Most riders use our trails responsibly, but I’ve also seen plenty of abuse. In those cases, mountain bikers often don’t even know they are doing anything wrong.
Ride Open Trails:
Respect trail and road closures - ask a land manager for clarification if you are uncertain about the status of a trail. Do not trespass on private land. Obtain permits or other authorization as required. Be aware that bicycles are not permitted in areas protected as state or federal wilderness.
Leave No Trace:
Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. When the trail is soft, consider other riding options. This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones. Don't cut switchbacks. Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in.
Control Your Bicycle:
Inattention for even a moment could put yourself and others at risk. Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations, and ride within your limits.
Do your utmost to let your fellow trail users know you're coming - a friendly greeting or bell ring are good methods. Try to anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners. Bicyclists should yield to other non-motorized trail users, unless the trail is clearly signed for bike - only travel. Bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to ones headed uphill, unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic. In general, strive to make each pass a safe and courteous one.
Never Scare Animals:
Animals are easily startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement or a loud noise. Give animals enough room and time to adjust to you. When passing horses, use special care and follow directions from the horseback riders (ask if uncertain). Running cattle and disturbing wildlife are serious offenses.
Know your equipment, your ability and the area in which you are riding and prepare accordingly. Strive to be self-sufficient: keep your equipment in good repair and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions. Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.
It’s raining. Can I ride?
Riding on wet trails can cause serious damage, but not all trails are off limits in the rain. Mark Eller, IMBA’s communications director, says, “It depends on the region and the trail you’re on. Trail design in some areas accounts for the constant moisture and trail builders armor it with rock.” But if you’re not sure, check to see if your tires are leaving ruts. If so, it’s best to stay off. “If you’re in doubt, don’t ride,” Eller says.
Even days after a rainstorm, puddles can still exist. Should you go around, or dive in? Blaze through it, Eller says. Getting muddy is one of the joys of riding (and makes you look like a badass)! There’s also a more important reason: Riding around puddles can widen singletrack, cause erosion and harm nearby vegetation. Remember to follow the popular slogan: Keep singletrack single.