Local Treasures with Pia: How to be a considerate trail user

Spokane, Washington – Spring is here! The birds are singing, the trees are greening, and flowers are popping up everywhere – it’s a beautiful time for hiking and walking, so here is a quick look at how to be a considerate trail user.

The Washington Trails Association has produced a short video explaining right-of-way rules on the trail: best practices calls for hikers to yield to equestrians and for mountain bikers to yield to both hikers and horseback riders.

When yielding to equestrians it’s a good idea to stop 30 feet away from the horse and move off to the side. Some horses are easily spooked by bikes and the rider may pull off the trail and ask you to pass – that’s fine – communication is the key to safe passage in any situation.

If you are afraid of horses, please do not try to hide behind trees or climb up on rocks as you will be much more likely to scare the horse. Instead, speak up and let the rider know.

Talking politely to your fellow hiker, biker, or rider is always a good approach.

If hikers headed in opposite directions meet on a steep trail, then it’s the person going downhill who steps aside so the person headed uphill can maintain their momentum.

Most trails and wilderness areas require that you keep your dog on a leash – it is simply the law.

Some leashed dogs are anxious around other dogs – they get very stressed when crowded by loose dogs that want to “make friends” and say hello. The best and easiest way to keep everyone safe is to always keep all dogs leashed.

Please pick up after your dog and don’t leave that poop bag sitting by the trail. Remember: pack it in and pack it out.

Equestrians should clean up after their horses in parking areas: either pack that pile out on your trailer or use a shovel and throw it off to the side.

State Park Passes:

Washington State Parks require a discovery pass which is $30 annually and can be purchased online. The pass is good for one year from the date of purchase and you can add two license plate numbers to the same pass.

Idaho State Parks Passport is $10 for Idaho residents and it can be purchased online. If you are not an Idaho resident, but still want a state parks pass you can purchase a $40 Motor Vehicle Entry Fee online or at any Idaho State Park. Regular entry fees paid at the park are $7 a day.

Montana state parks are free to Montana residents. Nonresidents pay $8 per vehicle per day. A 12-month pass cost $50 and may be purchased online – that’s also where you can get a 7-day pass for $35.

Hunting, fishing, and camping licenses must be purchased separately. Please check before you head out. Remember that some COVID restrictions still apply, and some sites/facilities/visitor centers are closed.

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