Where are your trail manners?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a trail is the following: A path through a rural, mountain, or forest area, often made or used for a particular purpose.

It is really a simple concept. Trails are a way for us to be able to travel somewhere with more ease and without getting lost. They can be steep and rocky or smooth and flat. They can go up and over the tallest mountains or follow the laziest of rivers. Maybe, best of all is that a variety of people use them for any number of things. We have hiking trails, biking trails, horseback riding trails, and even trails for those with a motor. I could continue but, we all know what trails are and why they exist.

While we all know what a trail is, not all of us know or remember how to act when we are out on said trails. Over the last few summers, many aspects of life have changed and been impacted by an ever-changing world. The trails that we know and love are not exempt from that change. Because those pathways through the great outdoors cannot speak for themselves, it is important that we speak up for them every now and again. We’ve compiled a list of the trail do’s and do not for you to revisit, share and consider.

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Trail Do’s

  • Say Hello And Smile: Remember that every trail is a shared space. Share a smile, a friendly greeting, or a joke with your fellow trail users. After all, you are having a good time, right?
  • Be Prepared: Bring water, bring snacks, sunscreen, and yes, please throw in that extra layer. First Aid kit? Yes, bring that too. Each adventure requires different levels of preparation, but you do not want to be the person who didn’t bring anything to drink or didn’t look at the weather. Being prepared starts well before you step foot on the trail.
  • Share Your Plan: When you head out on the trails, make sure to tell someone where you are going and when you plan on being back. If something unexpected does happen you will be glad you did.
  • Bring Bear Spray: If you are hiking or biking in the Tetons BRING IT!
  • Know The Etiquette: It’s simple. Bikers yield to hikers and horses. Hikers yield to horses. If someone catches you don’t make it a race. Find a good place to stop and smile as they pass you by. If you catch someone be patient and say please.  
  • Have Fun: We are out on the trails because we choose to do so. Remember to have good time, it shouldn’t be very hard.
  • Lend A Hand: There are always opportunities to help maintain your favorite trails and build awesome new ones. They don’t just magically appear so keep an eye out for those community trail workdays.

Trail Do Not’s

  • Leave A Mess: You should finish your time on the trails with the same things you started with. Your mom does not work here! Do not leave your wrappers, snacks, or burritos lying around for a furry friend. The squirrels do not need your sunglasses or hats.
  • Damage The Trail: If someone can tell you were romping up and down the trail recently you are doing it wrong. Those rocks do not need to be kicked and those tree branches do not need to be snapped. That beautiful flower was going to be a beautiful sight for someone else before you picked it.
  • Make Your Own: Trails are there for a reason. People take some serious time and effort to build them for your pleasure. Do everyone a favor and stick to the path someone so kindly built for you.
  • Be A Pig: If a trail is muddy come back another time. No need to destroy a trail while getting dirty.
  • Ignore The Signs: Read trail signage and do what they say. If a trail is closed there’s a good reason for it. Probably one that involves your safety.
  • Be Ignorant: The excuse “I didn’t know” is not a good one! 
  • Scare Your Fellow Outdoor Enthusiasts: Bikers this one is for you. Hikers are people too and they actually have right of way on the trails. If you see them slow down, pull over, put a foot down, and let them cruise on by. You’ve got two wheels after all. 
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There are many more tips and tricks that will help you be a better steward of the trails but in conclusion, it’s pretty simple what to do and what not to do. Treat the trails and those using them with respect. Remember that being able to recreate in some of the most amazing places in the world for free is a privilege. When in doubt just make sure you are radiating good vibes and doing so responsibly. See you out on the trails. We hope you’ll be smiling.

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