Spring Mountain Biking Tips for Protecting Trails

Plentiful snowfall in the Wasatch this year may have been a boon during winter, but it’s left bikers, hikers and trail runners with an elongated shoulder season and a limited selection of low-elevation, dry trails this spring. Trail organizations from Park City to Draper are scrambling perform necessary maintenance while asking an eager population ready for Spring mountain biking to show a little restraint when hitting the trails early in the season.

You’ve heard the mottos. Ruts suck. Mud is murder. Wet ground, turn around. Utah trails are notoriously susceptible to moisture, so it’s particularly important that trail users of all stripes respect proper trail etiquette this time of year. Doing so prevents damage that affects the quality of the trails and threatens future access. Here are a few basic spring mountain biking tips and tools to help you be a good steward and explore trail systems in Utah sustainably.

What Are Some Ground Rules I should Follow?

If it’s sticking to your heels or wheels, turn around. Ruts really do suck, and mountain bikers take their share of heat for gouging up the trails. But you’d be surprised just how much impact a hiker or a dog can have on a muddy Utah trail. If the trail surface is consistently packing up the treads on your tires or the soles of your shoes, the trail’s not ready for action. A little patience goes a long way.

Keep singletrack single. When trails first open for the season, it’s not uncommon to encounter the occasional puddle or small patch of mud. While it’s tempting to go around to keep your bike or shoes nice and clean, you should instead stick to the established trail and go straight through the puddle. Going around permanently widens the trail, creating damage that’s far more difficult to fix.

How do I know if the trails are ready?

Check with your Local Trail Organization Look up who manages your favorite local trails, and it’s likely you’ll find they post updates and recommendations about trails they maintain. Basin Recreation, which manages some Park City Trails has an interactive map with live updates of trail conditions. Mountain Trails Foundation posts daily updates on their Facebook page. Follow their advice to help keep the trails in pristine shape.

Basin Recreation provides real-time conditions updates with their interactive maps.

It’s 2019. Use Technology. There are a lot of mobile apps out there for trail lovers, and many of them have up-to-date, crowdsourced status notifications to let you know which trails are good to go. Hiking Project and Trailforks are two I check on a regular basis before leaving the house.

Phones are magic. Check which trails are ready before you even leave.

If you’re a frequent trail user, consider your impact when you head outside. Trail access is a privilege, not a right. If as a community we don’t respect that, we’ll lose access. Many trail organizations also hold fundraisers and events where they seek public input, so this is a great time of year to get involved and make your voice heard. Happy trails.


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Tony Gill
Tony Gillhttps://www.saltlakemagazine.com/
Tony Gill is the outdoor and Park City editor for Salt Lake Magazine and previously toiled as editor-in-chief of Telemark Skier Magazine. Most of his time ignoring emails is spent aboard an under-geared single-speed on the trails above his home.

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