Guest blog provided by Mary Monroe Brown, Executive Director of Trails 2000
Durango Shares the Trails
Durango has over 300 miles of trails within 30 minutes of downtown – And, Durango knows how to share the trails. Offering access to the outdoors, a connection to solitude, opportunities for physical fitness, a social outlet with family and friends, and much more, trails are a valuable asset to the Durango community. Each year, the local trail network draws visitors and locals alike, leaving them healthier and happier after experiencing what our trails have to offer.
What’s more? Durango’s abundance of trails are not only easily accessible, with many less than a 15-minute walk or an even shorter bike ride from town, they also hail to the likes of a multitude of users, yielding open arms to hikers, mountain bikers, dog walkers, equestrian riders, trail runners, and more.
This diversity of interests encourages connectivity among users and lends itself to a necessary tolerance when we take to the trail. It sparks a need for each of us to be reminded of not only the connection trails create to the outdoors but also to each other. At Trails 2000, we call it “Share the Trails.” It is an attitude we celebrate with each positive interaction and act of stewardship enlisted on the trail.
Share the Trails is not a new idea. In his book about global leadership, All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, author Robert Fulghum ranks sharing first as a basic skill for life.
In our version, All I Really Needed to Know “About Trails” I Learned in Kindergarten, we take a cue from kindergartners everywhere – let’s all embrace a spirit of sharing by following these five simple Share the Trails guidelines when we’re on the trail:
When you’re on a trail and you encounter another trail user, say “Hi!” If you see other people on the trail, respect their safety. When someone says “on your left,” please move to the right and wave them through to pass. Hopefully you’ll get a thank you.
If you see a horse, stop about 100 feet away and announce yourself so the rider and horse both hear you; remain clearly visible and pull off to the downside of the trail, even say hello as you pass. For dog walkers, please keep your dog on a leash or under voice control.
If you’re on a mountain bike and are going downhill, yield to the uphill rider – they’re working harder than you are. If you see a hiker, slow down. Do your utmost to let your fellow trail users know you’re coming: A friendly greeting (“on your left”) or bell ring are good methods. Bicyclists should yield to all other trail users, unless the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel. Anticipate other trail users as you approach blind corners and strive to make each pass a safe and courteous one.
Stay on the trail.
The trail you’re on is public – Respect that and stay on the trail. Leave no trace. Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. When the trail is soft, consider other options. This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones. Don’t cut switchbacks.
Clean up your mess.
If you see trash or create trash, please pick it up and carry it out, even if it’s not yours. Be sure to pack out as much, if not more, as you pack in. Know your equipment, your ability and the area in which you are headed – and prepare accordingly. Strive to be self-sufficient: Keep your equipment in good repair and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions. Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.
Live a balanced life.
Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work some every day. Try a new trail, hike where you normally mountain bike. If you haven’t given back by joining your local group or volunteering, next time you’re in town, check out our website (link to www.trails2000.org) to find an opportunity to help out.
Help us continue to Share the Trails by following these simple steps on the trail. And remember, we do have a lot in common out there – a connection to the outdoors and to each other – which would not be possible without our trails. Thank you, and Happy Trails!
Trails 2000 incorporates the Share the Trails mantra into tool talks at volunteer trailwork throughout the season to continue our mission to educate trail users, encourage connectivity on road, path and trail, and plan, build and maintain our vast trail network.
Mary Monroe Brown is the executive director of Trails 2000, a 501c3 organization that builds and maintains trails; educates trail users and encourages connectivity on road, path and trail based in Durango, CO