Mind your Manners: Trail Etiquette

Reprinted with permission from Lifelong Endurance

CWCP – 2016 Team Camp – Fruita, CO Photo Courtesy – Brittany Jones

When out on the the TRAIL!
If you are Biking on the trails:

  • You should YIELD- to pedestrians and horses,  Yield to all uphill traffic: horse, bike or pedestrian!

  • Wear proper safety equipment
  • Stay on the trail stay in control
  • Call out when going around blind corners or turns and when passing.
  • Watch speeds when passing pedestrians on down hills, as much fun as it can be to race down a hill, it can startle hikers, families, and runners as you pass. A bell on your bike is often your best friend, you might think it’s dorky but it’s super effective.


  • Uphill has the right of way it is up to those heading up the hill to make the call on stopping or continuing to move, respect those moving up hill even if it crashes our “down hill buzz” (this goes for bikes too)
  • Announce your presence when passing a simple “hello,” “hi there great day, may I pass” or “on your left” stay on the trail to avoid erosion.
  • When running as a group or approaching a group the a single runner should yield to the group.
  • Stay in control. The faster person should always be yielding. That means bikes yield to runners, runners yield walkers, etc.. Step to the side of the trail and allow enough room for others to pass. Horses always have the right away. Horses will spook if not yielded to, which causes danger to the horse and everyone else involved. Stay to the right pass on the left.
  • Always choose safety over ego.
  • Run over obstacles, run through that puddle, over downed trees etc. avoids trail erosion.
  • Be aware of your surroundings, people, animals, weather, this keeps you safe and those around you safe. When passing if the person in front of you doesn’t hear you because of headphones etc. a light tap is okay, don’t grab or pull the runner/ hiker as to avoid startling.
  • Be alert on blind curve.

When on the ROAD:

If you are Running:

  • Run against traffic if running on the road.
  • If running on the sidewalk or multi-use trails, travel on the right and pass on the left.
  • Never run more than two abreast if you are running in a group. Don’t be a road or trail hog, share the trail/road.
  • Don’t run down the middle of the road or trail. Same idea as above share the road!
  • If you are running an out-and-back route, don’t just make a sudden u-turn at your turn around point. Ensure the road or trail is clear of oncoming traffic (runners, cyclists, in-line skaters, etc.) then make your u-turn. Making a sudden u-turn without looking over your shoulder can put you and others at risk of injury.
  • Alert pedestrians when you are passing them – don’t assume they are aware of their surroundings. A simple “on your left” warning will suffice.
  • Be alert on blind curves.
  • Stop at stop signs and ensure oncoming traffic yields to you before proceeding across a road. Don’t assume cars will stop if you are entering a cross walk.
  • Respect private property along your route. Don’t relieve yourself in the neighbor’s bushes.
  • Don’t litter. If you can’t find a trash can, carry your trash home.

Road Cycling:

  • Wear a helmet
  • Never ride more than two abreast.
  • Never allow more than six inches distance between your front wheel to the rear wheel of the rider in front of you.
  • Maintain a distance, no more than 12 inches from your shoulder to the shoulder of the rider next to you.
  • Let the person at the from of the pack call things out. Too many people calling things out may cause confusion and or chaos.
  • Ride with traffic.
  • Follow the rules of the road.

Many of these guideline are applicable to all out on the roads, trails and pretty much anywhere you go.

Remember these basic tenants:

  • Be courteous
  • Uphill has the right of way
  • Take your trash with you
  • Stay on the trail
  • Announce your presence as not to startle others
  • Be safe and be aware of your surroundings
  • Enjoy yourself!

Remember who and what you represent on the trail, the trail is not yours and selfishness will only ruin the enjoyment you started you run, ride, or hike seeking!

We look forward to seeing you on the trails!

A big thanks to Coach Kaitlyn for sharing and writing this piece, as well as our friends at Naked Women Racing/ Colorado Women’s Cycling Project

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  1. Devin Quince

    I found it funny the guy at Picture Rock yesterday wearing the IMBA jersey refused to yield to uphill traffic. I guess it was impacting his strava time.

  2. Herf

    I don’t agree with the blanket statement “yield to all uphill traffic”. If I’m riding downhill, the person downhill from me, either if they’re coming up or going down, should have right of way. I pull over for people riding uphill. If I’m faster than somebody downhill from me, they have the right of way and it’s my responsibility to pass carefully. (Part of the confusion to me is what’s meant in the article by “uphill” — I read it to mean the person or animal uphill from me. Maybe the author means who’s going uphill?)

    I think better understood, is “all traffic downhill of me” have right of way.

    • Devin Quince

      If you are a mtn biker, you should know the IMBA rules
      It is not difficult, if I or another cyclist are climbing up a trail and another rider is coming down, the rider going downhill needs to stop and let the rider going up go by.
      It is called physics

      • Herf

        @Devin . . . If you were responding to my comment, I was attempting to say the same thing.

      • Einstein

        Devin, I’m pretty sure that’s not what’s called physics.

        • I read the link

          @Einstein, tell IMBA then… “Bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to all users headed uphill, unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic.” Same rule for hikers.

          • Einstein

            No one is saying it’s not the rule. I’m saying it is not what’s called physics. It’s just common sense/courtesy.

  3. Mr. Manners

    If I’m climbing and it’s not too technical or for any reason not difficult to get rolling again, I’ll frequently stop to allow a downhill rider to get their grin on. We’re all in this together, right?

    • Devin Quince

      I have done the same, which is fine. What is not is when downhill riders refuse to yield to uphill riders or leave the trail to keep their speed up.


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