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Tread Lightly! Tips for Responsible Mountain Biking

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Quick Tips for Responsible Mountain Biking


To view this information in a brochure format, Click Here




Travel responsibly on designated roads and trails or in permitted areas.

  • Avoid trails that are obviously wet and muddy.
  • Cross streams slowly, at a 90-degree angle to the stream.
  • When climbing, use a gear that provides comfortable momentum and maintains traction. Avoid going around water bars.
  • When descending, avoid locking your bike’s wheels, which gauges the trail.
  • Ride in the middle of the trails to minimize widening of the trails. Avoid sideslipping, which can lead to erosion.
  • Maintain a reasonable distance between you and your fellow riders.
  • Make your presence known when approaching others and going around blind corners.
  • Comply with all signs and barriers.
  • Buddy up with two or three riders as riding solo can leave you vulnerable if you have an accident or breakdown.

Respect the rights of others including private property owners and all recreational trail users, campers and others to allow them to enjoy their recreational activities undisturbed.

  • Be considerate of others on the road or trail.
  • Leave gates as you find them.
  • If crossing private property, be sure to ask permission from the landowner(s).
  • Yield the right of way to those passing you or traveling uphill. Yield to hikers and horses.
  • Keep the dust down.

Educate yourself by obtaining travel maps and regulations from public agencies, planning for your trip, taking recreation skills classes, and knowing how to use and operate your equipment safely.

  • Obtain a map of your destination and determine which areas are open to mountain bikes.
  • Make a realistic plan, and stick to it. Always tell someone of your travel plans.
  • Contact the land manager for area restrictions, closures, and permit requirements.
  • Check the weather forecast.
  • Be sure your mountain bike is properly maintained.
  • Prepare for the unexpected by packing a small backpack full of emergency items.
  • Wear a helmet, eye protection, and other safety gear.

Avoid sensitive areas such as meadows, lakeshores, wetlands and streams, unless on designated routes. This protects wildlife habitat and sensitive soils from damage.

  • Other sensitive habitats to avoid, unless on designated routes, include cryptobiotic soils of the desert, tundra, and seasonal nesting or breeding areas.
  • Avoid disturbing historical, archeological, and paleontological sites.
  • Avoid “spooking” livestock and wildlife you encounter and keep your distance.
  • Motorized and mechanized vehicles are not allowed in areas designated as Wilderness.

Do your part by leaving the area better than you found it, properly disposing of waste, minimizing the use of fire, avoiding the spread of invasive species, restoring degraded areas, and joining a local enthusiast organization.

  • Carry a trash bag on your bike and pick up litter left by others.
  • Pack out what you pack in.
  • Practice minimum impact camping by using established sites and camping 200 feet from water resources and trails.
  • Observe proper sanitary waste disposal or pack your waste out.
  • Following a ride, wash your mountain bike and support vehicle to reduce the spread of invasive species.
  • Don’t mix riding with alcohol or drugs.

Get more in-depth mountain biking information by downloading the Tread Lightly! Guide to Responsible Mountain Biking.

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