Trail Etiquette

Let’s talk about trail etiquette

15 TRAIL ETIQUETTE GUIDELINES EVERY 4X4 AND OHV ENTHUSIAST SHOULD KNOW

With all the new people exploring the backcountry, it’s important to remember a few guidelines. These guidelines have been developed over the years by sportsmen and other outdoor enthusiasts. They display common courtesy and respect to others, like you, who are out enjoying the Arizona backcountry.

In this article, we will go through several of these guidelines to educate the public about trail etiquette. It’s essential to know these things if you’re new to the off-road community. These guidelines have been developed to promote the responsible and safe use of our public lands. We all share a common interest.

Anderson Mill in the Wickenburg Mountains

We asked a total of 6000 off-road enthusiasts what they considered proper trail etiquette. We got over 250 responses, and this is what they had to say…

Trail etiquette promotes safe, responsible, common sense use of public and private lands. 

Stay on the existing trail. It seems so simple, yet so many people don’t follow this easy rule. You find this problem around nearly every populated area in Arizona. It makes the off-road community and those who use these trails look bad.

There are other instances were driving off the trail is permitted like emergency situations, ranchers doing fence repair, and various other reasons. While out driving your four by four, side-by-side, or motorcycle, you are not allowed to drive off the trail whatsoever. In fact, destroying the natural landscape is a Class 6 felony in Arizona.
Don’t be a slob. Another commonsense issue we are battling. I’m sure we all learned this as a child. Yet we see piles of trash everywhere. This trash doesn’t only hurt the off-road community but all who visit the Arizona backcountry. Nor can it solely be blamed on the off-road community.

High traffic areas are being shut down because of the trash left behind. Luckily, volunteers from all over the state come together to remove tons of trash from our rivers, lakes, and high traffic camping areas. We have to counterbalance the trash dumpers, and we’re doing a good job.

If you see somebody dumping trash, don’t be afraid to approach them. If you find a trash dump, you can contact one of the organizations listed on the reference page.
Don’t be destructive. Many places have immense cultural significance and should be cherished. Some of these places have been around for thousands of years. It is illegal to destroy, deface, or vandalize any site of historical or cultural significance.
Save the booze for camp. There are all too many reasons not to drink and drive on the trail. While drinking on the trail, you are endangering yourself, your family, and everyone else. Every year we hear about and see fatal accidents involving drunk drivers. It’s just not a good idea.
Burn it right, or don’t burn it at all. The most dangerous part of burning a campfire is when you pack up camp and take off. Please make sure it’s out when you’re done. Always build your fire pit correctly. Dig a sound hole and circle it with rocks. Bury the fire pit and dump water on it when you’re done. Bury any burning logs or embers lying outside the fire pit.
Pullover for faster-moving traffic. Everybody likes to move at their own pace. It’s best not to agitate other drivers. Slower moving traffic can cause congestion and issues for oncoming traffic. If you’re driving a lesser equipped vehicle or a car, please remember to check your rearview.
Relax and enjoy the ride. Too many people think the trail is a racetrack. It’s important to remember you’re not the only one on the trail. Just because your rig can handle the terrain doesn’t mean you need to pretend you’re in the Baja or King of the Hammers. Too many accidents have occurred because someone decided it was a good idea. The last thing you want to do is kill a little kid, your family, friends, or yourself.

If you’re passing a campsite, slow down. If you’re passing hikers on the trail, slow down. If you’re passing horses on the trail, slow down. When you see a bicycle on the trail, slow down. When you’re on the trail, slow down. Arizona is a beautiful place. Why not enjoy it?
Vehicles traveling uphill have the right of way. If you approach another vehicle head-on, whoever is moving in the downhill direction must yield to the vehicle coming uphill. It is much easier for the downhill vehicle to maneuver and position themselves so the oncoming vehicle can pass. Traveling upward requires momentum and stopping can be problematic in certain conditions. Sometimes, it may be necessary to back up and maneuver out of the way.
Always keep an eye on the vehicle behind you. This is important, especially when riding in a group on a technical trail. You never know when someone might need a tug or break something. Usually, simple radio communication can solve this issue, but there’s always someone who doesn’t have a radio. Never leave anyone behind.
Use hand signals. Hand signals can save lives, and everybody should use them. When approaching oncoming traffic, inform them how many are behind you. You can show them 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 fingers or actually stop and talk with them. Because we can often be spread out on the trail, the yielding driver may try to continue if you don’t inform them more are coming. This will help the oncoming driver better judge when to proceed.
Turn off your bright lights. Lightbars are stupid bright nowadays. There is no concentration of view, and they can be blinding from many angles. Let’s keep that into consideration when passing by others on the trail. Please remember to turn off your lights while passing by campsites, oncoming traffic, homes, hikers, horses, or anybody else on the trail. Cattle and other animals can become disoriented from the bright lights.
Leave gates as you find them. If you approach a gate and it’s closed, make sure to close the gate behind you. If you’re traveling in a group, it’s essential to make sure the last person closes the gate. If you approach a gate and it’s already open, you should just leave the gate as it is. If you believe somebody failed to close the gate, check for an Arizona Game and Fish Tag, indicating the gate should be closed.

Ranchers will sometimes leave gates open so cattle can access water. Be very careful closing gates you find open. You could cut livestock off from the only water source in the area. Furthermore, if you leave the gates open, you could cause thousands of dollars in Damages. That’s why we say leave gates as you find them. Likewise, never cut a fence or use a fence post as a winch anchor.
Try to be self-sufficient. Pack your own food, your own drinks, and your own camping supplies. Make sure to carry your own tow straps, clevis, snatch block, and keep them on hand, ready to go. The less of a burden you have on the group, the further your resources will stretch during an emergency.

Always carry some type of radio equipment to keep in contact. Learn how to repair a flat and always carry a Jack and spare tire. It’s a good idea to learn basic survival, recovery and mechanical repair.
Keep the dust down. Many recreational areas are near or pass through residential developments and private property. These particular areas are under threat of closure because of air quality concerns and angry homeowners. While traveling through private property or near a residence, please keep the dust down. It’s just common courtesy, which brings us to our next point.
Have common courtesy for other adventures. We’re all out here for the same reason. Whether you’re a hiker, mountain biker, or rock crawler, we should all respect each other. If somebody looks like they need help, offer your assistance. All of the things mentioned in this article revolve around one idea, common courtesy.

When I see somebody else in the backcountry, I give them the proper common courtesy they deserve, and I expect the same in return.

June 2020 Club Activities

Comments from Club President Jack:

Within a few hours of my last e-mail, I heard from the Forest Service.  It seems the group size order was rescinded.  Apparently, it was rescinded a while ago and somehow the local Forest Service folks were never told it was rescinded.  It seems in the rush to “do something,” because if you’re a government agency you have to do something, the order didn’t get the usual legal review.  When it finally did, it was then rescinded.  I think the “any public health order” made the whole thing to ambiguous to be enforceable.
Of course, that leaves WMOTA in the position that it can have a ride, but under Arizona guidelines we should limit our group size to 50.  In the remote event we have more the 50 people show up, we will simply tell law enforcement that this is a ride protesting the death of George Floyd as these protest events are clearly not subject to any group size limitation or social distancing rules. 
You are all aware that COVID 19 is not gone.  In our local area we’ve actually had a modest up tic in the number of cases.  So, we urge everyone to act responsibly. 
1.       If you don’t feel well, don’t come on the ride.

2.       If you have been exposed and know it, please don’t come on the ride.

3.       If you are a person with any of the risks factors that have been well publicized, don’t risk yourself by coming on the ride.

Maintaining a social distance on a ride is obviously not a problem.  But please be conscious of the social distancing guidelines when we assemble for the ride, when we stop for lunch and at the ride’s end.  We are not requiring you to wear a mask, but most will have a dust mask.  Consider wearing that while we assemble and at the ride’s end.  Spread out more than usual when we stop for lunch.
The ride will be on the Club’s regular Saturday, June 20th.  We will be doing Slaughter Circle from the 249.  The ride is just over 50 miles.   We’d like to get started at 9:00 am., so plan to arrive in plenty of time to unload and be ready to roll at 9:00 am.   As always bring plenty of water, snacks and your lunch.  We expect to be back between 3:00 and 4:00 pm. 
Directions – From the intersection of 260 and 273 you go to the end of 273, about 19 miles.  Continue straight ahead on the 249 for about one and three quarters miles.  The staging area is on the left where the Club has camped in the past.  It’s about 500 feet past where the 24 road intersects the 249 from the right.  Here is a google maps link to the staging area.  There is parking on the other side of the road just before the staging area, should it be needed.https://www.google.com/maps/dir/34.0432503,-109.5915259/33.863463,-109.3814768/@33.9081738,-109.4721569,7652m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!4m1!3e0
Camping – Obviously, anyone can camp that wishes to, either at the staging area (assuming there is space) or somewhere else nearby.  We’re not trying to plan anything as a Club around the ride.  We’ll see about what we do in July.
June Meeting – Rather than gather indoors, we thought we would simply have a short meeting at lunch on the ride.  This should give everyone a chance to ask questions and share ideas.  Meeting outdoors just seems safer.  I will try to put together a short agenda and e-mail it in advance.  Most likely on Friday.  If you have something you think should be on the agenda, please shoot me an e-mail no later than COB Wednesday, June 17th.

Jack

ALL CLUB ACTIVITIES CANCELED

Message from WMOTA President

We hope this finds you all well.  We’ve not heard that any of our membership is ill and we hope that is the case, although there is no particular reason we’d have received any notice.

As I’m sure you’re aware Governor Ducey has extend the social isolation orders through at least May 15th and the Forest Service has an order in effect limiting any gatherings in the forest to the number of persons in the social isolation guideline, currently 10 persons. The Forest Service has also restricted fires in the forest because it doesn’t want to have to call fire fighters together in the event of a fire.  I would guess that this restriction will remain in effect until the monsoon season begins.  

Our normal May meeting date would be May 14th, so clearly not a happening.  Our ride normal ride would be May 23rd.  Obviously, we don’t know whether a ride on that date would be allowed or not.  Most of what we hear suggests that the lock down will be lifted slowly, which seems a reasonable strategy.  This suggests that businesses and other necessary functions may be allowed to operate normally, but probably with guidelines to reduce the possibility of spreading COVID-19.  Strictly social gatherings like our ride, may continue to be restricted, which also seems a reasonable strategy; i.e., let’s get together when we have to, but not when we don’t.  So, at this juncture WMOTA has nothing on its calendar for May. This could change, but I don’t expect we’ll know anything with certainty until nearly May 15th.  I will keep you informed via e-mail as soon as we know anything with certainty

April Club Ride Trappers

CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE!

April 18th, 2020 9:30 AM

Ride to Trappers in Taylor

Date of Ride is Saturday April 18th 2020.  Ride leaves at 9:30 AM.  Weather Permitting

 Bring water, snacks and clothing layers for weather conditions.

Starting location is the intersection of Burton Road and Lone Pine Dam Road.   Lone Pine Dam Road can be accessed from either highway 77 (just south of the Transfer Station) or highway 260 west of Show Low.  There is a large parking area at this intersection.

Total ride length is about 45 miles.

Destination is Trappers in Taylor where we will have lunch at approximately 12:30.

We will return to the starting point at approximately 3:00 PM.

Please reply to this email if you are going on this ride so we can give a number to the restaurant.

For questions your Ride leaders are: Karen and Jerry Smith                    480-225-0658