The BootDoctors: Trail Etiquette: Be Present, Be Cool, Be Courteous

The BootDoctors: Trail Etiquette: Be Present, Be Cool, Be Courteous

“The (Boot)Doctor is in the House” is a series from beloved family-owned and operated outdoor retailer BootDoctors to share the power of mountain life: adventure, style, gear, and community. Here the good guys always get to ski powder and bag summits and the sunset is always spectacular. This week BootDoctors blogs about trail etiquette. Short answer: Be present and mindful of courtesy first. All the images are by regular BootDoctors’ photographer Melissa Plantz.

Whether you live in Telluride or you’re visiting; we’re all here for the same reason. The mountains. And although we all want to get out in them, we do experience them differently.

For some, a day in the mountains is a leisurely walk on the River Trail, while others won’t stop until they’ve bagged seven 13,000 foot peaks in a day’s hike. Some will take the Gondola and ride their mountain bikes down the Village, Jurassic and Meadows Trails and call it a day at The Telluride Brewing Company, while others will continue up the Airport Road to the Sunny Side trails and add Penelope Cruise, Deep Creek, Eider and Mill Creek, topping out at 10,250 feet, before descending into Town.

And although we may all have different goals while on the trails, we share similar reasons for being there. Exercise, training, headspace, inspiration, or connecting with friends and family. And for all of us to be safe and have fun on Telluride’s endless trails, it’s important we follow the same rules.

The good thing is they’re easy to follow, but they can also be easy to forget if you ride or run with your head down or on your own agenda.

To keep the trails safe be courteous, use some common sense, follow these general guidelines.

And before you go, visit the Bootdoctors to get the full download on local hikes, runs and rides. 

Be Present: Know Where You Are: 

Hikers: On multi-use trails that allow for bikers and hikers, hikers always have the right of way. However, runners and hikers, be aware of where you are. If you are running or hiking on the Village Trail or Prospect Loop on the Telluride Ski Area, you need to be aware that these are the most popular mountain biking trails in Telluride, and I highly recommend going clockwise. Yes, you have the right of way, but you are going to have to move off the trail regularly to let bikers pass. And definitely stay off the downhill biking trails on the Telluride Ski Resort. These are the only trails that prohibit hikers and uphill biking and allow downhill bike traffic only.

Alternatively, opt for a hike where bikers are prohibited such as Sneffel’s Highline or where they are unlikely to ride such as the Wasatch and the various hikes above Bridal Veil Falls, off of Tomboy Road and above Bear Creek.

Bikers: Bikers also need to be aware that there will be hikers on what are perceived as “mountain biking trails” such as The Village, Prospect and Meadows Trails and that hikers always have the right of way. Additionally, bikers need to be aware and prepared to slow down when they are on popular hiking trails that are likely to be more congested.

Chill out coming into Town, whether that’s descending the last few switchbacks of the Jud Weibe (arguably the most popular hiking trail) or finishing on the Valley Floor (one of the most congested). The last mile into town is not the time to try and win a Strava segment (a popular GPS app on which athletes can compare times for the same segments of a trail).

And, just an FYI, the River Trail through town is not really a “bike trail”. It’s full of pedestrians, dogs, and kids. Get out of your peloton and keep your head up. Once you get further from town and off the segments of trails most popular with hikers, you can go for all of the KMs you want.

Bikers: Alert Passes Audibly: Let’s face it bikers, you can be intimidating to hikers with all of your colorful gear, helmets and fancy bikes coupled with the fact that you are probably going fast. When passing hikers or other bikers from behind, slow down, call out and let them know you are there. Be aware that you may be on a thin traverse with nowhere for a hiker or biker to go except into some uphill stinging nettles or down a scree field. Be patient. Let the traveler in front of you move to the side safely. Likewise, let the party that you are passing know how many are in your group, saying something like, “Thanks, there are two more riders behind me.” 

Keep Your Head Up: Stay Right You’re in the mountains; you’re not in a gym. Turn your music down (or leave it at home) and keep your head up, especially in congested areas and on popular trails such as the River Trail, Valley Floor, and Jud Weibe. Bikers should audibly alert hikers and other bikers if they want to pass, but if your music is cranked, you’re not going to hear them. Stay right, and let the faster traveler pass safely on the left.

Biker v Biker Right Away: All trails, except the downhill trails on the Telluride Ski Resort, allow for two-way traffic. So whenever you are riding downhill, chances are that someone is riding or hiking up. Uphill riders always have the right away. If two riders are headed toward each other on a flat, the rider who has the best and safest place to pull over should do it. Playing chicken with each other is not the way to determine the right of way.

Stop in Smart Places: The mountains will inspire and nature will call, literally. For whatever reason you need to stop, make sure to stop in a smart place and avoid blocking the trail or trail junctions or stopping on blind corners.

Dudes: Lose the Ego: If you are traveling forward by foot or bicycle and someone else catches you and you did not start at the same time, by all laws of motion, the person who catches you is going faster than you. This is not the time to speed up, especially if said person catching you is female and said person being caught is male. If she is female, and she caught you, chances are you’ll get a better view riding or running from behind her than in front of her. Let her pass. Then ask her out. The trail is no place for your ego; the mountains will always be mightier.

Be Prepared: In the mountains, good gear is not a frivolous accessory but a necessity. Before you go, make sure you’ve been briefed on the trail, checked the weather and have everything you need including maps, polypropylene layers, rain gear, a hydration pack and food.

Take Care of the Trails and Each Other: Be cognizant of how much you love the trails and keep them in their pristine state. Stay on designated trails and pack out all trash. There are also opportunities through the San Miguel Bike Alliance ( and Telluride Mountain Club ( to get involved in building, maintaining, protecting and increasing access to local trails.

Don’t Leave Fido At Home; Dogs are allowed on trails: 

If you’re like me, going on a walk of any kind without a dog just seems wrong. Dogs are permitted on trails in National Forests and National Forest guidelines do require that dogs be on a six-foot leash at all times when in developed recreation areas and on interpretive trails. However, there are no leash requirements in the general forest areas which are where most trails in Telluride exist.

When hiking with your dog, use common sense. If you are pulling over to let a biker pass, grab Fido by the collar and make him sit to avoid any sort of collision. Likewise, be respectful of other hikers who may not love your dog as much as you do. And make sure to clean up after your dog and that he does not chase or kill wildlife.

Help ensure that Telluride’s beauty is everlasting and that you’re doing your part to make backcountry travel safe. In the end, it’s us who need the mountains, not the other way around.

And before you go out, consult the experts at the BootDoctors for the best trail options to fit your sport, distance, timeframe and ability. 


More about BootDoctors Ski, Snowboard & Bike Shop (from the desk of Penelope Gleason):

It was the winter ski season of 1985. Bob Gleason looked up from the boot-fit bench at Taos Ski Valley and caught the glances of the folks lined up out the door. Anxious faces of skiers.

“Bring us your sore, cold, numb, battered feet…and we will make them able to ski again,” thought the grinning Irishman as he labored to bend the stiff plastic of a ski boot to his bidding.

Ski boots in the eighties were only slightly better than torture devices. They had, in fact, improved substantially from the old days of leather, but hard plastics and packed-out liners more often than not tamped down a skier’s enthusiasm.

Bob Gleason had dedicated his professional life to making ski boots more comfortable and better performing.

After a stint at Hanson boots, where he addressed a number of key problems presented by skiers and many pro athletes, Bob was drawn to the emerging ski mecca of Taos Ski Valley by the famous ski pioneer Ernie Blake.

Now Bob Gleason and his partner Bob Reminger were struggling to keep up with demand for their boot-fitting skills. The need for a new ski shop with a focus on boot-fitting became glaringly obvious.

In 1986, the two Bobs started their own shop in Taos Ski Valley, with a central focus on the highest quality ski boot-fitting. They were joined by Linda Gleason and, later, by Kyle Reminger in the shop, where they added ski clothing and accessories into the mix. It was a smart business model: once skier’s boots came off, shoeless individuals were confined to the store for the better part of an hour. Why not pass the time browsing all the cool gear while waiting for your boots to be altered?

The original shop and the newer Telluride stores stand on a foundation built on the combined values of deep knowledge, quality workmanship and products, customer service, and personal passion for skiing and other mountain, trails, and river-based sports. All the folks who work at BootDoctors live in and love the outdoors and are always ready, willing, and able to share their expertise to help others have great outdoors experiences too.

The TSV BootDoctors store was at first inconveniently located, away from the Main Street traffic stream and across a river. Some devotees scrambled through the frozen river bed to reach the shop rather than hike around. That was remedied in the darkness of one night, when the landlord, JB Cottam, snuck in a new bridge, much to the surprise of the ski area owners and competitors.

The rest is history…

It is history that stretches over 30 years of world-renowned boot-fitting done on site at the highest quality ski shop, still owned and run by two families, the Gleasons and the Remigers. Many awards decorate the walls for “top boot-fitting” and “most knowledgeable staff” – many of whom have been with the business for more than 20 years.

Loyalty is the key element to survival. Loyalty has taken BootDoctors through droughts and fierce local competition, as well as competition from big sporting goods chains and the rapid growth of on-line shopping. Loyalty of the staff and loyalty of the customers, who return generation after generation, bringing children and grandchildren for gear and services.

In 1996, Bob Gleason, who had been exploring the landscape of ski area retail as he traveled teaching Master Ski Tech and Masterfit Bootfitting clinics all over North America, became enamored of the rustic town of Telluride, which was on the verge of a major revival with a new owner of the ski area. Gleason moved to Telluride and one year later decided to open a BootDoctors store in the quickly growing Mountain Village. The need for quality boot-fitting and a homegrown, old fashioned, owner-operated ski store fit his skills well.

Over 20 years in Telluride, the BootDoctors grew to encompass a large storefront in Mountain Village and take over the Paragon Sports stores, another locally owned sporting goods outfit. The expansion allowed BootDoctors’ customers to benefit from the master boot-fitting and high-quality products on both sides of the mountain.

In 1998, Penelope Gleason joined the crew as marketing director after a stint in retail and inventory control. The Gleasons’ daughters, Kelli and Galena, joined the business after college and rose to the ranks of management and top buyers.

Purchase of the Paragon stores allowed the merchandise mix to reflect another of the family’s passions: cycling. Biking had been one of Gleason’s summer recreational passions – along with river-guiding since the 1970s.

BootDoctors also grew their summer offerings in Telluride to include rafting, paddle boarding, mountain bike rentals, retail, repair, and tours. In Taos, they added a store in the downtown in collaboration with the area’s top fly fishing outfitter, Solitary Angler.

The same quality and passion found in the boot-fitting department permeates the other departments, from ski rentals to outdoor clothing, bikes and guided adventure tours.

Never known to rest on its laurels, BootDoctors became the first entity in Telluride to offer Fat Tire Bikes for rent, sale, and tours.

Quality, knowledge, passion for sport and personal service are values being carried forward by the awesome staff at all five BootDoctors stores today.

The same big grin that sparkles on the ski slope, under his bike helmet, or in the boot-fit room shines as Bob watches his daughters Kelli and Galena continue the traditions while buying hard and soft goods, managing different departments in the business, and excelling in skiing, biking, and river-running.

Bob knows the future looks good for the next generation of BootDoctors and their loyal customers.


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