8 Rules of Trail Running Etiquette

We’re about a year into this COVID mess. You’d think the no-longer-new trail runners would have learned some etiquette by now, but I’m still leaping logs. No. I’m not talking about trees. I’m talking about those steamy piles of shutyomouth that dog owners leave petrifying in the middle of public trails. We all thought you’d be back on the treadmill by now. However, if we’re going to keep sharing this space, it’s time you learned THE RULES!

Rules for Trail Running

8 Rules of Etiquette When Running Public Trails


It's just a good rule for every setting. On the trail, being aware means paying attention to your peripheral and noticing when others approach. This might mean turning the AirPods down a little.  


With so many newbies on the trail, many are oblivious of the others around them. So, you might want to give them a heads up before completely startling them. This could be in the form of a "good morning" or an "on your left" as they, hopefully, stay to the right. 


This is a shared space. We can't all stroll down the center. So, stay in your hypothetical lane or, at least, step aside (to the right) when somebody wants to pass. If you're with a running buddy, don't be these couples who insist on walking shoulder-to-shoulder while hijacking the trail from everyone else. Be prepared to fall in line. 


When we say "your," we mean your dog's. Otherwise, we have much bigger problems. If you find yourself without a bag or scooper, at least lead Fido off the running trail to do his business. 


Some trail loops clearly mark the start, end, and flow of traffic. For whatever reason, that doesn't stop people from running the opposite direction and causing unnecessary face-to-face encounters. Many don't even realize they're running the wrong way... which goes back to the earlier "be aware" rule. If all of the signs and trail markings face the opposite direction, they're not turned backwards. You are! 

Don't run if you're sick.


This is for your own safety as much as others. Sure, benches are enticing and sometimes a must. However, the outdoors have the potential to be the safest place to escape sickness. Don't take unnecessary risks. 


If you've got the crud and think there's even a chance you're contagious, STAY HOME! 


This isn't a commentary on whether you should wear a mask or not. Some locales will require it. Other's won't. That said, leaving your mask on the trail is unacceptable. We'd rather pick up your dog's poop than picking up a used and potentially contaminated face mask. Just being real.



Sorry to be the heavy, but not all rules are made to be broken. There are other unspoken rules practiced by seasoned trail runners, but these are some basics that'll make everyone's trail running experience a little more enjoyable.


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