If you walk or snowshoe in state or national forests in winter, I’m writing to you. I’m an avid cross-country skier who loves gliding through our public lands. If you don’t ski, you may not be familiar with courteous etiquette on ski trails. Ski trails are marked and unmarked trails through woodlands and meadows, not wider dirt roads used by snowmobiles.
Ski trails were made for skiing, many made by skiers putting in thousands of hours to create and maintain trails. Ski etiquette is that if on foot, you walk to the side of ski tracks (or to the side of the trail’s center if there aren’t yet ski tracks). This preserves tracks or snow for skiers. By walking on tracks, one creates a very irregular surface that usually prevents gliding. Usually the result is that skiers end up walking, rather than gliding, an extremely less satisfying experience, because one’s flow of movement is prevented.
Taking dogs on ski trails, especially not-small dogs, also trashes tracks. The bigger the dog, the more trashed the surface. There are plenty of other trails and dirt roads for dogs. This matter may seem insignificant to some. However, for those who treasure whenever there’s snow to go cross-country skiing, with a climate of greatly decreased snow and cold, the pleasure of gliding on snow is deeply satisfying to my mind, body and spirit. I hope you’ll consider adopting ski trail etiquette to contribute to this deep pleasure and thorough physical workout.