How to be a good citizen on the hiking trail

Nothing spoils a good walk in the great outdoors like someone who simply doesn’t know, or doesn’t care, about the rules of the trail. They’re not hard to learn. They’re not overly cumbersome. Most of them aren’t even rules as much as they are fervent suggestions.

Still, when you’re hiking, whether it’s a short day trip on a mile loop in the closest state park or a thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail, you have to know them. You have to know that, for example, blasting Metallica from a wireless Bluetooth speaker strapped to your backpack is not cool. And it’s not because it’s Metallica. It’s you.

You don’t have to be Johnny Backpack to see that many people don’t know the basics, though. Go out on a day hike. Head out on an overnighter. Too often there are too many people mucking it up for others.

Noise, like the guy with Metallica, is one problem that crops up from time to time. But keeping the wilderness clean is a constant challenge, especially for the part-timers out there.

A big key to etiquette on the trail is making sure everyone knows that the outdoors are out there for everybody, not just the guy flicking his cigarette butt or the woman going to the bathroom too close to the stream — and then covering it, toilet paper and all, with a rock.

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