To keep trails safe and fun for everyone, it’s always important to be considerate while out on the trail. Right now, it is more important than ever to practice good trail etiquette to help protect yourself and others during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the Greater Philadelphia-South Jersey region, getting outdoors for physical activity and wellness is allowed—as long as individuals maintain a distance of at least 6 feet and adhere to current public health guidance. With more than 330 miles of trails completed in the region, the Circuit Trails provides space for people to walk, bike, run, exercise and be outside, as well as a way for essential workers to commute.
Help do your part to keep these spaces safe and accessible by recreating responsibly and following these trail etiquette tips. And remember, trails are for everyone—whether you’re new to the Circuit or a longtime user—so please be nice, take care and share the trail.
Trail Etiquette Tips
As many flock to the trails for fitness and to find respite during the pandemic, demand for these spaces has surged, which is why it is especially important to take precautions before you go and while you’re on the trail—including knowing and practicing proper etiquette.
Before you go, please:
- Refer to the guidance provided by your local/state government for more specific information about your community (You can find current guidance Pennsylvania here and New Jersey here).
- Check with the local trail management organization to learn the status of trail facilities. Contact information is available when accessing individual trail records at TrailLink.com.
- If you plan to visit a trail, be prepared that some trails may have limited services, including closed facilities such as bathrooms, depots and visitor centers, and limited or no staff.
- Bring a cloth face covering to wear in situations when maintaining a safe distance between yourself and others is difficult. Learn more about the CDC’s recommendations and how to make your own covering.
When you’re sharing the trail, please:
Keep Your Distance
If a trail has a posted speed limit (on the ground or online), please regulate your speed accordingly. If not, the standard speed limit for many trails across the country is 15 mph. Above all, please prioritize safety and the comfort of others when moving along the trail—we’re all in this together!
Keep Right, Pass Left
When using the trail, stick to the righthand side unless you’re passing another user—which should always be done on the left and be led with a friendly “on your left!” call, bell ring or other notification. Trails have all sorts of traffic, making predictability and courtesy critical to ensure great experiences for all.
Standing Still? Stand Aside
if you’re stopping to stretch or any other reason, allow space to maintain 6 feet of distance between yourself and others. In the case of a bridge or tunnel, we recommend taking that pause off to the side directly before or after passing through.
Mind Your Pets
When it comes to pets on the trail, some rules vary, but all ask for you to be mindful of others. Always maintain control of your pet—as the CDC recommends that pets follow the same distancing guidance that humans do, a short leash works best—and clean up whatever their behinds leave behind.
With many trails hosting more visitors (including wildlife), being alert and attentive to your surroundings will help you be prepared for any surprises you encounter. Understanding when to yield is another important part of being alert; it generally follows that wheels yield to heels, and heels yield to hooves.
Know and Follow the Rules
These tips will ready you for the majority of trail scenarios, but most trails have their own unique set of rules. Be sure to know before you go—especially as many trails have made updates to rules and operations in response to COVID-19. Rules will often be posted online or at major trailheads. Get more tips on recreating responsibly when visiting the trail or other outdoors spaces.
Ready to Visit the Trail? Find One Close to Home.
To keep you and your community safe during the pandemic, it’s best to limit your trail visits to those accessible by bike or foot near your neighborhood. Staying local can help limit the spread of the virus, avoid the potential for issues that could put a strain on local emergency and medical resources, and gives you a chance to discover or rediscover close-to-home trail gems!
Can’t find a Circuit trail near you? There may be one (or more) in the future! Check out our status map of the trails that are planned, in the pipeline, and in progress as part of the eventual 800-miles-plus Circuit Trails network here. If you’re ready to take action now to help advance the development of the Circuit Trails network, joining our multi-county group of advocates, Circuit Citizens!
- REI's Recreate Responsibly campaign
- Good Trail Etiquette Has Never Been More Essential Than It Is Right Now | Apr. 23, 2020
- Three Fun Solo Activities You Can Do #OnTheCircuit | Apr. 3, 2020
- Brush Up on Biking Basics | May 14, 2020
- Remote Recreation: Visit the Trails Virtually | April 10, 2020
- Eight Great Reads to Keep You Motivated During Times of Uncertainty | Mar. 19, 2020
- How Trails and Outdoor Access Provide Important Mental Health Benefits | Sept. 30, 2020
- Fall Trail Tips | Nov. 11, 2020
- Tips to Winterize Your Ride | Dec. 14, 2020
- Tracking Trail Use #OnTheCircuit | June 26, 2020