With mountain biking exploding across Washington, outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds are discovering the joy that comes from flowing through singletrack on two wheels.
But with increased numbers comes increased traffic-especially on popular trails.
Since the beginning of summer, we’ve heard from riders who’ve witnessed
absolute bat sh*t crazy questionable trail etiquette from fellow mountain bikers.
Everyone makes mistakes or gets rusty—so we thought it’d be a good time for a trail-etiquette brush up:
Right of Way: Who has it when you're out riding?
Most trails feature options for several types of recreation. But with different sightlines, cornering, and visibility, it can be difficult to determine exactly what to do when coming up on another trail user. Here’s how to think about right-of-way when you’re on multi-use trail:
• Mountain bikers yield to hikers and equestrians
• When encountering a fellow rider, the downhill rider yields to the uphill rider• Always be courteous, and remember how far a friendly greeting can go with fellow trail users—good experiences with mountain bikers can help our reputation as much as the few bad ones hurt it.
• Don’t be afraid to speak up! Kindly alert other users as you approach-especially if you’re approaching from behind. Oftentimes the best preventative measure is good communication.
Mountain Bike Trails
In Washington, we’re fortunate enough to have a number of mountain bike-specific trails in our back yard. When enjoying these specific-use trails, remember to extend the same courtesy to fellow riders as you do other user groups. Remember that:
• On two-way mountain bike trails, the uphill rider has the right of way
• Never ride in the unintended direction on one-way trails. This isn’t just harmful to the trail (which is purposefully built to be ridden in one direction), it can also lead to serious head-on collisions.• If you see a hiker or equestrian on a mountain bike only trail, stop and gently remind them—for their own safety and enjoyment—that the area may not be safe because riders won’t be expecting them. Don’t assume the worst—they could simply be lost, and remember that we’re not law enforcement; if they seem defensive or you’re simply not comfortable saying anything, you can smile and keep on your ride!
General Etiquette: How should we conduct ourselves on the trail?
Etiquette is only part of being a responsible rider, here are a few other good practices to keep in mind:
• Always stay in control and be attentive.
• Leave no trace. Never leave anything behind– on the trail, at the trailhead, or in the parking area.• Always check to see if a stopped rider is ok before passing and continuing your ride.• Be prepared! Never rely on other riders for spare tubes, pumps, water, food and other essentials.• Finally, be positive! Mountain biking is fun. Excitement and a good attitude are contagious– the more you spread them, the more people like you will be out on the trail.
Stay tuned for MTB Etiquette 201!
PHOTOS AND ARTICLE BY IAN TERRY / EVERGREEN MOUNTAIN BIKE ALLIANCE