BOISE, Idaho — The Ridge to Rivers trail system has helped people recreate and get outside during the pandemic.
That has brought many new people to the trails while also increasing the number of interactions between hikers, bikers and horseback riders.
"We have seen a tremendous increase in use on the trail," said David Gordon of Ridge to Rivers. "Estimates are from two to three times as many as we would typically see."
That has created challenges for trail maintenance, mainly dealing with erosion and widening trails as people get social distance because of the pandemic.
But more people have also caused more interactions, and one hiker we talked to who goes to an off-leash area with her two dogs and her baby boy has had a few negative encounters.
I think COVID has brought out the bad sides in people," said Leah Bevers, who hits the trail a few times a week. "There have been a couple of incidents in particular that were very uncalled for, people don't know how to share the trails."
Proper etiquette includes downhill mountain bikers yielding to riders pedaling uphill.
Mountain bikers should also yield to hikers and horses, the hikers on the trail should give way to horses.
Many of the etiquette problems could be solved by just being nice out on the trail and being courteous to the other users.
"We started a year ago with a really simple campaign called happy trails," said Gordon. "That is the foundation for everything people can take the pledge on our website, but basically, it just talks about being nice out there."
It also goes both ways, and hikers can certainly make life easier for bikers who are cruising on the trails, Bevers told us she tries to get off the trail for mountain bikers, but it doesn't happen every time.
"I'm always trying to pull my dogs off, but some bikers get pretty huffy," said Bevers. "I have two dogs and a baby, they are coming down off-leash trails, and they are coming in hot. I'm trying to corral my dogs, but some people just get real mean."
For more information on Ridge to Rivers and to learn more about etiquette and how to enjoy the foothills responsibly click here.