Tips to happy trails
The rain has mostly fled and the sun is finally showing its face regularly, which means Oregonians are hitting the outdoor trails; but before we get out there, we should all agree on a few trail etiquette guidelines.
"If we all just remember we're all using [the trail] together and if we all go by the same unspoken rules, then we can all get along," said Paul Carlson, area runner and co-founder of the Canby Dahlia Run along with Amy Wood.
Molalla River Corridor is an unpaved multi-use trail system, used by hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians and more. It is a 25-mile loop with views of the Molalla River.
Table Rock Wilderness is a moderate difficulty trail for hikers, with limited areas for equestrians as well. It boasts breathtaking views of the Cascades.
"On a beautiful day hiking to the top of Table Rock will give you amazing views of the Cascade Range and many breathtaking snow covered mountains," said Molalla Running Club member Jon Knapp. "Rooster Rock also has amazing viewpoints. And the Pechuck Lookout Tower is another fun place to see."
As you go out exploring these areas and taking in the views, here are some tips to make the most of it.
Neither of the trails has cell phone coverage, so it is important to plan ahead.
"Come prepared with plenty of water, calories, layers of clothing, first-aid and common sense," Knapp said.
Be Courteous and friendly
This one might go without saying. Yet, at one time or another, we've all laid on the horn (or worse) in traffic situations. Let's agree to keep that off the trail. Instead, offer a smile, a nod or a "hello" to fellow trail users. It could change someone's day for the better.
Share the trail
Since hikers, bikers and equestrians use Molalla's trails, Knapp pointed out how important it is to share.
"It is important to pay attention to your surrounding and know who yields to who," Knapp said.
According to an REI article, bikers yield to hikers since bikes are considered more maneuverable, and hikers yield to horses, again since they are more maneuverable. When it comes to hikers, those traveling uphill have the right of way.
As a general rule, try to stay on the right-hand side. For those walking in groups, Carlson suggests taking a peek behind you once in a while to make sure you're sharing.
Signal others when passing and pass on left
Nobody wants to be plowed over or startled by a cyclist coming up from behind. So if you're going to pass someone ahead, give them fair warning and keep left. Carlson admitted it might be cheesy, but bicycle bells or horns aren't the worst idea.
"It's just kind of a courteous thing," Carlson said. "It's more for the bikers because they're kind of going faster." But he said runners wanting to pass should signal as well.
Leave no trace
As tempting as it may be to dump off that empty water bottle or tissue during a hike, both of Molalla's hiking areas require users to leave no trace. With so much beauty lining the trail—like the river, trees and more—there's no room for garbage.
"So whatever you pack in, pack out," Knapp said.
Keep pets on a leash
By law, pets should be kept on a six-foot leash, as it could prevent runaway dogs, biting occurrences and startled trail users.
"I like that idea because often times people think, well I know my pet and my dog's not going to bite anybody…but the person that's running toward you, they don't know that your dog is nice," Carlson said.
He added, "Growing up I was afraid of dogs, because I got bit when I was a kid by a dog that looked like it was harmless, so I was afraid of dogs for a long time. So if I was out running, I'd be a little skittish of a dog that wasn't on a leash."
Stay on the designated trails
The trails are there for a reason. For the safest experience, Knapp urges trail users to stay on the designated trails. Wander at your own risk.
Often, we hit the trail to forget the hustle of daily life and to escape into our own little world. Many times that involves blasting music through headphones. But that can present safety concerns. Carlson and Wood suggest ditching the headphones, or maybe just using them in one ear so that you'll be aware of what's going on around you.
"We don't want to inflict fear in anybody," Carlson said, "but there are some bad people out there."
Other safety tips include taking self-defense classes, going out in groups, and avoiding the trail at dark.
Report suspicious behavior
Let's face it, not everyone is going to use the trails for their intended purpose. If you see anything suspicious, report it.
Always call 911 in emergency situations, but to report non-emergency situations, call the Clackamas County non-emergency line at 503-655-8211.