Shared Trail Etiquette

Shared Trail Etiquette
Shared trail etiquette is a standard of protocol for how multi-use trails should be properly used and protected. Following these behaviors ensures that all outdoor enthusiasts are polite to one another, allowing for each party to have a good time while on the trail. Additionally, following proper shared trail etiquette promotes the safety of all trail users---whether it be bikers, hikers, equestrians or runners---and helps minimize the human impact on the environment.

Basic Guidelines

Shared trail etiquette promotes the enjoyment of the trail experience. The standard of all shared trail users to respect one another. Understand that the trail is available to everyone, and each user must follow proper guidelines (such as who has the right of way). When encountering another party on the trail, greet them with a friendly "Hello," or nod of your head. Move to the right to allow others to pass. Follow the "yield" rules: bicyclists yield to all trail users (think: "wheels yield to heels") and those on foot yield to horseback riders. If unsure of whether to yield to another party, stop and allow them to pass. When traveling on a downhill slope, always yield to users moving uphill. If passing from behind, announce "passing on your left" or similar. Never use a bicycle horn or bell, which could startle a horse. Exert caution if you (or the other trail user) is listening to music, as headphones may hinder communication attempts. Follow the specific posted trail rules, such as speed limits, leashed pets, fire-building restrictions.

Shared Safety

Following shared trail etiquette is the responsibility of all users. Safe practices promote the well-being of all parties. Be watchful when moving along blind curves and upward or downward slopes. Anticipate that another user may be traveling the opposite direction. Follow all basic trail etiquette and encourage others to do the same. Be aware of your surroundings and impending weather conditions. Danger of a flash flood? Alert others in the area. Rocky terrain? Notify multi-users to watch their step. Additionally, be prepared for the outdoor experience. Have extra water in your pack, energy-promoting foods, matches, a first-aid kit, a trail map, cell phone and flashlight. Stay on the trail. Promoting shared trail safety includes knowing your limits---beginner hikers should not attempt multi-point, challenging hikes, and novice mountain bikers should maintain absolute control of their bike. Stay alert while out on the trail. Preventing accidents and protecting each other are key factors in shared trail etiquette.

Low-Impact on Environment

Experiencing the great outdoors is a way to refocus your life, escape stress, meditate, exercise, develop friendship and observe beauty. Shared trail etiquette requires that all users respect the wilderness and leave no evidence of their presence. A common adage is "pack it in, pack it out," meaning that everything a user brings out onto the trail (such as a water bottle or granola bar) should be brought home for disposal (recycle the plastic bottle and throw the wrapper in a garbage can). Litter on trails is not only unsightly, it can negatively impact native wildlife and delicate eco-systems. Walk with a gentle gait (toe-to-heel) to minimize human impact on the trail. Be aware of the trail itself---from passing bugs to sprouting plants---and adjust your step accordingly. Be conscious of the trail environment, and do not deviate from the maintained, documented path. Users who switchback and create their own trails damage the environment by promoting eroison and affecting habitat. Allow plants to grow and flowers to bloom---never pluck a stem or dig up a sprout to bring home. Additionally, do not feed, follow or attempt contact with any wildlife that may be encountered while on the trail. Encourage all users to follow the same shared trail etiquette. Remember the beloved saying, "take nothing but memories, kill nothing but time, leave nothing but goodwill," while on the trail.

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