When sharing a trail, respecting rules a must

I like cute, well-behaved dogs, so this column isn’t because I hate dogs. This column is about my frustration when dog owners choose what rules they want to follow, including this rule: Dogs aren’t allowed on Hanging Lake Trail.

The reason I know dogs aren’t allowed on Hanging Lake Trail is because the sign at the trailhead read, “No Dogs.” There’s another sign in the parking lot with a red, warning arrow also noting dogs are prohibited on the trail.

But those signs didn’t stop one couple from bringing their mid-size dog up the trail — apparently off-leash, I might add — on a recent Friday afternoon.

When Rachel Sauer and I passed the couple they were calling the dog from the woods. Great.

This rule violation annoyed us so much it was all we could talk about for 15 minutes on the ride home — it’s tough to talk on the trail — as the conversation morphed into a larger dialogue about societal rules and why they exist.

Maybe the couple who brought the dog didn’t see the signs, although I don’t know where they were from to have a dog off-leash on a busy trail anyway. Or maybe they saw the signs and ignored them.

True, they couldn’t leave the dog in a hot car. I’m not a huge pet person, but I agree that’s animal cruelty, which also is wrong. So what were they to do?

Well, they shouldn’t have hiked to Hanging Lake. (Rachel saw a couple walking their large dog toward the trail before they saw the sign and turned back. They were still sitting in the shade when we finished the hike.)

Hanging Lake Trail isn’t that wide, and it’s very busy. Plus, it had numerous steep, rocky areas that were slick. Humans could grab a railing or balance against a rock. I’d hate to see a dog slip or see a dog cause a human to slip.

Perhaps most importantly, however, Hanging Lake Trail, as well as Hanging Lake and Bridal Veil Falls, are delicate environments. Dogs don’t care. They just want to frolic and have fun.

Furthermore, one sign at Hanging Lake highlighted the summer black swifts that nest at Bridal Veil Falls and warned against disturbing them. Some dogs, understandably so, chase birds.

Another sign pointed out Hanging Lake’s fragile shoreline and layers of unique travertine that give the water its aqua hue. Humans can read signs warning them to stay out of the water. A dog may go take a drink. Heck, it could jump in when no one is looking.

Whatever the reason dogs aren’t allowed on Hanging Lake Trail, they aren’t allowed on the trail. Please respect this rule and share the outdoors with others, including other dog owners, who follow the rules.


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