These guidelines for responsible riding have been adapted and adopted by land-management agencies nationwide. Actions have critical impacts on the landscape, trails, animals and other trail users. Pledge to ride friendly, ride prepared, ride responsibly, ride lightly.
Have a kind state of mind
Being kind benefits all situations: sharing the trail, caring for the environment and acting as good overall ambassadors for the sport. Set good examples, welcome everyone and be nice.
Respect the landscape
Respect your local trail builders and be a good steward of the physical environment. Keep singletrack single by staying on the trail. Practice Leave No Trace principles. Do not ride muddy trails because it causes rutting, widening and maintenance headaches. Ride through standing water, not around it. Ride (or walk) technical features, not around them.
Know before you go
Not all trails are open to mountain bikes. Not all trails open to mountain bikes are open to e-bikes. Some trails close seasonally to protect wildlife, or temporarily close for damage or repair. Some trails only open for bikes on certain days of the week. Some trails are one-way travel only. Know before you go!
Share the trail
Most trails mountain bikers ride are multi-use. Mountain bikers yield to horses and foot traffic, and descending riders yield to climbing riders. There are some regional differences and unique rules on single-use, directional mountain bike trails — know the code where you ride.
Ride open, legal trails
Poaching trails, building illegal singletrack or adding unauthorized trail features are detrimental to access. Poorly built features can seriously injure other trail users. If you believe there aren’t enough trails or variety near you, it’s time to get involved. It takes a village to create, enhance and protect great places to ride.
Ride in control
Speed, inattentiveness and rudeness are the primary sources of trail conflict among user groups. If you need to pass, slow down, ring a bell or verbally announce yourself, and wait until the other trail user is out of the path. Use extra caution around horses, which are unpredictable. Be extra aware when riding trails with poor sight lines and blind corners, and make sure you can hear what’s going on around you. Wearing earbuds limits awareness on the trail and getting caught up in virtual racing can be dangerous.
Be prepared and self-sufficient. Every mountain biker should carry what they need for the ride they’re undertaking and know how to fix a flat tire and make minor repairs. Download a GPS trail app on your phone for navigation or carry a map in unfamiliar locations. Ride with a partner or share your riding plan with someone if you’re heading out solo. Always wear a helmet. Carry enough water and snacks, and don’t get lost.
Mind the animals
When it comes to wildlife, live and let live. In some places, running cattle and disturbing wildlife are serious offenses. If you want to ride with your dog, first find out whether it’s allowed by understanding trail restrictions. Be prepared to take care of your dog. Ensure your companion is obedient enough to not cause problems for you, other trail users or wild animals.