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Mountain Bike Trails & Tips : Low Impact Mountain Biking

Tread Softly On The Trails

Low Impact Mountain Bike Trail TipsIf you want to be part of the solution and not the problem, then these Low Impact Mountain Biking tips will help to keep the trails open. Responsible riding will go a long way in maintaining trail conditions and access. The following tips are directly related to being on the trail. Getting involved with mountain bike organizations, patrols, trail work and advocacy issues is also important.

The International Mountain Bike Association’s (IMBA) Rules Of The Trail are important to know.

Help reduce crowding on popular trails.

Discover new mountain bike trails on, or consult a guide book and map to find other rides in the area. Try riding popular trails during off-peak hours or during the week, if possible.

Keep your riding group small.

While it is great to be outdoors enjoying your favorite sport with friends, break up a larger group into smaller ones (2-4 riders) and plan meeting times and locations along the trail. This will minimize impact on the trail and won’t disrupt other trail users.

Keep the trails clean.

Pack out what you pack in. If you see trash on the trail pick it up. Discarded inner tubes, bottles or energy bar wrappers detract from the experience for all trail users.

Don’t tear up the trail. Avoid skidding.

Like driving a car, it is important to to anticipate the trail and terrain ahead. Handling steep hills, obstacles, tight twisty turns takes skill. If you are new to mountain biking, there are many trails designed just for beginners to practice and develop MTB bike handling skills. Here are a few basic low impact mountain biking tips to keep in mind.

When faced with a steep hill that you are not ready at the moment to conquer, dismount and walk to avoid soil damage. If your are on the way down try gently pumping the rear brake to check your speed. A white knuckle brake squeeze will cause the rear tire to lock and drag or slide out.

Be careful and stick to your line around corners to avoid going off trail. Riding around a log, rock or waterbar will widen the trail. Instead, ride over these obstacles (this skill will require practice) or dismount and walk over. Riding off the trail to see a view damages plantlife.

Avoid trails after heavy rain.

Riding through mud deepens the bog and riding around it will widen the trail. After a rain, or when a trail is known to be very muddy, find another place to ride that drains well.

Don’t build or ride on any unauthorized or illegal trails.

The best way to increase mountain biking opportunities in your neck of the woods is to work with the Park or Forest service agencies on trail creation. Many miles of great trail systems all over the northeast US have been built with the cooperation of the parks and many trail user groups. Building or riding on illegal trails on public lands is not only illegal but damages natural and historical resources. It also creates safety issues and gives all mountain bikers a bad rep.

Anticipate other trail users.

Be nice to people you meet on the trail! This could go a long way toward reducing trail conflict issues, especially on narrow winding trails. Slow down, acknowledge the hikers, size-up the situation and pass safely. Be prepared to stop and dismount, if necessary (especially when encountering horses). Relations on the trail are important to the future of mountain biking. Not detracting from the experience of other users as well as your own is a fine balancing act. For an uninterruped smooth ride, designated one-way mountain bike trails are best.

Take a kid mountain biking.

Take the whole family mountain biking. While both a workout and an adventure, it also builds self-confidence and responsible biking habits. We feature many family-friendly mountain bike trails.