Cyclists should ride in control on shared trails while hikers should be prepared to step to the side of the trail to give cyclists as much room as possible. Horse riders get the right of way in virtually every circumstance, but need to also understand that riding on public lands means sharing and that means being in a less controlled environment than a private arena.
Motorized users should slow when passing hikers and cyclists and take extra measures to avoid spooking horses. Non-motorized users have to remember that motorized users have as much claim on public land as those trying to “getback to nature”.
Pets should be well behaved and kept under control, while those without pets need to realize that a back country trail is not a city sidewalk so they should expect dogs to have a little more free rein.
Most differences in recreation are merely a matter of personal choice; they are not moral or ethical questions. An ATV does not, inherently, tear up the land any worse than a horse, a bicycle, or even hiking. Hikers and cyclists are not inferior to ATVers.
A little common courtesy and patience for those whose idea of recreation differs from our own can go a long way in preventing problems.
Advice for All Shared-Use Trails from the International Mountain Biking Association
RESPECT: It’s a simple concept: if you offer respect, you are more likely to receive it. Education with friendly respect will diminish negative encounters on the trail for all users.
COMMUNICATION: Let folks know you’re there — before you’re there. Riding up on horses and stock can be dangerous even for the best-trained critters. For bikers and hikers:
1. Make yourself known to stock and rider. A simple “Howdy” works to get attention.
2. Step downhill and off trail.
HORSES UPHILL: Horses and mules are prey animals. That means they think everything wants to eat them; even the hiker with a large, scary backpack and especially the fast-moving biker “chasing” them. When startled, frightened critters go uphill. You should move downhill to avoid an encounter with a 1,000 pound panicked animal. Yikes!
YIELD APPROPRIATELY: Do your utmost to let your fellow trail users know you’re coming – a friendly greeting is a good method. Anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners. Bicyclists should yield to other non-motorized trail users, unless the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel. Bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to ones headed uphill, unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic. In general, strive to make each pass a safe and courteous one.
REVERE THE RESOURCE: [Our state] has unsurpassed opportunities to enjoy our landscape. Help protect your accessibility by playing nicely with your neighbors and treating trails with reverence. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics and pitch in to give back – pick up trash, volunteer on a trail project or become a member of your local trail club. Take action and get involved today!
AVOID SPREADING SEEDS: Help keep weeds out of our forests. Noxious weeds threaten our healthy ecosystems and livelihoods. Stay on trail, drive on designated roads, use weed seed free hay, check your socks, bikes and horse tails for hitchhikers when you get back to the trailhead. Let’s keep our forests strong and clean.
BE INFORMED: It’s YOUR responsibility to be “in the know.” Questions about where to ride, trail closures, outdoor ethics and local regulations are important to know before you head out on the trails. Contact your local land manager if you are unsure about what you can and can’t do in a given area.Author: Ken Cluff | Editor, The Varsity Vision Newsletter