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Trail etiquette: Tips for finding paths of peace
A note for hikers, cyclists, mountain bikers, horseback riders, dirt bikers and tourist gawkers: We can all just get along.
Outdoors lovers in Colorado use trails in a lot of different ways, and conflicts are inevitable.
During last year’s master-planning process for the Red Rock Canyon, White Acres and Section 16 properties, so many competing visions were expressed for the area that parks officials put the plan on hold. They will instead start over with ways to help ease conflicts among user groups.
In that spirit, we offer some reminders on trail etiquette, so your hike in the woods doesn’t become a conflict of its own.
• Don’t go where you don’t belong.
Hikers are allowed on every trail, but other users have restrictions. In areas designated wilderness, no bicycles or vehicles are allowed. Motorized vehicles aren’t allowed in city parks.
Conversely, hikers may want to avoid areas of heavy dirt bike or ATV use, such as the Rainbow Falls Off-Highway-Vehicle area north of Woodland Park.
• Know the right-of-way system.
Step aside or pull off the trail if you are approaching someone on horseback or using pack animals like llamas. These animals can be unpredictable and appreciate the space.
Mountain bikers yield to hikers. If approaching from the opposite direction, pull over to let them pass if there is not enough room on the trail.
• Let people know how many are in your group.
Riders passing a hiker or other riders, either from behind or coming the opposite direction, should say “two more” or flash two fingers to let the others know how many are in the group.
• Step aside for uphill hikers.
Especially high up on a peak, there may only be enough room for one person to pass, so if you’re descending step off the trail to let the uphill hiker pass.
• Large groups yield to smaller groups.
Large hiking groups move more slowly, so if a solo or couple of hikers are coming up on you, let them pass.
• Warn before passing.
Nobody likes to have someone creep up on them, so whether you are trail running or mountain biking, it’s courteous to ring your bike bell or announce “on your left” before you pass.
• Don’t blast music in your headphones.
Warnings won’t do any good if you can’t hear the bike behind you, so don’t play music in your headphones so loud that you can’t hear anything else.
If you need help finding new trails, check out our Happy Trails Trail Finder!