Rules & Guidelines for the Trails

Trail Etiquette: Rules & Guidelines for the Trails

The Sault Cycling Club’s home trails are at Hiawatha Highlands where we maintain the single-track mountain bike trail system. Thousands of volunteer hours have gone into creating and maintaining this diverse trail system that is on private land in which we maintain permission for the existing trail networks. Continued permission for use of the properties for mountain biking is a privilege that must be maintained through responsible maintenance and use of the trails. To help riders stay informed on proper trail etiquette and use of the trails, we have provided some important things to remember while biking at Hiawatha Highlands or on any other trail system.

MTBing on Muddy Trails

In general, it’s best to avoid muddy trails but it’s not always avoidable. No matter the reason, you’ve found yourself on a muddy trail. What do you do?

LEAVE NO TRACE: If you’re out on a wet trail and discover that your tread is imprinting on the trail, it’s time to turn around. It’s too wet to ride! This is how ruts and mud holes are created. Please don’t damage the trail or contribute to existing damage by continuing on.

RIDE THROUGH MUD PUDDLES: Even the most well-drained trails wind up with puddles long after a big storm or later in the season when the ground is saturated. Is it better to ride through a mud puddle or to go around it? The answer is simple: ride THROUGH it ... slowly! This will keep the trail from getting wider. Traveling slowly will minimize the splash and keep sediment from being displaced.

BE AWARE: Be especially cautious when riding after a storm. Heavy rain and wind cause trail hazards that can occur long after the storm. Fallen trees, dislodged rocks, and landslides are some hazards to be aware of.

RESPECT TRAILS: Wouldn’t you rather have volunteers making new trails, instead of fixing old ones? Mountain Biking does destroy trails without proper care, let’s all do our part to leave little to no impact. As a rule of thumb, if you are leaving deep tracks and/or mud is sticking to your tires and frame, turn around immediately and exit the trails."

Encountering Other Trail Users / Riders

Mountain bikers should yield to other trail users such as hikers unless the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel.

  • Always let other trail users know you're coming with a friendly greeting.
  • Anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners. Unless signed for one-way traffic, trails can be ridden in either direction.
  • When encountering a fellow rider on a hill, the downhill rider yields to the uphill rider.
  • Yield to non-bike trail users (kindly enlighten them if the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel for their safety and yours).
  • When encountering a slower rider going the same way, slow down to give them space so they can enjoy their ride. No one enjoys feeling the pressure of a fellow rider wanting to pass them on the best part of the trail.
  • When passing, make it a safe and courteous one and give plenty of heads up of your intentions (“passing on your left”)
  • When riding in a group, it is a good idea to let someone yielding to know how many riders are coming. “3 more behind me!”
  • Always be courteous and remember how far a friendly greeting can go with fellow trail users!

Stay on the Trail

Stay on existing trails, never create a new one. A lot of hard work and time goes into creating a good trail system. Approvals are required for changes to trails on private land. If you have an idea for a trail improvement, contact us and we can see if we can make it happen!

Pay Attention to Trail Signage

Many trail systems use trail signs to indicate the difficulty rating: green circles for beginner, blue squares for intermediate and black diamonds for expert. Signs can also indicate the direction you must travel, when to yield, steep sections or upcoming trail features such as a drop or a jump. Always ride within your limits.

If a trail is marked “closed” or roped off, respect the closure and come back when it’s open. Trails are closed for many reasons such as trail work, to avoid damage in vulnerable conditions and safety precautions.

Plan Ahead

Know where you’re riding. Check out the trail head map ahead of time to see how long your route is. You can also download an app like Trailforks that can help you plan your route. A well planned adventure is most often a good one! It’s also a good idea to let someone know where you are heading in case you run into trouble.

Know your ability, your equipment, and the adventure you’re getting yourself into. It’s important to carry the proper tools, plenty of food / water and a first-aid kit. You shouldn’t ever rely on other riders for spare tubes, pumps, water, food and other essentials.

A proper bike check is always a must! Swing by one of our local shops for a tune-up if your unfamiliar with your set-up (Algoma Bikes, Duke of Windsor, Vélorution Bike & Ski).

Be Positive!

Mountain biking is FUN! Excitement and a good attitude are infectious– the more you spread them, the more people like you will be out on the trail.

Additional tips:

  • Bring out what you brought in!
  • Don’t leave garbage, old tire tubes or any other remnants that you were there. Its everyone’s responsibility to keep the trails clean.
  • Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.
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