Trail Etiquette

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Editor’s Note: The U.S. Forest Service provided the following information about trail etiquette:

Trail etiquette can be described as the polite way to use trails. It outlines guidelines for the many users who ride, walk, hike or bike trails. If you have never considered trail etiquette to be one of the more important aspects of trail use, you may want to reconsider.

Trail etiquette should be a major part of any trail user’s experience. Trail use is a privilege that cannot be abused or disrespected, so making trail etiquette a priority allows everyone to enjoy the outdoors and have a good time while being safe and courteous. Also, remember everyone is out there for the same reasons, to enjoy nature and to enjoy what they are doing.

When traveling multi-use trails, you may encounter many different forms of trail use, such as hikers, bikers, ATVers, horseback riders, etc. Therefore, the user must adjust to different regulations (who passes first, who slows down, who gets the right of way).

If trail users conduct themselves in an appropriate manner, respect the environment and the other users: the trail experience will only get better. Keep safety and etiquette in mind when you are participating in trail use. This way trails will stay in good condition and the privilege will remain accessible for everyone.

Basic Trail Etiquette

•Be aware of other trail users.
•Stay to the right of the trail (except when passing).
•Slow down at corners.
•Always clean up after yourselves.
•Obey all the trail rules.
•Give a clear warning signal when passing: call out passing on your left.
•Always look ahead and behind when passing.
•Travel at a reasonable speed.
•Keep pets on a leash.
•Move off the trail when letting others pass.
•Yield to other trail users when entering and crossing trails.
•Do not disturb wildlife.
•Stay on the trail (respect the environment, do not venture off the trails).
•Do not litter.
•Do not drink or contaminate water sources.
•Use provided toilet facilities (if you are unable to find a facility, dig a hole 6 inches deep at least 200 feet from any open water).
•Do not make fires (use picnic areas and grills if provided).
•Respect wildlife. Your surroundings are home to many plants and animals: you are the visitor.
•Obey all posted signs. These indicate special restrictions that apply to the trail you are on. Hiking with Animals •Clean up after your animals.
•Keep them on a leash or lead.
•Give larger animals the right of way.
•Do not let your animal disturb wildlife or others.
•Keep them on the trails. General Trail Etiquette for Certain Activities Hikers, Walkers, Backpackers
•Move off the trail whenever possible for other trail users.
•When meeting someone riding a horse, step off the trail and speak calmly. Mountain Bikers
•Know your ability, equipment and the area.
•Move off the trail for less mobile users.
•Do not ride under conditions where you leave evidence of passing, i.e. after rain.
•Stay on the trail.
•Do not ride through streams.
•Make your presence known at corners or blind spots.
•Control your bicycle.
•Always yield trail. Equestrians
•Practice minimum impact techniques.
•Observe speed limits.
•Always clean up after your horse.
•Avoid campsites used by other trail users.
•Keep horses in campsite only long enough to unpack or pack them.
•Stock tied to trees ruins trees and turf: do so only for a short time. Use tie lines.
•Never tie horses within 200 feet of lakes, streams or springs. ATVs, Four Wheelers
•Approach pedestrians slowly, pull over and turn off your engine.
•When passing someone, follow at a safe distance until you reach a safe place to pass slowly.
•Minimize noise with proper care and operation of your vehicle.
•Respect trail closures.
•Stay on the trail.
•Do not ride on areas that are wet, have loose soil, steep slopes, meadows or swamps. Hunting Season During hunting season:
•Hikers should wear at least one article of hunter orange viewable from all directions, such as a hat, jacket or vest. Cover your backpack with orange.
•Horseback riders should wear a hunter orange vest and helmet cover. Use a hunter orange vest or rump sheet on your horse.
•Dogs should wear hunter orange or other visible colors, like a vest, leash, shirt or bandana.
•Avoid wearing white or tan during deer season. A glimpse of white clothing by a hunter in the forest could be easily mistaken for the tail of a deer.

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