Trails Sharing Poll results

December 30, 2010

We asked all of you hikers, bikers, and horseman about the trail systems in our State parks. Got lots of responses both on Facebook and through emails. There where many different ideas and feelings on sharing trails with different User groups. Many thought that the trails should be divided into individual trails for each User group. Unfortunately this leads to so much dissecting of the natural environment, that the nature experience is lost. Pontiac Lake Recreation area is a good example of individual trails for each User group, and a very dissected natural environment, in the main part of the park.Many people suggested not mixing Bikes with Hikers or Bikes with Horses. That is possible in some parks, where there is enough wide open spaces to accommodate many different trail systems.

Many responded that with proper rules, that some trails could be shared between hikers and bikers, and the horses should be left to their own trail systems.Yet others that only hike said that sharing trails with bikers spoiled their nature experience as bikers came zooming past them on the trails.

Probably the most universal thread was that with common courtesy and sense, that most trails could be shared by many different User groups. It seems the rules and common knowledge of passing and stepping off the trail for others are not as common knowledge as we all think. These are not easy questions to answer, nor are they easy problems to solve. The bottom line will always be the Natural resources and environment that needs to be considered first. Almost all User groups come to a State Park because of the natural environments there. Loosing them would mean losing the reasons for even using the trails in most cases.

Thanks for participating in the Poll. I learned alot, and will be taking this to the State Trails Advisory Committee meeting in March. The DNR is working very hard on how to handle the many different User groups and individuals who want to enjoy our State Park Trails and natural environments. It is not always as simple as installing another trail, for another group. And there is not always the room for every kind of use a small Park can accommodate.



  1. This was an interesting post! It has a bizarre sign with bizarre implications. (Is this an official sign noting regulations? OMG!)
    My comments:
    1) NEVER ever allow motorized vehicles on multi-use trails in the system. It is fine if people want to use their motorized toys, but make sure they do it with their “own kind”. As a senior I cannot jump as fast as I used to be able to do, and any concerned parent certainly does not want to have to leash their kids and possibly break their necks with a fast jerk to safety when they hear “vroom” approaching! NEVER motorized!!!
    2) It is fine to share non-motorized trails with other classes of outdoor users. YET, – think about this: as a hiker, I certainly always yield to bikers approaching – some of them scare me! – but from behind? (Oh, yes, I think the sign says bikers are supposed to yield to hikers approaching from behind – yeah, right. So the interpretation must be something else…). It is I that yield when I see them coming.

    Often I am involved in my experience outdoors and bikers are moving so fast I have no idea they are behind me! What sense here??? If I see them coming, I always move to the side of – if not off the trail. (Hiker yields out of fear, not biker. So many bikers are inconsiderate!)
    But it seems this sign and regulation says if that if I am walking too fast and hit a biker from behind on a trail, it was my fault for not yielding! WHAT???
    I am to yield the right of way to those approaching me from behind. WHAT???

    Oh, at least please let me see the danger first! It’s scary enough sometimes to go for a walk in the forest with potential weirdos in the woods and no one else around and only a cell phone for protection, but now I have to yield to thise coming from behind? WHAT???

    The uphill thing is just as stupid! For motor vehicles the law has always been that yield goes to those going downhill. It is far easier to back up a hill where you can see the terrain than to back down a hill with no visibility of the terrain. Same for walkers, bikers, hikers. It is easy to see where you wil place your foot, tire, hoof going uphill.


  2. The confusions on the trails do not seem to be cleared up by the “Tread Lightly” yielding sign. A hiker only yields to horses. Biker yield to everyone. The yielding to someone passing is a courtesy. A biker passing correctly on a multi-use trail, must signal their approach, and then pass on the left. The courtesy part is that the Hiker give way to the passing biker. This is assuming they signaled their approach. Should the biker not notify the hiker of their approach, and the Hiker is startled and just kinda freezes there on the trail, the biker is obligated to actually have to stop, if that is what it takes to now get around the startled hiker. That is why the sign shows bikes yielding to hikers and horseman. The problem is…….most people do not understand the whole picture. The State Trails Advisory Committee is trying to solve this problem and others concerning multi-use of trails. In some parks, new trails will be developed for different User groups. In others, where there is no room for this, a strategy must be worked out. I am of the mind that the person on foot should have the priority to a trail use. People bringing items with them onto the trails (horses, bikes, all-terrains) have the second chances at using the trails if they can be accommodated. BUT……there is a mind set and plenty of Lobbying going on, that says, EVERYONE has the right to use the trails systems everywhere and we all must accommodate them. Like I said……if it is you and your family on foot, you should have the first choices on trails and usage. There are plenty of Bike trails already, and the average biker does not head out on the trails to experience nature. If every trail was shared with thrill seekers and obstacle course enthusiast, there would be no nature.

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