Leave No Trace
The most essential piece of trail etiquette is helping maintain it for the next person to experience it as well (or even better) than you did. Of course, Leave No Trace means the obvious – taking what you brought with you (pack it in, pack it out) and leaving what you find (as long as it’s natural, feel free to pack out what others should have.) But it also means traveling on durable surfaces – the trail your best bet. An obvious no-no in the Estes area is stepping on the alpine tundra – it’s a delicate ecosystem and takes years to recover. Find the full Leave No Trace principles here.
Right of Way
It’s always best to pay attention to right-of-way signage at trailheads, but a great general rule for multi-use trails is bikes yield to all and hikers yield to horses.
If you’re hiking and come across other hikers, common courtesy is yield to the uphill hiker – they’re working harder after all! However, if they’re feeling extra polite (or just need a breather) they may wave you through. When hiking in a group, stay single-file, to make way for oncoming hikers, and those who may want to pass.
Give them space! A good rule of thumb, is if the wildlife notices you, you’re too close. Rocky Mountain National Park recommends at least 75 feet from elk and bighorn sheep, and 120 feet from moose and bear. An easy way to tell is to hold your thumb up with your arm extended in front of you. Can you cover the entire animal? You're most likely at a safe distance. Remember also to not block roadways or trails when you spot wildlife. And never, ever feed wildlife – no matter how small or cute.
- Give others plenty of room whether you are on a trail or at a trailhead.
- Carry a face covering with you at all times, you never know when you won't be able to stay at least 6 feet away from others.