With a massive surge in MTB popularity, Trail Etiquette is an important tool that all riders should be aware of and follow. These rules are accepted as common practice around the world. Friendly education is encouraged.
4 Simple Trail Etiquette Rules
1. Respect Trail Closures
There are times when trails are closed for wildlife, vegetation, events, etc. Ignoring these closures can lead to Permanent Closures and Denial of Future Trail Proposals
Trail closures in Kananskis can be researched beforehand by checking Alberta Parks website or by contacting them at 1-866-427-3582
2. Leave No Trace
Stay on the trail (this includes passing).
If you come across a mud puddle, root, or obstacle Ride or walk through/over it, NOT around it. Ride-Arounds wreck trails and damage vegetation leaving a wide boring road vs. a fast flowing singletrack.
Ride dirt trails not mud trails. If you are leaving a visible rut, the trail is too muddy to ride and causes permanent trail damage. Trail crews prefer to build you new trails vs. spending their time repairing existing ones
Always pack out what you pack in. Ditching extra weight, fruit, or that partner that won't stop talking, may seem like a necessary evil, but giving bears and other wildlife a taste for human food never ends well for us or them
3. Yield When Appropriate
Always Ride in Control and be ready to stop at a moments notice
Uphill Riders have the Right-of-Way. It's easier for the downhill rider to stop and start with gravity on their side
Let the Rider behind you pass. You're going the speed that you want to and they should be able to as well. Riders wanting to pass should let the rider ahead know with a, "Passing on the left", "Rider Up" etc.
Give your best Tarzan Yodel on the fast or blind descents to prevent others users/wildlife from being surprised by your appearance
Don't block the trail. If you stop, make sure you leave room for others to pass. Leisurely riders and racers can enjoy using the same trails with a little common courtesy
Bikers yield to both Hikers and Horseback Riders
Horses can be very intimidated by our funky metal steeds. Dismount and walk past, come to a stop as soon as you see a rider approaching
4. Be Prepared
Always carry the necessary tools and knowledge to make repairs on the trail. Bikes will take you further than your legs will. Having a break down can put first responders in difficult position of finding and retrieving you. This can also lead to your wife/husband banishing that next big ride
Be Bear/Cougar/Moose Aware. This is Bear, Cougar and Moose country. With MTB's travelling at high speeds, you can easily spook an animal into fight/flight mode. Be sure to call out regularly to not surprise them and always carry bear spray and/or similar protection (air horn, bear banger, etc.) Being "brave" and ignoring these precautions may end up getting the animal that attacked you killed. Wild animals should never be fed, approached, or scared
Carry a guidebook/map/compass/gps and the knowledge to navigate with them. This is the Rocky Mountains; A massive wild adventure land with trail networks larger than some countries. Even experienced users can become disoriented with a new trail not depicted on a map, or a spring washout that caused portions of the trail to disappear
Whenever possible, ride with a buddy. Riding solo can be a spiritual experience but having someone with fingers to count and who can get help when you miss that sudden turn, can prevent an unwanted spiritual experience. Bring a cell, SPOT, PLB, Sat Phone or other device capable of contacting the outside world on the alpine adventure rides
Leave an itinerary with someone who's staying home. When night falls and you haven't returned, knowing where you planned to go helps first responders concentrate their search without wasting time wandering aimlessly. Don't forget to let your friend know that you're back and going for a pint to prevent an awkward situation later that night
Know your limits. Even if you just finished watching Danny MacAskill ride a skinny over a 300m drop and you're feeling invincible, have an honest conversation with yourself regarding your skill level. Jumping off a double black cliff drop won't impress anyone when the government starts reassessing trail permits due to continuous ambulance shuttles and hospital bills
Bring appropriate clothing and enough food/water for the ride. In a climate where the saying, "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute" holds true, it's important to be prepared for anything. If you plan on doing some of the longer alpine adventure trails, be prepared to survive the night with temps regularly dropping below freezing. Bring extra food/water/clothing in the event that the unexpected happens