Whether you’re new to mountain biking or been riding for years, trail etiquette is crucial to maintaining our trails, networks and the overall integrity of the sport. Here’s a quick list of some basic trail etiquette you should follow each and every time you go out for a ride.

  1. Respect the trails – Do you enjoy your local bike trails and want to help keep them in tip-top shape? Of course you do. In order to do that, always check to make sure the trails are open. Your local trail network may have a website that you can check the status of the trails, so be sure to verify that they’re open before heading out. If it’s rained recently, the trails may be too muddy to be ridden. Riding the trails when they’re wet and muddy will create tire ruts that will trap water in later and create drainage and other issues down the road. Rule of thumb, if it’s raining or has rained recently, stay off the trails until they’re dry and marked as open. If you happen to find yourself on trails with some muddy sections, get off your bike and walk around them. Do your part to help maintain the quality of the trails so less maintenance is required and everyone can enjoy them.
  2. Leave no trace – This is the same rule that would apply for hiking or doing any other outdoor activity. Snacks are essential when mountain biking, but that doesn’t mean that you can leave your wrappers and peels all over the trails. Even if your rubbish is biodegradable, take it home with you. If everyone starts leaving apple cores and banana peels all over the trails, it’ll feel more like you’re taking a ride at the dump than in the woods. Additionally, animals might be attracted to the scent and there are some animals we would prefer not to run into in the woods. Pack in, pack out, simple as that.
  3. Right-of-way – In most cases, the uphill rider has the right of way, but for some trail networks, the opposite is the case. Be sure to check with your local network to see what the rules are so you don’t have any collisions with other riders.
  4. Trail safety – When you see another rider pulled off to the edge of the trail, it’s always nice to check with them to see if they’re all right or need assistance. They might just need a quick allen key adjustment or pump to be back on their way, saving them a long walk out. If they’re having more than just a bike malfunction and need medical attention, you may be able to phone for help or alert someone to the situation. We’ve all been there with some sort of trail-side issue, so be courteous and make sure your fellow riders are ok before whizzing right past.
  5. Give back – If you want to keep enjoying your trails, participate in some trail work volunteer days. There are plenty of trail maintenance days each season, especially in the spring, so grab a buddy, a rake and help your local network with whatever maintenance or trail building they’ve got planned.
  6. Membership fees – Do you think the bike trails maintain themselves? News flash, they don’t. They’re most likely maintained by your local trail association, which, if they have a membership program, you should join. Or if day tickets are available, buy one. If you don’t, that’s considered stealing and just bad karma all around. That beautiful new berm was built by somebody and likely paid for by your membership fees so do the right thing and buy a ticket/yearly pass.
  7. Respect each other – Mountain biking is an awesome sport. Most of the time, we’re all out there for similar reasons and just trying to enjoy ourselves, the outdoors and spend time soul riding or with friends. Exactly like you learned in elementary school, respect one another when you’re out there because nothing ruins a nice day like a jerk on a bike. Additionally, many trail networks cut through or alongside private landowner property, that they may have graciously granted for your riding enjoyment, so respect any and all property that you’re allowed to bike on. If you don’t, the privileges may be revoked. Same goes for parking lots and private roads – just be respectful all around and there should be no issues with private landowners.

There are likely a few other important trail etiquette points that weren’t included here, so let us know in the comments section below what we may have missed. Happy riding!