Most mountain biking takes place on trails that are shared with hikers, equestrians and other outdoor enthusiasts. Since 1988, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) has offered the Rules of the Trail to promote responsible and courteous conduct on shared-use trails and to help everyone have enjoyable experiences.
Think of these rules as a mountain biker’s addendum to the Leave No Trace principles for all outdoor users. By embracing these simple guidelines you can be sure that you’re doing your part to respect both the natural world and your fellow trail users.
Rules of the Trail
- Ride open trails.
- Leave No Trace.
- Control your bicycle.
- Yield appropriately.
- Never scare animals.
- Plan ahead.
Ride Open Trails
In the past, riders who played by the rules opened up the places we all love today. With so many open trails available, there’s no reason not to find one.
- Respect trail and road closures—if you’re unsure, ask a land manager.
- Don’t trespass on private land—get a permit or other required authorization.
- Never ride in areas protected as state or federal wilderness—it’s against the law.
Leave No Trace
The primal appeal of mud doesn’t justify a splatterfest that damages the underlying trailbed.
- Muddy trails are vulnerable to damage — consider other options if a trail is soft.
- Stay on existing trails — never create a new one.
- Don’t cut switchbacks.
- Pack out at least as much as you pack in.