With Spring, comes the moment where everyone wants to go play outside and enjoy their favourite rite mountain trails. But not everyone is using the same transportation to play in the mountain. However, everyone must keep in mind that they have to be sharing trails. Yep, otherwise specified, trails are for everyone: bikers, walkers, runners, even dogs and horses.
Basic rules for sharing trails
Everyone can have a good time in the mountain, if all respect some basic rules for sharing trails. They’re not hard to remember as they are simply common sense.
1. Respect the Signs
Read the signs and respect them. That’s the first rule of the mountain trails. The signs are not there just for the fun of it. They’re there to inform you and guide you. Read trailhead signs noting permitted uses. Not all trails are for bikers, neither are all trails for walkers. Observe posted trail rules; they will let you know of any special restrictions that apply to the trail you are on. These rules are not there to annoy you, but to protect you.
2. Right of Way: walker, runner, biker, horses…
Who has the right of way? In most cases, the right of way goes simply to the slowest. So, a walker has priority on a runner. A runner as priority on a biker. A biker going uphill as priority on a biker going downhill. However, horses will have priority on a biker or walker, as they are easily spook. When, crossing a horse, you should always be careful not to frighten him. Let the horse know you’re there in a gently manner, and ask the handler the best way to pass them if you are in a very restraint area.
Those same rules about sharing trails should also be applied outside of the mountain. Like on the public road. A walker as priority on a biker, and a biker as priority on a car. However, always be careful with cars as they are tons of steel and can do a lot of damage to a cyclist or pedestrian. Always make sure that the driver has seen you before passing.
3. Stay to the Right, Pass on the Left
Being on the trail is a lot like being on the road: you travel on the right and pass on the left. That’s the secret of sharing trails properly. Indeed, when someone wants to pass you, you should always move to the right, and let them go on the left. If you want to pass someone from behind, get their attention first. Depending on the situation, you can simply be friendly and say, “Hi there. Can I get around you?”. Other time you’ll need to shout out “On your left”. Either way, be sure they’ve heard you and that it’s safe to pass. And always pass them on the left.
4. Safety on the Trails
It’s fairly simple to be safe on the trails. A little common sense will go a long way here. Always be aware of other trail users, and travel at a reasonable speed. If on a bike, make sure you are in control of it at all time. Slow down at corners, and yield to other trail users when entering and crossing a trail. Whenever you stop to catch your breath or admire the view, get out of the trail or stay as far right as possible. Stay on the trail. Do not cut switchbacks or take shortcuts. You can lose your way very easily… and it’s way easier than you would imagine. Before leaving you should pack the basic according to your trip. Water, food, clothes, as well as first aid kit, inner tube, basic tools for your bike, and a phone. Ideally, always go with a buddy. And at the minimum let someone know where you are going, and when you’re planning to be back.
5. Leave No Trace
If we want to keep enjoying our trails for a long time, this is very important. Respect the environment! Always clean up; do not litter. Do not disturb wildlife; this is their home. Take pictures as souvenirs, not pieces of nature. Be careful not to contaminate water sources. If you’re camping, wash 200 feet from any open water, same if you must go number 1 or 2. And if your dog goes on the trail, pick up after it. No one likes to walk on it on the sidewalk, and it’s the same on the trail. Stay on the trails, don’t venture around, it will damage fragile plants, loosen rocks and boulders, and you may injure yourself. The simple rule is, if you arrived with it, you’re leaving with it.
6. Be Friendly and Have Fun
People you’re crossing on the trail, be it walkers or bikers, are there to have a good time just like you. Being friendly and greeting them, will go a long way in keeping a good mood, and good impression of the others. Remember that you’re not the only one on the trail, and most people wish for peace and quiet, so leave your noise to a minimum. Don’t yell for nothing. Yes, echoes are fun, but disturbing to others and nature. If listing to music, adjust the volume for you, not the whole forest. But mostly look around, embrace your surroundings, and smile!
I know not everyone respects the basic rules of sharing trails, and think they can do whatever they want. You’ll see footprints in muddy spots off the trails, and plants flatten out. A biker fly past you with no warning. You’ll see paper and empty bottles littering the side trail. Unfortunately, those people exist and are the one making an impression. Be aware of them, for your safety. However, remember that they’re only a minority, and most people are polite, courteous, and mindful with nature. Be one of the good one!
I hope I’ll be soon sharing trails with you!