Trail Etiquette

Trail Etiquette And Rules

Following the simple rules below will assure that landowners will continue to permit use of their properties in the future.

Following the simple rules below will assure that landowners will continue to permit use of their properties in the future.

Who Can Use The Trail?
The Horse-Shoe Trail is open to the public for use by hikers and by horse and pony riders. Motorized vehicles are not permitted except with specific permission of the landowner. Mountain bikes are allowed at the discretion of land owners only. Please respect the two Landowners who do not allow bikes and do not endanger the trail by ignoring them.

We Are Guests!
The Horse-Shoe Trail does not own any property along the Trail. The Trail passes through private holdings, county, state and national parks, and state game lands with the consent of land owners and administrators. The Trail exists because of their generosity: permitting access across their lands. You are expected to respect and appreciate their hospitality.

No Trespassing Signs
The Horse-Shoe Trail Conservancy has obtained permission from private landowners and public land administrators to locate the Trail where it is. That means you can disregard “No Trespassing” signs as long as you STAY ON THE YELLOW BLAZED HORSE-SHOE TRAIL. If you stray from the Trail you may be trespassing.

Organized Excursions
Groups and clubs often identify the intended route of travel with markers along the trail. Landowners have requested that these markers be removed afterwards.


Common courtesy dictates:

If you carry it in, carry it out. Leave no trace.

Hunting Seasons
The Pennsylvania Game Commission purchases game lands using proceeds of hunting license fees. Recognize that hunters have a priority on use of game lands during appropriate seasons. When traversing game lands during hunting season, wear fluorescent-orange clothing, preferably a hat and/or a vest. It is best to avoid game lands on opening days and on Saturdays. Some private lands are open to hunting as well. There are some Landowners who have requested that we re-route the trail during hunting season. These re-routes are designated on the maps.

Organized Trips on State Game Lands
The Pennsylvania Game Commission requests that it be notified of proposed hikes or rides on game lands by organized groups. Call 610-926-3136 giving date, name of organization and person in charge, and approximate number of participants.

Pennsylvania law requires Coggins Tests on all horses brought into the Commonwealth. Proof of negative Coggins is required before they are admitted to the grounds of most stables.

Dogs may be brought on the Trail but must be on leash at all times out of consideration to the landowners whose property the trail is on and consideration of horses on the trail.

Drinking water should be brought along since streams and springs are no longer dependably pure. Filtering is necessary.

Many of the paths and dirt lanes which the Trail formerly followed have become paved and now carry motor traffic. Those wishing to avoid such traffic should study the trail directions and maps when planning their trips. Each year the conservancy is successful at getting more trail off road.

Many hikers, to avoid having to retrace their steps, leave one car at a starting point and another at the intended end of a hike. Designed to facilitate such planning, the new maps indicate road access and suggested parking areas. No safety guarantees are implied.

Some Precautions
The Horse-Shoe Trail is NOT a city walk. It can be rocky, wet, steep, and, in some cases, very remote from populated areas. Therefore, you are well advised to be prepared for the unexpected. Proper foot wear and clothing are a must. Even in warm weather, a combination of rain and strong winds can produce conditions leading to hypothermia for the unprotected traveler, especially if an injury causes immobility. A small day pack should contain a rain jacket, a fleece, hat and gloves. Generally speaking, cotton is a poor choice for outerwear—it dries slowly and has no insulating value when wet. The pack should also contain a water bottle, some high energy foods such as candy, nuts, or raisins. A flashlight/head lamp is good insurance in the event of unexpected delays in reaching your destination. A pocket compass and trail maps are invaluable if you stray off the trail. Hikers should be warned that some wire fences may be electrified. DO NOT FEED any animals in fields along the trail.

Meeting Horses on the Trail

One of the great things about the Horse-Shoe Trail is that it is shared by a variety of users, rimarily hikers and horses.  However, when these groups mix we must always keep safety in mind.  It is important for all users to understand the basic behavior of horses and practice proper trail etiquette when horses and riders are encountered.  A surprised horse can put all user groups in danger. Therefore, it is always important to follow these guidelines when encountering a horse and rider on the trail:

Use Line of Sight

If you are approaching a horse and rider traveling in the opposite direction, Stop.  If you are approaching a horse and rider from the rear direction, announce yourself. Your voice is clearly that of a human and carries with it all the familiar experiences that the horse has had with humans. Your voice will not spook the horse, but if you are silent, the noise of your bike, dog, or running footsteps might surprise the horse.

Move to the outer edge of the Trail and Stand where the horse can see you and can pass you with the greatest amount of clearance.  It is also important that you move to the downside of the trail. However, please do not go off the trail into the woods and hide behind a tree. Hikers with backpacks or walking sticks can be particularly frightening to many horses.

Speak. This again distinguishes you as human, familiar and non-threatening. If this seems awkward, a simple, “Hi! Nice day!” will do.  If other members of your party are further back on the trail, be sure to include this in your conversation.

Wait for Instructions

Never assume that every encounter will unfold in the same way. You might be the first or the one hundredth mountain biker or hiker seen by this particular horse. Only the rider (and horse) has a feel for the best way to proceed. The rider might ask you to walk slowly toward and pass them. Or, particularly if the horse is tense, the rider may choose to let the horse gradually approach and pass you. Regardless of the plan used, you can add a great deal of comfort to the situation for the horse by calmly talking.  Maybe you’d like to pet the horse. Just ask, and then wait for instructions from the rider on the appropriate way to approach.

Please instruct your children how to behave when meeting horses on the trail, based on the instructions above. Good instruction from you will teach them how to be safe around horses the rest of their lives.

If you have a dog, please, for the safety of your dog, keep it on a leash at all times whenever you are on the trail. And keep firm hold of the leash when encountering a horse and rider. Even the most sedate dog will usually get very excited when seeing a horse and fail to listen to the commands of his owner.  So, please keep your dog on a leash and enjoy a pleasant and safe walk.

Following these simple steps will go a long way to ensuring that we all have a safe and fun time on our multi-use trails.