Can You Pick Your Own Trail Name?

My personal opinion: No

In actual reality: Do whatever you want

Many of the long distance thru-hikes have their own unique culture, a key aspect of which is Trail Names.

For those that don’t know, these are essentially nicknames people use when hiking on trail, instead of their ‘civilian’ name.

There is usually a story or personal quirk behind the origin of a trail name.

For example, when I was on the A.T. I was given the trail name Sherlock. Why? Because I smoke a tobacco pipe.

However, many people do pick their own name. It’s up to each person to decide if they want to name themselves, be given a name or even if they want any trail name at all.

Are There Rules For Trail Names?

Like with most things hiking you’re free to choose your own path.

However, traditionally trails names have been given to a person as opposed to someone naming themself.

In this way a trail name becomes something born of the trail in which you are hiking as opposed to something you bring with you from the ‘real world’.

You can reject any trail name someone gives you or adopt a new one at any time.

For example, I only had the trail name Sherlock for about a week before I got off trail on the A.T. , so I don’t feel any particular affinity towards it. So when I start my next thru-hike I’ll start without a trail name again.

Why You Shouldn’t Give Yourself a Trail Name

Personally, I don’t think people should give themselves a trail name because you’ll end up picking a name you want, not one your earn.

If you name yourself you’ll become Batman or Soaring Eagle. Something cool to inflate your own ego.

Whereas if you get your name on trail it’ll be a more humbling experience.

It might seem an arbitrary philosophical distinction but if you arrive on trail with a name you’ve given yourself then, in my opinion, you’re arriving with firm expectations of yourself and the trail.

I much prefer to arrive with no name, no expectations and discover that on trail.

Obviously, hike your own hike and do what suits you but I think their is benefit to letting the trail name you as opposed to picking your own trail name.

Hike on!