“Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.” - Aldo Leopold
Although many of us go hiking in Ohio to enjoy the peace and solitude of nature, others are doing the same thing. This means that we will ultimately share the trail with someone else. Just like sharing the road with other cars, there are right and wrong ways to share the trail.
The general guidelines for sharing the trail are:
Pass on the Left
When you need to pass someone, pass on their left. This goes for hiking as well as biking. When coming up behind someone state load enough for them to hear “passing on your left” or “on your left”. This allows others the time to get over to the right and safely out of your way.
Most people are outside enjoying nature and having a good time. Don’t ruin someone’s day being rude. It’s easy to be friendly. Smile and say hello or give them a friendly head nod. And when someone does speak to you be courteous and reply.
Stay on the Trail
Stay on the trail unless you absolutely need to step off. When you go off the trail, you can hurt or kill plants and animals. When you leave the trail, it should be left the same way as when you entered.
Leave the Animals Alone
If you encounter an animal, leave it alone. Always stay a safe distance away. Trying to get close can cause an animal to attack. There are many types of Ohio mammals and birds. You are exploring their home. If they feel threatened or have young nearby they can attack. Leaving the trail can also cause damage to the ecosystem.
Don’t Take or Leave Souvenirs
Just because you found an interesting rock or a beautiful Ohio wildflower doesn’t mean that you should take it. Being in love doesn’t mean that you need to carve your initials into a tree or rock. Leave everything where it is. Nature and artifacts are there for everyone to enjoy. When you leave the park, there shouldn’t be any evidence that you were even there. However, if you find trash, please remove it.
Don’t be Loud
When out enjoying our magnificent Ohio hiking trails, it is natural to talk to your friends and family. However, keep the noise level to a minimum. Be respectful of nature and fellow hikers. Most people are outside to enjoy the peace and quiet. You don’t have to make a bunch of noise when you are out. Listen to nature and turn the sound on your electronic devices off. If you have to listen to music while you walk, use one earbud. This is more respectful to those around you, and you can be able to hear what is going on around you.
Always be Aware
Nature is peaceful and relaxing, but it is still nature. Always be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to wildlife as well as other hikers. If animals feel threatened they can attack. And as much as we hate it, not everyone is trustworthy.
Always carry out whatever you carried in. You should never leave anything behind. This includes food. If you come upon any trash, remove it too, if possible. If we want to continue enjoying our beautiful Ohio parks, we need to do our part.
Know Who Has the Right of Way
When using a multipurpose trail, you need to know who has the right of way. The rules may vary at different Ohio parks, so make sure that you know what to expect.
The General Rules Are:
Hikers have the right of way when they are coming uphill. If you are making your way down, move aside and give them room.
People on bicycles give way to hikers and horses. They should come to a complete stop and make enough room for others to pass.
Hikers must yield to horses. Horses can frighten easily. Calmly step aside and give them plenty of room to pass. Do not make any sudden movements or loud noises.
Have Fun and Take Pictures
Hiking is a great way to spend time outdoors and there are countless Ohio Trails. It is relaxing and provides a great form of exercise.
Hiking should be fun and safe. By following the above guidelines, you can make your trip even more enjoyable. Remember, parks, trails and nature preserves are for everyone to enjoy. They need to be treated with respect. Don't remove anything other than trash. Instead carry a camera. This will provide you with memories without causing harm to plants or wildlife.