Trail etiquette: A how-to 

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After a relatively mild winter, Colorado Springs is enjoying a bona fide spring, instead of moving straight from winter into summer. The recent warm weather, coupled with longer days, has more and more of us out on the trails, whether on two wheels, two feet or with four legs. As such, it's a good time to talk about trail etiquette.

Rights of way: There are only a few rules here and they're pretty easy.
  • Hikers going uphill have the right of way over hikers going down hill.
  • Cyclists always yield the right of way to hikers, regardless of whether they're going uphill or downhill. That said, it's courteous for a downhill hiker to give an uphill cyclist a break and let them continue up instead of losing their momentum.
  • Everyone yields to horses. No exceptions. When encountering horses on the trail, give them as wide berth as you safely can and let them pass. Don't reach out to them or make sudden moves, and by all means, keep your dogs in tight control so they don't spook the horse. In my experience, equestrians are very good at communicating with others on the trail and always appreciate you taking the time to give them and their animals some space.
Trails are there for a reason: A lot of people and thousands of volunteer hours go into building and maintaining trails local trails all year — and closing and restoring what are called "rogue" trails. How about you do these people a favor and STAY ON THE TRAIL. Don't shortcut switchbacks or cut your own trails — if there's mud on the trail, walk right through it (it won't hurt you), or turn around. You cause more damage going around a muddy trail than by staying on it.

Clean up after yourself: Done with that bottled water? Take it with you and toss it the recycling or trash, not on the ground. Same with your dog poop bags — thanks for bagging Rover's poop, but don't just leave it on the trail. It belongs in the trash.

Dogs are cool, but...:
 Dogs are required to be leashed in city parks unless specifically stated otherwise. Yes, we all know you're dog is the friendliest dog in the world — everyone's is — but by keeping it leashed, you prevent bad interactions with people who aren't comfortable around dogs and also wildlife. It also keeps you from being fined (better safe than sorry). In El Paso County Parks, dogs must be leashed or under voice control, so if you want your dog to run free, head to a park with a dog run, such as Palmer Park or Bear Creek Park, or head to the Pike National Forest.

Be Friendly: When you see another hiker of cyclist, wave and say hi. Stop and chat.

Don't forget, this is the final weekend of National Parks Week, and entry fees are waived at all National Park Service sites.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.


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