8 Rules of the Trail

Outdoor Kids

Being a nature lover and taking advantage of what nature has to offer comes with some responsibilities. As we’ve hiked, mountain biked, rock climbed and canyoneered, we’ve noticed that not everyone is in tune with the responsibilities one holds when engaging in outdoor activities. I’m sure you’ve noticed trash along the trail, debris floating in lakes, and even cigarette butts tossed on a hill side.  It is important to know the “rules of the trail” while participating in outdoor activities and to pass them along to your tykes. I always believe in monkey see, monkey do, so if your tykes see you being a responsible hiker, biker, climber or nature lover, they will follow your lead.

Here are 8 Rules of the Trail when enjoying the outdoors.


A chipmunk enjoying some Twizzlers. Don’t get this little guy hooked on sugar.

Rule 1: DO NOT feed! Although the little chipmunk, marmot, deer, pika or moose looks cute and maybe even looks hungry, it is important to keep your snacks, lunch or dinner to yourself. Human food is not made for wild animals, and feeding them can be dangerous or deadly not only to them but to you, as well. Also, animals that get accustomed to human food get themselves in trouble by rummaging through garbage cans, homes and vehicles. Some of these animals may have to eventually be euthanized because of their behavior.

Rule 2: Do NOT approach wildlife. Never get close enough to feed them out of your hand, which goes along with rule 1. Never get close enough to try and pet them or to take a picture. There’s a zoom function on your camera for a reason. Wild animals can be very unpredictable and you may not have time to respond. Most wild animals will overpower you within seconds and heaven forbid something bad happens to you or your tyke. Remember monkey see, monkey do.

columbinesRule 3: Do not pick the flowers! The flowers may be pretty and you may have never seen anything like them, but imagine if every person picked a flower or took an unusual rock. What would be left? Leave the pretty flower or the unique rock for the next passerby to see. Take a picture to remember it.

Rule 4: Pack it out. I don’t know how many times we have seen a soda can, empty water bottle, gum wrapper, string cheese wrapper or even a cigarette butt on the trail. Make sure you pack out ALL your trash including the cigarette butts and diapers. Mother nature isn’t as pretty with trash strung amongst the flowers, trees, lakes and rivers.

Rule 5: Stay on the trail. Trails are created for a reason. Yes, to get from point A to point B but also to keep erosion down and so people don’t trample important vegetation, soil and insects. Although, it is tempting to skirt off the trail for a shorter route it is important to stay on the trail.

Rule 6: Know bathroom etiquette in the outdoors. Bring a trowel for those occasions when #2 occurs and pack out ALL toilet paper. Having plastic bags or sandwich bags on hand makes packing out the dirty toilet paper much easier.

Rule 7: Know that people hiking up hill have the right away. If you are heading downhill pull over to the side of the trail and give them space to pass. It’s rude to try and pass others on the trail when they are grinding up a hill. Especially, if the trail isn’t very wide. Also, always yield to mountain bikers. It is much easier for you to step to the side and allow the biker to pass than to make them stop and try and give you enough room with their bike for you to pass.

Rule 8: Have fun!! Definitely not a hard rule to follow.

These are 8 simple but important rules that will help all of us enjoy the great outdoors.

Last modified: September 19, 2013

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