A Few Trail Etiquette Tips

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Wishing everyone a real happy Friday from our home in beautiful San Luis Obispo, CA. This morning I braved the elements (bless my heart) to go play some hooky and shoot some Cocoons. I snapped this particular photo on the northeast side of Cerro San Luis, a favorite local spot of mine, hoping even a fraction of my love for this little hill would come through in the rest of the shots I got.

In the spirit of the upcoming weekend, which I’m looking forward to spending the majority of roaming around outside, I thought I’d share some trail etiquette tips I’ve found useful here and elsewhere. When the sun’s out and the trails are busy, keeping these simple tips in mind can help keep us and the trails we love safe and ready for more action.

Pack it in, pack it out. You know this one: no littering. Obviously, this goes for any trash. However, it also goes for biodegradable or compostable stuff like banana peels or apple cores; even produce waste you lob into nearby brush might be harmful to local animals, so be sure to dispose of your snacks and trash properly.

Let uphill traffic through. If you’re on a narrow trail, step aside and let the folks sloggin’ it out uphill keep their momentum and head past you. You’ve finished the tough part already—let them keep at it! Also, it never hurts to throw a couple words of encouragement their way!

Say hello to other hikers. It’s just a nice thing to do, even if it’s a simple “Hello” or “How’s it goin’?” In much the same way as above, we have to remember the trail is a social setting occupied by many other people. Smiling and talking with others (a) makes the trail an overall friendlier place and (b) allows you to gain and share insights and safety tips about trail conditions ahead.

Take it easy on the noise. I love my tunes as much as the next person, but the trail just isn’t the really the place for music—especially loud music. Lots of people hike for the relatively silent and slowed atmosphere nature can foster, and the volume and tempo of music can shatter that real quickly. Plus, if your music’s too loud, it’s harder to hear when others are coming up behind you or around a turn.

Stick to the trail. Sorry, Robbie Frost—you gotta take that road most traveled. This isn’t just for your own safety, either; while staying on the trail does generally keep you safer from tick bites, poison oak, and other hazards, it also protects delicate ecosystems and little critters’ homes from your sweet new pair of Merrells.

So these are just a few of many trail etiquette tips, but I feel like and hope this is more a confirmation of our good hiking habits than anything. Most people, that is, are totally awesome to hit the trails with or around, and I can probably count on one hand the amount of people I’ve seen who haven’t offered or returned a “Howdy” while hiking, or who haven’t picked up the trash they brought in with them.

In the end, it’s all just about leaving a place better than how you found it. Having a positive footprint (or pawprint!) will help ensure your favorite trail is there for you and others whether you need to get away from it all or whether you’ve been tasked with beefing up your company’s website’s product photo catalog. We know here at Cocoons we’re all working together to stay active and enjoy the outdoors, and we all have a tremendous capacity to help each other do so.

So here’s to a good weekend and a bright summer ahead—happy trails.