15 Rules for Good Trail Manners

Trail Hiking Shoes
Trail Hiking Shoes. Josie Elias/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

Gentle Walkers,
Good manners are as important on the trail and at a walking event as they are at the dining table. Walk softly, whether you carry a big stick or not. As walkers, we leave only footprints and take only selfies.

1. Use proper waste receptacles.
Candy wrappers, gum, fruit peels and core, and empty water bottles should be carried along until an appropriate public waste/recycling receptacle is found.

Leave only footprints.

2. Listen to nature.
If nature's music is not to your liking, use headphones. Do not share your personal taste in music with the entire neighborhood.

3. Speak softly.
As with your music, there is no reason to share your conversation with the general public, especially early in the morning. Keep your voices and laughter low. Use your inside voices outside.

4. Share the sidewalk.
Do not walk three or four abreast, unless you are at a protest march. When walking with a friend, be alert to others who will need to get around you. Graciously maneuver into a single file to allow them to pass easily.

5. Show respect for traffic laws.
Cross streets at intersections, with the pedestrian crossing light when there is one. On streets without sidewalks, walk on the left side facing traffic. I want my readers alive and healthy.

6. Keep your own foliage trimmed off the sidewalk.
As you notice when walking, trees and bushes belong in the yard, not over the sidewalk.

Set an example for the neighbors.

7. Please don't eat the daisies.
Don't pick any flowers that are not your own. Let the wildflowers bloom free.

8. Be certain of your snacks.
Don't pick and eat anything that rightfully belongs to another. With truly wild produce, don't eat anything you can't positively identify.

There aren't enough donor livers to transplant for folks who think they know which mushrooms are edible (but they didn't).

9. Spitting in public is gauche.
Carry a handkerchief for this purpose, and use it. Don't act like a runner.

10. Live in awareness of your surroundings.
Keep your eyes open for traffic hazards, lurkers, cracks in the sidewalk, low branches, bee swarms, and overly aggressive canine companions. It is bad manners to need emergency help if you could prevent it.

11. Leave all stones unturned.
Walking gently means not allowing your children to throw rocks, rip branches off of trees, or roughhouse with nature. Nor should you, nor your pet.

12. Petiquette.
Walk your pet on leash wherever required. Pack out your pet waste and place it in an appropriate receptacle. Keep your pet's voice low.

13. At organized events, display virtuous patience.
Do not crowd the lines, demand special treatment, or malign the event volunteers, lest they stop hosting events altogether.

14. Use restrooms, and wash your hands.
Natural facilities should only be used when you have a true emergency or are hiking in the wilderness.

Otherwise, plan ahead. And be sure to wash well with soap and water or use hand sanitizer to prevent catching and spreading disease.

15. Don't shortcut the trail,
Stay on the developed trails in parks or across lawns. Grass has feelings, too! Shortcuts can lead to erosion and permanent trail damage.

Walk gently and in harmony with nature and with other humans. You don't want to commit one of the 10 acts that can get a walker arrested.

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