The Humboldt Trails Council is your connection

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We’re working on a database featuring all our local trails, including maps and complete user information. Check back soon, or join our online trail mapping team. Until then, here are a few things to ponder...

Trail Etiquette

“On Your Left”

When coming up to pass another trail user, all you need to know is “on your left.” Say it far enough away that you don’t startle someone off of their bike (oops). “On your left” is to ensure you don’t spook a trail rookie into swerving confusion, and provides time for those you are approaching to stay in their lane and align single file as needed.

Single File Makes ‘em Smile

While it’s fun to ride or stroll side-by-side with a friend or two, when approaching a traveler from the opposite direction, single file is the courteous option. Some folks think two bicycles or even two strollers make up a “lane.” If everyone was going relatively slow and precisely straight, the trail could accommodate three across, but that’s not how we roll. So, let's just fall in, when approaching or passing.

Dogs: It’s Not Just About the Poo

The county’s list of trail courtesies includes not allowing your pet to “annoy or bite other trail users.” Nearly every dog owner I encounter puts the dog in the center and walks to the right so that the dog is between themselves and oncoming traffic. This puts the dog in the perfect position to violate the pet courtesy or potentially wander in front of an oncoming or passing cyclist. Do you notice that an owner has to hold tight to the leash when passing others? This is because the dog only knows what is natural for it: chase what is running, sniff strangers and sometimes bark a “hello.”

As a dog owner most of my life, I don’t mind when my own smelly dog rubs her drool and shedding hair on me (for the most part), but I do mind when someone else’s dog does while I am on my run or other trail activity. People with pet-related allergies might jump onboard with this one. While it’s good for dog and owner to get out together, our  four-legged trail friend should remain on the outside (to our right) and should walk off of the paved portion when single-file is needed.

The Land of ‘Nod’

Sometimes we are out for a stroll, sometimes we are out for serious business. When it’s the latter, we may be out of breath or intensely focused and not able to manage much of a smile or hello to passing fellow trail travelers. What has become the acceptable greeting of trail culture is the nod. It’s not much. In fact sometimes you are not sure whether you received one. It takes very little break from focus and is a courtesy those with even the most serious trail intentions can muster. While the nod is the minimum, there is a spectrum ranging from the silent nod, to a smile and even sometimes a “hello.” I find that when I pass men, a nod is most likely, with women we often exchange a “right on, sister” smile. When strolling, you will likely cross paths with older folks whom you really hope to be like someday. They are getting outside and moving and many seem to appreciate it more than the rest of us. When passing on a stroll, a “hello” might be a good choice for those of a generation that might be familiar with the common use of courtesies.                       -Courtney Black

Why Trails?

  1. Trails promote health and fitness by providing an enjoyable and safe place for bicycling, walking, and jogging, removed from the hazards of motor vehicles.

  2. Trails contribute to economic vitality, increased property values and increases in regional tourism.

  3. Trails help protect resources and preserve open space by defining zones free of human habitation and development.

  4. Trails educate young and old Americans alike about the value and importance of the natural environment.

  5. Trails offer an alternative to motorized vehicles, connecting homes with schools, offices, and shopping areas and contribute to a healthier environment, with cleaner air and less traffic congestion.

  6. 155 million people walk for pleasure, 93 million bicycle, 41 million hike, trails provide access to 43 million for nature study, photography, small game hunting or primitive camping, 10 million ride horses on trails, 5 million backpack, and 11 million ski on trails.

  7.                            –AMERICAN TRAILS, Trails for All Americans report, 1990

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