Trail and Camp Etiquette

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I am no stranger to the trails….. This past year, it seems like everyone has taken up hiking (I don’t blame them – nature heals!).  However, many people are unaware of some of the most basic trail and camp etiquette. Today, I’m going to share with you a few of my pet peeves and how anyone can be sure to have excellent etiquette when out in nature.

1. Clean up after your pooch!

I was out walking at Rotary South the other day and it amazes me how often you see dog poop either left lying on the trail or someone has gone to the trouble of bagging it – then throws the bag into the bush!  That is the definition of poor trail etiquette. Keep in mind your four legged friend isn’t exempt from the rules of the trail and leave no trace principles apply for them as well. Clean up after them and be sure they are under control when other people are nearby. Please do not leave your poop bags lying around for others to pick up – even if you intend to pick it up on the way out.

Dog poop on the trail is pretty bad, but dog poop in a bag on the trail is just gross. Put your bagged dog poop in the garbage bin.

2. Leave No Trace – Bathroom edition!

I spend a lot of time in the back country and it always bugs me when I see toilet paper all over the bush. I get it – nature calls and you have to go, but let’s make sure we are all doing our part.

Keep these basic ideas in mind:

  • Go 200 feet (or at least 70 meters) away from any trail, campsite or water source.
  • Pack out your toilet paper (or if you are somewhere where you have a campfire going – burn your used TP).
  • Deposit solid human waste in a cathole (15-20 cm deep) – cover & disguise the cat hole when finished.

To learn more about leave no trace principles, check out:

3. Be considerate of others.

Say hello to fellow hikers as you pass each other along the trail. This is one way you can learn about trail conditions/critters and it could also be the difference between having someone know where you are in case of emergency or having no one to help direct rescuers. For a number of years, I took my high school outdoor education class backpacking. For many, it was their first ever experience with this….

Saying hello to a complete stranger in a city and people would think you are crazy, but it is common practice in the back country. My students loved it! They got to hear different accents and languages, learned about what was coming up on the trail and most importantly – everyone would smile at them! We all know, smiling is contagious!


A couple other trail basics:

Stay to the right of the trail and pass on the left.  Walk, ride or cycle in single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.  If a person is climbing up a hill, they have the right of way if you are climbing down. I’ll be honest, as an uphill climber, I will often step aside to let the downhill hikers pass by so that I can take in the scenery and catch my breath!

If you are interested in learning about sleep systems, fire lighting (& other survival skills), cooking on a back country stove or fire and more, then be sure to sign up for our Camping 101 course that is happening on Saturday, May 8th from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm.

Erin Klatt, Eagle Point-Blue Rapids Parks Council