Hiking Etiquette

Spout Path

Calvin Tong

Hiking Etiquette

Each year, the East Coast Trail welcomes enthusiastic hikers from around the globe. We want as many people as possible to experience our award-winning trail, but we also ask hikers to respect the trail.

Please read our hiking etiquette tips below which outline how you can help protect the trail.

Become an Annual Member

The trail is free for all to use and enjoy, but it’s not free to maintain! It takes hundreds of volunteers and a trail crew to maintain and repair the wear and tear from use from trail enthusiasts. Practice good trail etiquette by purchasing a membership to help cover the costs to preserve and protect the trail.

Leave no Trace

Pack it in. Pack it out. Please remove all trash, leftover food and litter from the trail.

Take Only Pictures

Pictures are encouraged (and you can share them using #ECTlove and #eastcoasttrail) but please leave plants and wildlife undisturbed.

Pedestrian Only

The East Coast Trail is a pedestrian trail. The following message is posted at all trailhead locations: “No open fires, vehicles, bikes or horses on trail.” Our Licence to Occupy on Crown Land, Municipal Town Plans, private landowner agreements and our insurance policies are based on the fact that the East Coast Trail is a pedestrian trail, not an all-purpose trail.
The East Coast Trail was designed, built, and is being maintained to sustain walkers, hikers and runners. The trail was designed to provide the safe passage of pedestrians and to minimize the impact on the environment. The trail was not hardened to sustain bike, vehicle or equestrian traffic nor was it designed with the sightlines and safety considerations required to support an all-purpose trail.

Dogs on the Trail

Dogs may join hikers on the trail as long as they are under the control of the owner. Owners must follow applicable provincial legislation and/or municipal by-laws when taking their dogs on public rights-of-way. Owners are asked to remove pet waste from the trail and dispose of it after hiking.

No Open Fires

Carry a backpack or camping stove if you are planning to cook while on the trail.

Hike on the Trail bed

Please hike on the developed trail to protect vegetation and prevent erosion.

No Woodcutting

Woodcutting is not permitted within 50m of the trail.


Respect the peace and quiet of the wilderness and the privacy of people who live near the trail.

The Trail is for Pedestrians

The East Coast Trail has been developed for walking, hiking or trekking on foot.

The trail is single-track (wide enough for one person to pass on foot) and follows vegetated and rocky coastline, often with limited forward visibility. As a result, the following activities are not permitted on the trail:

  • Cycling or mountain biking
  • Horseback riding
  • Use of wheeled vehicles, motorized or non-motorized
  • Open fires – use a portable camp stove instead

Considerations for Trail Runners

If running on the trail, please:

  • Avoid running to the side of the trail where possible. Foot-widened patches are not stable as hardened trail, resulting in eroded, often muddy stretches of path.
  • Remember that many hikers will not expect to encounter a trail runner. Be prepared to yield the trail if needed.
  • When approaching another trail user quickly from behind, let them know you intend to pass them with a polite “on your left” (or right).
  • If running uphill, be prepared to yield to those coming downhill.

Memorials on the East Coast Trail

From time to time the Association will receive an inquiry regarding the placement of a structure in memory of a loved one on, or adjacent to, the trail. The intended structure may be a plaque, a bench, a sign, artwork, or some other physical marker.  Unfortunately, we cannot support the placement of such structures on or near the trail.

Since its inception, the Association has promoted the wilderness character of the trail. Our reluctance to support the placement of memorial structures stems from our guiding principle of Leave No Trace.  We have a trust obligation to protect the public wilderness lands through which the trail passes and our response is intended to ensure that the Association exercises this trust in a responsible manner so as not to change the wilderness character or the natural environment of the trail.

The presence of private memorials along the trail can detract from the natural environment and intrude on the experience and enjoyment of other people who hike the trail. While the Association certainly understands and sympathizes with the private grief of friends and families of deceased loved ones, it remains committed to preserving the natural landscape and we strive to leave as minimal an imprint as possible. As an alternative, we encourage people to find solace by appreciating a favourite site or viewpoint on the trail as their loved one would have experienced it – free from the intrusion of man-made markers and memorials.