Share the Trail

Share the Trail

Why Sharing Trails Is Important

In many parts of this forest trails are open to and shared by equestrians, OHV riders, bicycle riders, runners and hikers. Trail sharing can and doeswork when people respect each other and work cooperatively to keep each other safe. You can learn more at Tread Lightly's Sharing The Trail (pdf).

1. Horses, Hikers, and Bikers

The first thing that you need to know is that there is a hierarchy on the trail. Horses have priority, followed by hikers, and then bikers. It’s pretty simple to remember and makes encounters much more pleasant when everyone knows who gets to go first. Always check to see what other kinds of travelers will be sharing the trail with you before you start. If horses or bikes are allowed, then be mentally prepared to encounter them.

When being passed by horses, it is important to step off the trail, on the downhill side if possible. This helps in two ways: it will help keep from startling the horses, and it will keep you from getting run over if they do get spooked. Horses are prey animals, and as such they are always on guard for threats from predators. Standing uphill from a horse may give it the impression that you are larger and more threatening than you actually are. So always try to stay downhill and stay relaxed. Talking to the rider also helps the horse know that you’re a human and not some mountain lion lying in wait. Horses also tend to bolt uphill when they are startled, so staying out of the way will keep you from getting squished.

2. Yield to Uphill Traffic

Always yield to uphill traffic. If you’ve ever been plodding up a hill at a nice steady pace only to be run into by someone in a hurry to get down, then you understand the logic behind this. Going uphill is hard work, and changing up your speed can ruin your momentum. This is why people traveling uphill have the right of way. Of course, some hikers welcome any opportunity to stop and rest and we will often signal for downhill hikers to pass us. This happens a lot. Just remember that it’s up to the guy going uphill to make the call. Otherwise, yield.

3. Stay to the Right, Pass on the Left

The trail is a lot like the road in this respect. Keep to the right side of the trail when you are being passed.

If you want to pass someone from behind, get his attention by shouting out “On your left.” However, you don’t need to be overly formal or gruff, and a friendly, “Hi there. Can I get around you?” works just as well.