5 Ways to be a Great Trail Guest
How many times were you told to never show up to someone’s house empty-handed? Surely, your parents did an outstanding job of teaching you how to be a courteous and appreciative house guest. If they weren’t so diligent about teaching you the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ of being a courteous trail guest though, we’re here to pick up their slack.
Pick Up Litter
The leave no trace principle feels about as ubiquitous as never arriving at someone’s home empty-handed, but it’s a staple for a reason. If every outdoor enthusiast left no trace after their activity was complete, well, we wouldn’t have a reason to list this tip, would we? Of course, we can’t assume every trace of former trail guests was left intentionally. Mistakes happen and we get it, so we ask that this spring, you’ll do us a favor and carry out traces of litter you happen to notice on the trails, in addition to your own. Be sure to bring an old grocery bag to keep your “treasures” separate from the rest of your gear.
If you stumble upon any instances of illegal dumping, please call the Allegheny County Police at 1-833-ALL-TIPS (1-833-255-8477)
Be Courteous to Other Guests
A smile and a nod goes a long way these days. While you’re on the trails this spring, take it a step further. Yield to other guests who may need additional time or space as you pass; especially cyclists and guests with animals or children. As you’re passing other guests too, take a moment to make sure they don’t look lost, sick, or injured. If another guest is in need, do your best to help and call 911 in the event of a true emergency.
Avoid Saturated Trails
If there’s one thing we have enough of in Western Pennsylvania, it’s rain. While this moisture ultimately creates lush foliage and abundant streams, it can also spell disaster for our trails. Think of a wet trail like a wet cement sidewalk. When your footprints or tire treads sink into a wet trail, they result is an indentation that will only disappear when someone comes around to fix it. To make matters worse, indentations made in a wet trail can accelerate erosion, rendering the trail unusable.
Stay on the Trails
Trail builders take great care when designing a trail. While they want to create as much fun as possible for trail users, safety and sustainability are typically their highest priority. Most importantly, when you ride or hike off trail, you put your own safety at risk. Since you never know what kind of hazard may be hidden under the leaves, it’s best to avoid them entirely. Venturing off trail can also create new, unwanted, routes for water runoff and when water goes where it shouldn’t, it eventually yields a closed trail.
Notify Us About Trail Damage or Hazards
You are our best tool for keeping the trails safe, fun, and sustainable. If you notice anything that looks damaged, unsafe, or out of place while you’re on the trail, send us a message via email or on social media. Then, one of our park stewards will go check it out. Every tip helps, so please don’t ever hesitate to contact us and if you want to go a step further, join us for a trail work day at one of the many parks around the region.