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Etiquette: How to Share a Trail

How can MTB riders reduce conflicts on crowded trails?

Most of us live in the Pikes Peak Region because of the amazing access to trails and natural spaces. Getting out into these spaces heals our minds, bodies and souls.  With the state-wide shutdown, our trails are being taxed more than ever. The additional use, including from many new users who aren’t familiar with some aspects of trail etiquette, can lead to misunderstandings and even conflicts.  

All users play a role in reducing trail conflicts.  Here are some etiquette guidelines we can follow to improve trail experiences for everyone.

Mountain Bikers: Everyday MTB etiquette

  • Ride with a bell, announce your presence in a friendly way.  Try not to startle other users.
  • When passing hikers, cyclists must yield.  What does yield mean?  As a cyclist it is ultimately your responsibility to avoid crashing into someone (or entering their safe space). This means riding in control at all times, able to slow down and stop if necessary to negotiate a safe pass. This may include dismounting, and even backing up.  Often, it’s easier for a hiker to move to the side of the trail to let you pass, and most hikers will do this if there is a safe place and you communicate with them.  Pass slowly and safely, thank them, and continue on your way.
  • If you are riding downhill and encounter someone riding uphill – you must yield to them.  Usually this means slowing and getting to the side or stopping. Get as far off the trail or as far as possible, and allow the uphill rider to ride past.
  • If you encounter an equestrian, moving either toward or away from you, slow down, stop as necessary and engage in a conversation about the best way to pass.
  • If there are others in your group, let the person you’re passing know how many are behind you.
  • If you stop for any reason, move off to the side – don’t block the trail.
  • If you ride with your dog or other pet, learn and follow the regulations for the area you’re riding. Don’t roll with an off-leash pet where that is not permitted.
  • Don’t ride muddy trails. If you’re leaving ruts, turn around. If you encounter a muddy section or puddle on an otherwise dry trail, ride through it. Don’t widen the trail: Keep singletrack single.

Additional guidelines for MTBs during the Stay-at-Home order

  • For now it’s better to ride solo or in very small groups – not with the squad.  Envision the perspective of a slow moving hiker or new user, when 5, 6 or more mountain bikers charge pass like a sweaty, possibly infected, unstopping freight train….  Please, share your photos and stories about the ride for everyone to enjoy – but keep your actual riding groups SMALL.
  • Tame the ride down a little to reduce risk for everyone, including you.  Don’t wind up in the ER chasing a personal record or that big jump you’ve always been eyeing.
  • Training for a race?  Consider putting in more time than normal on the road to reduce trail congestion.
  • When possible, ride to the trail instead of driving, to reduce crowds on the trail and at trailheads .

Hikers/trail runners

  • Maintain situational awareness – you are sharing the trail with others.  Expect and watch for them.
  • If using headphones or earbuds, keep the volume low enough to hear and engage with other users.
  • Cyclists are required to slow down and yield to hikers. Often it is much easier for hikers than cyclists to step off a narrow trail. It also creates less trail widening. Hikers are not required to yield to cyclists, but if you are able to, please cooperate with cyclists to let them pass quickly and safely.
  • Avoid standing along the outside edge of a switchback/climbing turn.  When riding up or down, most cyclists prefer to use the outside of the turn – it’s safer and easier to get through the turn.  Please stand on the inside edge of these turns, or away from the turn altogether
  • If hiking in groups, spread out so that other users can pass safely.
  • If you stop along the way, move to the side – don’t block the trail.
  • Don’t use muddy trails. If you’re leaving footprints, turn around. If you encounter a muddy section or puddle on an otherwise dry trail, go through it. Don’t widen the trail.
  • Please keep all pets on leash and under control (except in designated off-leash areas) so that they don’t negatively impact other users.


  • Choose trails that are appropriate for your skill level, and for the comfort level of your horse.  
  • If your horse (and you) need practice on technical trail moves, or being around other users – use El Paso County Parks’ Equestrian Skills Course to improve your skills and familiarity with other users.
  • Work with other users to share the trail.

ALL USERS, during the Stay-At-Home order.

  • The health and safety of our whole community is the most important thing right now.  We all have a role to play in lightening the load on our medical system.  If we work together we can weather the storm AND keep our beloved trails open for responsible, safe use.  
  • With limited exercise options, our trails are getting more use than ever.  Help reduce crowds by riding or walking to trails whenever possible.
  • Don’t crowd trailheads. Don’t congregate in groups on trails. Groups present the biggest risk to spreading the virus AND to our sustained access to our parks.
  • Wear a neck gaiter or other non-surgical mask.  If you find you can’t wear it all the time, pull it up when passing anyone.
  • Remember that everyone is here to enjoy the trails, just like you, and they should.  Smile, cooperate, help others. If you feel the need to educate another trail user about etiquette, do it politely. Breathe.
  • Don’t spread COVID. Stay up-to-date on public health recommendations: CDC Colo Dept of public healthEl Paso County Health.
  • We recognize the range of critical needs right now in our community due to the health and economic disruptions. Meanwhile, Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates relies on the ongoing support of trail users to continue the work that we do. Please donate to support great trails if you have the means to do so.
  • Although our Trail Love build days are on hold for now, we have plenty of opportunities for interested volunteers to help us get ready for when we can dig again. If you’re interested in helping, please contact us at