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Trail Etiquette 101


Pre-Trip Planning
● Do not go alone
● Let others know where you are going and for how long
● Plan out lodging, weather appropriate clothing and food
● Make sure your Jeep is trail ready. (nothing broken or known to be close)

Trail Ready Minimum
● Working Jeep with no known issues
● Tow points on the front and back of the vehicle
● Good shoes/boots
● Fire Extinguisher
● First Aid Kit
● Gloves
● Water
● Tow Strap
● Fill your gas tank just before you arrive at the start of a ride In the Parking Lot
● Keep the speed to a crawl and obey posted limits.
● Do not block others to the point they cannot reach their vehicle/trailers.
● Lock up your valuables.
● Disconnect sway bars
● Air down tires
Who is with Who?
● Trail Guide
○ Decide early (before the day of the event who the trail guide will be. The guide should know the trails (not always possible) and have
knowledge to help and spot others.

● Group Size
○ Break large rides into multiple rides of smaller groups and stagger experienced/built and new drivers/stock Jeeps. It makes it easier to aid with assistance (such as strap/winch) if needed.

● Trail guides should design an event for all experience levels and disclose prior to the ride.

● NEVER trail ride alone.
● Have a method of communication with others on the ride.

Trail Guides
● Trail guides will have a driver's meeting before the ride begins to go over rules and
expectations as well as find out the experience level of the drivers and
capabilities of the vehicles in the group.

● If you decide to leave the group YOU MUST notify the trail guide. The trail guide is responsible for ensuring no one is left behind.

Radio Use
● The club uses the Baofeng UV-5R radio, programmed to the club channels.
● Let others know if you do not have a radio. (there are extra to borrow sometimes)
● Keep the channels clear for the guides and trail use.
● No cursing as this is a family club.

Following and Being Followed
● Always keep the person behind you in your mirrors. Do not assume the person knows where they are. You are responsible for the person behind you staying on trail.
● Stop if you do not see the person behind you. Wait until they are in sight to proceed.
● No one gets left behind.
● Try to keep up with the person in front of you.
● Be aware of dusty conditions and slow down if needed.
● If you get left or lost “STOP”
○ Get on the radio and communicate
○ Honk your horn
○ Listen for others honking, yelling or engines.
○ Remain calm, you have other riders and a guide looking out for you.

Going Up Hills
● When traveling up hills, ensure the vehicle in front of you is safely up and clear before you attempt your ascent. If a big hill they should radio back when clear.

● The purpose is to keep you from needing to back down a hill because the vehicle in front of you did not make it.

● If you are not comfortable with a hill do not attempt it. Contact the guide and you will be winched or led to a bypass.

● 3 times and you are out.
○ This goes for other obstacles as well. If after your 3rd attempt you are unable to climb the hill or clear the obstacle please ask for assistance or try a different route.
○ This keeps the ride moving and lessens the environmental impact.

Going Down Hills
● When traveling down hills, ensure the vehicle in front of you is safely clear and well ahead before attempting your descent. This is to keep you from accidentally sliding into the vehicle in front of you.
● Travel at speeds for the trail conditions
● Watch blind spots
● Steering is good
○ Use lower gears to slow and control the descent
○ Use the brakes but do not lock your brakes up as you will lose the ability to steer your vehicle away from obstacles.

● Flat ground
○ Just as on the street, stay to the right to avoid oncoming traffic, if you can
○ If there is only room for 1 vehicle to pass, the rule is the more maneuverable vehicle, or more experienced driver, should yield right of way.

● When two vehicles meet on a hill
○ If there isn’t a safe place to pull over the vehicle traveling up the hill has the right of way. It is safer for the one traveling down to back up.
○ At no time should you intentionally drive off the trail to cut a way around another vehicle. Both vehicles should move to another area, when feasible, to make passing safe and easy.

Pathways and Right of Way
● Multi Use Trails
● Respect Private Property - Know where you are permitted to ride and where you are not
● Promote a positive relationship with a friendly greeting
● Be Quiet - Keep the RPMs and speed low and steady when near houses and campgrounds, or anytime you are around non-riders.

● Be Courteous - Always be courteous when you pass hikers or other vehicles. Remember, one little blip of the throttle can throw gravel or leave a cloud of dust.
● Do not block trails. Always stop in an area open enough for other users to safely pass.
● Horses
○ Yield to a horse and its rider
○ When you meet a horseback rider, go slowly and stop on the outside of the trail.
○ Speak in a calm, normal voice. The horse needs to recognize you as human.
○ Avoid any sudden movements.
○ A rider may choose to move on without stopping. This is not a lack of courtesy but a decision on how best to control the animal. The rider may request that you continue past them.

Hand Signals, Spotters and Verbal Commands
● When on a tough obstacle
○ Turn off your radio and other distractions.
○ Watch and listen to only one spotter.
○ Do not proceed until the spotter says.
○ Be aware of “your left” and “their left”. Due to them being different they should use commands such as driver or passenger as to which way to turn.
○ Do not use “Whoa” as it sounds like “go”. Instead use “Stop”.
○ Hand Signals
■ Stop or Hold (commonly used by a spotter) - A closed fist raised high
■ More coming your way - When passing others, putting up a hand showing how many vehicles are to follow.
■ Start Engines or Turn Around - Raise your arm horizontal, elbow bent at 90 degrees vertically and twirl your index finger.
■ Slow Down - Extend your left arm at 45 degrees and move your hand up and down. (looks like someone patting a dog on the head)
■ Tighten Up - Raise your left arm and repeatedly move up and down in a pulling motion. This indicates the leader wants the group to close ranks.

Pack It In/Pack It Out
● Bring a trash container large enough to hold your waste and any you may find.
● Simply put. Do Not Litter - Ever. Not cigarettes, sandwich wrap... nothing.
● Pack more than you packed in
○ If you see someone else litter, please pick it up and throw it in your trash container for proper disposal. Do not make a big deal of it, just show with your actions that it is not appropriate.

● Be aware of the damage you and your vehicle can do to the environment.
● A large vehicle can easily destroy bogs, trees, grasses and pretty much any flora which it comes in contact with.
● Too many areas are being placed under protection or closed due to those that take the attitude where they can do what they want off-road.
● Use common sense and respect the area you are in. It will go a long way in keeping the area open for future use.
● Don’t intentionally spin your tires and tear up the soil. It breaks the top layer which can lead to erosion when it rains.
● The rooster tails of mud coming off your vehicle may seem cool but sudden traction can quickly result in broken parts all while destroying the environment you hope to visit again in the future.


○ Don’t blaze new trails
○ Stay on established paths

○ Going into uncharted areas is a certain way to damage the environment as well
as your vehicle and maybe leave you stranded which could lead to the law being involved and hefty fines.

○ Should you need to stack rocks up in order to get out of or over an obstacle, be sure to put the stones back after you are through.
○ Many people enjoy the challenge as nature intended and may not need the rocks stacked as you did.
○ Remember - every time you move a rock you could potentially destroy part of an established ecosystem.

● Leave your ego at home.
● Every vehicle, and driver, has its limitations.
● Never try a maneuver or obstacle you are uncomfortable with.
● Backing off early and accepting that a maneuver or obstacle is impossible or choosing another approach may prevent vehicle damage and, more importantly, personal injury.
● Do not worry about people who try to get you to do things. They just want a show - don’t be the showman if you are not comfortable with it.
● No means NO

● Try not to disturb the wildlife.
● They are not used to our vehicles and may sometimes come to see what the noise is.
● Give all wildlife space, and if need be, stop and turn off your vehicle until the animals have left the area.
● Do not try to follow them. That area is their home and if they feel threatened, they could become aggressive.
● Enjoy the fact that you saw something in its natural habitat.

● Slow down.
● Enjoy the scenery and nature.
● Live the experience to the fullest.
● Speed increases the chance of damage to you, your vehicle and the environment.
● Standing water should be hit slowly. Hitting it at a higher speed increases the chance of water in your engine and electronics, not to mention the damage to the environment.

Be a Good Muddy Buddy
● Above all, think of yourself as an ambassador for Muddy Buddys and the motorized trail riding community.
● Your actions speak for all riders so set a good example for those you see. Ride Difficulty Explanation


○ Easy to moderate trails meant for new drivers and stock vehicles but demand 4wd-low. You may encounter mud holes, rocks and water crossings. There will be guidance along the way as well as guidance before and after the ride with disconnecting and airing down/up.


○ Easy to moderate trails which can allow stock vehicles but demand 4wd-low. You may encounter mud holes, rocks and water crossings. The big difference with Easy and Newbie is the guidance before/after the ride and on the trails which will be as needed.


○ More demanding trails that will be a challenge for the driver. Mud holes, rocks, hills and water crossings will be bigger and more difficult. (lift, larger than stock tires and Mud tires recommended)

○ Difficult trails meant for experienced drivers and better built vehicles. Vehicles on hard rides should have a minimum of 35’ tires, front/rear lockers, lift, winch and armor.

● These are a basis of what the ride should entail but it could change based on weather or having to change course due to unforeseen circumstances.
● Damage such as pinstriping, dents and breaks can happen on all ride difficulties. Items to carry in the vehicle on trails

All vehicles should have the following at minimum
○ Fire extinguisher
○ First Aid Kit
○ Tow points off the frame on the front and back
○ Gloves
○ Water
○ Tow strap
○ Toilet paper
○ Wet wipes / disinfectant
● Not all of the below items are required but are suggestions as they could help get you or others off the trail or keep you safe while out.
● Recovery/Safety gear
○ Shovel
○ Hatchet

○ Air compressor
○ Blanket
○ Bungee cords
○ Cell phone
○ CB / Baofeng Radio
○ Charger/starter
○ Extra fluids (motor oil, coolant, brake fluid)
○ Fire making supplies
○ Food / Snacks
○ GPS / Compass
○ Hydraulic or Hi-Lift jack
○ Multi fit hoses
○ Paper towels
○ Pen & paper
○ Rope
○ Extra clothes
○ Tarp
○ Winch Kit (d-rings, snatch block, tree saver)

○ Air pressure gauge
○ Allen wrenches
○ Bailing wire
○ Duct tape
○ Electrical tape
○ Flashlight
○ Hammer
○ Knife (pocket and/or utility)
○ Toolbox (sockets, wrenches, pliers)
○ Super glue or epoxy
○ Tire plug kit
○ Vise grips
○ Cutters / crimpers
○ WD-40
○ Zip ties
● There are many other items you could add that are specific to your vehicle as some carry spare parts.
● Not all of the above items are required but are suggestions as they could help get you off the trail or assist someone else off.
● If you carry some of the above and others carry some, together you can have it all and then some

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