Show off your winter etiquette.
The change in seasons brings changes to how we play in our back yard. And the hallmark of our back yard in winter is Hyalite Canyon. Trail shoes are traded for ski boots, mountain bikes for fat-bikes, fly rods for jigging poles, and summer tires for snow tires. These changes are accompanied by differing rules of recreation and how we interact with each other in the outdoors, and it only takes a few considerations to make winter a wonderful season for all in Hyalite. Here are a few tips for getting out there and playing well with others when the blanket of snow has returned.
Know Before You Go
Check the weather forecast and current weather conditions. Between the NRCS Montana Snow Survey and the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center, there are multiple remote weather stations in Hyalite that report data online. Familiarize yourself and get in the habit of checking beforehand so that you can bring what you need to be comfortable and safe. And of course, be patient on the road. Slow down, allow more space, and be ready for winter driving. The road is plowed intermittently, but not graded or pea-graveled, so it is often rutted and icy.
Tread with Knowledge
There are a lot of different ways to experience Hyalite in the winter, and learning about which trails are intended for which activities is key. Before you leave, grab a Friends of Hyalite map. Get familiarized with the variety of trail types and the common ski and ice-climbing routes. Note that fat-bikes are not allowed on groomed ski trails, but hikers may use these trails if they stay to the side and off the Nordic tracks. Also remember that downhill skiers have the right of way.
Conversing with your fellow trail users is key to sharing our open spaces with ease.
We know; it’s cold. When you build a fire to be merry around after your epic day in the mountains, be sure to use a Forest Service designated fire ring, and don’t burn those big pallets you find behind dumpsters. Pallet fires are dangerous and messy. One pallet can produce up to 200 nails that then litter parking lots and puncture tires. Bring your own firewood meant for burning. Campfires must stay a half-mile from roads and trailheads (when outside of fire rings) and must be completely extinguished when you’re done.
Hyalite Canyon doesn’t have a trash-collection service. Please be prepared to carry out all of your trash, including dog poop and food scraps. Do not dispose of trash in pit toilets, as it makes them impossible to pump. Uncollected trash not only pollutes the canyon, but attracts bears and other wildlife, creating a hazard for other visitors. Don’t burn your trash, either!
Communication is compassion. Conversing with your fellow trail users is key to sharing our open spaces with ease. Whether it’s asking to approach a dog before doing so, telling someone of a downed tree ahead, or simply saying “hello,” don’t be afraid to communicate when you’re out recreating. Consideration is imperative, too. Park properly, don’t block access points, and in general just think about how your behavior affects others. This goes for the drive, too—if you’re new to Hyalite and anxious on the narrow, winding road, use the pull-outs to let other drivers pass.
Being aware of the rules, trail etiquette, and other recreationists is the first step to sharing this wonderful canyon.