Trail Science

All trail users affect the trail surface and surrounding environment, especially when trails are poorly constructed. Those impacts range from vegetation loss to erosion, water quality problems, and disruption of wildlife.

However, there is no evidence that mountain bikers cause greater environmental impact than other trail users. The current research suggests that mountain biking impacts are similar to hiking, and less damaging than equestrian and motorized users.

An emerging body of knowledge holds that when it comes to trails, the major issue is not the type of user, but the way the trail is designed and built. If a trail is properly located and constructed, it can handle a variety of users without damaging the environment.

Find the following articles available for download, below.

  • Natural Resource Impacts of Mountain Biking: A summary of scientific studies that compare mountain biking to other forms of trail travel, by Gary Sprung
  • A Comparative Study of Impacts to Mountain Bike Trails in Five Common Ecological Regions of the Southwestern U.S., by Dave White et al.
  • Shimano Guidebook to Planning and Managing Environmentally Friendly Mountain Bike Trails
  • Perception and Reality of Conflict: Walkers and Mountain Bikes on the Queen Charlotte Track in New Zealand, by Cessford G.R.
  • Environmental Impacts of Mountain Biking: Science Review and Best Practices, by Jeff Marion and Jeremy Wimpey
  • Mountain Biking: A review of the Ecological Effects, by Miistakis Institute