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North Trail Map -The trails on the north side of the MHP be are hiking only trails (sorry no horses). Along the way you will pass our two fishing ponds and our 19th Century log cabin. The trail up the hill is steep, but at the top you will find views of the valley and a pleasant woodland walk. The lower trails are relatively level.

South Trail Map - The trails on the south side of th MHP are open for horseback riding and hiking. The south side of the MHP offers over 800 acres of woodlands and open grassland, with two spectacular overlooks of the Illinois River valley. A spring on the southern end of the property has been improved to provide water for horses. As multi-use trails, users are asked to follow trail etiquette - hikers yield to horses. Trails are open for riding from April 15 to October 1 each year (or by special permission).

Miss Manners says Take a Hike! - A Guide to Trail Etiquette.
(written as a guest column for the Jersey County Journal and Calhoun News Herald, July 2009)

With summer upon us, many of us are looking for things to do. Visiting a local park to hike the trails is a wonderful option.  Hiking provides an activity away from the television and computer games and allows you and the kids the opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of our area. There are birds and frogs to listen to and try to identify as well as trees and flowers and other wildlife to observe.  Hiking can be an excellent way to spend an hour or an afternoon, or even make a weekend of it and go camping.

Before you hit the trail, understanding trail etiquette will make the experience more pleasant for everyone. Trail etiquette doesn’t involve knowing which is the proper fork to use when eating your trail mix – it is more a matter common sense, courtesy, and respect for the environment.

One of the first rules of trail etiquette is knowing the trail restrictions.  Never take a motorized vehicle on a trail where they are not allowed.  Driving a 4-wheeler on a hiking or equestrian trail is akin to driving a car down the sidewalk.  Not only is it dangerous, but it also causes unnecessary damage to trails and the environment.

Many trails are considered multi-use trails, allowing hikers, mountain bikes and horse back riders. A basic rule of trail etiquette is knowing when to yield to oncoming users, or users coming from behind.  Generally, bicyclists yield to all users (both hikers and horse back riders) and hikers yield to horseback riders.  In other words, horseback riders have the right of way.  The logic behind this is that horses can sometimes be unpredictable, and could be startled or frightened by a hiker or biker, so for everyone’s safety all users yield to horses.

If approaching a fellow trail user from behind, it is appropriate to warn the user you are approaching – in that case, the user in front should always yield the trail to the right and allow the other user to pass on the left.  When approaching from behind however, be careful not to startle the user in front of you.  If a biker is approaching a horse back rider never use a bike horn or bell and stop the bike, allowing the horse and rider to pass.  All users should communicate in a calm, pleasant voice, and should look to the rider of the horse for guidance. Riders should know the temperament of the horse and be willing to help other trail users exercise proper trail etiquette.

Much of the rest of trail etiquette really is common sense.  Respect your neighbors and fellow trail users.  This means don’t cross boundary lines.  Keep pets on a leash – you may know your dog is friendly, but others don’t.  Keep the volume down – many trail users are there to enjoy the sounds of nature. Loud music and even loud conversation from fellow trail users interrupts this peace.  Note this a reason many trails do not allow motorized vehicles. 

Respect the environment and the trail. Stay on the trail, and if you have to leave the trail, be aware of what you may be trampling. Know the conditions. If the trails are muddy, consider other plans rather than risk damaging the trails and perhaps getting injured. Haul out your trash (anything you bring with you, should leave with you – this includes pet waste). If you come across something beautiful or interesting, take a picture and leave it for the next person to enjoy. Collecting is restricted on most state land and on private land requires the permission of the landowner.

So if you’re planning on hitting the trails this summer, remember to take your water bottles, your camera, your first aid kit, extra snacks (chocolate is a must) and certainly, don’t forget your manners.

 

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