When preparing to go on a hike, there are a lot of things to think about. You want to make sure you are prepared with supplies and that you know the area well enough. You also have to consider how difficult the hike will be and how long it will take. While these are all important things to think about, it’s also important to keep in mind how you act when on the trail. There are some things that hikers do that are rude as well as harmful to the environment.
These are things that park rangers can’t stand and wish that visitors would avoid doing. We’ve put together a list of ten things people do on hiking trails that park rangers can’t stand.
10 HIKERS TAKING WILDFLOWERS AND OTHER ITEMS FROM THE TRAIL
While wildflowers in the wilderness are beautiful to look at, it’s best to just leave them alone. While you might be tempted to take a bouquet of them back home with you, there are a few reasons why you shouldn’t.
First of all, depending on the state or area you are in, picking the wildflowers could actually be illegal. Even if it’s not, however, doing so makes the area less beautiful and can mess with the ecosystem. It’s always best to try not to disturb any plant life as much as possible.
9 PEOPLE INSISTING THEY CAN GO INTO PLACES THAT ARE OFF LIMITS
When on a hike, especially in places like National Parks, there are usually trails that you should stay on. While in some areas you can explore a bit more, it’s always important to not go places that are clearly off-limits.
If an area is marked telling you to not go there, it’s important to take heed. Often, there are good reasons for keeping people out of certain areas. It could be a safety issue or it could be to protect the land or wildlife.
8 WHEN VISITORS LEAVE TRASH BEHIND
Disposing of your trash correctly while out in the wilderness is one of the most important things you should do while on a hike, camping, or enjoying the outdoors. On some hikes, there might be garbage cans where you can throw things away.
Most of the time, however, especially away from the trailhead, you’ll need to keep your trash with you and carry it out. Leaving trash makes nature look ugly and is harmful to wildlife. It’s just not a classy thing to do.
7 WHEN PEOPLE IGNORE IMPORTANT RULES (KEEP FOOD SAFE FROM BEARS)
Depending on where you’re hiking, there will be unique safety concerns. Some areas of the country have wildlife that can be dangerous. It’s important to read signs that are posted in the area and be aware of this. One big problem in some places is bears.
When people are hiking overnight and don’t store their food properly, bears can get into things. This puts people at risk as well as the bears themselves. Once bears get used to humans, they can become dangerous and need to be put down.
6 TAKING SELFIES & PICTURES IN DANGEROUS PLACES
When you’ve just finished a hike in a beautiful area, it’s natural to want to take some pictures. However, taking selfies or other pictures in dangerous areas can lead to injuries or even death.
This is especially true when hiking in areas near cliffs and other drop-offs. It’s not worth getting close to the edge or being reckless just for the sake of a picture. People have literally died from doing this.
5 WHEN PEOPLE COME TO THE HIKE UNPREPARED
Part of getting ready to go on a hike is to be prepared. When people show up to their hike not ready at all, they can put themselves and others at risk.
Park rangers are responsible for looking out for the land as well as the safety of people in the area. When people aren’t prepared and don’t have the necessary supplies like food and water, this can lead to people getting lost or injured and needing to be rescued.
4 STARTING FIRES WHEN IT’S DANGEROUS/ILLEGAL TO DO SO
If you're on a hike that lasts overnight, it’s understandable to want to light a fire for warmth or to cook food. However, it’s not always legal to start a fire. Depending on where the hike is or the time of year, there could be a high risk of wildfires.
It’s important to know ahead of time about these conditions so you can plan what you will need for light, food, and warmth. Park rangers are responsible for being stewards of the land, and they want to ensure that people don’t start fires.
3 A GENERAL LACK OF RESPECT
As far as many park rangers are concerned, one of the best things to keep in mind when on a hike or using land in any of the parks is respect. This is just a good way to think of things.
Remember to respect nature in various ways, including plant and animal life around you. Also, be respectful of the other people who want to use the land, too. And, of course, remember to respect the rangers themselves.
2 GETTING TOO CLOSE & BOTHERING WILDLIFE
When on a hike, it’s important to respect and understand the animals around you. Remember that this is their home, and you are visiting. Some wildlife, even those that you might not think are dangerous, can hurt you if they feel threatened.
It’s important to listen to the rules regarding animals and never get too close. Even herbivores like moose and bison can be extremely dangerous in some cases.
1 NOT READING THE SIGNS
This is another general rule that park rangers want you to live by. Overall, be considerate and remember to read any signs that are posted and follow the rules. People who ignore signs can get themselves into a lot of trouble.
They could find themselves in a dangerous area or too close to wild animals. Not reading and listening to the instructions on the signs while on a hike can lead to a lot of trouble for the park rangers (and you).