Living in North America, we are blessed with the most amazing mountains & forests to visit and explore. Hiking, biking, trail riding are some of the ways to get up and close and personal. However, being safe means using our heads. Look over these two scenarios and decide what you would do. Read the rest of the blog to find out if you were correct!!

Imagine you are riding your mountain bike up a steep technical climb, when you see 3 horses coming down the trail towards you. Do you know what to do?

What if you are running up your favorite single-track trail, and 6 mountain bikes are coming down towards you?

Be safe and courteous on the mountain trails with these important tips.

Horses, hikers, bikers

The trail hierarchy goes horses, then hikers/runners followed by bikers. So everyone yields to horses. Bikers should yield to hikers & trail runners. Not everyone may abide by these rules so be aware of the sound of ATV’s or fast moving bikers in the area that you may encounter.

When passing horses on the trail, step off the trail on the downhill side. Two reasons why are because firstly, the horse is less likely to be startled and secondly, you are safer if the horse should spook. Horses are basically prey animals and can be scared easily. Standing uphill can make you seem large and frightening. Plus, horses tend to bolt uphill so you don’t want to get run over by 1200+ pounds of fear. Talking calmly to the rider is helpful, too.

Step aside on slopes

If you are descending on the trail and see hikers coming up, step off and let them pass. They’re working hard so let’s give them a break. Or the ascending hikers may be happy for a rest in which case they’ll wave you on.

What would you do in the following scenario?

What if a downhill hiker meets an uphill cyclist?

The guidelines would say the biker yields, but common sense says it is a lot easier to stop and start hiking than it is when riding, so you can step off the trail when hiking or running. However, the cyclist should never expect that the hiker will let him/her pass but it might happen out of courtesy.

Let cairns alone

There was always that one child who delighted in wrecking sand castles. Don’t be that annoying person especially if you see cairns (man-made pyramids of small rocks) and destroy them. Besides, some hikers use those structures as land marks on the trail in order not to get lost.

Stay to the right…pass on the left

Sound familiar? That’s how we drive on our highways, too!! Just call out pleasantly your presence and most people will move to the side and let you pass.

Be friendly towards other hikers

Say Hello…smile. If there’s time, have a small chat. Ask about the trail ahead. Are there any streams or wildlife? Not only are you being a good-mannered hiker, it may save your life. That person or family that you talked to will hopefully remember the conversation and may lead the emergency crew to find you in the unlucky event of being incapacitated by a broken bone.

Leave no trace

Whatever you pack in, is packed out again. Please be respectful of our beautiful, pristine mountains & forests by picking up all garbage including banana peels, apple cores, etc. The same goes for picking up after your pooch, too.

Another way to leave no trace is to stay on the trail instead of switch backing on sensitive areas that damage the flora.

Keep tech to a minimum

Take pictures by all means but don’t hold up other hikers on the trail because you must have the perfect image of the valley. Take your phone along for emergencies but don’t be talking endlessly either. Be considerate of other hikers who don’t want to be bothered by loud music. The reason we get away from it all is that we want to get away from the constant banter of noise.

So how did you do with the opening questions? Were you correct? If so, you have an advanced working knowledge so have a great summer tackling trails. If not, don’t worry. Now you know and will have an even better hiking experience!!

Test your knowledge, one last time

An uphill runner meets a group of 12 hiking down the trail.

Downhill traffic should yield, but as a solo runner, you would always step off the trail, as the impact of one person doing so is far less than 12.

 


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