We’re lucky to have easy access to so many beautiful hiking trails in Vancouver. It seems like more and more people are getting out and enjoying hiking. But with this increase in popularity comes some challenges like crowded trails and degraded natural environments. This is why it is important to be respectful to the other people on the trail, to the wildlife, and to the environment.

Below are a list of general ‘rules’ that will help you to be a courteous hiker while you’re out adventuring. We hope you take these to heart.

1. Horses, Hikers, and Bikers

This is the generally accepted order for right-of-way. Horses have the right of way. Then hikers. Then bikers.

Put another way, hikers will always yield to horses. Bikers should always yield to horses and hikers.

If you’re on a multi-use trail be prepared for these situations.

2. Yield to Uphill Traffic

If you are on a single-track trail with uphill and downhill traffic, those hiking downhill should yield to those hiking uphill.

Sometimes, the hikers going uphill will be thankful for the opportunity to take a quick rest and step aside for downhill hikers. That’s fine, but the uphill hiker should be given the choice.

Stay on the right of the trail (the same way we drive on our roads).

If you’re overtaking someone, pass on the left, and let them know you’re passing (usually saying “On your left” is all you need to do).

3. Follow Leave no Trace Principles

Leave No Trace is a non-profit organization “dedicated to promoting and inspiring responsible outdoor recreation through education, research and partnerships”. LNT has seven principles which are widely regarded. I won’t cover them all here, but you can read about each of the seven principles by following the links below for further details on each of them.

If you can follow these principles, you’re doing your part to protect wildlife and the environment.

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare (link)
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces (link)
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly (link)
  4. Leave What You Find (link)
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts (link)
  6. Respect Wildlife (link)
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors (link)

4. Hike Single-File, and in Small Groups

Hiking is a fun group activity, but if the group is too large, it can become a problem. Having a large group can make it hard for others to pass you on the trail. And it can also be hard for large groups to stay together, if people have different fitness levels.

If you are hiking in a group, its best to hike single-file, allowing some room for other users on the trail to pass.

5. Music on the Trail

Speakers and boomboxes. Just leave them at home. Please.

People like to get out into nature to enjoy the peace and solitude, and likely won’t appreciate whatever tunes you’re blasting.

6. Be Friendly and Have Fun

A quick hi and some eye contact can go a long way.

Be nice! Have fun!