Tread lightly and politely while on local trails this weekend

Remember the trail triangle while hiking or biking on Flash of Gold on Buffalo Pass.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Last weekend, Buffalo Pass was a mecca for mountain bikers, hunters, cold-weather campers and leaf peepers. An employee with the U.S. Forest Service counted 80 cars in the Dry Lake parking lot last Saturday. When that many trail users come together at one time, there will likely be some tension and some confusion when it comes to who has the right of way.

“This season of trail use is gaining in popularity because the secret’s out about how beautiful the fall colors are,” said Routt County Riders Executive Director Laraine Martin. “Flash of Gold specifically and the area around Dry Lake and moving upward from there, it’s notorious for having the coolest, most vivid color changes.”

Thankfully, there are plenty of people with Routt County Riders or Friends of the Wilderness, who frequent the area and share how people should treat the land and each other.

“Having more people out there spreading the word of recreating responsibly and treating other users with respect and all those things, I think it goes a long way,” said Brendan Kelly, a recreation program manager with the Forest Service. “I think it’s better coming from another member of the public rather than a ranger in a uniform.”

In case you don’t run into someone kindly reminding everyone whether a hiker or biker proceeds downhill first, here is the run down on multiuse, multidirectional trails.

Both hikers and bikers yield to horses, and bikers yield to hikers. Downhill travelers yield to uphill travelers, and of course, always yield to wildlife. These are depicted in the trail triangle.

Of course, there are some scenarios in which that doesn’t apply. It’s best to just be patient and courteous when traveling on multi-use trails.

The Trail Triangle
City of Steamboat Springs/Courtesy photo

“It’s all situation based,” Martin said. “If you’re running downhill and there is someone laboring up the trail on their bike, if they get off their bike, you’ve sapped all of that energy they’re using to get uphill. It’s much harder for them to get started again than it is for you running or hiking. When it comes to in-the-field practices that people demonstrate, it’s more common that everyone is going to yield to the person laboring uphill. … There’s going to be situations where kindness dictates what we do.”

Proper clothing is more important than ever right now. First, consider wearing bright clothing since it’s hunting season. Also, temperatures and light fade faster than ever these days, so people recreating in the evening should be prepared with warm layers and a headlamp.

Leave No Trace Pinciples

1. Plan ahead and prepare

2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces

3. Dispose of waste properly

4. Leave what you find

5. Minimize campfire impacts

6. Respect wildlife

7. Be considerate of other visitors

The city of Steamboat Springs has become more proactive in sharing trail rules and courtesies as well as leave no trace principles. The city has partnered with the Forest Service and other entities to produce the Visit Responsibly and Know Before You Go page on its website, with handy tools and reminders.

That information can be found at There are nine pillars of the Visit Responsibly mantra, one of which is Respect the Yampa Valley, under which trail etiquette falls.

Following last weekend’s surge of visitors at Buffalo Pass, the Forest Service found a dispersed campsite littered with a truckload of trash. Kelly encourages people to pack out everything they bring into the area and follow Leave No Trace principles.

“We’re reminding everyone to be responsible and respectful,” Kelly said.

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