BOISE -- One side effect of the flooded Greenbelt and a brutal winter: People packing the Boise foothills.
Beautiful springtime temperatures are drawing tons of people out to our trail system, and a lot of new users are out exploring, too. The fact that the Greenbelt is expected to be closed much of the summer will bring even more people out over the next few months. So Ridge to Rivers managers have a message hikers and bikers: Be cautious and courteous.
"Judging by the trailheads themselves and being out on the trails, they are very very busy," Ridge to Rivers Program Manager David Gordon said.
Once the skies went from rain to shine, Idahoans were anxious to get outside. Even in the middle of the day on a Monday, KTVB crews saw hundreds of people and four-legged friends hitting the trails.
But Gordon says everyone needs to pay attention to paths that aren't in great condition.
"We got all that rain the last couple months and it's hammered the trails, they're rutted," he added. "You can come around the corner on a trail that was buffed out a week ago, and we've had a heavy thundershower and now it's in a different condition. So just being aware of those types of things and knowing how to handle that- especially if you're on a bike."
Gordon also wants to remind you that trail etiquette is key.
"Every spring we get more and more people out on the trails and that's when you see a lot of new users. So they're not real familiar with trail etiquette and it's kind of a learning process for them," Gordon said.
Whether you're a mountain biker, hiker, runner, or horseback rider, knowing how to interact with other trail users allows everybody to get along on our shared-use trail system.
"What we recommend is for people to actually stop and step off to the side of the trail, whether they have their bike with them or they're on foot, rather than continuing off trail and continuing to go because that ends up creating braided trails, wider trails," Gordon told KTVB. "There's generally enough room to kind of just lean off."
He says cyclists need to remember to wear helmets.
"There's a percentage of new riders every spring who show up on trails without helmets and accidents can happen and there's a lot of people that learn the hard way when they're learning to ride."
Gordon says the main thing bikers need to do: Slow down when they come across hikers or horses.
"Cyclists are supposed to yield to all other trail users and they don't always realize that. Other trail users don't realize that."
The Ridge to Rivers web page says the following about hikers yielding:
• "To hikers, runners & horses.
• Downhill bikers yield to uphill bikers.
• Stop! Yield with one foot on the ground and two wheels on the trail when yielding to hikers, runners & bikers. Don’t ride parallel to the trail.
• When encountering another user from behind, slow down, announce your presence and ask to pass.
• Promote a good trail ethic – Always slow down and say hello when encountering other users."
Monday was Sara Partridge and her kids' first time hiking in the Lower Hulls Gulch area.
"It's pretty user-friendly but I still get a little bit nervous with the bikers," Partridge said. "I like to make sure they're getting the kind of ride they want without me stopping and interrupting them."
She says she was surprised about how wide the trails were, which allowed her and her children to step off to the side.
"We always yielded to the bikers because I was nervous with the kids," Partridge added. "I wasn't aware that they're supposed to yield to us, really."
Colton Braatz is an avid mountain biker, and knows the law of the land.
"You just got to be courteous," Braatz said. "You just don't get to go as fast, you [have to] stop and pull off and wait for people to come up."
Which he says isn't a big deal.
He says people need to be aware that on some trails there are narrow sections, blind corners and downhill stretches where bikers have to go faster.
"I haven't collided with anybody yet, but I've been close a couple times."
Gordon says for hikers and runners, be aware of your surroundings and if you're with other people, walk single file.
Make sure you are paying attention to signs about dogs, The majority of trails do allow dogs to be controlled off leash (have a leash at ready, keep your dog within 30 feet of you and under voice command, and do not allow them to approach or harass people, pets or wildlife), but about 20 percent do require leashes.
Last year, when Ridge to Rivers was creating their 10-year trail plan, Gordon says they looked into the option of allowing bikers and hikers to switch off using certain trails on certain days. But after talking to the public, he found people didn't want to see that happen.
"It goes miles when you're interacting with other users, just slowing down, smiling, saying hello. I think it's so important on a shared-use trail system. Everybody wants to be out here and they want to enjoy themselves," Gordon said.