So one of the many awesome associates at our store, Pauly just took a little hike. On this hike he took his camera and snapped a few pictures. He then sent them to me to share on our store’s Facebook page. And as I posted them I couldn’t help but think how nice it would be to go for a nice hike. (Well right now it’s over 100 degrees outside, so maybe in a few months it would be even better, but still just getting out sounds nice!) Here are some of those pictures.
But if you’re like me, you have noticed ever increasing foot traffic out on trails. And not just foot traffic, but an increase of bike riding and dogs being taken out on hikes as well. Arizona has some of the most beautiful scenery to go for a hike in and has well maintained trails. Visitors and tourists are attracted to our trail system as it is a fun, fresh and free activity to partake in and gives the opportunity to see native plants and animals.
There are a number of things that set Arizona apart from the rest of the country, and that includes our trail system. A large form of recreation involves horseback riding which includes trail riding. It shocks me that some people do not know how to handle themselves around horses or have even seen one in person! And this can be where issues occur.
With so many people heading out to the trails, including: people new to hiking, people hiking new trails and the possibility for a meeting between day hiker, cyclist, dog-walker and horse ever increasing, let’s go over the basics of Trail Etiquette.
-STAY ON THE TRAIL. Leaving designated/marked trails damages plants and may disrupt animals’ homes. Hikers can also find tougher terrain, rattlesnakes and other potential/native Sonoran Desert hazards.
-FOLLOW TRAIL COURTESY. All trail users should yield right-of-way to horses. Cyclists should yield to all other types of users.
-CALMLY APPROACH HORSES. Speak in soft voices to alert any horses and their riders that you are near. Horses can react to sound quite intensely, so yelling like you would in bear countries can be a bad idea.
-NEVER REMOVE ANYTHING. Taking anything can disrupt the habitat of plants and animals. Most rocks and wood provides shelter and shade for tiny plants and animals. In Arizona it is against the law to take away natural and cultural objects from public or private land without permission of the owner. You should make yourself familiar with your state’s laws. (Also, you can run the chance of lifting up something and finding a snake, spider or scorpion underneath and possibly upset.)
-INFORMATION IS VITAL. Tell someone where you will be hiking and when to expect you back. Also read up on the specific trail for more information. Knowing what the weather is going to be like is an easily accomplished task that can be a real life-saver.
-TAKE A FRIEND. It is extremely safer and more fun to hike with a friend or two. And take water. Water is extremely important and on a hot day in the Arizona desert, it can be your best friend!
If you ever see someone not following Trail Etiquette just simply pull them aside and explain it to them. They may have had no idea that they were doing something wrong and possibly dangerous. They can always then pass that information along to someone they meet down the trail.
So until next time…. Cue up the warbling…. “Happy Traaaaaaaaaaaailssss, to youuuuuuuuu!”