10 New Rules of the Trail
Trails in Washington will begin reopening May 5th. Here are a few important ways mountain bikers can help keep them open…
The moment we’ve all been waiting for is here: Trails are opening soon! At least partially…
For now, no camping, no group activities, and no socializing at trail heads. Where and how we ride is undoubtedly changed and closures could start again if we don’t respect this new trail reality. So, with that in mind…
Here’s What We All Need To Know:
On Monday, April 27th, Governor Inslee announced that State recreation lands and trails will open on May 5th, for day-use only. Strict social distancing and other user safety guidelines will remain in place. Overnight and group activities will not be allowed.
Our return to Washington’s trails is most awesome and much needed, but it will be far from a return to normalcy. COVID-19 has permanently changed our world– and, at least for now, that includes mountain biking.
Our access to the trails we love so dearly is entirely dependent on our ability, as a community, to responsibly enjoy them. We can’t mess this up. If we don’t collectively follow the Governor’s and land manager guidelines, we’ll have nobody to blame but ourselves if trail access goes back on hold.
So, pitch in. Recreate responsibly by following all New Rules of the Trail below and by checking out local artist Kristina Wayte's rad comic. Let us, as mountain bikers, tackle the Coronavirus the way we tackle trails– with common sense, a shared community responsibility, and a healthy dose of good vibes!
Recreate Responsibly, New Rules of the Trail:
(From May 5th until further notice…)
- Check before you go. Not all trails open on May 5th! Trails on most State lands will open, but State agencies are struggling to get them ready. Sadly, there’s lots of work to do in cleaning up trash, vandalism repairs, restocking CXT’s, and of course brushing and bucking after a period of neglect. Many local City and County jurisdictions are on the same May 5th opening timeline, but not all. The National Forest Service District is also likely to open trails on a different timeline. So, check before you ride: Visit the land manager’s website to ensure the trail you plan to ride is open, and what rules apply.
- Ride solo, or only with housemates. So much of what makes mountain biking the best sport on earth (ok, we’re a little biased) is trail time spent with company. We all relish in a shared trail experience, collectively enjoying challenges, trail features, and scenic vistas. Unfortunately, we’re not ready for that yet. Until all restrictions are eased, enjoy your rides solo, or only with people you live with. This applies to carpools and shuttles as well. And if you find yourself circling for a parking spot at the trailhead or constantly passing riders out on the trail, take that as a sign that it’s time to leave.
- Ride local. Keep it short. Trails opening May 5th are for day use only. State officials request that we recreate close to home, and do not travel overnight. What does “Local” mean? It means ride in your own community first. If you do drive, choose your closest trail system. Many remote trailheads will likely remain closed as land managers work through a backlog of maintenance issues. Do your part to prevent spreading COVID-19 from one community to another. Consider "local" to be single day rides you can complete that do not require you to stop anywhere for gas, food, or use restrooms or other amenities in communities besides your own.
- Keep your distance. We breathe hard when we ride. And while that’s awesome for our immune systems and lung health, it also means 6ft really doesn’t cut it for proper spacing when mountain biking. Stay far behind other riders traveling in the same direction. Space out to well beyond 6ft. More space equals reduced risk, so treat crowded trails as closed trails.
- Rethink trail etiquette. We must yield to everyone, in all situations. IMBA recommends that “mountain bikers stay alert, slow down, and communicate with each other from a distance about how to proceed. Better yet, take the initiative to yield and offer space.” We agree. Stop, step off the trail, and communicate before you proceed with a friendly wave and “thank you”!
- Prioritize loops and directional trails. If possible, choose to ride looped and directional trails to reduce interaction. Avoid two-way trails to decrease interaction with other trail users. If you choose a two-way trail, ride early or late to avoid peak trail use hours.
- Trailheads and parking lots are not hangouts. Like you, we love nothing more than enjoying the company of our ride buddies after a great rip through the woods. But, as trails open back up, we need to be extra vigilant and avoid all après mingling. Get out, have fun, and clear out to make room for other users looking to enjoy the trail.
- Be self-sufficient. Forget about trailhead amenities. Land managers are struggling to get everything open, one trailhead at a time. It’s vital that we are completely self-sufficient and prepared for any condition. Add hand sanitizer and a mask to your 10 essentials. Ride squarely within your comfort level to reduce risk. Help other riders if they need assistance. Expect locked bathrooms and downed trees. If ya gotta go, bury it (or perhaps this is the time you research and purchase a WagBag!) Be kind to the land and leave no trace!
- Protect trail crew. Agency staff and Evergreen builders are there to enhance your riding pleasure and open things up as fast as they can. Keep them healthy and safe by staying out of active trail work sites. If you encounter a trail worker, stop and ask how to safely maneuver around them. Walk and maintain a safe distance greater than 6ft before you remount and continue your fun.
- Shift your perspective and express your appreciation! Your plan may not go as planned. Trailheads may be full. But, all of us are happy to return to the trail. So, take what you find with a smile, be happy for yourself and for others. Share nothing but friendly waves and simply enjoy being outside. And, after your ride, why not send a thank you email to the land manager for providing recreation resources for us to enjoy? Now is the time to express gratitude and simply enjoy being out on the trail again.
Thank you from all of us at Evergreen! Be well and ride smart…