When the first signs of spring arrive, mountain biking enthusiasts get extra excited. The days are now longer, the weather is much warmer and the bike trails are free of snow and ice.
If you’re new to mountain biking or have never ridden the trails of your local park, now is the perfect opportunity to acquaint yourself with the proper etiquette.
Below, you’ll learn all of the various best mountain biking practices that will ensure a fun and safe time every time you and area enthusiasts ride the trails!
Obey All Bike Trail Signage
The first rule of being a considerate mountain biker is to abide by the signs posted along the designated trails. Sometimes trails may be directional, so it’s important for you to follow the defined course to ensure your safety and that of others. Like any road, bike trails are subject to announced and unannounced closures. On certain days, the trail may be closed for routine maintenance (such as patch repairs, debris clearing). Other times, the trail may be closed for more serious matters (flooding, fire). If you see a “Bike Trail Closed” sign, please do not ignore it.
To avoid being disappointed by trail closures, we recommend that you visit the park’s website or social media page to check for any news or updates before your visit. Or you can always call your local parks and recreation department for the latest information.
Only Ride Designated Trails
Many parks have dedicated bike trails. Others may not. If you visit a park and it doesn’t have a clearly marked bike trail, it’s best to speak with a park ranger/representative or land manager before proceeding. It would be poor form (not to mention dangerous) to ride your mountain bike on a walking trail. Even worse, you could be trespassing on private property or damaging a protected area of the park.
One of the best ways to find the best designated mountain bike trails/areas is to use Good For PA’s local park locator. That’s where you can find more information about local parks near you and determine which ones are best suited for your bike riding needs.
Respect Your Local Park
Perhaps the most important rule of mountain biking in your local parks is to leave no trace. For most visitors, leaving no trace equates to avoiding litter. When it comes to mountain bikers, leaving no trace is a bit more involved. Mountain bikers should never alter or change the trails in any way. That means the bikers are prohibited from cutting branches or damaging trees, creating shortcuts through undesignated areas, and to avoid deliberately sliding or intentionally splatter mud up to minimize damaging trails.
While visitors are drawn to local parks for a variety of reasons, one of the biggest is to see local wildlife in their natural habitats. As the park is their home it’s important for mountain bike fans to avoid any intentional damage or minimize accidental damage along the trail. Riding the trails in more remote areas also means being extra cautious of our animal friends. Riders do not want to accidentally scare or injure an animal that may be crossing the trail.
Do Not Block the Trail
Sometimes bikers need to take a break. Other times that may experience unexpected bike trouble (flat tire, faulty gear). If a biker needs to take a break or stop for any reason, it’s imperative that they move to the side of the trail instead of remaining in the middle of the trail. This not only helps keep trail traffic flowing, it also minimizes the risk of bike accidents.
When you practice proper mountain bike etiquette, you’ll ensure that you and all park visitors have a fun and safe experience. Plus, you’ll help correctly maintain the trails so they do not have to be frequently closed for repair.
If you’re interested in learning more about making the most of your local parks, please sign up for the Good For PA newsletter! We’re always sharing helpful tips and information so you can enjoy local PA parks to their fullest!