Many of us are excited to get outside and enjoy the 500+ miles of trail we are fortunate to recreate on in the Vail Valley. On the trail we may encounter a number of different user groups including mountain bikers, hikers, trail runners, equestrians, and motorized. Even though we may use different methods of travel on the trail, there’s a good chance we are all using the trail for some of the same reasons. Trails can be an escape to get outside, appreciate our environment, exercise, social engagement, adventure, and for plain old fun.
As we quickly move into spring and summer it’s time to refresh your knowledge of trail etiquette. The goal of promoting and educating proper trail etiquette is ultimately sustainability. This means continued access to trailheads, mitigating your social and environmental impacts on trails such as wildlife, natural habitat, trail design, and ultimately user group conflict.
Good trail etiquette leads to better trail use experiences for all user groups so please acquaint yourself with the below:
- Consider the Golden Rule and treat others as you would like to be treated. When approaching other trail users, smile, say hello, say thank you if you are passing, and say have a great hike or ride. You are outside recreating in our beautiful piece of paradise we call the Vail Valley, it’s a happy place!
- Only ride open trails. This includes staying off of trails that have seasonal closures, respecting uphill or downhill directional use, and arguably most important – muddy trails.
- Yes, muddy trails are closed trails. The damage from hiking, running, or biking on muddy trails creates a bad user experience for all and in the end must be fixed by volunteers who could be focusing their time on building new trails.
- Hikers and bikers yield to equestrians and bikers yield to hikers. As a biker, when you approach a hiker or equestrian please slow down and allow safe passage. Bikers – please remember that the uphill rider always has the right of way. And finally, communication is key. Let the hiker or downhill rider know if you are alone or have others coming behind you.
- Keep Singletrack Single. Do your best to stay on the trail and embrace the “Fruita Lean” when being passed or letting someone pass. This means move to the side of the trail, put your outside foot down, and lean to the outside of the trail. If you have to stop on the trail for a mechanical or any other reason, please move to the side of the trail and do your best not to effect the surrounding natural environment.
- Safety. No one wants to get hurt on the trail. It is on you to control your method of transportation, slow down at blind curves, and always look ahead. If you use headphones, please keep them at a volume that you’d still be able to hear someone come from behind and ask to pass.
- Respect Wildlife. They are an integral and beautiful part of our environment. Please don’t taunt, chase, or for that matter get too close. We are playing in their home.
- Leave no trace. This doesn’t only mean clean up after yourself but rather leave the trail better than you found it. If you see a piece of trash, an old bike tube, etc. do your part and pick it up, put it in your bag, and throw it away at the trailhead. This also means to stay on the trail, don’t impact the natural surrounding environment, and simply please clean up after your dog!
As a trail user, it is on you to understand, educate, and practice proper trail etiquette. As an advocate for trails and user groups in Eagle County, the Vail Valley Mountain Bike Association believes if we come together and successfully practice good trail etiquette we would all enjoy better trail experiences, be healthier, happier, and ultimately will lead to a better community with more sustainable trails.