Learn about trail etiquette, get some exercise and win prizes during a Share the Trails event at the Mud Springs area south of Cortez on June 1 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
The nonmotorized event is sponsored by the San Juan Mountains Association in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management and trail user groups.
There will be a free poker run for cyclists, hikers and horse riders, and information about trail etiquette for the different users. A free lunch from the Hoof Beats 4-H Club will be served. Donations for lunch are appreciated.
The event is part of a National Trails Day. Families, friends and children over 10 years old are encouraged to attend. Organizers ask that dogs and stallions be left at home. Users will be given cards at various stations, and the best hand gets first pick at prizes including gift certificates and outdoor gear.
The goal of the day is to introduce the underutilized Mud Springs multiple-use trail network to the public, and to provide information on responsible trail use.
“With more people getting outside more, it is important we all understand what to do when we come across different users,” said event organizer Kathe Hayes.
How to act when approaching a horse rider is a common question from users.
All users are required to yield to horse riders. Horses are reactive animals with varying dispositions. They especially can get spooked by motorized users, unrestrained dogs and cyclists.
When approaching a horse rider all trail users should, “stop, speak and smile.” That way communication can happen calmly, and the horse hearing the human voice will realize it is not a threat.
Cyclists, hikers and motorized users should move out of the way and engines cut until the horse passes by.
Wait for instructions from the horse rider, Hayes says, because their safety is the most vulnerable at that moment. Extra caution is especially needed when approaching a horse rider from behind or from above. Calmly announce your presence.
Having a well-behaved dog on a leash or under voice command is also important for safety and positive relationships with other users.
“Everyone being polite is so important — smiling, saying ‘thank you’ and ‘have a good day’ keeps it positive,” Hayes said. “I’d also suggest not judging a user type based on one bad encounter. We are all working towards getting along on the trail so we stay safe and have a good outdoor experience.”
Mud Springs is the epitome of the BLM’s multiple-use recreation strategy. The recently improved area off Road 21 has rock-crawling OHV trails and open ATV areas that are clearly separated from horse, mountain biking and hiking loops. As part of an expansion plan, additional parking and a motorized area in an old gravel pit are being considered.
Directions to Mud Springs: From Cortez drive south on U.S. Highway 491, turn west on Road G (McElmo Canyon Road) drive 5 miles and turn south (left) on Road 21, go 1 mile to the parking lot and trailhead.