It’s summer in Park City and we are taking FULL advantage of our extensive trail system. The beauty of public trails is that they are accessible to all sorts of people doing all sorts of activities. To maintain harmony between users, it’s important for everyone to abide by the laws of the land, also known as trail etiquette.
On Park City Trails, it’s common to find these “yield triangles” posted on trail markers and other signage. Essentially, this triangle means that that equestrians will always have the right of way, hikers have the right of way over bikers, and bikers yield to all other users on trail, whether traveling uphill or downhill. Well why is this? It’s generally understood that horses are the most difficult to control, so others do them a courtesy and let them continue moving with little hold ups. Biking has a mechanical advantage that creates faster speeds, so bicyclists need to be hyper aware and respect the non-motorized users.
When you encounter someone doing the same activity as you on the trail, remember that those going uphill have the right of way. Uphill travel is much more difficult if you have to start and stop. Don’t make someone break their climbing pace.
There is a caveat to these yielding rules.
Sometimes people will “break” the triangle out of kindness. If an uphill hiker needs a break, frequently they will stop and let the downhill user pass. Because it is more difficult for a bicyclist to climb or slow down on a downhill, many hikers will yield and let the biker continue. Although these courtesies are common and appreciated, don’t automatically assume this to be the norm. You should always be in enough control to appropriately yield.
When approaching someone on trail, make noise to let them know you are there. A simple “hello” or “How are you today?” is usually enough to get someone’s attention. Consider bringing a bell if you’re on a bike. Also, find a good place to get to the side of the trail. When stock animals pass, make sure to go to the downhill side as animals don’t enjoy walking along the side of a hill if they don’t need to.
Leave No Trace (LNT):
These trails are shared by many people, plants, and animals and make up the delicate ecosystem in the mountains. Pack out what you bring in and leave the trail better than you found it. Learn more about the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace.
Keep the Trail in Good Condition:
Avoid widening the trail. Did a tree fall? Climb over it. Is there big puddle? Go through it. When riding a bike, don’t skid around a corner. You create irreversible damage to the trail and leave behind a wide and deep curve.
Do not make ruts. If there is mud, your foot prints, hoof prints, or tire tracks will still be there when the trail dries. “If it’s sticking to your heels and wheels, turn around!” -Mountain Trails Foundation.
Keep your Dog In-Line:
Dogs should technically be on-leash in Summit County, but because many dog owners are responsible and have behaved pets, this law is generally not enforced. Don’t be the one that ruins it for everyone. Before letting your pet off-leash, make sure they are friendly toward other dogs and don’t react adversely toward surprises. How will your dog handle a high-speed mountain biker zipping around a corner? When your dog is off-leash, make sure you have them within eyeshot. Dogs shouldn’t be digging, chewing up vegetation, or relieving themselves without your knowledge. Pick up their #2 and take it with you. Chances are, you will forget the bag you left on the side of the trail, although your intentions were to grab it on your way back to the car. Get your pet on-leash in parking areas in attempt to prevent accidents with vehicles, other dogs, and people in these congested spaces.
Other Things to Consider:
Not everyone has the same taste in music as you. Maybe don’t blast your music. Consider headphones or keep the volume low.
Let cairns be. Cairns are the little stacks of rocks you may find that are wider at the base and smaller at the top. These are vital for navigation on certain trails, although they aren’t too commonly used in Park City. Please, let them be so others can find their way. Don’t build new cairns, either. Too many directionals can get confusing.
“A good thing to remember is 10 seconds of kindness goes a long way” –Charlie Sturgis, Executive Director of Mountain Trails Foundation
Smile to fellow trail users as you pass them, strike up conversation if appropriate, and help strengthen your community bond.