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Minimum Impact Riding

The Backcountry Trail Patrol is an Alliance Member of



Tread Lightly's Guide to Responsible Mountain Biking


  • Obtain a map of the area you wish to explore and determine which areas are open for use.

  • Contact the land manager for area restrictions and if crossing private property, be sure to ask permission from the land owner.

  • Check the weather forecast.

  • Prepare for the unexpected by packing a small backpack full of emergency items.

Safety on the trail

  • Wear a helmet, eye protection and other safety gear.

  • Buddy up with two or three riders as riding solo can leave you vulnerable if you have an accident or breakdown.

  • Drinking and riding don't mix.

Rules and common courtesy

  • Be considerate of others on the road or trail.

  • Ride only where permitted.

  • Leave gates as you find them.

  • Yield the right of way to those passing or traveling uphill.

  • Pack out what you pack in.

  • Remember, designated wilderness areas are reserved for the most primitive outdoor adventure.

Minimum impact camping

  • Select lightweight equipment, possibly in earth-tone colors that will blend with the surroundings.

  • Use existing campsites whenever possible.

  • Avoid building fires.

Negotiating terrain

  • When climbing, shift to a gear that provides comfortable forward momentum and maintains traction.

  • When descending, apply enough brake to maintain control, but avoid locking your bike's wheels.

  • Avoid trails that are obviously wet and muddy to avoid trail damage.

  • Cross streams slowly, at a 90-degree angle to the stream. Walking may be preferable as stream bottoms are often slippery.

(c) Tread Lightly



IMBA Rules of the Trail

The way we ride today shapes mountain bike trail access tomorrow. Do your part to preserve and enhance our sport's access and image by observing the following rules of the trail, formulated by IMBA, the International Mountain Bicycling Association. These rules are recognized around the world as the standard code of conduct for mountain bikers. IMBA's mission is to promote mountain bicycling that is environmentally sound and socially responsible.

1. Ride On Open Trails Only.

    Respect trail and road closures (ask if uncertain); avoid trespassing on private land; obtain permits or other authorization as may be required. Federal and state Wilderness areas are closed to cycling. The way you ride will influence trail management decisions and policies.

2. Leave No Trace.

    Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you. Recognize different types of soils and trail construction; practice low-impact cycling. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage. When the trailbed is soft, consider other riding options. This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones. Don't cut switchbacks. Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in.

3. Control Your Bicycle!

    Inattention for even a second can cause problems. Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations.

4. Always Yield Trail.

    Let your fellow trail users know you're coming. A friendly greeting or bell is considerate and works well; don't startle others. Show your respect when passing by slowing to a walking pace or even stopping. Anticipate other trail users around corners or in blind spots. Yielding means slow down, establish communication, be prepared to stop if necessary and pass safely.

5. Never Scare Animals.

    All animals are startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement, or a loud noise. This can be dangerous for you, others, and the animals. Give animals extra room and time to adjust to you. When passing horses use special care and follow directions from the horseback riders (ask if uncertain). Running cattle and disturbing wildlife is a serious offense. Leave gates as you found them, or as marked.

6. Plan Ahead.

    Know your equipment, your ability, and the area in which you are riding -- and prepare accordingly. Be self-sufficient at all times, keep your equipment in good repair, and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions. A well-executed trip is a satisfaction to you and not a burden to others. Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.

Keep trails open by setting a good example of environmentally sound and socially responsible off-road cycling.

(c) IMBA