Trail Courtesy

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Before you hit the trail, knowing how to interact with other people and with nature can help make things flow. You’re likely to see somebody else out there or another animal, and knowing how to approach the situation makes for a better day for everybody.

Right Of Ways

As a runner or hiker, it is easiest for you as an individual to move or yield for other people.

-Yield to horses. Horses can get startled easily if they don’t see you or mistake you as wildlife. Communicate with the rider and ask them what they would like you to do. Give the horse space and don’t pet the horse.

-Yield to groups of people. It is easier for you, the individual, to step aside – and will do less harm to the trail – than if a group of other people did the same. As always, stay on trail or durable terrain whenever possible.

-Yield to uphill traffic. It is easier to resume downhill travel than it is to travel uphill. Also, you have a better viewpoint from above than do people below.

-Yield to bikes. Technically, bikes have to yield for you. This doesn’t always mean that they do though. Corners can be blind, braking may be difficult, or, they truly may not see you. It is better to be safe than injured and give bikes room to pass. Further, your footprints do less damage by stepping aside onto durable terrain than their tires do dragging behind on a hard brake.

Be A Responsible Dog Owner

Dogs bring joy to people. There is no denying that. But dogs also can bring harm to the environment and can be a liability to you, other people, and other animals if not cared for responsibly. Always leash your dog. If you leash your dog it won’t jump on or run with other people, and you won’t have to be the person yelling at your dog and apologizing with “Oh he’s a good boy and just never does that!”

Dogs are not the largest animal on the trail. Dogs may encounter deer, mountain lion, bears, or other people that do not interact well with them and either party may escalate to acting in self defense, which never ends well.

Finally, clean up after your pet. Dog poop is unsightly and terrible for the environment, as are the plastic bags that people leave behind with poop in them. Pack it out.

Communicate With Other Trail Users

This can be a simple “Hello!”, or a “How’s it going?!”. Sometimes you’ll hear a cool story or gain information about trail conditions ahead. It also helps ensure other people see you. If passing from behind, “On your left” is a great one to announce before you pass, and can save the other person from being startled. It also gives somebody a chance to communicate with you if they are confused or injured. Who knows – maybe you’ll save a life.
 

Leave No Trace

We’ve written in detail on this critical principle, but, to summarize, do the least harm possible to nature. You can do this by:
 
-Always staying on trail.
-Taking nothing back, and leaving nothing behind.
-Burying your poop
Not building cairns
-Picking up trash or unnatural objects.
 

Say No to Mud

Mud creates some of the most fragile terrain in nature and makes it easier to tear away grass and roots. Mud dries in the shape it forms, leaving rutted trails and gutters that channel future water and catalyze future erosion. Don’t use muddy trails. If you encounter mud, stay on the trail to go through it, not leaving the trail to go around it. It’ll wash off.
 

Keep Your Music To Yourself

If you want to listen to music in nature… that’s your choice. But don’t force it upon other people to listen to it. Let the sounds of nature be the soundtrack. Also keep in mind that music can make it hard for you to hear people who want to pass, rattling snakes, and animals that can be larger and hungrier than you. 
 
Following these principles makes a safe, enjoyable adventure for everybody. What courtesies do you use on the trail, or wish more people adopted? Leave a comment below.

 

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