomes to get rescued. For those hiking without the proper gear and supplies, you’re putting yourself in a much more difficult position.


Animals will usually get out your way as soon as they hear you coming. However, all wild animals will defend themselves, their young or their food if they’re forced to.

Avoid provoking angry animals and keep the hiking routes safe for you and other walkers.