Mountain Biking Tips: Practicing Proper Trail Etiquette

Respect the trail and all its travelers by embracing these Pro Tips on mountain biking etiquette.

Being a courteous rider can go a long way when out on the trail. Practicing proper trail etiquette can help with taking care of the environment and ensuring a good time for everyone. GT Wing Project athlete Rachel Strait has a few key tips to help you mind your mountain bike manners when out on your next ride.

You can break down proper trail etiquette into three categories: respecting the trail, respecting other riders and respecting wildlife. Follow these tips to kick your cycling civility into a higher gear.


Taking care of the trail beneath you can be simple if you practice proper trail manners. There are a few easy riding habits that can help you preserve the ground for future riders and yourself.

First, be aware of any closed routes and stay on open trails only. “Every once in a while, trails need work, so if they are closed, please be sure to stay off,” Strait says. Also, if a trail is open, it can be easily inferred that you won’t be trespassing.

In addition to being mindful of closed and open routes, you should also look to leave as little impact as possible. Respecting a “no trace” mentality can help preserve the trails and paths for all outdoor enthusiasts. For mountain bikers, this can mean avoiding muddied out trails and curbing the urge to cut your own pathways. The pre-determined routes are fun enough; there’s no need to carve a new trail into the unscathed landscape. Also, be sure to pack out what you pack in. Don’t leave your litter behind and keep the paths clean.


Practicing proper etiquette doesn’t end with appreciating the trails. You must recognize other cyclists and trail users and treat them with dignity, too. Having respect for your fellow mountain bikers can be showcased in various ways. Here are a few common manners to remember during your next ride.

One of the easiest ways to be courteous to other riders is to expect your future run-ins. “Most trails are unidirectional, but not all,” Strait says. “So, when you’re going up or down the trail, be mindful of other riders because they will be out there.”

You should also realize that not every rider is at the same level of expertise. Their pace might differ from yours. This isn’t a pass to accelerate past them haphazardly. Strait notes to be courteous and respectful to your fellow trail users by yielding to them when going faster. Make sure to yield in a safe and controlled manner. Slowly come to a stop on your side of the trail and allow your fellow riders to pass. Common bike courtesy can go a long way in ensuring everyone has a fun trail ride.

If you do have to overtake a fellow cyclist or trail user, be sure to notify them ahead of time. A simple, “On your left,” or, “On your right,” can help alert them of which side you’re passing on, according to Strait. Another great way to alert other riders of your presence is with a mountain bike bell. Give this noisemaker a few rings and allow your other cyclists time to yield appropriately.


It’s important to remember that when mountain biking, you’re a guest in someone’s backyard. Make sure you aren’t disturbing the surrounding wildlife when out on a ride. “If you ever encounter wildlife while riding, please let them be and just keep on going,” Strait says. Keep your distance and respect their boundaries.

Practicing proper trail etiquette when mountain biking can be a surefire way for everyone to enjoy the outdoors together. Use these cycling tips and remember to bring your best manners to the hills.

What goes great with respect on the trails? A cool and helpful mountain bike trick. Use these Pro Tips and find out how to manual on your next ride.