Trail Etiquette Refresher for Mountain Bikers

Trail Etiquette Refresher for Mountain Bikers

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Here in Park City, the lower trails are drying up and mountain bikers, runners and hikers are out en force. Snow and mud on the higher elevation singletrack means they’re off limits for a few more weeks, leading to more traffic on the trails that are open – a great indicator that our enthusiasm is high but more congestion can lead to conflict. As a mountain biker, there is nothing better than having trails to myself, pedaling uninterrupted for mile after flowing mile. However, I can’t always get what I want so here’s a few rules I follow to keep things harmonious on the dirt:

1. Most importantly, be chill. We’re all out here for the same reason, to have fun. If you ride with an aggro attitude, you’re not welcome here.

2a. Yield! Sure, it’s more fun to keep your momentum going but you can ruin your day and someone else’s by running into them. Mountain bikers yield to horses and people on foot. We’re at the bottom of the chain and for good reason. Horses can be easily startled and it’s dangerous for the horseback rider and for yourself if that happens.

2b.Uphill riders have right of way over downhill riders. It’s not your personal race course out there so don’t ride like it is. It’s easier for downhill riders to reboot their momentum than it is for uphill riders to start pedaling again. Even if you’re enjoying a ripping descent, pull over and let that poor schmuck going anaerobic make it to the top of the hill.

3. Keep singletrack single. Yes, that’s shamelessly stolen from our friends in Fruita but it’s a good one. Narrow singletrack is much more fun so let’s keep it that way – don’t expand the trails by riding off it when you’re making a pass.

4. Ride in control. If there’s a blind corner ahead, assume that there’s someone coming the other direction.

5. Use your voice. Sure, your bike bell has a melodious ring but its nicer to say ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ when you’re coming up behind a hiker than to repeatedly ding your bell at them. A friendly bell ring can be a nice way to say ‘hi’ to a friend when you see them a few switchbacks ahead of you. Bells are not for blasting around corners – hoping that people will hear you coming and scramble to get out of your way.

6. Obey trail signs. If a trail is closed to bikers, it’s for a reason.

7. Muddy trails are a no-no. Rutted up mud hardens into rutted up hardpack which is less fun than prison. Also, our ‘mud’ acts more like clay, clumping up on wheels and ripping derailleurs off. Karma, dude.

8. Directional trails are directional. Armstrong Trail, for example, is an uphill-only trail so be prepared to ride up to the first bail-out point. Getting tired is not a good enough excuse to ride the wrong direction.

9. If you’re stopping for a break on the trail, move yourself and your bike out of the way. Especially if you’re in a large group, be considerate of other trail users. Don’t block the entire trail while you’re stuffing a stale Clif bar in your face.

10. DAWGS! Yes, there are leash laws but it’s Park City and we love our dogs almost as much as we love our bikes. So if you see a dog running around, slow down and don’t run it over. It’ll probably end badly for both of you. Even if it’s a Chihuahua dressed in a plaid sweater that looks ready to keel over anyways, give it space.

All of these guidelines could be summed up under the golden rule of riding: Ride with the manners your mom taught you.

If you want less congested trails, get a light and ride between the hours of 9 pm and 6 am. Seriously, night riding is a ton of fun and you get the trails pretty much to yourself.

It’s mountain bike season so let’s get out, be nice to one another and all enjoy the trails. Happy riding!

Evelyn Dong, content writer