Bozeman trail etiquette.
by EJ Porth
We’re pretty lucky to have the 80-mile Main Street to the Mountains trail system right outside our back doors. From campus, you can get downtown or to the top of a mountain—the options are endless. Bikers, runners, dog-owners, commuters, and walkers keep the trails busy, making it everyone’s responsibility to follow the rules so we can care for our community trails and respect fellow users. Being a good trail user is a big deal here in Bozeman. Nothing gets you more glares and frustrated sighs than bad etiquette. But don’t worry—we’ll give you the lowdown on how to fit in and do your part. Here’s what you can do to be an A+ trail user.
Obey signs and trail regulations. If a trail is closed, it’s closed for a reason. If a sign tells you to slow down on your bike, hit the brakes.
Stay on the trail. It might seem like a good idea to take a shortcut between switchbacks, but this can actually create serious damage to the trail. Respect the natural areas around the trail as well. On that note, don’t pick the flowers.
Avoid muddy trails. Especially in the springtime. Hiking or riding muddy trails can cause serious damage and may require significant repair later on. Follow some of the Bozeman trail conditions on Facebook to see what trails are dry and ready to use.
Keep right. Just like when you’re driving. Pass on the left.
Pass with care. Slow down. Make a noise (some people put bells on their bikes) or announce “on your left” prior to passing.
Honor the right of way. Bikers yield to hikers. Downhill bikers yield to uphill bikers.
Don’t litter. Duh.
PICK UP THE POOP! If you have a dog with you, be mindful of the dog-poop stations with bags and trash cans all along Bozeman’s trail system. Don’t just pick it up and leave the bag on the trail—you’ll forget about it. MSU’s top researchers have proven that ignoring your dog’s poop brings extremely bad trail karma your way.
Obey leash rules. You’re representing all dog owners—help us look good. And no, your dog is not an exception to the rule because it’s “really well behaved.” We all think that about our dogs, but it isn’t always true.
EJ Porth is the communications and outreach manager for the Gallatin Valley Land Trust. For a Main Street to the Mountains trail map, stop by a local outdoor store or the GVLT office on S. Wallace.