Hiking Trails

Texas nature lovers list hiking peeves

I have a confession. When I started my hiking journey at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, I was that person who cranked up my music as I walked along the trails. Sometimes I even sang loudly. Yes, I’m a little embarrassed.

Unaware of how annoying this can be to others, my volume was cranked up on my speaker playing Dua Lipa and Lady Gaga (I’m a pop diva). The bad habit happened about five times before I started noticing the disapproving faces and ugly looks.

After joining a few hiking groups and gaining more experience, I no longer blew my tunes and learned to appreciate the sounds of nature. Sometimes I put on my headphones, but now I’m motivated to keep up my speed walking to the sound of chirping birds and singing trees.

However, it took me a while to figure out proper hiking etiquette. The National Park Service said there are several written and unwritten rules for trail use. According to the NPS, good hiking etiquette helps instill respect in other trail users and promotes stewardship of the land.

On Facebook this week, I asked several Texas hiking groups (San Antonio Hikers, Campers and Backpackers, Backpacking and Hiking Texas, Women Hiking in San Antonio, and Girls Who Hike TX) what their pet peeves were when it came to other hikers. Overall, the groups shared the same dislikes. Here are the top 10 comments:

  1. Loud music: The majority of hikers don’t want to hear your Dua Lipa or Bun B songs while on the trails. The NPS also encourages trail users to keep noise away from electronic devices and to be respectful of nature and users. Many wildlife species rely on natural sounds for communication, and disrupting these sounds can harm their chances of survival.
  2. Dog poop: Many members of all groups ask dog owners to pick up their dog’s poop, including the bag they pick it up with. Orvis, a family-owned sporting goods company, wrote in a report that the best practice is to put poop in a bag and carry it around.
  3. Rubbish: Park officials everywhere and anywhere can probably confirm this. Leave no trace behind, friends.
  4. Off-leash dogs: In Texas state parks, dogs must be kept on a leash. The same policy applies to San Antonio parks. No matter how well trained they are, that’s a rule.
  5. Not knowing the right of way (I had to learn this one too): Several hikers in the group acknowledge the number of trail users who do not follow the correct right-of-way yields. According to the NPS, hikers going uphill have the right of way. If you’re going down the trail, step aside and give space for people going up.
  6. Speak loud : When on the trail many hikers ask to keep the conversations to themselves and not the entire park. The NPS also encourages others to let nature do the talking when outdoors.
  7. Stacking stones: According to the Ausable River Association, rock piling in forests and mountains could mislead hikers off the beaten path and lead to dangerous outcomes. Additionally, the NPS said to always apply the principles of Leave No Trace: leave rocks, vegetation and artifacts where you find them for others to enjoy.
  8. Be respectful: The best thing you can do while hiking is to remember the “Golden Rule”: Treat others as you would like to be treated, recommend the NPS and Texas Hikers.