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Trail Rules, Tips and Etiquette

Enjoying the trails is a great way to explore the outdoors, but as we do, there are some rules and etiquette we should all follow.

Whether you are an avid hiker, biker, horseback rider or new to the trails it is important to familiarize yourself with the trail you are going on and it’s rules before heading out.

First and foremost, if you are driving to the start of your designated trail, be sure to park your car in designated parking lots or parking areas. This is for safety, respect for nature and the people that live in the area.

Right of way on the trails:

  • Bikers give right of way to hikers and horses.
  • Hikers give right of way to horses (Horses are bigger and can sometimes be unpredictable). When crossing paths with horses be sure to stand quiet while the horse passes.
  • Person going uphill has a bit of a harder task ahead and should be given the right of way.

Trail Tips and Etiquette:

  • Always stay on the trail except when resting. When resting move off the trail so that you are not blocking the trail
  • Respect private property along and on the trail
  • Always stay on the right of the trail unless you are passing someone
  • When passing someone let them know and always pass on the left … You may say something like “on your left”
  • Always ask permission before touching or petting other people’s animals (horses, dogs) to prevent scaring or spooking the animal or yourself from sudden unexpected movements.
  • For group hiking always hike in a single file so that you are not blocking the trail.
  • Cell phones on silent or vibrate and noise level should be kept down to where the sounds of nature can be heard over conversations, unless you are hiking in bear country, then some noise is acceptable 🙂
  • When hiking with children be sure they follow and know all the same rules, tips and etiquette.
  • Sometimes parts of trails such as the Bruce Trail are connected by roadways. When hiking on a road without sidewalks be sure to walk on the left side of the road facing oncoming traffic (unless you are in England 🙂 ). You and motorists will be able to better see each other and make faster decisions if needed to avoid accidents and for protection.
  • Before heading out be sure to let someone know what trail you will be hiking, riding or horseback riding. There is always a chance that an accident may happen and someone should know where you are.
  • Be sure to report damage or wrong doing to the particular trail authority.

Follow the rules of the trail:

  • Be sure to familiarize yourself with the trail before using it. Unlike the Trans Canada Trail, the Bruce Trail does not allow bikes or horses on it. It is only a foot path. All trails have different rules.
  • Stay on marked trail routes.
  • Don’t climb fences as you will probably be trespassing onto someones land.
  • Most trails require dogs to be on a leash no matter how friendly you think your dog is.
  • The Bruce Trail has a great saying “Leave only your thanks and take nothing but photographs,” so be sure to take your garbage/trash with you and leave nature and wildlife alone so that others can also enjoy it
  • Obey all signs … There is a reason they are there.
  • It really wouldn’t hurt if you left the trail even better than you found it 🙂


  • Camp in designated areas
  • Pack in and pack out
  • Proper human waste management – dig hole deep enough.
  • All campgrounds have specific rules on camp fires, be sure you know them for the area you are camping in.

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