Hiking Etiquette 101: Tips for Hitting the Trails in Metro Phoenix

Hit the trails — but mind your manners.EXPAND
Hit the trails — but mind your manners.

While hiking is a pleasant pastime for soaking up nature and the world around you, being immersed in the outdoors doesn't mean you can act like a caveman.

There is a bit of etiquette that's crucial to keep in mind when taking on a high-traffic trail like Camelback Mountain's Cholla or Piestewa Peak, where the path serves more as an outdoor gym for many. Trails like these are like highways at peak times — and often, visitors are not aware of the polite way to navigate traffic. So, hikers, here are eight basic tips for responsible hiking that will ensure you and your fellow trail lovers can enjoy the mountain.

Passing
There is an unstated rule that a trail is much like a road, in that each person should stay to the right unless passing, which is most efficiently done on the left. As when driving, a slower person shouldn't hang in the middle of the path, blocking others from being able to pass. A hiker's rhythm can be ruined by an ignorant trail mate that doesn't take a moment to let the speedier go onward, both up and down the trail. Please note: Uphill always gets the right of way in those tighter spots along the trail.

Being one with nature doesn't mean you have the mountain to yourself.
Being one with nature doesn't mean you have the mountain to yourself.

Music
Though this may be some hikers' outdoor gym, a trail is still an escape into nature. And nature doesn't include you cranking up the Skrillex. Now, we understand the benefits of hiking while listening to some sweet beats, but that's what headphones are for. Keep it to yourself.

Leave No Trace
Littering is something we don't understand to begin with, but on the trail? Make sure you leave the mountain with everything you had when you came. Scattered plastic bottles and Clif bar wrappers aren't heavy, and should be discarded properly.

Read on for advice on group hikes, hydration, and where to take breaks. 
 

Just because you love catching up doesn't mean the trail's the right place for it.
Just because you love catching up doesn't mean the trail's the right place for it.

Breaks
If you get tired on the I-10, chances are good you don't stop mid-lane for a minute's rest. Take a step to the side when catching your breath. You'll feel less stressed about the trail ahead of you, and the hikers around you won't have to compromise their step.

Talking on the Trail
Hiking with friends is fun and definitely recommended, but group status doesn't give you the right to take over the trail: Be mindful of others while chatting with friends.

Hydrate
But don't leave your water bottles behind!

Applied in kindergarten and applies now: Wait your turn.
Applied in kindergarten and applies now: Wait your turn.

Parking
Parking etiquette really deserves its own post, but we'll keep it short: Wait your turn and don't save spots.

Little Things
And finally, the smallest efforts can make or break a hike for you and those sharing the trail. Watch the perfume or cologne usage, wear appropriate clothing, and smile. Everyone is there to enjoy a bit of a workout and a beautiful desert hike, and a little bit of friendliness goes a long way. Editor's note: This post has been updated from its original version, which first appeared in June 2013.


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