Keep the trails happy! With spring finally here, we know folks are itching to get out on the trails. Here are a few trail etiquette reminders to consider as you head to the South Hills to hike, run and bike:
1. Get dirty. If you find yourself encountering a muddy spot or puddle on the trail, go right through the middle of it. Stepping off the trail and going around muddy and wet spots widens the trail, damages natural resources and makes the problem worse. If you are unsure if the trails are too muddy to use, check the Prickly Pear Land Trust Facebook page for most up-to-date details on trail conditions.
2. Always stay on the trail. Going off trail creates “social trails” that degrade natural resources and causes unnecessary resources to be expended to reclaim these trails. Some trails in the South Hills cross private property, and the generous landowners who provide for this access appreciate when we keep our impact concentrated on the trail surface.
3. Keep an ear open. When listening to music or podcasts on the trails, keep one ear free so you can hear approaching hikers, bikers and runners.
4. Yield to other trail users with a smile. In general, bikers should yield to hikers and runners. When wanting to pass someone on the trail, a friendly “On your left” is the best way to get someone’s attention. Assuming you don’t have two earbuds in, hearing those magic words is a nice indicator to calmly step off the trail to allow the faster moving trail user to pass. A smile and “thank you” go a long way to keeping trail users happy when passing.
5. Be pet proactive. Leash your dog in the parking lot and have your pet (cats and parrots too!) under voice control on the trail at all times. Pick up after your pet and be sure to pack the trash out with you.
Our trail system is a source of community pride and a place where all are welcome and valued. No matter your mode or speed of recreation, everyone has a part to play in keeping our trails a happy and positive place to be.
Evan Kulesa, Prickly Pear Land Trust
Andrea Opitz, Bike Helena
Eric Sivers, Montana Bicycle Guild
John Tietz, Helena United Cycling
Jesse Zentz, Vigilante Runners
Michael Jacobson, Helena Ultra Runners League