Trail Etiquette 101

Being respectful is all part of the fun when riding

A biker climbing up the hill has the right of way. An exception to the rule is when a biker encounters a hiker or a horse on the trail. Then they have the right of way, even if you are climbing.

The author, Ashley Jordan, is the sales manager at The Bike Shop in Grand Junction.

By Ashley Jordan

Some of our trails are for everyone and some are for bikers, hikers and horses. 

As mountain bikers we have an amazing amount of love for our sport and what better way to show that love and passion than to simply follow the golden rule:  treat others as you would like to be treated. 

People, animals and the dirt

• Be friendly and polite

Try not to forget that you are having fun barreling down the trail and so is the person that you encounter.  A few words like “hi” or “thank you for sharing the trail” go a long way.

Remember to stay positive even when you are mad. The mono-digital gesture is never an appropriate greeting. 

• Share the Trail

A simple rule of thumb is to always be willing to dismount and announce yourself. A biker climbing up hill has the right of way with another biker.

Hikers and horses have the right of way even if you are climbing, so move aside and allow some space, especially to horses as they are usually afraid of bikes. Remember to keep talking and to be friendly around horses. They are big and could stomp you and nobody wants to see that. 

• Stay on the trail

If you have to stop try to keep your wheels on the edge of the trail and dab your foot on a rock off to the side.

If you want to get off your bike and look around a little, be careful where you step — stay on the rocks and try not to leave any trace. 

• Pack it in, pack it out

I had a college professor who pounded this simple rule into my head every time we did a field trip — if you create waste then pack it out with you. If you like to bring along your pet then be prepared to scoop the poop and pack the poop.

Nothing ruins a ride with my children more than seeing the garbage and waste of someone else left on my favorite trail. 

• Be prepared

I once learned the hard way when I had to walk 5 miles in bike shoes because I left my pump at home when I got a flat.

Bring your own spare tube, pump, tire levers, patch kit, multi-tool, a small snack and anything else that you might need. The further you plan to ride the more you may need to bring. 

• Don’t depend on your cell phone

Coverage is spotty at best on some of the local trails. Last year one of my friends spent the night on Horse Thief Bench after he crashed and mutilated his bike and his ankle.

He survived and now carries water, food and an emergency beacon. 

• Wear a helmet & bring enough water.

This is the desert — bring a little extra. 

• Don’t get poked or eaten

If you break down on the trail watch out for cactus and watch out for the occasional animal. A friend of mine who is a local runner and biker told me to “stay large and you are likely to stay alive.” Most wild animals are afraid of humans and will avoid the larger ones. 

• Share with someone in need

Remember that you love getting out on the local trails and it feels good to help someone out. Who knows, someday you may be the recipient of someone performing random acts of kindness.

• Never alter the trail

You know who you are. Just leave it as is. If you can’t ride the trail then practice more and if it isn’t challenging enough then try riding a harder trail. Don’t cut out trees or remove large rocks just because they offend you. 

• Live to ride another day

Never be afraid to hike or help as the goal is to ride for many years to come. Remember — “Pedal smoother, it makes the day roll by faster.” 


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