Friends of Pathways has a formal partnership with the USFS to collaborate on design, construction and stewardship of local trails for all users – hike, bike, horse, and ski. We’re committed to providing easy year round access to trails that is essential to maintaining our high quality of life in Jackson Hole.

During the month of September, the trail crew has been hard at work replacing bridges and restoring trail in the Game Creek Drainage.  Many of the bridges in this area were showing signs of their age by rotting and flexing. Additionally, some of the portions of Middle Game Creek Trail were aligned too close to the creek, resulting in washout and flooding in the early spring.

Last year, Friends of Pathways was awarded a grant for this project from the Recreational Trails Program through theWyoming State Parks & Cultural Resources. This summer, the trail crew set to work pre-cutting lumber and transporting tools and lumber to the site.  Once the boards were in Game Creek, the real fun could begin.  Each board, weighing over 20 lbs, was transported from the top of the Game Creek Road to the bridge site.  The crew had two fantastic volunteer groups to help with the project: Jackson Hole Community School students and the BTNF Fire Crew.  The amount of lumber they transported for each of the bridges was impressive!

During the second week, the crew had the help of mini-x to move fill dirt for turnpikes and to carve a new trail out of the hill adjacent to the road.  The higher placement of this new trail, will help to keep it dry and erosion free.

Recently, Friends of Pathways received a few questions about how to share the trail with horses.  We thought it was a great opportunity to get a little perspective from the Back Country Horsemen on horse behavior and sharing the trails.  Thanks to the BCH for giving us a glimpse into the horse’s mind.

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE HORSE KIND
By: Teton Back Country Horsemen

Horses are prey animals, and flight is their primary defense.  Horses have had the right-of-way on trails because the horse has its own unpredictable reaction to every trail encounter.  If the horse is not startled, the rider can maintain control and quickly move from blocking the trail.

What startles a horse is not always obvious.  It might be approaching from the front quickly, or an oversized backpack or an odd fishing pole, or approaching quietly from the rear, or unfamiliar trail obstacles, or thrown gravel, or a strange bike.  On rare occasions, a particular horse may not pass a rider/bike combo unless the bike is laid on its side.

For the safety of everyone, when encountering a horse on the trail:
1. Make sure the horse has seen you from a distance and knows that you are human.
 Slow down and prepare to stop.  Give the rider a chance to quiet the horse.  Call out in a friendly voice.  Usually the rider will want to start a conversation with you for the horse’s benefit.  Watch for the horse’s reaction. Keep the ‘small talk’ going as you approach and pass.

2. Look for guidance from the horse rider before passing. Horses need the upper side of the hill, and they will go there if startled.  It is usually easier for the horse to leave the trail to bypass a biker.

3. Bring accompanying dogs under control. Even a friendly dog might appear threatening.  Horses can and will kick dogs nipping at their heels.

4. Use extra caution on blind curves on the shared trails.

In addition, all users should use common sense and share-the-trail courtesy.  If any user has the easier opportunity to accommodate the others, they should do it!