My wife is an avid hiker, me not so much. I didn't realize that there is a hierarchy when it comes to trail climbing and I noticed a reminder posted on the Next Door app.

megan mikals
megan mikals

The poster had made a comment about climbing Badger Mountain in the Tri-Cities and that pedestrians always have the right of way but she's technically wrong.

Do you realize or know who's got the right of way when climbing up and down a trail in Washington State?

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Horses Have Priority on Trail Rides

When it comes to horseback riding on trails in Washington State, horses have priority over all other modes of transportation.

This means that if you come across someone riding their horse on a trail, you must yield and give them the right of way. It is also important to note that hikers must always step off the trail before allowing horses to pass by.

This is especially important during times when horses may become spooked—like when encountering loud noises or large groups.

megan mikals
megan mikals

Bicycles Must Yield to All Other Users

Bicyclists are required to ride slowly and cautiously when traversing through hiking trails in Washington State and yield the right-of-way for all other users as needed.

This means that cyclists should always be prepared to slow down or stop if necessary in order to accommodate pedestrians, horse riders, or any other trail users they may encounter.

Additionally, cyclists should always sound their bell (or otherwise announce their presence) whenever approaching another user from behind so as not to startle them.

megan mikals
megan mikals

Hikers Must Follow Trail Etiquette

Hikers must also follow certain etiquette while using hiking trails in Washington State—namely avoiding blocking the path of others who need access and keeping their dogs on leashes at all times (unless otherwise posted).

Hikers should also exercise caution when approaching blind corners as they may unexpectedly encounter another user coming from around the bend without warning. Lastly, hikers should show respect for wildlife by refraining from harassing or feeding wild animals they may come across while exploring the trails.


It might surprise you that the slowest moving traffic has the right of way on hiking trails and uphill climbers have the right of way when it comes to those coming down the hill.

The faster you go, the least likely you have the right of way in the State of Washington.

You can always read more about the rules of hiking a trail here.

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