Singletrack Trail Etiquette

What Would Emily Post Do?

Who is Emily Post, you ask?

Well, ahem, for the cave folk among us, she was a socialite in the first half of the 20th century who spent a lot of time writing about “manners,”  which seems like a totally appropriate thing for a socialite back then to do. Believe it or not, you’ve actually encountered some of Emily’s manners if you’ve ever been to a wedding (and if you haven’t, congratulations, you’ve avoided one of life’s banal miseries). 

Now you’re probably asking, “What the f#@k does an early 20th century cake-eater have to do with mountain biking?” Allow me to explain. As far as I know, no one actually sat down, Emily Post-style, and wrote down the rules we follow on the trail. They’ve just come about sort of organically, and so far that’s worked.

But, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know circumstances definitely aren’t normal right now (who’s up for a global pandemic? anyone? anyone?). In light of that, it seems like now might not be a bad time to put some pixels on the page, just so we’re all ,umm, on the same page when it comes to trail etiquette. 

Just call me Emily Post.

Times are strange and trails are crowded. More crowded, it seems, than they’ve ever been. Seems like a good time to review single track trail etiquette, the unofficial rules that in my opinion have been working pretty well.

From my perspective they’ve basically been “don’t be an asshole”.


happy trails

If someone’s trying to pass you, for the love of all things holy, move over as soon as you can (but don’t injure yourself!)

If you’re passing someone, and they didn’t hear your freehub full of murder hornets approaching, let them know you’re back there so they can move over (and unless your transporting a live heart, but don’t be a jerk about it)

Don’t block the trail or features. I love a good feature session or on trail chat about railing a corner but please pull off the main trail when a rider is approaching.

Don’t ride trails when they’re wet. Yeah, it sucks that you shelped all your stuff to the trail and the nobbies are leaving tracks but every ride on wet trails means someone has to fix the divot.

Yield to riders headed uphill when you’re riding downhill, and why not gently enlighten them if the trail is one-way or downhill-only traffic.

Pretty simple, right? 

My work is done here.