Be Alert! Five Tips for a Better Trail Mindset
This blog was first published on Sept. 3, 2015, and has been updated for our 2016 Share the Trail Campaign. Be the best you can be on America's pathways, and pledge to Share the Trail today!
I was 13 years old once, and like many others my age, I was self-centered. I didn’t notice much beyond my own space—unless, of course, it impacted the middle school pecking order.
Remember those days?
Thankfully, I’ve grown out of that phase. And when it comes to trail use, I try my very best not to revert back to that mindset … because I know from experience that great trail experiences come with respect and awareness for others—as well as ourselves.
Here are five tips on how you can be alert on the trail and help ensure a safe, fun experience for all!
Just because you know your next move doesn’t mean others do. When you decide to change direction or pass a slower trail user, you might be moving into someone else’s right of way. Be aware of your space and don’t push it, even if you think you can jet ahead or swing around in time. Better safe than sorry, you know?
2Be extra mindful if you’re “plugged in.”
Lots of folks like to listen to music while they walk or run on the trail. And while jamming to your favorite tunes isn’t a bad thing, keeping your ears to the music does put you at a significant disadvantage for hearing what’s happening on the trail. Consider leaving one earbud out, or at the very least, keep the volume low so you can stay aware of what’s going on around you.
3Anticipate the behavior of others.
If you see someone that is acting in an unpredictable manner (a wobbly training-wheel rider, for instance), give them a little more space. Hey, we were all beginners at some point, right?
4Cross with care.
It’s not just fellow trail users that you need to keep in mind during your run or ride. Being alert when crossing railroad tracks, roads and driveways is also of utmost importance. Keep your eyes peeled for potential hazards—both for yourself and your trailside compadres.
5Take care of others.
If you see someone in turmoil, check to see if they are okay or if they need assistance. People in need always appreciate a good Samaritan. Whether it’s a flat tire or a scraped knee, being alert on the trail will set you up for being a trail helper, and that’s something that we can all celebrate!