Who Has the Right of Way When Hiking?

Troy De Ville

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Core mountaineering trail
Some of us go outdoors for the solitude, but eventually, we’ll meet people on the trail. Do I go right or left, should I stop and let them pass or not? It’s part of proper trail etiquette; who has the right of way on a narrow trail? Trial use is a privilege, so we need to conduct ourselves appropriately. With proper trail etiquette, everyone will enjoy backpacking more.
This also helps keep the trail in good condition. With little exception, the people going up the trail have the right of way.  Usually, the uphill hiker is focused downward, a few feet ahead of them. Let’s look at the few exceptions. 
Core mountaineering trail

When Should You Yield for Others Going up the Trail?

When I’m solo hiking and I come across a large group, I let them by me going uphill or down. Sometimes the group insists, and it’s nice to go by quickly to not slow them down too much. This is the same when I see a horse on the trail as well. Horses can be easily spooked, so they have the right of way. Hikers and mountain bikers should give the horses space. The last thing I’d want to see a trek is someone falling off a horse.

What About Motorcycles and Trail Bikes?

 On a shared trail, mountain bikers should always yield to hikers when the path is narrow. The bicyclist will be moving faster so the hiker should be aware of there surroundings at all times. Proper etiquette is for the biker to let you know if more bicyclist is right behind them.
The same rule applies for the motorcyclist, but if you’re on the same trail, it’s probably going to be a wider trail. In this case, as a hiker, I would be more conformable moving out of the way of a motorcycle. It’s also usually more manageable for the hiker to move over anyways. 

Why Do Some Hikers Coming Uphill Stop for People Coming Downhill?

 After hiking for a few hours, exhaustion sets in, and every little moment of rest is nice. I’ve been there, hiking up to the lake all day and know I’m getting close to seeing the water. A few moments here and there gives my legs a little rest, so I don’t mind giving way to the person on there way down.
The most important thing to remember is to treat other hikers the same way you’d like to be treated on the trail.

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