On public trails where there is a lot of traffic, straying off the trail can lead to damage to the surrounding area. On very steep trails it can also be quite dangerous.
Yesterday, we took the trail to the brink of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River. The trail is quite steep, dropping over 600 feet in about 3/8 of a mile, according to the trail guide, “not recommended for those with heart, lung, or other health conditions.”
For the trail to drop so far in such a short distance, there are many switchbacks and it can be tempting to take shortcuts especially if you’re in a “rush, rush, rush – we’ve only got ___ days to see everything! in our trip.”
And I’m sure it’s very tempting to many kids, teens and immature young adults. I heard one youngster exclaim to his parents, “Oh, wow, stairs! We could have taken a shortcut,” referring to logs that had been placed in an eroded area to limit the damage. I wasn’t surprised to see kids taking shortcuts on the switchbacks, though the greatest majority of them stayed on the trail.
But, it did surprise me to see a couple of adults
climbing between the switchbacks – and they weren’t young adults, either. At a guess, Id say they were in their late thirties or early forties.
And, I’m pretty sure that they were not American – they were speaking something other than English –, not that it matters, because everyone should follow the rules.
Human caused erosion:
Humans causing erosion: