Fun For Everyone!

Trails are a wonderful way to spend an enjoyable day, relaxing and taking in the scenery. There are spectacular views and natural areas as you travel Simcoe County’s trails. We ask that you observe these few rules of trail etiquette so that everyone will have a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience…and you will help preserve trails for future generations.

These guidelines have been adapted from the Ontario Trails Council’s user guidelines for shared-use trails. While these guidelines are customized for shared-use trails the following codes of conduct are generally applicable to all trails.

General Rules of Etiquette

  1. Expect and respect other trail users.
  2. Keep to the right to allow other users to pass on your left. When stopping for a break, move to the side to allow others room to pass.
  3. Stay on the trail! Don’t make new trails or use unmarked (unsigned) trails.
  4. Respect neighbouring landowners by staying off private property, and avoid excessive noise.
  5. Leave the trail as you found it; whatever you pack in, pack out. Leave the wildflowers and wildlife for others to enjoy.
  6. Maintain control of your pets. Carry a leash for your dog and be prepared to use it. “Stoop & scoop”  near residential areas and when waste is on the trail path.
  7. Use trails only according to the permitted uses indicated on the signage. Some trails are user specific i.e. hiking or snowmobile only trails.
  8. Some trails may close seasonally.  Obey  trail closure signs.
  9. Most trails experience problems in the spring. Check the trail conditions. If you are leaving tracks over 1/2” deep don’t use the trail.  If there are no signs posted, but weather conditions have been bad, do not use the trail.
  10. Some trails require user fees. Check with the Trail Association or Conservation Area and be prepared to pay a fee. These monies help to maintain the trail.

Walkers & Hikers

Remember that on shared use trails there are a variety of other users enjoying the trail with you. If you have children in your group make sure they are aware of any horses, dogs, bicycles or snowmobiles passing.

When passing horses say “hello” to help the horse know you are not something scary. If  approaching from the front, stop and let the horse and rider pass unless the rider indicates otherwise. When approaching from the rear, ask if it is OK to pass then proceed on the left. (Keep dogs leashed and close to you.)

If you have a walking stick, do not raise it in the air, as the horse may think you are going to hit it.

Keep control of your pets, particularly when sharing the trail with cyclists, children, horses or snowmobiles.

Limit your group size to 20 hikers to keep from overwhelming other users. If you have a large group, let the other users know its size when passing them, e.g. “Passing on the left, 15 hikers and 2 dogs, may we go by?”

Don’t walk in groomed cross-country ski tracks.


Ride at a leisurely pace. Keep to a walk unless safety is certain and ground conditions are good so that no trail damage will occur. Never gallop.

When your vision of the trail ahead is restricted, slow down and control of your mount. Always assume that there may be another trail user ahead.

Ensure your horse is well mannered. Kicking, biting and excessive spooking are not safe on shared use trails. Train your horse to accept various experiences and other users.  Ride with an experienced horse if your mount is  nervous.

Keep to the right to allow other users to pass on your left. Help other users by telling them the safest and easiest way by.

Pass other users on the left in single file, after receiving their permission. Allow them to get control of any pets, and be especially alert for children.

Kick the manure off the trail. Users on foot or bicycle really appreciate this.

Limit your group to six or fewer. Large groups of horses intimidate people. If you have a large trail ride in progress, pass other trail users in groups of six with spaces between. Inform the user you are passing of your group size, e.g. “4 horses and 3 dogs, passing to your left, may we come by?”

Use the bridges for waterways. If your horse refuses, dismount and lead it across the bridge.

In winter months, stay off groomed ski trails. Only use groomed snowmobile trails where permitted.

Children love to pet horses. Tell them how to approach your horse safely.

Never leave horses unattended.


Keep your pace leisurely and slow down to pass other trail users.

Slow down if your vision of the trail ahead is restricted. Always assume there may be another user ahead, and   be prepared to stop.

Yield the trail to hikers and horseback riders. Use your bell or speak when you are about 30 feet away to alert them. Be careful when passing children or dogs, especially from behind. Allow the owner to control dog before passing.

Some horses may be frightened by moving objects rapidly approaching them, so slow down and ask how to pass safely. The rider may indicate to continue at your present speed.  If the horse reacts, stop and wait for the rider to regain control.

Limit the size of your group to six cyclists. If you have a larger group, ride in groups of six with spaces between. When riding in a large group and passing other users let them know your party size, e.g. “We are a party of 18 cyclists in three groups of 6, may we pass on the left?”

Always use the bridges supplied for crossing waterways.

Some trails are for hikers only; respect those trails by only riding on trails for cycling.

Use extra caution at access points and when crossing roads.

X-Country Skiing

Use common sense and personal awareness, particularly in intense cold or when sharing the trail with snowmobiles.

Keep to the right to allow other users to pass to your left. Be alert for other trail users and ski in control, particularly when your vision of the terrain ahead is restricted. Always assume that there could be someone up ahead, and  be prepared to stop.

Do not ski late in the day. Plan to be off the trail by dusk.

Carry sufficient wax, food, drink, and clothing for unexpected eventualities

Keep track of your progress and where you are. For remote areas, leave your itinerary and expected return time with someone. Obey all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails.

Do not stop where you obstruct the trail or are not visible from above or at a bend.

Before merging onto a trail, look both ways (particularly uphill), and yield to others. When going downhill or passing others, ski in control to avoid the persons below and beside you.

The motion of X-C skiing may startle a horse. Do not scare horses by approaching silently, rapidly or waving your poles. When approaching from the front, stop and let them pass unless the rider indicates otherwise. If approaching from behind, alert the horse and rider from about 30 feet away with a friendly “hello”. Ask the rider the best way to pass.

Snowmobile and ATV Riders

Be safety conscious. Be aware. Ride with care.
Stay on the designated trails. Off riding can injure vulnerable plants, crops and wildlife.
Enjoy wildlife viewing opportunities, but avoid stressing any species.
Avoid sudden stops and starts and quick directional changes with acceleration.
Slow down when your vision of the trail ahead is restricted, at night or over unfamiliar terrain.
Always assume there could be other trail users ahead, and be prepared for a controlled stop.
Keep your speed and engine rpm low and steady when approaching and passing other trail users, homes, etc.
Slow down and be courteous when approaching or passing other trail users. Communicate with the riders of horses and those walking pets.
Your machine may scare a horse.  When approaching from the front, stop and let them pass unless the rider indicates otherwise. Approach slowly from behind, and allow the rider to signal when it is OK to pass. If the horse reacts, stop and wait for the rider to regain control.
Park and dismount from your machine and walk to sensitive, scenic, historic and cultural areas.
Remove your helmet when talking to other trail users.
Don’t ride on groomed XC-ski tracks.
When parking along a trail,  park machines in single file over to the right as far as possible to avoid obstructing the trail.  Ensure you are visible and turn off your machine.
Obey all regulations and by-laws regulating the operation of your snowmobile or ATV.