#RecreateResponsibly to Protect Yourself, Others, and the Outdoors
During this public health crisis, spending time in outdoor spaces has become even more important for many Americans. Yet these unusual circumstances mean that all of us, from seasoned outdoor enthusiasts to families heading out to their local park for the first time, could use a little guidance about how to stay safe. The Recreate Responsibly guidelines offer a starting point for getting outside to keep yourself healthy and to maintain access to our parks, trails, and beaches.
Etiquette: How to Share a Trail
All users play a role in reducing trail conflicts. Here are some etiquette guidelines we can follow to improve trail experiences for everyone.
- Note: The Fire Center is a USFS off-leash area. Please keep all pets under control (and leashed in designated area), especially excitable, unruly, or aggressive ones, so that they don’t negatively impact or injure other users.
- Ride with a bell, announce your presence in a friendly way. Try not to startle other users.
- When passing hikers, cyclists must yield. What does yield mean? As a cyclist, it is ultimately your responsibility to avoid crashing into someone (or entering their safe space). This means riding in control at all times, able to slow down and stop if necessary to negotiate a safe pass. This may include dismounting, and even backing up. Often, it’s easier for a hiker to move to the side of the trail to let you pass, and most hikers will do this if there is a safe place and you communicate with them. Pass slowly and safely, thank them, and continue on your way.
- If you are riding downhill and encounter someone riding uphill – you must yield to them. Usually, this means slowing and getting to the side or stopping. Get as far off the trail or as far as possible, and allow the uphill rider to ride past.
- If you encounter an equestrian, moving either toward or away from you, slow down, stop as necessary, and engage in a conversation about the best way to pass.
- If there are others in your group, let the person you’re passing know how many are behind you.
- If you stop for any reason, move off to the side – don’t block the trail.
- Don’t ride muddy trails. If you’re leaving ruts, turn around. If you encounter a muddy section or puddle on an otherwise dry trail, ride through it. Don’t widen the trail: Keep singletrack single.
- Maintain situational awareness – you are sharing the trail with others. Expect and watch for them.
- If using headphones or earbuds, keep the volume low enough to hear and engage with other users.
- Cyclists are required to slow down and yield to hikers. Often it is much easier for hikers than cyclists to step off a narrow trail. It also creates less trail widening. Hikers are not required to yield to cyclists, but if you are able to, please cooperate with cyclists to let them pass quickly and safely.
- Avoid standing along the outside edge of a switchback/climbing turn. When riding up or down, most cyclists prefer to use them outside of the turn – it’s safer and easier to get through the turn. Please stand on the inside edge of these turns, or away from the turn altogether
- If hiking in groups spread out so that other users can pass safely.
- If you stop along the way, move to the side – don’t block the trail.
- Don’t use muddy trails. If you’re leaving footprints, turn around. If you encounter a muddy section or puddle on an otherwise dry trail, go through it. Don’t widen the trail.
- Choose trails that are appropriate for your skill level, and for the comfort level of your horse.
- If your horse (and you) need practice on technical trail moves or being around other users – use El Paso County Parks’ Equestrian Skills Course to improve your skills and familiarity with other users.
- Work with other users to share the trail.
- Don’t ride muddy trails. If you’re leaving deep prints, turn around. If you encounter a muddy section or puddle on an otherwise dry trail, ride through it. Don’t widen the trail: Keep singletrack single.