News Flash

2023 Redesign

Posted on: December 1, 2023

Trail Etiquette

Horses and Riders on Trail

What is Trail Etiquette?

Trail etiquette can be described as the polite way to use trails. It outlines guidelines for the many users that ride, walk, hike, or bike trails.

If you have never considered trail etiquette to be one of the more important aspects of trail use, you may want to reconsider. Trail etiquette should be a major part of any trail users experience.

Trail use is a privilege that cannot be abused or disrespected, so making trail etiquette a priority allows everyone to enjoy the outdoors and have a good time while being safe and courteous. Also remember everyone is out there for the same reasons, to enjoy nature and to enjoy what they are doing.

When travelling multi-use trails, you may encounter many different forms of trail use, such as hikers, bikers, horseback riders, etc. Therefore, the user must adjust to different regulations (who passes first, who slows down, who gets the right of way).

Basic Trail Etiquette

  • Be aware of other trail users.
  • Always clean up after yourselves.
  • Obey all the trail rules.
  • Give a clear warning signal when passing: call out passing on your left.
  • Always look ahead and behind when passing.
  • Travel at reasonable speed.
  • Keep pets on a leash in congested areas.
  • Move off the trail when letting others pass.
  • Yield to other trail-users when entering and crossing trail.
  • Do not disturb wildlife.
  • Stay on the trail (respect the environment, do not venture off the trails).
  • Do not litter.
  • Obey all posted signs. These indicate special restrictions that apply to the trail you are on.

General Trail Etiquette for Certain Activities


  • When meeting someone riding a horse, step off the trail to the downhill side and speak calmly. That allows the horse to recognize you as human.
  • Dogs can potentially frighten horses. Be sure to keep your dog quiet, close to you and still when sharing a trail with horseback riders.
  • When hiking in a group, hike single-file, never taking up more than half the trail, and stay on the trail itself. Over time, off-trail use can badly erode switchbacks and destroy drainage diversions. When a group meets a single hiker, it’s generally preferable for the single hiker to yield and step safely to the side.
  • Hiker v. hiker: hikers going uphill have the right of way. On occasion an uphill hiker may let others come downhill while they take a breather, but remember that’s the uphill hiker’s call.

Mountain Bikers

It is important that you let your fellow trail users know you’re coming - a friendly greeting is a good method. Anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners. Bicyclists must yield to other non-motorized trail users, unless the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel. Bicyclists traveling downhill yield to ones headed uphill, unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic. In general, we ask that bikers make each pass a safe and courteous one.

  • Know your ability, equipment and the area.
  • Move off the trail for less mobile users, including hikers and horseback riders.
  • Do not ride under conditions where you leave evidence of passing, i.e. after rain.
  • Stay on the trail.
  • Control your bicycle.
  • Always yield trail.


  • Practice minimum impact techniques.
  • Stay on designated trail.
  • Always clean up after your horse.
  • Stock tied to trees ruins trees and turf: do so only for a short time. Use tie lines.
  • Never tie horses within 200 feet of lakes, streams or springs.        
  • Do not ride under conditions where you leave evidence of passing, i.e. after rain.

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