Are you the Outside Kind? When it comes to the trails, kindness rules. Whether it is kindness to the actual trail and the land around you, kindness to the land owners, land managers, neighbors and other critters that call the area home, or kindness to your fellow trail users, it is up to each of us to respect our shared outdoor spaces and experiences.
Be Kind to Trails and the Land
- Keep the trail litter free
- Pick up dog waste and litter you see along our trails and pack it out.
- Stay on the trail. Walking or riding off the trail damages the plants. Don’t cut corners on switchbacks, these shortcut trails cause erosion!
- Avoid using trails when wet and muddy (especially in spring!). Walking or riding on muddy trails can cause long term damage that is costly and time consuming to repair. When possible, find a dry trail. If you come across mud and can’t turn around, walk through it rather than around it.
- Don’t pick the flowers. If you pick the flowers, others can’t enjoy them. Snap some photos and they’ll last longer!
- Volunteer your time. Join GVLT for volunteer events. We have opportunities for you to help steward the land and improve trails.
Be Kind to Other Trail Users
- Be friendly. Show kindness in all things you do. Say howdy, nod, smile, wave at strangers.
- Pass others with care. If you have to pass another trail user, slow down and shout a quick, “On your left!” Don’t forget to say thank you. If you’re in a big group, let them know how many people to expect.
- Know when to yield (yielding means slowing down for others). Bikers always yield to people on foot. When biking, slow down, put one foot down and stop your bike on the edge of the trail. Downhill bikers always yield to uphill bikers
- Leash dogs except in designated off-leash areas (a list of off leash trails below). Not everyone loves dogs and let’s face it, even the best dogs aren’t perfect. Leashing your dog let’s other people enjoy their trail experience. On busy trails, off leash dogs can create a safety risk with fast moving bikes and runners. The leash rules aren’t about your dog, it is about respecting other people’s trail experiences.
- Pick up Dog Waste (it is your duty!). Dog waste also finds its way into our clean water. It all flows downstream! We know carrying a bag of dog poop isn’t fun but leaving your bags along the trail really change the whole natural experience. Be prepared to hike or bike with dog waste or bring a Tupperware, extra bag or the doo doo tube like this one. Some trailheads don’t have trash cans, plan on packing out your dog waste. Assume you missed a poop and find another to scoop.
- Keep it quiet. People get outside to get away from other humans. Consider others when playing music without headphones.
- Be vigilant. Trailheads have been targets for car break-ins. Hike with your valuables, lock your car and keep an eye out for suspicious behavior at the trailhead. A good way to prevent crime is to smile and greet everyone you see!
Be Kind to Neighbors and Landowners
- Respect private land and property rights. Be respectful of livestock that may graze the property. Close gates when you pass through so cattle don’t escape. Some trails have public access only through a narrow corridor. Stay on the trail and keep dogs on leash if required to avoid trespassing. If you’re passing someone’s house, keep voices down.
- Respect public land managers and agencies. Be respectful of their rules around closures, trail sharing, leashing, permits etc. Examples of public land managers could be City of Bozeman, Gallatin County, US Forest Service, State of Montana, Fish Wildlife and Parks etc. Land managers have limited resources. Help them out by picking up extra trash at trailheads and reporting issues on the trail.
- Respect the Neighbors. Be mindful of neighbors as you drive to trailheads and access points. Dirt roads get dusty, slow down and wave to oncoming traffic. If the parking areas are full, find another nearby trail rather than parking along a residential road or in front of a driveway. Keep your dogs from running into neighbors’ properties.
- Respect wildlife and their habitat. Critters are our neighbors too. We live in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and trails travel through sensitive habitat. Leash your dogs to avoid chasing wildlife or disturbing nesting grounds. Be bear aware and avoid startling animals (a frequent ‘hey bear!’ will notify animals of your presence without disturbing the trail experience for others). Do not leave food unattended.