There’s nothing like a wander in the woods, and our trails lead to all sorts of natural splendor—waterfalls, poignant ruins, crystal clear lakes, vast commanding views. It’s no wonder that so many people love to hike in the Hudson Valley Region. It’s a liberating environment, a place to be you. Sing, jog, skip, stop to ponder an exceptional mushroom or a rock formation that resembles the discarded toy of a fitful giant. But there are a few basic rules to follow—mostly based, like all true good manners, on common sense—and knowing them smooths your path, just as you’d want to know the rules before tea with the Queen. (This is considerably simpler, we promise.)
HERE’S HOW TO BE A GREAT INGREDIENT IN THE TRAIL MIX, SO TO SPEAK:
get your right-of-way right
The basics of “travel on the right, pass on the left” work as well here as they do on the road; beyond that, bikers yield to hikers, and both should yield to horses. If you’re making way for a horse and rider, greet them and step to the downhill side of the trail, if there is one; this will make the horse less likely to mistake you for a lurking predator and be startled. Hikers headed downhill should yield right-of-way to those headed up, who are more in need of their momentum. Small groups, singles, and duos should yield to large groups hiking together.
It’s a great idea to just turn your phone off and drop it in your pack till photo time, but if you need to use it, keep the volume of sounds and conversations low. There’s an unbeatable soundtrack all around you out there. If you want music, do use an earbud.
If you’re hiking with your dog, make sure your pup is well under control when encountering another hiker or group, especially if one of them is four-legged, too.
take care of each other
Go beyond, “‘scuse me! Coming through!” and stop to chat a minute with other hikers about your route and the trail conditions. Not only is it more fun, but these chats have been known to save lives when hikers run into misfortune; people who’ve met you can be a huge help to rescuers, just as you can be if the misfortune should happen to them. In the woods, we take care of each other.
take care of the land
That includes taking care of every critter and plant; after all, it’s their home we’re visiting. Stay on cleared trails and don’t mess with rock cairns, much less anything living. The one exception: If you see litter, pick it up and add it to your own trash bag. That’s one of the seven basic principles of LEAVE NO TRACE by the Center for Outdoor Ethics. Flip the page for details.