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Responsible Trail Use in Telluride, Colorado

We hope you love Telluride’s trails and outdoor areas as much as we do! As our trails experience increased use, it’s more important than ever that we respect the trail, nature, each other and use proper trail etiquette. Thanks for helping to make our backyard an awesome recreation area!

Share the Trails

For many years, the philosophy of trail right of way stemmed from the yield triangle, but as multi-use trail users, sometimes we need to adapt. We respect the need for mountain bikers to have the right of way on a technical ascent or descent, we appreciate when equestrians move off the trail for groups of hikers and we admire when mountain bikers scoot off the trail for runners or hikers and significantly slow down their speed around other user groups.

We believe in situational awareness on the trails. We promote friendly interactions – please and thank you! We support being kind, saying hello and using voice communication. We encourage you to spread the word of socially conscious trail etiquette and practice good use when on Telluride’s trails. Put the pressure on your friends, family and trail buddies to act in accordance so we can all get along. We’re all out there for the same reason so let’s respect each other and share the trails! Here are some tips to get you started.

Historically, hikers and trail runners have had the right of way over mountain bikers but have yielded to equestrians. It’s now much more common for hikers to yield to mountain bikers because of their ease to get off the trail. On multi-use and shared trails, hikers should be aware of their surroundings and expect to encounter mountain bikers at some point. If it’s easy for you to move off the trail to let a mountain biker ride through (and you feel comfortable), we suggest that. Take your time, find good placement for your feet and generally make sure you are not putting yourself in danger. Your safety should come first.

Mountain Bikers
As a mountain biker, it’s likely you have better sight lines than hikers and are almost certainly moving faster. It’s most appropriate and courteous to nicely call out to hikers as you approach them, slow down significantly (really slow down, especially if you need to get off your bike and yield to them) and communicate with who you encounter. Letting them know how many are behind you is helpful information. And, don’t forget a friendly “hello or thank you”.

As a mountain biker, you should never expect a hiker to yield to you. You likely see the hiker long before they know you are near them. Be courteous, communicate, slow way down and thank everyone who moves off the trail for you.

Why Share the Trails?
Telluride’s trail infrastructure is more popular than ever. There are more users on every trail, and we want to mitigate user conflicts before they happen and get out of hand. Sharing the trail is also an effort to keep everyone safe. It’s a simple concept really, share with multiple users, even when they are enjoying the trail in a different way than you.


Follow Responsible Trail Protocols

Muddy Trails
First and foremost, try not to hike or bike when you know that trails are muddy. Use during muddy times causes trail rutting, widening and maintenance headaches. If you find yourself on a muddy section of trail, make a shift from thinking “I don’t want to get muddy”, to “I want to preserve this trail”. When you come across a muddy or icy section of a trail, please hike, run or bike right through the middle of the muddy section. Sure, we all want to take the inviting (and dry) side trail, but doing that creates serious erosion that leads to more damage and problems. Please, please stay on the trail.

Don’t cut switchbacks! There is a reason they exist, please don’t make your own trail to save time. Disregarding switchbacks will cause trail erosion and negatively impact vegetation. Stay on the trail.


Respect the Environment

Be a good steward of your environment by staying on the trail, picking up after yourself and keeping singletrack single. Practice leave no trace principles when you are out recreating.

Be A Good Trail Steward
Share the trail! Be nice, say hi. Only utilize open, legal trails. Plan ahead. And, HAVE FUN!

Unauthorized Trail Work

Unauthorized trail work is never acceptable on public or private lands. Unless you are working directly with the land manager or have proper approvals, please leave the trails and their character as you find them. The problem with unauthorized work is that it often changes the trail experience, causes damage to natural resources, creates safety hazards and is against the law. Additionally, unauthorized trail work undermines trust between trail users, land managers and trail advocates which can lead to forced trail closures and strain on future proposed trail projects. Please obtain proper approvals before modifying trails or building your own.


Practice Telluride Trail Etiquette

Share the Trail: Slow down, communicate and be courteous to other trail users. Yield to others!
Be Prepared: Plan ahead and be self-sufficient. Bring water, food, layers, start early and have a plan B.
Leave No Trace: Pack out what you pack in. Leave what you find. Properly dispose of waste.
Stay on the Trail: Keep singletrack single and respect the environment/landscape.
Be A Good Trail Steward: Only use open/legal trails. Encourage your friends and family to be good trail stewards.


Traditional Right of Way & Yield Info

We all love using our regional trails, whether you are a hiker, trail runner or mountain biker. Here is a quick reminder of who has the right of way when out on the trails. And remember, be courteous to your fellow hikers and bikers! Say hello, wave and slow down.

What is Yielding?
Yielding 101: Stop and move to one side of the trail when yielding. Slow traffic should stay on the right side of the trail so others can pass safely on their left. When in doubt, give the right of way to the hiker headed uphill. Be Nice: If the approaching hiker/biker is struggling more than you, be courteous and let them have the right of way.


Hikers – Hikers
Hikers going downhill must yield to hikers going uphill (uphill hikers have the right of way).

Bikers – Hikers
Bikers must yield (give right of way) to hikers going in EITHER direction. With this said, sometimes bikers are moving faster than those hiking and it’s easier for the hiker to move out of the way. Bottom line, a biker should never expect a hiker to yield or get out of the way.

Bikers – Bikers
Bikers going downhill must yield to bikers going uphill (bikers going uphill have the right of way).

Equestrians – Hikers/Bikers
Both hikers and bikers must yield to horses (horses have the right of way).

Do you love Telluride’s trails and want to see more in the region? Lean more about our trail projects here and donate to trails today.


  • Alison James says:

    Thank you Mountain Club for all you do.

    Here’s my story of etiquette on the shared hike/bike trails near me in Lawson. Thanks for clarifying the right of way issue. I recently found out that cyclists are supposed to yield to pedestrians, But the trouble is THEY don’t know that. I can’t tell you how many times I have been yelled at by visiting cyclists, when I decided to stop jumping out of their way on the FLAT meadow of the valley floor. I decided to stop yielding to cyclists because I found I was doing it every 30 seconds to 1 minute, and that was about 20 times during a walk. One day a cyclist crept up silently and rang his bell suddenly which made me jump. He thought that was hilarious. That was the final straw.

    The ambiguous sign says “share the trail”, which is what one cyclist yelled at me when I didn’t jump out of his way. Once, a cyclist came right up behind me and touched my legs with his bike tire and said excuse me. Other times they merely say hello, as a way to announce their presence, to which I respond, as always, with a cheerful hello back. Then they get nasty because I don’t jump out of their way. I always explain very nicely in a calm voice that pedestrians have right of way, at which point they ALWAYS start shouting aggressively. I realize that these people are stressed out city folk, but if we could have a clear sign at the start of the the trail that would be nice. A “share the trail” sign for a 12″ wide trail doesn’t work. I tried Lance McDonald’s office but had no luck.

    Some trails are now unusable because of the heavy bike use, the Remine trail is one of them, so I’m trying to find single use hiking trails. How do we find these? I would be happy to do trail maintenance on them.

    Thanks again, Ali

  • Jack says:

    What is the policy on leaving cairns, particularly in marking ingress and egress on trails such as Sheraton Crosscut? Seems that a modest marker for those to follow might be appropriate…..it would certainly be helpful.

  • Beth says:

    My name is Beth Campbell. My brother and I are collecting mountain stories to share in a podcast. Eventually we’ll “launch” a facebook or instagram page to correlate the stories to. Anyways the question to you is, may we have permission to post your info graphic trail etiquette on our page? We also want to promote outdoor etiquette and safety.
    Thanks for you time, BethCampbell

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Telluride Mountain Club advocates for safe, accessible, enjoyable and respectful opportunities for human-powered recreational activities in the Telluride region, through education, awareness and collaboration.

Telluride Mountain Club is a 501c3 nonprofit organization.