As a society, we have rules that we live by to maintain our good citizen status. And most of us also have a human moral code that gives us the warm fuzzies when we do something good. The backcountry also has rules and should be adhered to just as diligently.
Unfortunately, out in nature, no one is around to give us a big pat on the back (or a well deserved spankin'), so that back country moral code goes out the window. Lucky for us, we can practice Leave No Trace
(LNT) Principles and teach our children the proper etiquette for outdoor fun
. One of the great responsibilities of parenthood is instilling the virtues of integrity and responsibility in our children. If we teach our children to love our Mother Earth, we can all enjoy her beauty for years to come.
Hiking Etiquette For Families With Young Children:
Stay On The Trail: Trails are created and maintained so that we humans can explore the outdoors and take a peek into the wilderness. When we continually go off trail, the effects are profound. Vegetation will begin to die off as it continually gets trampled, which ultimately widens the trail causing a larger footprint on the environment. For that same reason it is important to hike in a single file line as often as you can.
Allow Others To Pass: Hiking with children can be a slooooow process. And by slow, I mean the snails on the rocks are moving at a faster pace. With every squeal over a new found leaf/rock/patch of moss on a tree, you will most definitely have people passing you. Please keep in mind that not everyone is out in nature to take their time, so be courteous and allow other hikers to pass by. Be mindful of how crowded the trail is so you don't disrupt others.
Hike Quietly: This term is used somewhat loosely. If you are hiking in a well-populated or even crowded area, keep your voices low to not disturb other hikers. Obviously, keeping toddlers below an eardrum bursting volume isn't always possible, so choose your adventure based on family friendliness if this will be an issue for you. If you are hiking in an isolated location, it is good to maintain conversation at a normal volume, and maybe even sing if you are in an area where bears are present. Just remember to always be respectful and courteous of others around you.
Backcountry Yielding: Here are some rules of the backcountry road:
- Downhill hikers yield to uphill hikers
- Bikers and hikers yield to horses
- Bikers yield to hikers
Leave No Trace:
- Don't litter--pack it in, pack it out!
- Don't feed wildlife. Believe it or not, all animals on the Earth have a purpose. When they are continually and purposely fed by humans, their normal, and extremely vital, behaviors come to a stop. The animals themselves, as well as the vegetation and surrounding ecosystems suffer. What you believe to be one harmless act could be the 300th time that one animal has been fed by a human. Please don't feed the wildlife!
- To take an outdoor potty break, please go 200 feet from the trail and from any water source.
- To read more LNT principles, check out my blog post here!
If You Get Separated...
- Stay where you are
- Wait for the rest of your group at the fork in the trail to be sure they are safe and following the same trail as you.
As always, enjoy the outdoors! Your children will never forget memories made while enjoying Mother Earth.
Featured Image PC: Yoshi Takekawa Written by Lindsay Helm