I needed a moment to vent so I created a list of pet peeves that I have on the trail, and these are annoyances most experienced hikers have encountered on the trail. These are pet peeves, but they are basic hiker etiquette as well. If you are new to hiking read this list or at least learn the Leave No Trace Principles for the basics about how to respect nature and your fellow hiker on the trail.
If you are a seasoned hiker, I hope you can laugh and vent along with this list and add any more pet peeves you might have in the comments.
My Hiking Pet Peeves
1. Leave No Trace
I feel like this is so obvious but so many people do not abide by it. Leave no Trace means do not litter, not even organic foods like apple cores, take it all home with you, the little shifts to the ecosystem can cause bigger problems.
Leave no Trace also means stay on the path and do not destroy the nature around you. These hiking paths have seen enough people come through and do not need people tromping around, destroying the wilderness. This includes camping only in designated spots, you never know what your tent could be damaging.
A lot of the following pet peeves below are actually part of the Leave no Trace principles, if you are not familiar with the 7 principles I would highly recommend checking them out here before you hit the trails next.
2. Be Conscious of Noise Pollution
This one always makes me feel like a grumpy old lady but most people go into nature to enjoy it in its entirety, and that includes listening to the raindrops, the birdsongs, and the crunch of the dirt under their feet, it doesn’t mean we want to listen to your loud electronic music blasting from your portable speaker, and then you yelling over it to all of your friends.
Nature has a soundtrack of its own, give it a listen.
I also understand that some people like to play music to scare off the bears, if you are hiking alone I get this, but I usually choose to wear a bell and I like to whistle/sing/talk to myself occasionally to let them know I am there. If you are already in a group, your talking will more than scare them away, no need for music.
3. Don’t Feed the Wild Animals
Have you ever been to a park or popular trail where a squirrel or bird just jumps right into your hand like they are not scared of you at all, that’s not because they aren’t scared of you, its because people have fed them and now that is the only source of food they rely on.
Feeding wild animals can lead to a multitude of problems, and ultimately their death. Please, don’t feed the wildlife, no matter how cute they are.
4. Go Prepared
Look, I am all about anyone can hike, and that means that you do not need any fancy gear to get out into the mountains, but if I see you out there in flip flops or untied skate shoes with no water and no food, I am going to roll my eyes and get annoyed that you are more likely to become a problem on the trail that other, prepared people, will have to deal with.
Please, at the very least wear closed-toed shoes that are laced up, and bring plenty of water. If you need help, read my guide about how to start hiking for cheap here. Also, what’s in my summer pack here and what’s in my winter pack here.
5. Let People Pass
If someone is following behind you closely on the trail, they probably are not just content hanging out and going your pace, and they want to pass. Please always be aware of other people around you and step off to the side when it’s safe to let those people go ahead of you.
If you are hiking in a group, the person at the back is responsible for informing those ahead of them that they need to step off the trail for a moment.
The same goes for letting people pass going in the opposite direction. When I see people coming I always look around to see if it will be easier for me or for them to step off the trail. If there is a clear flat patch to step off onto, do it. Almost always the person heading down should be the one to stop, as they usually have a better vantage point to see people coming up, if that’s not possible just be observant and spacially aware.
Never just push through, the best way to go about passing people in opposite directions is just to look around, make eye contact with the other group, and communicate to them whether or not you can stop.
This also includes if you need to stop to get something out of your pack or rest, please move off the trail so others can pass. That person standing right below you on the trail, watching you drink your water, isn’t doing it admirably, they are annoyed and willing you to get off the trail so that they can continue.
6. Park Properly
This seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes the first few people to show up to a trailhead just park however they want and don’t consider that others might be following behind them and won’t be able to find a spot to park.
7. Don’t Be Condescending
Look, I am going to be very stereotypical right now, which might annoy some people, but this is based on my personal experience and I have noticed this pattern. Usually, men, and usually older white men, can be incredibly condescending to younger women on the trail like myself when I am alone or with another girlfriend.
They will ask if I know where I am going, if I am prepared, will act shocked that a woman my age is hiking (like what??) and will sometimes talk down to me if I warn them about something ahead on the trail like they somehow psycically knew it was there.
This is just mansplaining in the forest, and it sickens me. I hate having random men talk to me like I have never been outside before, and them acting like I am taking a quiz about being outside where they are the teacher.
If you are a man on the trails, and you see a woman out there, and you feel the need to talk to her, maybe ask her what her favorite local trail is, or what her favorite hiking snack is, or where she got her socks from. If she gives you a piece of advice like “hey! There’s a bear ahead on the trail!” just say “thanks! I will keep an eye out!” instead of “oh of course there is a bear, do you know how to deal with bears? They aren’t that scary” (based off true events). *eye roll to the max*.
8. Be Wise About Your Dog
I LOVE dogs, and I want to see them everywhere all the time, but sometimes they just don’t belong. If the hike you are taking is a no-dog trail, or leashed dogs only, there are probably reasons for that. They can cause problems with the wildlife, other hikers, or sometimes the trails just really aren’t suited for our four-legged friends.
It bums me out when I see a dog struggling to get through a technical trail or scramble when their bodies aren’t designed for that. In Vancouver I see tiny dogs doing on big trails all the time, and I know they get tired, but I guess since they are small enough, owners can just carry them or lift them over the hard parts.
Just do your research before you take your dog on a trail, there might be a good reason for them not to come with might be for their own sake or others.
Also be aware that not everyone likes dogs and letting your dog run up to say hi to everyone might not be a comfortable situation for the other party. If you think your dog might be the best behaved dog, they might not appear that way to others. I’ve had a dog follow me closely and park at my heels while the owner laughed and casually called it to come, though it never did. I had to change trails because it was so frustrating. If the dog had just been on a leash like it was supposed to, there wouldn’t have been a problem.
The other problem with your dog not being on a leash is wildlife. Yes, your dog barking may scare off a bear or a cougar but it will also scare off all of the small animals and chasing after them is even worse.
Final note on dogs, clean up after them! Leaving the poop bags on the side of the trail at anytime goes against Leave no Trace principles.
9. Don’t Gatekeep
This one is definitely going to be divisive, and its a new social media trend not an inperson trail trend.
This is basically refusing to tell people where you went after posting a picture and being rude about it. If you do not want to geotag then don’t, but do not go around making people feel bad for wanting to get out in nature and enjoy it for themselves. Nature does not belong to you, you belong to nature, and everyone should have access to it.
I encourage everyone to get outside and explore (and be respectful of mother earth) and I will not be blocking others from going outside. Teach nature stewardship instead.
Wow, that felt great to vent! I was probably a bit harsh but overall, be polite on the trails, and be considerate, we are all in this together, and also, say hello! Most of the time other outdoorsy people are lovely and all want the same thing, just don’t be a jerk on the trail and if you aren’t sure if you are, just ask!
If you agree with my pet peeves, or have any of your own to add, feel free to vent in the comments below. Happy hiking!
Welcome to Alpine Feeling! My name is Talon, and I am a Vancouver local who loves hiking and all things outdoors. I am here to do my best to provide you with outdoor guides to the Vancouver area and beyond.