Sharing the Trail

We have over 100 miles of shared-use trails in the Snohomish County Parks trail system! Many different user groups enjoy recreating on these beautiful regional assets. Learn how to respectfully share the trails and interact with different user groups. This information is from the Washington Trails Association - a great educational organization.

Here are the basics of right-of-way broken down depending on what type of trail user you are (from Washington Trails Association):


As a hiker, you're probably the slowest trail user out there when compared to bikes and horses. What hikers lack in speed though is made up in maneuverability, allowing them to find areas to yield to other trail users easily. Here are some tips for meeting other trail users while on a hike:

  • Hikers should yield to equestrians when possible. If the conditions permit, step to the downhill side of the trail.
  • Communicate with equestrians and try not to make any sudden movements when the horse passes to avoid startling it.
  • If you encounter another hiker, the hiker moving downhill yields to the hiker moving uphill.


Mountain bikers are the fastest moving trail users out there on a descent, so keeping an eye ahead on the trail is good practice. Here are a few tips and guidelines for riding on a multi-use trail:

  • Mountain bikers must yield to both hikers and equestrians when possible.
  • Slow speeds around blind corners where you might encounter another trail user.
  • Some equestrians may ask you to dismount from the bike as they pass to avoid startling the horse.
  • Wait for horses to fully pass before resuming your ride.
  • If you encounter another mountain biker, yield to the rider moving uphill.


As the largest trail user, equestrians and their horses can be intimidating for other trail users to encounter. Communicating with hikers and mountain bikers about how best to yield is good practice. Here are some tips for encountering mountain bikers and hikers:

  • Though equestrians have the right-of-way when meeting hikers and mountain bikers, there may be situations where it makes more sense to yield than pass. This is especially pertinent if mountain bikers are approaching from behind on a descent.
  • Use clear communication to other trail users to ensure they won't be in the way when passing.
  • Politely ask mountain bikers to dismount if your horse is easily startled or unsure around bikes.
  • If you encounter another equestrian, find a wide area to yield and allow the horse moving uphill to pass.


Taking your dog onto trails comes with an added set of responsibilities to not only your pet, but also to other trail users. Here are some tips and guidelines for bringing your dog on trail:

  • Trail users with dogs should yield to all other trail users.
  • It's best practice (and on some trails, the law) to have your dog on leash. Dogs must be on-leash on all Snohomish County trails. Learn about our off-leash dog areas here.
  • Keep your dog close when passing children, horses or other dogs, even if your dog is friendly. Be sure to communicate with equestrians to ensure the horse isn't startled by the presence of other animals.

Here are some great resources for more trail education: