Trails are a lot like the roads, there are rules and right of ways that should be followed to ensure everyone is able to travel safely. Our trails are multi-functional and open to many diverse users, so it is important that we are prepared to interact with one another respectfully.
Trail users should be on the right hand side of the trail and always pass on the left.
It is important for trail users to be able to communicate with one another. Try to limit distractions while on the trail, so you can stay aware of what is going on around you.
If you listen to music or a podcast use headphones, but make sure you are still able to hear oncoming traffic. If you stop to take pictures or videos, look around to make sure that you are not blocking the trail.
When traveling in a group, don’t take up the whole width of the trail.
If you’re going to pass someone, especially from behind, make them aware of your intentions. A simple “hello” or “on your left” a friendly, “Hi there. Can I get around you?” works just as well, just be sure to announce your presence and allow for response time.
Going uphill is hard work, and changing up your speed can ruin your momentum. This is why people traveling uphill have the right of way. Of course, some welcome any opportunity to stop and rest and may signal for downhill travelers to pass. This happens a lot. Just remember that it’s up to the person going uphill and again, communication is key.
Trail user hierarchy: Equestrians have priority, followed by pedestrians, and then cyclists. As the largest, slowest-to-maneuver and (usually) least-predictable creatures on the trail, horses get the right of way from both hikers and mountain bikers. Step aside and try not to make any sudden movements or noises that could spook the animals. Hikers, runners and walkers yield to horses, but you do not have to stop for bikes. It’s often easier for hikers to step out of the way, but bikers need to be cautious and should never expect pedestrians to give them the right of way. Cyclists are expected to yield to all foot traffic, be it horse or human; so watch your speed, it is your responsibility to stop for other trail users. There aren’t always perfect places to yield, so find the solution that works best in the moment. Communicate and work together so we can all enjoy the trail safely.
Leave no trace; pack it in, pack it out. Simply put, everything that you start with should return with you. Bonus points if you find trash on the trail and packing it out too. Leave no trace also means being kind to the trail. Don’t cut switchbacks, avoid making new social trails and try not to use trails when they are wet and vulnerable to damage.
Dogs are another common trail user. It’s best practice (and often the law) to have your dog on leash. Dog owners should always be prepared to remove your pet’s waste.
Your fellow trail users are out to have a good time just like you are, and a smile or friendly “howdy” or “hello” can go a long way toward fostering a positive atmosphere among everyone on the trail.