Well, you should not be afraid of coyote or wolves either for that matter. They are not bad although they sometimes get a bad rap for doing what comes naturally.
Usually the average coyote enjoys eating squirrels, mice, birds, snakes, deer and even some fruit and vegetables from time to time. However, they have also been known to eat household pets such as dogs and cats when the opportunity presents itself, and there lays the problem.
Coyotes have moved into urban areas and have been known to attack small dogs in backyards as happened in Toronto in early 2009. They are able to easily live among people with one research study showing over 2,000 coyotes living in the Greater Chicago area. They tend also to move into areas vacated by wolves as they do adapt well to living amidst humans.
In urban areas when someone does see a coyote they usually think it is a dog. Coyotes are hard to distinguish from a dog but do have a shower chest with a very leggy look.
Like other animals, coyotes like using hiking trails too, it makes walking through the woods a little easier. When dog hiking in an area known to have coyotes be aware that one coyote will sometimes appear on the trail allowing the dog to chase it. As they usually hunt in packs of two or more the others will be waiting in ambush down the trail.
Hikers themselves should not be concerned as attacks on humans are uncommon, although small children under the age of 10 have been bitten. On rare occasions they have been known to chase people, usually dog walkers. There are only two registered deaths, one in California in 1981 and one in Cape Breton National Park in Nova Scotia in October 2009.
So you do not be afraid of the coyote when hiking. Like you always do watch out for any wild animal whether it be a snake, bear, bird or even a coyote.