We are incredibly lucky to live in an area teeming with beautiful hike and bike trails, and for those a little more daring, rockier mountain trails, that we can walk, run, stroll, bike and ride on to enjoy the great state of Colorado. To keep the trails in great shape for everyone and ensure trail outings are enjoyable ones, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Trail etiquette will differ slightly from trail to trail and place to place, but some basic rules of thumb apply to most. Bouldermountainbike.org offers a great reminder, “treat everyone you meet on the trail like you’d treat your mother (if you don’t like your mother, think of someone you really, really like.) Being nice solves a lot of problems before they happen.”
Be nice. It’s a pretty simple rule. Be nice to the trail, stay on it, keep it in good shape, keep it clean and know when to yield to others on the trail. Knowing who has the right of way can be kind of tricky, but generally speaking, bikers yield to hikers and horses; hikers yield to horses and downhill traffic yields to uphill traffic.
The concept is that bikers are fast and can stop and go easily so they let everything else have the right of way. Horses are big and unpredictable so they get the right of way above everyone else.
Colorado trails are definitely a place where you could meet the occasional equestrian and should you meet a horse and rider on the trail, be considerate, step off the trail on the downhill side. Moving to the downhill side, when letting horses by, reduces your size and appearance and horses will tend to bolt uphill when spooked. Quietly greet the rider and ask if you are good where you are. Stand quietly while the horse and rider pass. In any situation, it is always best to communicate with the rider to ask them what they prefer, as they know their animal best. You and Mr. Ed should get along just fine that way.
So far it seems pretty easy. Everyone yields to horses, bikers yield to hikers, and downhill yields to uphill. Hikerdude.com is quick to point out a few “gray areas” you may find yourself hiking through. “What if a downhill hiker meets an uphill cyclist? The guidelines would say the biker yields, but personally I know it is a lot easier for me to stop and start hiking than it is when riding, so I generally step off the trail when hiking or running. I suppose the cyclist should never have an expectation that the hiker will let you pass, but it might happen out
What if an uphill runner m e e t s up with a group hiking down the trail? Downhill traffic should yield, but a single runner may want to step off the trail, as it’s easier for one to move aside than a larger group of hikers.
When yielding to other traffic, remember to always look for safe and durable surfaces to step onto. And finally, the International Mountain Biking Association recommends when riding single track to come to a complete stop and then side step off the trail, as opposed to just riding off the side of trail, and thereby widening it.
FOR QUICK REFERENCE, HERE ARE A FEW TIPS!
• Stay on the trail. Do not cut switchbacks or take shortcuts. • Stay to the right on wider paths and pass on the left. • Whenever you stop for a view, a rest, or to yield, move off the trail so it is free for others. • Greet people you meet. This makes sure they know you are there and is polite. • When in a group, walk single file or take up no more than half of a wide trail. Make sure everyone in your group understands what actions to take when encountering walker, bikers, and horses. • Read trailhead guidelines. There may be specific rules for the trail you are on. • Pack It In - Pack It Out. Don't Litter! • Take a Picture. A pretty rock or a bunch of flowers deserve to remain where they are. • Report vandalism. • Whether you’re walking, cycling or riding, get out and enjoy the trails!