MTB Trail Etiquette: Don’t Be a Jerk – Your Local Trails Depend On It!

MTB Trail Etiquette

How would you like your favorite local trails closed to mountain bikes permanently?    If we keep riding like jerk’s there’s a good chance that will happen as trail usage numbers rise.  Proper trail etiquette will help minimize user conflicts, keep trails open (and expanding) as well as increase the smiles out on the trail.

Nothing’s really changed much over the years regarding trail etiquette.  Increased traffic, grumpy riders and riding styles (Strava) are contributing factors to us needing this refresher.  Choose to ignore these and we may not be left with trails to ride – it’s that simple.  Don’t believe me?   Trails closures and user conflicts are results of those who choose to ignore these rules.  It’s happening now in our backyard here in Pisgah National Forest.

I feel compelled to convey this message since people seem to be avoiding etiquette more than usual on the trails lately.  I’ve seen many very close calls this year and heard of many others with riders not respecting other trail users.  I’ve also heard some cases of very popular trails attempting to be slowed down by land managers due to aggressive riders and others on the chopping block or being rerouted.

I realize we are not perfect, sometimes we have a bad day.  The old saying “you get what you give” comes to mind.  Choose to smile and greet other trails users and you generally get the same in return.  Disregard them and blast past them in your quest for a Strava PR and they might not be as nice to the next rider that comes by.  These are the instances that are reported to land managers and cause trail closures.

Follow these and get involved with your local mountain bike clubs if you care about having future trails.

MTB Trail Etiquette: Don’t Be a Jerk


1)  Slow down for other trail users!

Slow the hell down on popular well used trails where you know there could be families with kids and dogs out using the trails.  Reduce your speed for a few seconds as you’re approaching other trail users and say hello.  Some other users may not be able to get out of the way as quick as you may think.  I’m blown away by how many risks people take on high traffic trails.  Go to the races or use lesser used trails for your personal race track!

2)  Yield to ALL uphill traffic.

You DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT AWAY GOING DOWNHILL.  Even if you think another trail user shouldn’t be coming up what you are going down, you have to yield to them! We are all ambassadors for our sport.  Don’t be an ass or it could come back to bite you.

3)  Stop altering the damn trail!

Altering lines to go around obstacles  – whether it be a rock or a puddle is just LAME!   Take the challenge of riding the trail as is.  Moving rocks or drainage, cutting switchbacks or trees out of your way are all trail altering that are not only really piss some off they look terrible.

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During periods of heavy rains, these riders opted to ride anyway and take the trail from 4 feet wide to 8 feet.

4)  Don’t ride on trails closed to bikes (or E-bikes if that’s what you do)

This one is something that many of us are responsible for doing – some without knowing.   Riding closed trails is detrimental to mountain bikers relationships with forest managers!    If you want unique and challenging NEW trails, you have to show that with your actions.


It’s your responsibility to advise others you ride with and not blindly follow them at warp speed past other trail users.  If you don’t think that land managers are aware of us abusing these rules and that you won’t be punished or caught you are dead wrong.  I’ve seen the camera’s out on trails and hear land managers discussing the issues.  They aren’t blind, they see where and how we ride (and receive complaints).  The future of our trail access totally depends on us following these rules by NOT BEING ASSHOLES![/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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