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5 ways to be a more responsible trail user

Backpacking Central Oregon - PC: Adam McKibben

Greetings, Bend friends! It’s longtime Visit Bend blogger Tawna, and this week we have a special treat for anyone and everyone who wants to know more about how to be a more sustainable trail user. 

Serena Bishop Gordon is the Sustainability Manager here at Visit Bend, and she is also a pro cyclist racing bikes for the Liv Racing Collective. She’s passionate about cycling, skiing, gardening, hiking, the outdoors, and of course, coffee. She lives in Bend with her husband, Ben, and their pup, Piper.

This week I’ve asked her to talk about just one of her favorite topics: TRAILS! More specifically, what everyone should know about being a responsible steward of Bend’s trails and the landscape these trails allow you to experience. 

Bend is a mountain biking, trail running, hiking, backpacking, gravel riding, you-fill-in-the-blank mecca, and as trail users, we have the responsibility to respect the places our trails take us. Family Mountain Biking

Keep Single Track Single!

Stay on the designated trail and don’t make your own or widen the single track. If you are planning to ride at the Phil’s trail network, and it’s muddy, change things up and ride at Maston or Horse Ridge, where conditions are typically drier. If you do encounter a puddle, ride through it, not around it (don’t worry, the mud will wash) and if there is a technical section that you don’t feel comfortable riding, walk through it, don’t ride around it. 

If trails at Shevlin Park are going through the freeze-thaw cycle, and you are jonesing for a spring trail run or hike, head to the Badlands Wilderness where conditions are not only drier, but warmer. 

Stay on designated trails; hike, run or ride single file and don’t blaze your own trail. Single track is single for a reason (and awesome), let’s keep it that way! 

Tune In and Respect The Natural Environment

Hiking Badlands Wilderness

Take a moment to look around and soak in the awesome landscape around you. The privilege to explore and ride through our forests is not to be taken for granted. We are all visitors here. Our
forest’s fauna is abundant, and you are visiting their home. Do not attempt to approach wildlife, this really stresses them out and can result in the abandonment of their young. And be sure to respect ALL seasonal trail closures. Flagline, for example, is closed until August 15th each year for elk calving. If you want to take Fido with you on your adventure, awesome, but be sure they stay on the trail, on a leash (where required) and under voice command. Chasing deer and other wildlife (or trail users) is NOT acceptable or respectful of the place you and your pet are visiting. 

Pack It In, Pack It Out

Accidently dropping a bar wrapper, sandwich bag, or kleenex might not seem like a big deal; but guess what? It is a BIG DEAL! Imagine if every trail user dropped one wrapper every time they went out to enjoy our trails. The trails would be lined with a bunch of litter that doesn’t belong in our forests. Remember what you learned (or should have learned) as a child: Don’t litter! Practice Leave No Trace Principles; take only memories, leave only footprints (and tire tracks).
Hiking Diamond Creek Falls

Nope, That’s Not a Parking Spot

When you pull into a trailhead and there are no parking spots available, don’t make your own! The meadow next to the trailhead isn’t a parking lot for a reason, neither is the ditch between the forest and the highway. Not only does parking outside of a designated parking area degrade the landscape, damage habitat and kill flora, it is also dangerous (who wants to have to call the tow-truck because you got your car stuck in a ditch). This might seem like a silly thing, but it has a huge impact, cars are VERY heavy. Oh, and one other thing – and this is a biggie – parking outside a designated spot can result in human caused wildfire. If the parking lot of your favorite trailhead is full, use this as an excuse to explore a new-to-you trail

Trail Running Peterson Ridge

Give Back! 

Trails don’t build themselves and acknowledging the hard work, time and money that is required to build and maintain our amazing and extensive trail network is a prerequisite of being a responsible trail user. Want to support the organizations that support our trails and recreational assets? You can give directly to the Bend Sustainability Fund through Pledge for the Wild, a grant program funding projects that protect, steward, and create sustainable recreational resources and outdoor experiences in Bend’s backyard.

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