Saturday, January 9, 2016

Guide for how hikers should ‘Share the trail’

If these hikers met a group coming uphill, which group would yield?
One of the ethos of hiking is to “share the trial.” With national parks visitation up and more people opting to travel local – which usually means stops at state and county parks – this guideline has become more important than ever. Still, the rule itself isn’t quite that simple, as there are a lot of scenarios hikers can find themselves in where they have to ask “How do I share the trail?”

Yield to larger modes of transport
Step aside if a horse or an off-road vehicle is coming through. They simply can’t stop as fast as a someone who is walking. Many trail signs will say bicyclists should yield to hikers (because bicycles are more maneuverable), but logically a bicycle will have a more difficult time stopping than a walker, so I always step aside for them as well (Besides, the whirring of their wheels behind you is annoying.).

Larger groups yield
If in a group of hikers, to avoid a gaggle allow solo hikers or a pair of hikers to pass. If two groups come upon one another, the smaller one has the right away. Large groups tend to move more slowly than a smaller group or individual. The exception is if going downhill.

Uphill has the right away
If going downhill on a trail too narrow for two hikers to pass, step aside, even if they are a larger group. Restarting a walk when going uphill is more difficult than restarting a downhill walk.

Pass on the left
As if on the freeway, slower moving traffic should stay to the right. There’s no need to quicken your pace if you hear hikers closing from behind; instead, move to the right if not already there.

Take breaks off the trail
Don’t stop in the middle of the trail unless there’s no one around. Instead, pick a spot where you can move off the trail safely and without damaging the natural setting. Stopping on the trail is akin to a car stalling in the middle of the road – it creates a traffic slowdown if not a traffic jam.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.