The safe hiking tips and responsible recreation insights that might surprise you.

Safe Hiking Tips + Responsible Recreation

Be Bear Aware

Black bears are a wonderful part of our fauna and are rarely a threat. However, it is crucial to know and understand the Bear Wise principals to promote a positive outcome for both yourself and our wildlife. Check out and search ‘bear wise’

Tick Awareness

The presence of ticks and lyme disease is a reality of today. Preventative measures, safe removal techniques, and further education can be found at Ottawa Public Health. More info at

Hiking with Dogs

Where can I hike with my dog? What about in the winter? Are there off-leash parks nearby? Why can’t I bring my dog to trail XYZ? Find all the answers and more with this article that empowers pet owners with awareness that promotes responsible recreation. Full article with tips and insights

Hunting Season

Plenty of hiking trails are also on land that is used for hunting. ⁠In Ontario, hunters can use crown lands, provincial parks, conservation areas, municipal forests, provincial wildlife areas, and private land if they are specifically permitted. ⁠Always wear high visibility clothing. Check hunting seasons on the provincial websites at or and search ‘hunting season’.

The Ten Essentials

There are times where I’ve been lovingly laughed at for being so prepared, yet it comes in handy often. Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) goes through each of the Ten Essentials here:

Leave No Trace

It’s the little things like packing out your own trash, staying on the pathways, and proper outdoor bathroom etiquette that have larger positive impacts on the environment than a person might realize. Leave No Trace Canada outlines seven principals to guide your outdoor experiences. Visit for more information.


Not all trails are created equal. Before hiking check on road conditions, trail conditions, cell reception – and then plan and pack accordingly. Make fall back plans for emergencies so that if A, B, C happens then you X, Y, Z. Hike with buddies or on higher traffic trails if hiking solo. Know your limits and hike within it. Some trails in this book are not well marked, have no cell service, and require specific skill. Hiking is an individual responsibility.

Local Swimming

Opt for hats and long sleeve rash wear and UVA/B clothing over sunscreen to protect fragile water life. Check online to make sure your destination lake/river if safe for swimming/paddling. As a general rule, don’t swim in rivers after a big rain (increase in pollution and bacteria levels).


Drones cannot be taken into or operated in national or provincial parks without authorization. Do you know how they impact bird life and conservation areas? Or that they fall under Canadian Aviation Regulations? That drones between 250g to 25kgs needs to be registered and flown by a licensed pilot? More info at

Mud Season

Early spring is considered ‘mud season’ and in order to protect our trails and ecological efforts always hike through the mud and not around. Many trail managers opt to do trail/facility repairs during this time, check the specific trail you are planning to hike before heading out. More info at


Before foraging ask yourself:⁠ Is it legal on this land? Can you accurately identify the plant?⁠ Is this a species at risk?⁠ Do you know what part of the plant is edible?⁠ Is it the right season to pick this plant?⁠ Can you forage in a manner that conserves the species? ⁠Do you know how to prepare the plant for safe consumption?⁠ More info at

Shared Trail Etiquette

Each shared trail has a variation of guidelines, take note before you head out! Who has the right of way? Cyclists? ATVs? Hiking? Those hiking up or those hiking down? In the winter, plenty of trails in Ottawa turn into ski only or shared trails. “At designated crossings, hikers, snowshoers and snow bikers may cross a cross-country ski trail, but they must yield to skiers, and avoid the classic tracks.” @ncc_ccn More info at