Welcome to the Carson Valley Trails Association Blog! Our trails are getting more and more popular as time goes by, which is great but with all the hikers, bikers, dogs and horses having to share them, I thought it was a good time to talk about Trail Etiquette. This is usually a matter of common sense and courtesy but here are some good rules to go by.
Hikers going uphill have the right of way, even though an uphill hiker may let others come down while they take a rest. If you are about to pass another hiker from behind, calling out a friendly greeting is helpful to avoid startling them. When passing, stay on the trail to reduce erosion.
If you are hiking in a group, always hike single-file as to allow space for other trail users.
HIKERS & BIKERS
Mountain bikers should yield to hikers on the trail, being as bikes are faster and more maneuverable. However, as both a mountain biker and a hiker, if I hear or see a biker coming, I generally find it easier to stand to the side and let them pass, especially if they are going uphill. I know what it’s like to lose momentum up a tough incline! And most of the hikers I have encountered while biking do the same. However, a mountain biker should always slow down and be prepared to stop for hikers and should never expect them to yield. Hikers should always be aware of their surroundings, especially around blind corners, and bikers should call out their presence and let you know if anyone is behind them also. Bikers need to control their speed, especially around blind turns and always be prepared to encounter someone else on the trail.
HIKERS, BIKERS AND HORSES
Horses are large and can be very unpredictable, therefore they get the right of way from both bikers and hikers. If hikers see a horse approaching, they should give them as wide a berth as possible and alert the rider of their presence in a friendly, relaxed tone. Try not to make any abrupt moves or loud noises that could startle the animal. Try to get off the trail on the downhill side, as horses and mules are more likely to run uphill when spooked and you do not want to be in the path of a spooked horse!
A few riders on our trail have reported that some people are moving aside and literally hiding behind a bush, then stepping out as the horse is passing, and scaring him half to death! Please do not do this, make sure the horse and rider can see you as they approach, as one rider was thrown from her horse from this kind of behavior.
When mountain bikers see horseback riders on the trail, they should stop at a safe distance away and move off the trail on the downhill side if possible. If the rider appears to not have seen you, calling out a calm friendly greeting to alert your presence is helpful. I like to ask the equestrian how they want to proceed and if I am giving them enough room to pass, in case their horse is nervous or flighty.
HIKERS, BIKERS, HORSES AND DOGS
Our trails are very popular with dog owners, as they are great places to take your pup for an enjoyable walk. However, to avoid problems here are a few simple rules about taking your dog out on the trails…
First, please pick up your dog’s poop. Doggie poop bags are available at many of our trailheads, although you should always try to pack your own. No one wants to step in or smell your dog’s excrement. Also, please do not put the poop in the bag, and then leave the bag on the side of the trail. I know many people do this intending to pick it up on their way back out, but by the number of them I see on the side of the trail, many people forget. Double bag if you must but please pack it out.
Have your dog on a leash or if you are in an area where dogs are allowed off leash, have them under very strict voice command at all times. Strict voice command means your dog comes immediately when called, stays with you and does not bark at other trail users. If your dog is off-leash, keep them in your sight at all times.
Make sure your dog is not in the way when mountain bikers are approaching, as your dog being run over by a bike will be very bad for both your dog and the mountain biker! You should not allow your dog to approach or make contact with other trail users or dogs unless they indicate that it is OK. Some people are afraid of dogs, friendly or not, or their dog may not be friendly with other dogs, so always ask. When encountering horses on the trail, make sure your dog does not bark or move towards the horse, as horses are easily spooked by strange dogs.
Please do not let your dog chase or disturb wildlife. This is not only safer for you and the dog, but also prevents the animal from the stress of having to flee.
Did I mention you need to pick up your dog’s poop? It’s the right thing to do.