Maryland Outdoor Club

Events > Etiquette Guidelines > Hiking Considerations

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  • ALWAYS stay on a designated trail and avoid trailblazing. Shortcuts can be dangerous and may increase erosion.
  • Learn to share the trails with all other users. Bike riders yield to both hikers and horseback riders; hikers yield to horseback riders.
  • Walk, ride and cycle in single file to lessen trail widening, erosion or braiding.
  • Use common sense and courtesy while on the trails. Announce your intentions and slow your pace when passing someone on the trails.
  • Downhill yields to uphill. Always stay to the right.
  • Do not litter. Pack out your trash. It shouldn't be necessary to remind anyone of this. Still, every backcountry traveler has come across soft-drink cans, film containers, candy wrappers, cigarette butts or worse on the trail. If you can carry it in, you can certainly carry it out. Some hikers, in fact, make it a point to carry out more than they carried in, cleaning up after their less thoughtful fellow travelers.
  • Do not chase or harass wildlife.
  • Do not break off tree limbs, remove broken egg shells, or pick or damage plants growing along the trails.
  • Avoid putting your hands and feet anywhere you cannot see.
  • Be respectful toward your fellow foot-travelers. Let faster-moving parties pass. Obey regulations, which in many areas prohibit pets, vehicles (including bicycles) and firearms or other weapons on the trails.
  • Leave everything as you found it. It is illegal to disturb plants or wildlife in most areas under federal or state jurisdiction, or to remove archaeological artifacts, dead wood, fossils or other geological features. If you must carry away a memento of your visit, make sure it's only a photograph. This is particularly important where there are rare, native plants which are desperately vulnerable to damage. Do not break off tree limbs or pick or damage plants growing along the trails. "Ordinary" (and not just geologically significant) stones or rocks should not be removed as they often provide shade/shelter to smaller organisms and/or plants.
  • Trail closures may at times be necessary due to wet conditions. Muddy trails should be avoided for several days after heavy rains. Using muddy trails will widen trails and accelerate erosion.
  • Remember the 3 Cís: Courtesy, Communication and Common Sense.

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