Thursday, July 8, 2021

Right of Way on Trail: It’s Horses, Then Hikers, Then Everyone Else - Full Article

June 23, 2021 | By Nicole Qualtieri

The slowest-going movers on trails maintain the right of way. And the more kind, respectful, and generous we can all be, the better it’ll be for every recreational user.

Right-of-way on the mountain seems like it should be common knowledge. Generally, here in Montana, it is. And generally, things go really well.

But, sometimes it gets a little hairy out there. Suffice it to say, the fastest folks on the trail are often the ones others yield to. Unfortunately, this can send mixed messages to uneducated speedsters.

If going fast is a part of your on-trail vocabulary, it is your responsibility to take speed to a low in multiple-use, uncontrolled, low-visibility situations. Common sense reigns, but there are clear-cut hierarchies to help us better get along.

And, with more folks in the mountains than ever, here’s a refresher on trail etiquette, the history of trails, and more on how we can keep each other safe...

Horses and Mules — or Stock — Have the Right-of-Way in All Situations

Stock averages about 2 miles per hour in big country, which is much slower than everyone out there for the most part. And beyond horses, stock can include llamas and pack goats (which would also yield to horses, if met on the trail).

Whether stock users are heading uphill or downhill, hikers, bikers, and motor folks are asked to pull off the trail, stop their bikes and motors, and wait until they pass in their entirety to continue on. This is for the safety of the stock and users. Yield to horses on the downhill side, if possible.

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