Off-Road Basics: Trail Etiquette
There are plenty of activities you can do this summer, and if you own a Jeep Wrangler, then you should make your way to an off-roading trail at some point in the next few months. But there are some things you need to know about trail etiquette before you head off to the park. For more information, follow our guide on Off-Road Basics: Trail Etiquette.
Do Your Research Beforehand
Before you head off to the trail, make sure you do plenty of planning. This part includes doing some research on the trail you will be going on. Be prepared for any fees, passes, and other special rules that may apply to any hill. It’s common courtesy to be knowledgeable of an off-road trail prior to using it so that you can properly follow the guidelines, so do some research by visiting a website or making a call.
Follow the Signs
As you drive on the off-road trail, it’s important to understand and follow any signs you come across. Those signs and rules were put in place for a reason, so abide by them. Signs are also helpful because they can help stay on the trail, let you know the difficulty level of a trail, and more. Therefore, you need to pay close attention to all the various signs you come across.
Stay on the Trail
The next part of off-roading etiquette has to do with staying on the marked trail. Veering off the off-road trails can be dangerous, so continue to follow the signs and remain on the course you are supposed to follow.
Stay Away from the Wilderness
A major reason why you need to stick to marked trails is because you could bring potential harm protected land and wildlife if you stray from the path. If you come across any wilderness during your off-roading adventure, make sure you respect their natural environment.
Don’t Leave a Mess
Another element of respect that you need to give an off-roading park is not leaving a mess. Off-roading trails are often in historic national parks, so the least you can do is clean up after yourself by bringing a plastic bag for any trash you might have along the way instead of littering. The only trace that you should be leaving when you visit an off-road trail is the tracks you make in the dirt.
Yield to the Right of Way
The rules of the off-road trail work a bit differently than normal road rules, which is why you need to become well-versed in them as well. One rule you need to be aware of is yielding the right of way when there is traffic driving uphill. This also means giving the right of way to any hikers, mountain bikers, and horses that you may come across on the trail. If you do come across a horse, be courteous and turn off your engine and ask the rider what to do as they pass.
Pull Over When You Stop
Off-road trails not only rough pieces of terrain, but they can also be incredibly narrow, especially in the case of single tracks. If you need to stop at any point, you should safely pull over to the side of the trail to allow enough space for a vehicle to pass you. Chances are there’s a safe area where you can pull over that won’t disrupt any land outside of the trail.
Keep Your Distance
On a regular road, it’s encouraged that you are at least five seconds away from the vehicle ahead of you. This number typically increases to accommodate poor weather conditions. On off-roading trails, it’s important to give other vehicles on the trail even more space, especially when they are trying to overcome a steep hill. Simply be patient with others who are on the trail and wait until they have completed the obstacle before you take your Wrangler through it.
Follow the Vehicle in Front of You
While you need to give space to others in front as you travel on a trail, also make sure you are still following them. This will help you stay on the trail and give you good ideas on how to tackle the obstacles ahead. It will also help you maintain a good distance because you might not be able to see the vehicle in front of you because of a dust cloud if you are too close.
Watch Your Back
Like in any driving situation, you also need to be aware of what is going on behind you. Not only will this help you realize if there is someone who might rear-end you, but it will also let you see if you are leaving anything behind and spot any issues like an oil leak or a loose part. Therefore, adding more mirrors to your Jeep Wrangler can be extremely helpful and will allow you to be mindful of your surroundings.
Leave Things the Way You Found Them
During your off-road adventure, you might also come across a gate along the trail. While you might want to instinctively leave it open if it was closed, you should instead leave it the way you found it. The same goes for anything else you come across on an off-road trail.
Communicate with Others
Because there might be several other off-roaders you meet on the trail, it’s important to communicate with them beyond just using your vehicle lights. Communicating with others is also essential when you are traveling with a group. If this is a case on a single-track trail, flash the number of vehicles that are behind you, which is another reason why you need to watch what your back. If you are the last person in the group, simply hold up your fist. Communication is a vital part of everyone’s safety on a trail and, too much communication can’t hurt.
Help Others When Necessary
The last piece of our Off-Road Basics: Trail Etiquette guide is to help others when necessary. We have all been in situations when we get stranded on the road due to a breakdown. An off-roading trail can come with limited options for help if there is a breakdown, but you can help someone with several Jeep Wrangler modifications like a winch and other handy tools that you should always carry with you. Put yourself in their position and help them out, because you would want others to do the same for you.
Jeep Wranglers are one of the best off-roading vehicles around, and you can optimize your Wrangler even more with several additions you can find at AM Off-Road such as Jeep Wrangler hood latch locks, mirrors, and so much more.