Trail Safety & Etiquette
Trail Safety and Etiquette Information:
Cyclists, walkers, runners and dog walkers love using the trails at Joe Wheeler State Park! Trail Etiquette varies by region, but the following etiquette guidelines will help you and other visitors have a safe, fun and relaxing time at the park. When in doubt, remember the "golden rule" - treat other trail users how you want to be treated and respect the wildlife and lands of Alabama the beautiful.
- Use earbuds or headphones to listen to music. This courtesy enables other guests to become immersed in their natural surroundings and enjoy activities such as viewing wildlife and listening to birds.
- Make yourself known. A friendly "hello" or "passing on your left" lets other trail users know your intent and helps create a friendly atmosphere. There's nothing more startling than a cyclist whizzing past you when you thought you were alone.
- Clean up after your pet. Dog feces can contain harmful bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella and is a common carrier of hookworms and parvo! There are multiple trash cans conveniently located throughout the backcountry trails. Please bring bags with you to dispose of pet waste properly.
- Bring water or a water bottle. There are several water fountains within the trail system, but it's always a good idea to bring a bottle with you so that you have it on hand when you or someone in your group needs it. Be sure to bring enough water for you and your pet(s).
- Take care of your pet. Take your dog for a walk during the cooler times of day, such as first thing in the morning or in the evening. Hot asphalt can burn your dog's paws and cause serious pain and injury. Do the seven second test to see if it's too hot for Fido's feet - touch your bare hand or foot to the ground and hold it there for 7-8 seconds. If it's too hot for you, it's too hot for them!
- Dispose of waste properly. Please consider the impacts of what you leave behind on trails. Cigarette butts, food wrappers, and even organic litter like orange peels and pistachio shells are harmful to wildlife and the environment. Dispose of your rubbish in the trash and recycling bins located throughout the park.
- Respect wildlife. Keep your distance from any wildlife you encounter, such as alligators and snakes, for both your safety and the safety of these animals. For detailed information, please see our Wildlife Safety Recommendations.
While you are enjoying our trails, it's important to be prepared in case you, or a member of your group, gets hurt or lost. Our friends at Arkansas State Parks created a fantastic acronym to help in case an accident happens; T.R.A.I.L.S.
This acronym was created by Park Interpreter, Kara Helton and the following information is available on the Arkansas State Parks educational platform, Digital Discovery. We would like to thank Kara Helton, as well as the digital discovery program creator, Leigh Smiley, for allowing us to share this valuable information! You can find the original article posted here.
Try to Stay Calm – It may take some time for someone to know you are missing, but once they do, we will be notified and looking for you.
Remain Where You Are – Doubling back or even pressing forward can lead you further away from where you initially got lost. So, it is important to stay where you are. This way we can find you faster.
Alert Somebody – Cell phone signals may be spotty, but on the multi-use trails there is usually enough to send a short text on your phone. If you can, try calling the park office or 911. Let them know the last intersection you passed. If you do not have the battery life or enough cell signal to text or call, use a whistle if you have one.
Insulate Yourself – Wear the light jacket to keep yourself warm and protected from insects at night or use it to shield yourself from the sun during the day.
Listen for People Calling for You – Once alerted to the situation, our search and rescue team will be looking and calling for you, so remember to listen. If you hear us, try to use your whistle, or flashlight at night, to alert us where you are located.
Save Your Supplies – Try to ration your water and snacks since it may be a little while before we find you.