Good manners, common sense and a touch of etiquette by all who use trails is important so all can enjoy. RRR hopes to educate and inform as to best practices for hikers, runners, bikers, skiers and equestrians , Along with X-C Ski Trails etiquette, for those snow covered trails, we have added Trail Etiquette for when the snow has melted. Spread the word so everyone's experience is better.
Cross Country Ski Trail Etiquette
X-C ski trails are typically groomed for either traditional (diagonal) skiing or skate skiing. The picture on the left shows the two styles side by side. For those going out for a run, snowshoeing, hiking, or walking the dog please be sure to be courteous and not walk in or on the groomed trails when you see them. It has been many years since our local skiers have seen a winter where the snow came and stayed like this year.
As such many non skiers are not sure what they should be doing or not being doing on these groomed trails.
Whether you are a running, hiking, or snowshoeing be respectful of the each other’s sport. For those with a dog be it walking or even skiing the dog will destroy the groomed trails as quickly as someone walking or hiking so be sure to keep pets off of those groomed trails as well.
One of the questions that have been posed about trails “Is it ok to run or hike along the side of the groomed trail as long as I stay off of the groomed portion of the trail.” The short answer is yes if you can really stay off of the groomed trail.
Another question that arose is a trail ok to run on if a skier has skied on a multi use/non-groomed trail and I can see their tracks. “Yes it is ok if you are sure it is multi use and not a groomed ski trail.
We share the parks and their trails with many other users, hikers, bikers, skiers, equestrian, walkers, and runners, having respect for each other and using good manners works best for all. Be sure to take the time to educate your fellow trail users to use good judgment, manners and sense at all times.
Two ways to avoid the ski trail dilemma, one join them, cross country skiing is one of the toughest conditioning exercises you can do…yes it will make you a better runner, second way is to expand the trails and parks you run in as there are some in our area that rarely see anyone during the winter with the exception of our own Steve Seiter
Area trails accommodate a variety of users, in a few cases all types of trail users including; hikers, bikers, runners, equestrians, and dog walkers may be sharing the same trail(s). Before using a trail know what type of usage is permitted as well as other rules that might be in place. Deciding you do not need to follow guidelines for a trail can cause restrictions on all who might use that trail.
Those who come to area trails do so with a variety of reasons; exercise, seeking solitude, companionship, fresh air or just a short escape back to nature. The area parks and forest preserves are very accessible being near urban areas and at times have heavy usage. With the wide range of reasons for being on the trails often times the user have competing or conflicting interests so there is need for all to have good manners and common sense when it comes to using trails.
How we use and behave on the trails is important in keeping all users safe and allowing for positive and enjoyable experiences.
Being respectful and courteous might seem obvious, however always remember you are an ambassador for whichever activity you are doing, be it running, hiking, biking, walking a dog, or equestrian. What you are doing and how you behave on the trails will reflect on all of the rest doing that same sport or activity as you.
Some of the basics:
Respect the trail- know what is allowed, follow the rules, leave it it cleaner than you found it and leave no trace that you were there.
Be safe both for yourself and others that you encounter while on the trail. Before you leave let someone know where you have gone and when you will be back,
Know when and how to yield-
Runners/Walkers/Bikers- all Yield to Horses
Bikers- Yield to Runners/Walkers/Horses
Runners- Yield to hikers
Runners/Walkers/Bikers- Yielding to Equestrians: Slow down (both bikers & runners) you may need to dismount or walk depending on the trail, Talk, from 50-75 ft away if you can, horses can spook easily, ask the rider how they would like you to get by. Would they like you to get off and walk, or should you pass slowly at the next safe spot? Never reach out and touch a horse without permission from the rider.
Bikers - Yielding to Hikers, Runners & other Bikers: Yelling "On your left!" probably isn't the best thing, especially if it is children who you are yelling at or a zoned out hiker or runner who has left ear buds in and are more startled than appropriately warned. Talk first give a pleasant greeting make sure that the other trail user knows you are nearby. The best practice is to SLOW DOWN and be prepared to stop. Single track trails you may need to pull to side of trail putting down outside trail foot to allow pedestrians to pass. Hikers & runners have the right of way. Bikers going downhill should always yield to bikers coming up the hill as the one coming up should have right of way. Both the International Mountain Bicycling Association and TREAD Lightly offer additional guidelines to all bikers on appropriate use of trails.
Runners - The American Trail Running Association trail etiquette page "Rules On the Run" covers it well. Take a few minutes to see how to become a better steward of the trails you run on.
Dogs - It is said that there is no such thing as a poorly trained dog, rather there are only poorly trained owners. Several area parks have designated dog areas, where you can get a permit and then let your dog off the leash in that designated area. Other than those locations dogs should be on a leash (a short leash when others are nearby), and under control at all times. If you are a dog walker/runner/biker you need to have poop bags, not picking up after your dog leaves you in the group of trail users that most all of us just simply loathe. We like dogs, we own dogs, we take of our dogs, and we take pride in not leaving any trace that our dogs were on the trail with us.
Ear buds - not only can you not hear others they cannot get your attention, be very careful if you are rocking down the trail as some may have shouted out a warning not realizing that you have ear buds in and music turned up.
The list of do's and don'ts could go on for sometime, however our hope is that all will use these things not only to become better educated and more conscious of how they use the trails but will also become better stewards and help educate others on proper trail etiquette. At the onset we mentioned that some area parks are heavily used, just pulling into the parking lot tells you that the trails are going to be crowded an have many, so the pace and the expectations often need to be curtailed even before setting foot on the trail that day. Sometimes changing the time we use a a trail by just an hour or so means we may all but have it to ourselves.
We are fortunate to have many area parks, state, county and city that can be used, many are under utilized and some are very crowded if you are looking for somewhere new to explore try these links, Boone & Winnebago County Greenways Plan & Map, Rock Cut State Park, Rockford Park District, learn and explore new trails throughout the area.