There are a lot of trails throughout the province and Manitoba Parks is sharing some tips for hikers to help make their experience as enjoyable as possible. 

1 – Be prepared before you head out 

“So, knowing what trail you're headed to, what activity you're doing, bringing your food and water and first aid supplies, all those types of things,” shares Ashleigh Hall, Acting Manager, Provincial Trails Office. 

2 – Leave no trace (this also means cleaning up after your dog) 

“So, making sure you aren't having an impact on the trail,” she explains. “Whatever you bring with you, make sure you bring it out. Sometimes you might see water bottles left in a fire pit or something and, you know, people brought that water bottle in with them, they should have room in their bag to bring it out. So definitely, packing out what you pack in. If you find the garbage can is full at the trailhead, then bring the garbage home with you and dispose of it there.” 

3 – Know the designation of each trail before you head out 

“You might find trails that are designated for maybe non-motorized uses only. So that could be hiking, biking, some trails that are designated for motorized use, and then some trails that might be for only one activity specifically. So maybe it's hiking or walking only and even biking is not allowed. Or alternatively, maybe a trail that's fine for biking. So, if that's the case, you know the trail will always have a trailhead sign at the beginning. So, it'll give you symbols and some text to indicate what's allowed there, and this happens outside of provincial parks as well. So, trails in municipalities might have, say, any kind of non-motorized activity is allowed, that they might be prohibiting motorized uses like ATV for example. And other areas of the province, again, you may have trails that are multi use so anything's allowed, or there might be some restrictions and only certain activities are allowed.” 

Hall also recommends trail users be aware of who they might encounter on the trail (hikers, bikers, horses, etc.) and proper yielding etiquette to help keep everyone safe. (More information in the podcast with Carly Koop) 

4 – Keep pets on a leash, and clean up after them 

“We hear a lot about that, lots of strong feelings about hiking with pets. I think the big one is really just to keep dogs on leash as much as possible. Certainly, in Provincial Parks it’s the law to have your dog on leash at all times, so that's a requirement no matter what trail you're using in the provincial park. Outside of parks, it's not necessarily the law but we do still recommend it as good practice and there's a few different reasons for that.” Hall says you might come across people who have a strong fear of dogs and seeing a dog that’s off-leash can be a frightening experience. She also says that even well-trained dogs can have moments of unwanted behaviour, so it’s just best for everyone to have all dogs remain on a leash. “Off-leash dogs can cause issues for other dogs that are on-leash, they can have some unintentional conflicts there, and it can be a problem for wildlife as well.” 

5 – Stick to the trails 

Hall says that even though it can be tempting to step off the trail, either to go around a muddy spot or to get a different view of the scenery, that can encourage more hikers to follow in your footsteps which then creates unplanned trails. “But then what happens if people do that is it will cause the trail to gradually over time get wider and wider and wider. So, then you're unintentionally having a negative impact on the environment when you do that.” 

Manitoba Parks is also working with a variety of different types of trail associations in the province in developing a shared plan for trail education and etiquette, Hall says. “Something that all the different user groups can agree on and support, and help to promote as well.” 


-With files from Carly Koop