Trail Runners Etiquette

Runner on a trail

By Jen Hetzler, Naturalist

Hello fellow Cincinnati Nature Center folks and trail runners!  My name is Jen Hetzler and I’m currently on staff at the Nature Center. I have been a member since 2003 and on staff since 2017. All throughout this time I’ve been fortunate enough to run the incredibly well-maintained beautiful trails here.  

When I first started running here, I wasn’t sure if runners were welcome so I went to great lengths to be as considerate and polite to any and all hikers I might encounter. I didn’t want to jeopardize being able to utilize these shady peaceful trails.

So, here are some basic guidelines for our trail runners to follow:

  • First of all and most importantly, hikers and their dogs get the right of way.
  • Second, ALWAYS announce yourself about 10 feet before you pass another hiker letting them know which side you are passing on. You may sound like a herd of elephants to your own ears, but chances are they can’t hear you at all. Sometimes they have ear buds in or are simply daydreaming.
  • Before you pass make sure they have heard you. (I always wait to make sure they have heard me.)
  • No more than 6 people running in a group. It can be very unsettling to have a pack of sweaty runners thundering past, so the fewer in the group the better.
  • For hikers with dogs on retractable leashes always be aware they might not have the leash locked at a certain length, so when passing there is a tripping hazard if the dog decides to zig when you are trying to zag. Again, they get the right of way.
  • Finally, while the current COVID pandemic persists, mask wearing is a must when passing anyone on the trails.  Once you are at least 6 feet past them, it's acceptable to pull your mask or buff down or off until you encounter another hiker. For the most part, our trails are not 6 feet wide so it is often impossible to pass someone and give them the recommended 6 feet distance.  My son and I have been running all summer with masks. I sometimes will simply keep my mask in my hand and reach up to cover my nose and mouth as I pass.  This works quite well and really is easy to get used to.

I encourage all trail runners at the Cincinnati Nature Center to follow these simple guidelines so we can all continue to enjoy the shade in the summer and the quiet solitude in the winter.