Give a Hoot! New bike trail is open in Nevada County
Special to The Union
Hoot Trail is a new 1.4-mile trail for non-motorized use. It was designed and constructed by Bicyclists of Nevada County in partnership with Gold Country Trail Council and the U.S. Forest Service.
Hoot is located in Tahoe National Forest a quarter mile east of the Harmony Ridge Market. It provides connectivity between the Pioneer Trail and the Rock Creek Nature Trail. (Note: no bikes or equestrians permitted on the Nature Trail).
Hoot winds down the northern slope of Harmony Ridge through towering sugar pines, big leaf maples and madrones, with dogwoods and Humboldt lilies blooming on all sides. Riding this trail is a wonderful way to celebrate National Bike Month — but it’s also important to remember that not all users are riding a bike and proper trail etiquette is necessary to ensure the enjoyment and safety of all.
The easiest rule to remember is that equestrians have the right-of-way at all times and bikes yield to everyone else. When like meets like, the user traveling uphill has the-right of-way. However, when it comes to horses, this is oversimplifying things a bit.
Horses are prey animals and if a bike approaches a horse at trail speed, it can easily be mistaken for a predator. A startled horse is dangerous to both the equestrian and other trail users.
The following guidelines from cccmb.org can go a long way toward keeping everyone safe:
When approaching horses head-on, come to a stop and ask the equestrian whether they prefer you to stop or ride by slowly. Speak naturally so the horse recognizes that you are a human.
When approaching horses from behind, call out in advance so that the equestrian knows that you are there. It can be disconcerting for both rider and horse to find a bike rider two inches off their “bumper.”
Although trail rules state that bike riders and hikers defer to horses, it’s best to do whatever the equestrian feels is easiest and safest for everyone.
BONC will have a table at the trailhead from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday to provide information about the trail, trail etiquette, and volunteer opportunities. To get there, ride east on the Pioneer Trail from Harmony Ridge Market for about a quarter mile. When you arrive at a four-way intersection, you’ll see chalk lines pointing to a new connector trail that leads up to the top of Hoot Trail.
Orion Kroeger is treasurer and trail builder for BONC, or Bicyclists of Nevada County. For more information and to see rides planned for National Bike Month in May, visit http://www.bonc.org
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