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Random Group of Hikers Message Board › Unwritten Rules of Trail Etiquette

Unwritten Rules of Trail Etiquette

user 7030408
Pelham, NH
Post #: 11
One rule I follow is to ALWAYS step aside for AMC Hut Croo carrying backboards - whether they are going UP or DOWN!! They work very hard to get all that food up to the hut, and carry out all that waste.
Casey (The W.
Boston, MA
Post #: 10
From a personal standpoint I like to give right of way for those coming down as I climb up. It gives me a chance to catch my breath. I like to be given the right of way as I come down from those that are coming up as it is easier to keep going than to try and stop downhill. Falling uphill is far easier to deal with than falling downhill. Its all about safety in my book. I've seen both arguments and the article is not convincing of the up-hill has right of way point. The points posted in response are far more logical.

There have been times where I've done the opposite where the situation's safety dictated I do so. When a large group of hikers are coming up along a questionable footing path, I'd rather stop and let them go to ensure that I have good footing to come down. I'd like to think that I've yielded that right of way to ensure my safety and theirs.
Ken D.
user 4332297
Arlington, MA
Post #: 89
When a large group of hikers are coming up along a questionable footing path, I'd rather stop and let them go to ensure that I have good footing to come down. I'd like to think that I've yielded that right of way to ensure my safety and theirs.

Man, it can be really annoying waiting for large groups to come up and pass me while I wait on the side of a trail. I'm usually pretty fast on the way down. I once had a group of probably 30 decide to start up the hard, steep orange rock section of Old Bridal Path while I was on it. I had to push over to the side, which wasn't particularly comfortable. They wouldn't stop coming up, slooooooowly going up one after another.

David (Ped X.
Cambridge, MA
Post #: 253
For me, there is no general rule for when to step aside. Generally speaking, if I am in a position to step aside I will. I tend to wait until I am reasonably close to the oncoming hikers unless I am eager to stop (whether to rest or let those behind m If people coming the other way start to step aside before I do, I will keep going and thank them. If the person coming my way looks like they are having a hard time (or are hut croo with a heavy load, even if they make it look easy) I will step aside quickly.

I think large groups hiking close together should yield, but I would never be confrontational about it.
A former member
Post #: 35
So keep the group smaller. We can see that from replies. Got it.
I stop for people coming down. You get a rest of 30 seconds or more. People above you have more stored energy just by being above if they are moving then there's momentum. Takes the guess work out of the whole thing, I step aside and let them go. I don't want the chance of someone falling on me from 2, 4, 6,+ feet above. They also very well could be the more tired person(s).

Skiing is where the person above needs to stop for traffic due to "seeing" it and...etc.

Banana peels, orange peels, peanut shells, apple cores, cigarette butts... take them to the trash bin at the rest area on the road home. I collect what doesn't present an obvious DNA hazard and pack it out, the very few times I see it. What is very nice is I don't see much junk on trails and I have been many, many miles, many trails, many years. Let's all say thanks to so many hikers who 'get it'. Thank you.

Walk, climb, hike in untracked snow for some miles with a fine set of snowshoes. Get at least one peak in the snow. Make sure you get to lead for some of the way. Do this.
Just a thing I thought should be in trail smarts.
Larry P.
Andover, MA
Post #: 33
I don't know if there is any unwritten rule for what I'm going to discuss or just a personal complaint.

This is in regards to men urinating on the side of the trail in winter time. I know I don't like the look of yellow snow on the side of the trail. I know people don't want to step off the trail, in fear of sinking up to their butt in deep snow( it's really not an excuse, women do it all the time), to pee.

A very easy solution would be to cover your pee when you're finished, just simply kick some snow on top of your pee. Another other solution is to do what the women do, find a convenient spot off trail.

Maybe I'm alone with this complaint but I really really really hate seeing those fluorescent orange/yellow patches on the side of the trail!!!
A former member
Post #: 2
When I initially posted this I was curious to see what type of discussion it would generate - it has been pretty good so far. Hopefully some others will jump in now that the thread has been revived (thanks for stumbling upon it).

You make valid points, especially about the whole winter thing and having people crash into you from behind. None of us have brake lights on our packs so you are right, many times the people behind us may not realize that we have stopped since they are looking down at their own feet.

I liken it to 'tailgating" but on the trail. Many times one person is right up behind the person in front of them. If you are bushwhacking or traveling in a whiteout then I get it, you want to stay in close contact with the rest of the group. However, at any other time back up a bit and give the person some space.

This happens often on steep ascents or descents - the people getting to the steep section slow and then everyone behind them bunch up and stay bunched up. This often makes the person in the front think that they are going to slowly so they will try to speed up, which could be dangerous to them.

The other thing that happens is the group travels in a pack on these sections, making it more likely that if one person slips and falls then they rest in the group below that person will become bowling pins and they will end up falling down too.

I think it all boils down to "situational awareness" - knowing what is going on around you at any given time. If you are approaching another group you can establish eye contact and more often then not, one or the other (or even both) of the groups will step to the side and wave the other group to let them pass by. Perhaps the group going down has a safer spot to step to the side whereas the group going up doesn't have a safe place to stop. Maybe the group going up wants to stop and rest for a bit while letting the other group travel down past them.

The important thing is know what is going on around you and be considerate of others. :-)
"Right of Way"
I have frequently encountered this on steep slops. People announce themselves "Hi"; those going up get firm footing, and those going down have the extra time to position feet, grab ahold of a tree, or go down on their bottoms. No one wants to slide down a rocky slope out of control (even for a moment) because up comers refuse to take a moment to secure themselves. I've experienced this both directions for 34 years.
It is dangerous going up and down steep slopes.

Maybe the most important thing is to announce your self and make eye contact - then the two parties should beable to figure it out, let's hope.
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