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What Are The Rules Of Trail Riding?

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In case you are the type of person who loves to bike on trails, make sure that you follow some basic safety precautions. We have put together a list of best practices for trail riding in order to keep your ride fun and safe.

These are the rules of trail riding:

  • Follow the rules of the trail wherever they are posted. These rules include things like staying on designated trails, not riding with headphones, obeying traffic signs and signals, and watching out for wildlife.
  • Always obey traffic signs and signals when biking on roadways
  • Always wear a helmet when biking
  • Follow local laws when biking on sidewalks or in areas where bikes aren’t allowed
  • Keep an eye open for wildlife when biking at dawn or dusk
  • Right on the right, pass on the left
  • If you are riding downhill, yield to those riding up hill on two-way trails

If you are just getting started, that list will give you a pretty good idea for most situations when you are out riding on the trails.

When On A Trail Who Has The Right Of Way?

When cyclists are on a two-way bike trail, they have the right of way. When cyclists are on one-way trails, pedestrians have the right of way. Up hills is when cyclists should yield to pedestrians and downhill when they should yield to other cyclists.

When on a two-way trail, right to the ride and pass to the left. Yield to pedestrians.

When on a one-way trail, pedestrians have the right of way over both cars and bicycles

Up hills is when bicyclists should yield to pedestrians

Downhill is when bicyclists should yield to other bikes

How To Ride With Others On Multi-User Trails

In order to avoid accidents and stay safe on a multi-user trail, being attentive is key. Riding with others is a good way to stay safe while enjoying the experience together. Always have your eyes on the trail ahead and be prepared for anything.

Riding with others on a multi-user trail is a good idea for two reasons: First of all, you’ll enjoy more time out in nature, and secondly, it’s less dangerous to ride in a group.

To make sure that you don’t get hurt or will get hurt, always wear protective gear such as helmets, gloves, long sleeves and pants. These are just a few of the biking accessories you will want and I have other posts here for a more comprehensive list of the essential gear you’ll want to bring as a beginner. Often times when you are putting together your bike kit in your backpack you’ll be covering the people biking with you, so ideally you have at least some overlap so all the bases are covered.

When you starting out, you don’t necessarily have to have all of the biking shirts and all of those things.  Often time you just need a few of the basics of biking clothing such as the helmets, gloves, and pads to get started.

How To Choose The Right Trail For Your Group

A correct trail selection ensures a safe and enjoyable trip for all members in your group. It can be a difficult decision to decide on the right trail, especially when you have limited time for your trip.

In general, there are two types of trails that you can choose from – single-track and multi-track trails. When choosing a multi-track trail, you can opt for either an out-and-back or an in-and-out option.

Riding Responsibly On Multi-User Trails

The following is a list of guidelines for using a multi-user trail properly, as per the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s guidelines for mountain biking.

  • Riding Responsibly on Multi-User Trails
  • Be aware
  • Be courteous
  • Watch out for others
  • Stay safe

How To Help Prevent Trail Damage And Protect The Environment

A new study reveals that improving the conditions on existing trails can have a significant impact on protecting the environment. Here are some easy ways to help keep your trails clean and green.

  1. Dispose of waste properly
  2. Limit use of motorized equipment
  3. Be considerate of others who are using the trail
  4. Avoid littering
  5. Pack out your waste properly so it can be removed from the park/trail by park staff or helpers

About the Author

Tony K

Senior Technical Writer,

Tony K is a technical editor at He has a focus on downhill bike riding but still loves xc bikes too.

With more than ten years of mountain biking experience and more than 5 years testing mountain bikes, Tony has ridden and tested hundreds of different bikes and products, everything from XC to enduro bikes. Tony regularly competes in mountain bike races while seeing how long those compontents can hold up which gives me a lot of insight.

When he isn't shredding down a mountain or camping out, he is writing reviews for Mountain Bike Experience.

Rides: Surly Lowside, Canyon Exceed