One of the most important components of outdoor ethics is to maintain courtesy toward others. It helps everyone enjoy their outdoor experience. Many people come to the outdoors to listen to nature and to enjoy the benefits of this calm environment. Excessive noise, uncontrolled pets and damaged surroundings take away from the natural appeal of the outdoors.
Visitors travelling in groups regularly take breaks to rest, chat or sing. These are wonderful moments to enjoy at a distance from others, without making noise that could disturb others.
The feeling of solitude, especially in open areas, is often enhanced when group size is small, contacts are infrequent and behaviour is unobtrusive. To maximize your feeling of privacy, avoid trips on holidays and busy weekends or take a trip during the off season.
Technology continues to shape the outdoor experience. Personal preferences range from high-tech outdoor travellers, who might want to listen to music and collect images on their devices, to an anti-tech perspective that favours the minimal use of gadgets. Different strokes for different folks, but be sure to carefully consider how your experience can affect the way someone else enjoys the outdoors. For example, earbuds may be a less obtrusive way to enjoy music than external speakers, but if you have the volume turned so high that you can’t hear someone behind you who wants to pass, your passion for music will negatively affect other people.
The use of drones for recreational purposes is not permitted in national parks operated by Parks Canada. For example, in Québec, they are generally banned in parks operated by Sépaq (Société des établissements de plein air du Québec). Only when permitted, drones must be operated carefully and at regulated distance from people and animals to avoid disturbing or injuring them. Check with Transport Canada and the appropriate land manager to find out the rules and precautions that must be taken.
The general assumption on a narrow trail is that hikers headed downhill will step aside to allow an uphill foot traveler to easily pass. On many trails, there’s an expectation that cyclists will yield to hikers. Stay in control when mountain biking. Before passing others, politely announce your presence and proceed with caution.
More and more people with reduced mobility are using trails thanks to adapted equipment. People traveling with mobility aids have the right- of-way. Other hikers must move to the side of the trail to let them pass safely.
On shared trails, horseback riders have the right-of-way. Cyclists and hikers should move off the trail to the downhill side. Avoid sudden movements and talk quietly to riders as they pass, to prevent horses from being spooked, rearing or injuring someone.
Take rest breaks on durable surfaces well off the designated trail. When selecting a campsite, choose a site where rocks or trees will screen it from others view. Keep noise down in camp so as not to disturb other campers or those passing by on the trail. Distance yourself from others if you have to use your cell phone.
Bright clothing and equipment, such as tents, that can be seen for long distances are discouraged, especially in open natural areas where everything can be seen from far. Choose earth-toned colours (such as browns and greens) to lessen the visual impact. However, wearing bright colours may be preferable for some activities or when hunting, or may even be required in these instances. You must use your judgment.
Keep pets under control at all times—Pets are not wild animals and many people are not particularly fond of their close proximity! Some places allow dogs, but dog owners must follow the rules that apply. In Québec, for example, dogs must always be kept on a leash in public areas. Leashes must be 1.85 m or less. If the dog weighs 20 kg or more, a muzzle or harness must be worn. This provincial regulation does not apply to service dogs. Do not forget to bring your own bags to pick up your dog’s feces from trails, beaches, campsites, etc.