Canada Trail Etiquette

Trails are often traversed by hooves, feet, and wheels, but by using common sense, communication and courtesy, conflict, danger, and damage can be avoided.

Trail protocol suggests that the most mobile yield the right-of-way, but there are exceptions to this rule. Ideally, cyclists yield to everyone, and hikers yield to horses. A loaded string of horses going uphill always has the right-of-way, and a cyclist climbing steeply will appreciate the same courtesy.



If you encounter horse riders, your group should step off to the same side of the trail, the lower side if possible, allowing two to three metres for them to pass. If you come up on horses from behind, greet the riders before you pass so they’re aware you’re there. Otherwise, you might startle either the animal or rider.

Mountain Bikers

Always anticipate a horse or hiker around a blind curve.
Prevent the possible sudden, unexpected encounter from a bike’s quick and silent approach. Yield to hikers and equestrians. Get off the bike and move to the lower side of the trail to let horses pass. When approaching from behind, speak so they know you’re there. Learn to minimize damage to trails with techniques such as riding and not sliding, and cycle on designated trails. Bicycle tires easily damage meadows. Stay off trails when they’re wet and muddy. Otherwise, they’ll become pathways for water erosion.

Horse Riders

Use an experienced, steady mount and give clear directions to other trail users on how you would like them to stand clear. In steep, rough coun-try, downhill traffic yields to uphill travellers, but use common sense. Whoever can pull off easiest should. Avoid soft and muddy trails.
Warn others of wire, potholes, and boggy areas.
Above all, respect private property, “No Trespassing” signs, and leave gates as you found them.
credit: Okanagan Trips & Trails, by Judie Steeves and Murphy Shewchuk

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