Trail Etiquette

Let’s keep the good vibes rolling

We’re pretty sure that mountain biking is the most fun thing a person can do, and when you find your flow on a sweet piece of singletrack it can be hard to break that up. That’s why we’re working every day to expand Missoula’s trail network and protect access to the singletrack we have now. But even though interrupting the flow can sometimes be a bummer, it’s important to remember that we’re all part of the Missoula trails community. By working together on this we can improve access and provide a little something for everyone. Here’s how you can help.

  • Generally speaking, we should yield the trail to other users. Hikers and horses both have the right of way, and we’ll hear motorcycles before they see us. When you see another mountain biker, remember that uphill traffic has priority!

    Hikers – If you come across a hiker on the trail, it’s best to pull over and let them pass. If you’re both going in the same direction, be sure to say hello, let them know you’re coming, and slow down to a walking pace to cruise past.

    Horses – Horses are large prey animals with poor eyesight. They can be forgiven for getting nervous from time to time. The best thing you can do when you see an equestrian user on the trail is to speak up and let them know you’re human (and not a mountain lion). Ask them what they’d like you to do, they’ll probably have a preference and it may not be the same from horse to horse. Of course it’s hard to go wrong with hopping off your bike on the low side of the trail and letting them by.

    If you’re passing a horse from behind, make sure the horse and rider know you’re there. It’s best for you to hold off on passing until the rider can get the horse off the trail and looking at you. Again, the rider will know what works for his or her horse.

    Remember that riding a horse in bike country is a lot like riding a bike in traffic. A little courtesy, patience, and mutual respect goes a long way to keeping everyone safe.

    Smile, Say Hi – For every rule there’s an exception, and so the best thing you can do when you’re out enjoying the trails is just be nice. Smile, say hi!

  • There are a few platforms out there that let you compare riding times with your buddies, even when you’re not right next to each other. These programs can be great for sharing routes, staying motivated, and seeing who was training while you were catching up on Veep. They can also be a huge issue for safety on public trails. Remember that these records are public, and that you probably don’t want to be known as the person who got a trail closed to bikes with a KOM. We suggest TrailForks as a great app for sharing trail and ride information without endangering access.

    Want to see how fast you can go? Check out a bike race!

  • Need that System of a Down track to keep you stoked on the climb? We get it. But maybe just one earbud, so you can hear if someone’s behind you?

  • In the next couple of years, we’re looking at doubling the miles of trail that you can ride right from your house. Needless to say, we’re really, really excited to be a part of these new trail developments, and you can bet that we’ll let you know as soon as they’re ready. But these things take time, and hopping fences can derail access talks that have been years in the making. Please respect private property, even when it’s got sweet trails on it. Really.

    Questions on what’s open? Don’t hesitate to reach out: ben@mtbmissoula.org.

  • Riding a trail that you put your blood, sweat, and tears into is one of the most satisfying feelings out there. And we get that a connecting trail here or there could really improve trail flow and even decrease user conflicts. It’s on our radar, and we’re doing our best to develop and improve the riding landscape in Missoula. DIY trail building doesn’t help, it hurts.

    When managers find user built trails, rehabbing those trails moves to the top of the to-do list, and delays the construction projects that we’re all chomping at the bit to see happen. And if you’ve really got the urge to dig? Check out the calendar of trail work days. We’re out all season building berms, jumps, and trails that are guaranteed to last.