The Inland Northwest offers great trail opportunities to runners, hikers, bikers, and equestrians. I see new people every week on the trails I love most. Biped trail users (hikers and runners) can observe some easy etiquette that will improve the experiences of everyone on the trail.
Be kind: On my trail runs, I see a lot of people tuning out: running with headphones, avoiding eye contact with other users, or just being rude. Why? I enjoy getting away from the busy streets, but I also like to see other people using the trails. I also enjoy the trails because I want to tune into nature, listen to the birds, and enjoy the flowers and beautiful scenery. You can enjoy the full experience by running without headphones or by leaving one of the earbuds out to hear other trail users. Greet and talk with those you encounter. You share a love for the trails you’re both on, and you never know when someone might help you change a flat tire at the trailhead or share their extra water when you forgot yours.
Right of way: If the oncoming bike, horse or trail user is bigger than you, let them go first. Just move out of the way and enjoy the rest of your trip. If you come up on a slower trail user, politely say “on your left” or ask if you can pass them. Be polite, and keep it simple.
Clean up: I hate to see garbage on the trail. Of course, sometimes things fall out of your pack without your knowing, and sometimes you accidentally drop things and don’t notice. Make up for those times by going the extra mile and picking up someone else’s garbage while you’re out on your adventure. I pack a Ziploc bag to hold my garbage, and if I see some extra on the trail I will pick it up. Leave the trail the way you found it; better yet, take the initiative and leave it a little better.
Tread lightly: When the trail is muddy enough that you are leaving footprints, consider saving that trail for another day. Muddy footprints can cause erosion or create unstable surfaces when the trail dries out.
Keep an eye out: Theft at trailheads is on the rise. Don’t leave anything of value in your vehicle, and if you see suspicious behavior at the trailhead, call the authorities. // (Dave Dutro)
Dave Dutro is an avid trail runner, mountain biker, hiker, and co-founder of the Trail Maniacs (www.trailmaniacs.com).