Law Enforcement Rangers to Begin Patrols on Mountain Bikes and on Horseback
New Outreach Campaign Aims to Educate the Public on Trail Etiquette
Law enforcement rangers will begin patrolling the Santa Monica Mountains on mountain bikes and on horseback in an effort to educate visitors on proper trail etiquette, according to the National Park Service.
The weekly patrols, which will start October 1, will aim to dispel the confusion that can often arise on the 500 miles of multi-use trails in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.The trails are shared by hikers, bikers and equestrians. The 12-month educational campaign aims to clear up confusion on the trails.
“Let’s say you’re hiking on a trail and you come upon an equestrian coming up behind you and a mountain biker zooming downhill from the other direction - what is everyone supposed to do?” said Coby Bishop, Supervisory Law Enforcement Park Ranger. “Spending time in the outdoors should not be complicated and visitors are often unclear on who should yield and to whom.”
Yield means to slow down, establish communication, be prepared to stop and pass others in a safe manner, he explained.
“We will be out there in a way that makes it easy to have conversations with the public about trail etiquette and how we can all be respectful toward one another while recreating,” Bishop continued. “Visitors are not always clear on these rules of engagement and that can turn into a safety issue that could have easily been avoided.”
The most basic rule on a multi-use trail is that the equestrian, sitting atop a very large animal who can sometimes become unwieldy or startled, does not yield to anyone and always has the "right of the way."
Upon spotting a horse, hikers and bikers should immediately stop and wait on the downhill side of the trail. Communicating with the rider is important. Say hello and ask how you should proceed. To a horse, a human voice registers to them that you are OK. Horses can perceive hikers wearing tall backpacks, big hats or even trekking poles as threats.
Individuals on bikes, in turn, should always yield to hikers and equestrians. Hikers should yield to equestrians.
Other trail etiquette rules include:
Listening for cyclists, runners and equestrians approaching from behind. If one hears “on your left” from behind, they should move to the right and allow them to pass.
When hiking in a group, hike single file on narrow trails or stay to the right side on wider trails. When hiking downhill, yield to those hiking up. Obey posted rules about dogs and keep them on a short leash (6’ or less)!
If hiking with a child, hold their hand when passing. Don’t approach or pet the horse without first getting permission.
All trail users should observe the 15 mph speed limit.
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) is the largest urban national park in the country, encompassing more than 150,000 acres of mountains and coastline in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. A unit of the National Park Service, it comprises a seamless network of local, state, and federal parks interwoven with private lands and communities. As one of only five Mediterranean ecosystems in the world, SMMNRA preserves the rich biological diversity of more than 450 animal species and 26 distinct plant communities. For more information, visit nps.gov/samo.