Trails Rules and Etiquette

Trail rules and etiquette courtesy of our friends at NS Trails.

Trail Etiquette Principles:

1 – Expect Others, Respect Others

The number of people out on trails is rising fast! Depending on the trail, you might come across hikers, runners, bikers, ATVers, snowmobilers, skiers, horseback riders, folks with mobility aids or furry friends. Everybody will have a different level of ability and experience – and that’s okay! The golden rule is to treat each other with respect and kindness.

2 – Pass With Class

When you meet someone on the trail, slow down and communicate. Give a signal that you’re there, and then pass at a safe speed. A smile and a wave go a long way! There are standard guidelines for how to safely pass others listed below. Know before you go!

3 – Leave No Trace

Whether we realize it or not, the way we behave in the outdoors has a direct impact on the environment. There are simple things we can do to keep our impact small. Never leave trash or food waste behind on a trail – if you can carry it in. you can carry it out. Stay on marked, open trails. Always respect wildlife, plants and animals.

4 – Value The Volunteers

Trails don’t pop out of nowhere. The majority of trails in Nova Scotia are built and maintained by volunteers. These folks are passionate about creating safe outdoor experiences for everyone in the community. A great way to show appreciation for volunteers is to take care of the trail and encourage others to do the same!

Trail Etiquette Rules:

  • Trail safety is the responsibility of all users
  • Wheels yield to heels – ATVers, and snowmobilers yield to all other trail users. Bicyclists yield to hikers and walkers who in turn yield to horseback riders.
  • Know and obey posted trail rules
  • Stay on the trail and stay to the right
  • Travel at a reasonable speed at all times, slow down at corners
  • Give a clear warning signal when passing others
  • Respect and be considerate of landowners along the trail
  • Do not walk or ride under conditions where you might damage the trail
  • Do not litter, always clean up after yourself and your pets
  • Use provided toilet facilities. If you are unable to find a facility, dig a hole 6 inches deep at least 200 feet from any open water
  • Respect wildlife – do not disturb plants or animals
  • Obey trail curfews (usually 11pm to 5am)

People hiking, walking or snowshoeing

  • Step aside to let others pass whenever possible
  • Those going downhill yield to those going up
  • Avoid using trails that are groomed specifically for cross county skiing in winter

People on bikes

  • Obey speed limits
  • Use your bell or your voice to let people know you are approaching
  • Always yield the trail to hikers. walkers. and less mobile trail users
  • Slow down when passing or approaching corners
  • Know your ability, your equipment, and the area
  • Do not ride under conditions where you might damage the trail

People on ATVs

  • Obey speed limits
  • Announce your presence (i.e. honk) when approaching a trail user from behind
  • To pass someone, follow at a safe distance until you reach a safe place to pass, then pass slowly
  • Slow down when entering quiet zones or residential neighbourhoods
  • Stay on the trail. Do not ride on areas that are wet, have loose soil, steep slopes, meadows or swamps.
  • Avoid late-night riding near populated areas
  • When camping, ride directly to and from your campsite or turn off your vehicle and push it
  • Minimize noise through proper care and operation of your off-highway vehicle
  • Stay off groomed snowmobile trails during the winter months

People on snowmobiles

  • Obey speed limits
  • Stay on the trail
  • Do not ride on tracks made for skiers
  • Avoid late-night riding near populated areas or lodges
  • Yield to cross country skiers who are going downhill

People on horseback

  • Obey speed limits
  • Practice minimum impact techniques
  • Always clean up after your horse
  • Keep horses in campsites only long enough to un-pack or pack them
  • Never tie your horse within 200 feet of a lake. stream or spring

People on cross country skis

  • Ski on the right side of the trail
  • Yield to snowmobiles when you are going uphill
  • Yield to anyone coming downhill or anyone faster
  • To step out of the track, lift your skis so the track won’t be disturbed
  • When breaking trail, keep skis wider than normal

People with pets

  • Clean up after your animal – do not throw poop bags in the woods
  • Keep pets on a leash or lead, unless otherwise indicated
  • If your pet is in an off-leash area, be sure it remains under your control
  • Keep your pet on the trail
  • Do not let your animal disturb wildlife