Basic Trail Etiquette for Mountain Biking

Updated: Sep 22, 2020

girls ladies women womxn having fun on mountain biking trail
photo credit: Samantha Bissell

As with anything in life, there is inevitably a learning curve. Trail etiquette is no different. In order to keep things simple for everyone reading this, I made a short list of non-negotiables for riding on mountain bike trails.

Goals: to minimize wear and tear on trails, be a positive ambassador for mountain biking, and prolong mountain bike trail use privileges.

1- Mountain bikers must yield to all other trail users.

We are the “lowest on the totem pole” when it comes to trail usage. We have to yield to others. What this means is that when you approach another trail user, either stop and let them pass, or slow down, and communicate if you need to pass them. Be as friendly as possible. Ask them if it is “OK” to pass them on their left when they feel able to move to the side.

2- If another trail user decides to yield to you before you yield to them, be sure to thank them in a sincere manner.

Just say “thank-you”, in a sincere and friendly way, when you pass another trail user.

3- Stay on the trail at all times.

If taking a quick break or letting someone pass, you may move to the side of the trail briefly. Try to get right back on the trail at that exact spot. In narrow trail situations where it’s necessary, you may “lean” your bike to the side and place one foot on the side of the trail. On trails that are very narrow, it’s definitely a skill!

4- Uphill bike riders have the right of way.

When riding downhill, you have to stop and yield to any rider who is coming up. There are situations on flatter trails where it is difficult to determine who is the uphill rider. In these cases, one rider usually pulls over and both agree that it’s difficult to determine who should yield.

5- No littering. (obvious one!)

Hopefully there’s no need to explain this one much. Pack it in, pack it out. This includes banana peels and anything else that was not there when you arrived. Anything you bring in; you must pack back out.

6- Slow your speed, be kind and say hello to other trail users.

Simple. Smile and be kind. Try to have polite conversations with other trails users. Any positive experience a trail user has with a mountain biker is a win for the bike community. Be that person.

Talitha Vogt is a certified endurance and wellness coach with an elite racing background. She has 22 years of experience as a mountain biker, including 12 total years of racing and other events. Leveraging her wellness coaching experience, she provides custom-tailored training plans and accommodating coaching for women locally in the front range of Colorado and online for anywhere else in the world.

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