Dirt Jumping: A guide to Trail etiquette

Feb 13, 2007
by Tyler Maine  
We all google and drool over the amazing trails all over the world BMX and MTBs have worked hard to make some of the most breathtaking trails in countries like UK, France, USA, and Australia just to name a few. With the right Dirt, Ideas, Rules, Attitude, Determination you can have your own amazing set of trails too.One of the most frustrating things for trail builders is showing up at their local jump trails and finding that their hard work has been ripped apart by someone they can’t blame, because they don’t even know who’s been riding the trails. Jumps get cased, run-ins and landings get skidded on, transitions get changed by inexperienced builders, and even litter is left lying around. Sometimes the trail builders will even show up to their trails being plowed because someone went out of their skill level, tried the jumps, got hurt and called the ambulance, and the parents/city got the jumps plowed because they are worried about safety.


Now, I’m sure we’ve all done it and poached other people’s trails. We’ve all thought we were the best builders and changed someone else’s work so that it works for us. And we obviously all case and have to take run-ins to jumps. Here are a couple tips to think about that will make you a better trail rider/builder, and eventually get some respect from your building peers. They might even let you ride their trails! These aren’t really rules, as I’m sure they’re different at different local spots, but think of it as a simple guide to follow:

- Never ride someone else’s trails with out the builder’s permission: This is one of the main things that will cheese a group of builders off. There’s nothing worse then finding out people are taking advantage of your hard work.

Example: If you’re not invited to your friend’s house, you don’t go over and use his shower.


- Never show up to the trails, ride your bike, then leave: In order to keep your bike in shape you use tools to tighten loose bolts, chain lube to lube your chain, and a pump to fill your tires. Dirt is the same; it needs to be worked on and given love and maintenance. Always show up at the jumps ready to dig. Touch up the jumps before you jump, and then fix the jumps before you leave.

Example: When you mow your grandma’s lawn, you rake up all the pinecones and acorns first, and then sweep the grass off the sidewalks when you’re done.

- Don’t change someone else’s work or build something for you without permission: This tends to happen at lots of trails. If an obstacle is too difficult for you, don’t change it to your liking. This is someone else’s work built for their skill level. Practice and work up to that stunt, then try it.

Example: You wouldn’t go over to your friend’s house and knock their wall over just because you don’t like it.

- When you case and skid, fix all your divots: Something that is so simple to do, but seems to be so hard for lots of learning riders to follow. No one is perfect, and everyone cases, just make sure you pick up your shovel and pack in some dirt where your sprocket or tire took it out. Skidding is something that you’ll learn to not do it time, but realize this now that skidding up to lips and on landings looks bad, and wrecks the pack job.

Example: When you’re playing baseball and break a window, fix it.


- Clean up: On long riding days it’s normal for people to bring lunches. Most trail spots will have a garbage can/bag. Use it. Or pack up your stuff and take it with you. Littering not only sucks for the builders, but also the whole environment. Don’t forget global warming kids.

Example: You should clean up wherever you go! Never litter!

- Never give out a set's location: You never know who’s watching the online forums or who you might be telling about your latest dirt jump spot. Once you tell one friend, they will tell 2 friends and those 2 friends will each tell 2 of their friends etc. You can always ask permission to bring a friend, but you’ve got to make sure you can trust them.

Example: You find the only pair of size 8 shoes in the city, do you tell everyone who wears size 8, or keep it to yourself?

- Don’t steal tools/put all tools back after usage: Other people spent their money to bring tools to dig jumps for theirs and your enjoyment. If you end up using someone else’s tools please return them. Make sure you have a hiding spot for your tools at trails. It sucks loosing them.

Example: Never steal!


So there you have the etiquette side of things. Like I said earlier, these rules could be totally different somewhere else, but this is just a simple guide for everyone to follow. Always go by the builders rules, without them you wouldn’t have good jump spots. Hopefully this little manual will help with your relationship between the elite bmx/mtb trail builders out there!

PS: Showing off jumps is cool, but try to keep from posting photos/videos of jumps that aren’t yours. All someone needs is one single land mark to find the spot!



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60 Comments

  • 4 0
 I liked the part where it talked about the ambulance and the town people puting everything back to normal. Took us a good 3 days + massive ammounts of back pain pills to build one of our spot and some 6 year old kids went in there while we we're not there got f*cked up and the town took it down. owned
  • 2 0
 Agreed piss's me off when kids get hurt and then jumps get pillowed down probably what happened to dreamland!
  • 3 0
 I agree with all except having very few people to ride your trails. I have been building trails for the past 5-6 years at an old ski area in my town, and I try to get as many people to ride them, because it helps brake them in. but yeah, dont go messing with peoples jumps and what not just because you dont have the skill level to tackle them. we had some kids build a dj right into a tree. stupids. not only is it a dumb place to put a jump, but it is right after a big 20' table top, and the way it is built, there is no way you could get enough speed to hit it.
  • 3 0
  I had an acre of land with easily 50 jumps for all skill levels. I'd spend all my summers their. Daily I'd wake up spend 3 hours fixing every jump n' tranny. This place was my home. Like all homes you want it to be in good shape and lookin sharp so this effort was well worth it. I go on holidays for a week to kelowna and then come back home to see all the lips destroyed, planks of wood used as sky walks between jumps, and... all the trees and grass burnt to a crisp. I said okay it's not soo bad. I repair all jumps and continue my usual riding routine. two days later I come back to find no tresspassing signs on the land and all jumps demolished.

Please don't ruin it for the rest of us and listen to this trail etiquette!

If its not yours don't touch it!( goes with bike theft as well) BACK OF THEIVES!!! I AM A PIRATE NINJA!
  • 8 5
 Unless you own the land or the jump, i'm ridin' it. I disagree with the comment that you must have the owners permission (unless its on his property). I'll respect it, clean it, make sure I dont wreck it, but I'm going to ride whether they give me permission or not.
  • 2 0
 shame that 50% of the spots that i know will happily spade you for that Wink and most of them will let you ride if you ask first.....
  • 2 0
 And that's why we have game cameras to spot assholes like yourself.
  • 2 0
 i agree with all the rules.. little kids found our trails well im not a builder ive one of the friends but i keep em in good shape anyways they stole all the tools and hid them for them selves and theyre making the jumps smaller so they can ride them.. pisses me off
  • 2 0
 i hate it when that happens, me and my mate started building a jump in the wood,completely out of the way and not harming anyone, and what do you know in just two days it has been demolised because some prat dosent like the fact that we are enjoying ourselves and wants to keep our village looking amazing.... ITS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WOODS IT DOSENT MAKE A DIFFERNCE GRRRRRR!!!!!
  • 1 0
 lets just be onest, if we all are arrogant or ignorant and respect the little guys. and teach them how to respect the jumps we can make the world a better place, remeber guys, we were all those little kids at one point in time.
  • 1 0
 everyone has a story about some stupid kid(s) ruining their jumps, usually because they try to do something way beyond their skill level, just to say they did it. They might take out the lip because its too hard, or build their own sketchy stuff. You just have to remember that everyone starts somewhere, and try to be around enough to guide the little groms into good trail-building habits. Teach them how to make their own, good jumps, and they won't screw up yours. Usually, as you progress you make the jumps harder, I've always thought its a better idea to leave the older smaller jumps, rather than make them bigger. Then, you can have your perfect line, and there's small stuff for the groms to practice on that you don't care about anymore. If the old ones fall into disrepair, they're the ones who have to fix it, not you.
  • 1 0
 everyone listen to shrew he knows what he's talking about..
and to all the little kids out there that have no respect for the bigger kids jumps?
picture this.. the thing you love the most.. the one thing you worked hard for.. or something you actully Cherish and look after.. Xbox, computer or its contents, moto bike, ANYTHING
of true value to you.. THINK HARD.. now watch as your little brother or sister.. or some complete stranger DESTROYS, or STEALS that...
Now you have a Taste of what it's like to lose something you love.
trail builders love what they build.. they put their time which is Actully money into it.. and their pride.. everything.
just have some respect.

  • 1 0
 What's the best way to find out who's the builder of the jumps. I've known about these jumps for some years but never seen anyone there. I just recently moved to that part of town and want to build and ride there but I don't want to piss anyone off.
  • 2 0
 Ask around at local bike shops if anyone rides dirt jumps in town (don't specifically ask about that spot just ask if anyone in general rides dirt jumps).OFFER TO HELP
  • 1 0
 What's the best way to find out who's the builder of the jumps. I've known about these jumps for some years but never seen anyone there. I just recently moved to that part of town and want to build and ride there but I don't want to piss anyone off.
  • 2 0
 leave a note with a contact number on it some where it will be found and if its cool they will get in touch Wink
  • 0 0
 The best tip is to build where the jumps are not in a prime location or hidden. Fewer riders = longer life. The friggin' Groms in my old town took the jumps over and built a friggin' rhyno horn 12 feet tall (atleast). There was no run or landing and they robbed from other jumps and left 3 foot deep bomb holes all over that filled with water when it rained. They completely anihilated the rest of the jumps that were left. I was pissed.
  • 0 0
 Thanx for posting this Shrew! I feel the same way about trails of all sorts, never bring your bike and leave without fixing something. People put so much hard labor into building the peices of art we all ride and more people then not simply take advantage of others work with little or no thought for those whose time, money and broken backs and wrists go into diggin for the love of riding....
  • 0 0
 i just posted a message. the old ski area in my town is the old norwich university ski hill in northfield vermont. i encourage anyone to check her out. we have drops, jumps, steeps and some killer single track. it is also shuttle-able in the summer.
  • 0 0
 AMEN!!, these rules are not only for dirtjumps but apply to all trail. my first trail was torn down most likely cause of the stupid kids getting hurt thing, after putting countless hours of work into something just to find it in chainsawed pieces at the bottom of the ravine is not cool
  • 0 0
 we used to have a nice set of jumps at gravel hill in poole, we had just finished building them up in the winter months and they looked text book, so we waited a week for them to dry out and be ok to ride but when we get there its just flat! i was so pissed off, now there is nowhere local to ride DJ's so i have to spend money each time i wanna ride for a train ticket to the next best thing. owell were curently building some new jumps at a new location, gonna be sweet for next summer defo!!!!
  • 0 0
 i couldt agree with you more, i dont know how many times we have come back to find our jumps either destroyed and remade, weve suprised kids riping apart shores and jumps with hammers just for their kicks, jumps used to the max and not taken care of as the riders left. all in all just to say your right
  • 0 0
 u no guys, i think the big thing that hurts us all are all those littel kids it does not matter what you do you cants get rid of em, me and my friends alway got made at a bunch of littel kids becouse the couldnt ride our stuff so the made it there own, so we just nicly asked them to stop wreckin our jumps, and just beouse they so nicley agreed we made them a few jumps so they could learn off, in the end all the jumps got torn down but those littel kid are now a bit older and me and my friends shred with them all the time, and the odd time the littel buggers show us up, i say just try to get along with littel kids, mabey we can all work out. hey it worked for meSmile
  • 0 0
 we have had to make our jumps so that the guys who dont know how to take big air can learn. If you make a group effort, its not so bad. we have small lips and big ones. so for those who cant do it, in time they will be able to. we should support our cause, not hurt it. nothing hurts more when you are learning something new, and some fuck who knows how only bashes you for trying. who wants to keep on learning when people are like that. and also you dont need a brand name bike to rip.
  • 0 0
 good article but the fact that you post about trail etiquette doesn't stop the fact they they will get ruined. it's not the people who are on pink bike reading about this and that who break trails. most kids here have basic common sense and know how to look after a few jump's, even if they aren't theirs. any way's what im trying to say is, its the kids who go and play "cap guns" or the ones who don't bike and want to do something for fun. these kids are the ones who have no etiquette. however the article was good for the ones who may have forgot about basic common sense.
  • 0 0
 not only do i agree with this, i have had it happen to me. in the lot next door to my house! it's 2.5 acres and we have jumps everywhere. went out 4 days ago, half the lips were rolled over until it was a pump track, and many others were chopped down. but i know who the kid that did it is and had a chat with him, i think he knows how to be courteous now....
  • 0 0
 we can barely build anything in pr anymore bvecause of kids thining their good enough but they need to work up like everyone else. everytrail we have is hiden and the ones we make known are known around as do wut u can fix wut u break if u need a walk around and there isnt build it
  • 0 0
 I love the jumps in our town, i hate when kids and do it so they send the lip and table it by using the dirt from a bigger jump. At the same time you should have a smaller set if its in the open because then every one can ride something. help build the jumps but make sure you don't block other sets / run ins. The #1 rule is have fun, be safe and ride with respect!
  • 0 0
 i had my local jump flatend twice now and you say to the council theres non around so we desided to biuld in sectret locations like in back feilds and forests........................this article was great we need more dj ones so keep um coming!
  • 0 0
 Hey does anyone know what jumps I should put? I have a 20 acre weird field in the middle of a forest completely hidden right beside a river I have access to unlimited dirt but all I can use is a shovel... I am looking for a more intermidiate track with burms and jumps with gaps around 10 feet any ideas on how to make this?
  • 0 0
 Yeah I agrea with this basic guide. I'm looking to build a trail this summer and hopin no1 comes and messes it up. The dirst jumps in the don valley have a nice general rule...most people who ride them help build/maintain them.
  • 0 1
 dude those rules r good every biker shud live up to them. when u talked about them it made me think of 911 and how it got torren down because of the stupid little shit rider that cant ride worth shit. another tip for shity rider is if u dont ride a brand name bike like norco, specilized, transition and etc dont ride big jumps cuz ur bike isn't ment for it and u cant do them.
  • 1 0
 Thanks for the good feedback guys, It's a simple set of rules that will hopefully help people work together and get sets of trails way better all over!
  • 0 0
 yeah... i had my trail torn down cuz some kid hit a tree while he was riding on them with a dirtbike... then they built houses where they used to be... i want my trails back!!
  • 0 0
 Riders respect!! kids who think they are riders arnt riders, so dont ride the trails, 'riders who ride, ride with love, and the world will turn with no problems' much love good article
  • 0 0
 i agree too, i built a jump and its been torn down like 8 times. as a biker you cant build anywhere without it being torn down unless its in yourbackyard or in some deeply hidden area
  • 0 0
 yeah i absolutely hate that. theres absolutely nowhere good here to ride within like 5k so yeah a few times i found something and was like !!!!! and then there gone next month i go..
  • 1 2
 there should be another one.
if some bmx'ers (in the northeast of england for example) have spent 3 years building the biggest dirt jumps in the country and keeping them secret dont turn up on your mountain bikes with your digital camera and put pictures and directions up on pinkbike. tossers.
  • 0 1
 read the last comment bud.. no reason to turn this section into a blame game
  • 0 1
 it seems to me the point of dudes article isnt saying what you can and cant do its whats possible if you dont act like asses simply because you can, I dont see why anyone would have a problem with trying to elevate respect maybe you should read the article again and then again
  • 1 2
 I agree with the article's message and feel that the issue certainly needs drumming home, however the use of examples is verging on comical:

Example; when someone says something that is relevant and useful but then reiterates it in a patronising way that is trying to be funny but just isn't and so ends up being detrimental to the impact of the original message

I see what the guy is attempting to do; relate our trail behaviour with that of our everyday lives in a bid to highlight the unacceptability of all too common trail misbehaviour, but the reality is that the examples don't bring anything new to any of the issues.

Sure praise the subject matter but not the way in which the article has been written.For such an established site I'd expect a better quality of article.
  • 0 2
 ?? If it is a public trail, anyone can ride it. If you don't own the land, you can't tell others to stay off it. I don't know too many bikers with cash to own enough land to build a trail. So, if you build it, they will come. That is just a part of biking.
  • 1 0
 It doesn't have to be, that's the kind of attitude that gets jumps torn down. It's simple morals, not fighting the system.
  • 0 0
 you have a point but this article is great for just making you think about respecting other peoples work-consider yourself lucky if where you live you can build trails/jumps where Im at the Forestry Service will literally pull guns on you for building trails they own almost all of the good land and can press some serious charges even for clearing brush to make a trail-Great article for all levels of riders!
  • 0 4
flag barni (Feb 14, 2007 at 14:55) (Below Threshold)
 It's funny coz this to me is just common sense. I totally agree with RoyalLegion, if it's not their land in the first place then it's not up to them to say whos allowed to ride it or not. I respect peoples work anyway, surley if your riding it then your thankful to the people that have built it and would'nt ever dream of doing any harm to it. If your dumb enough to build jumps or a trail where little grommets are going to find them then you have no sympathy from me when they get torn down.
  • 2 0
 I'm not saying what people can and can't do, and most likely a majority of people wont listen to this write up because "it's never their own fault" but you could atleast help pick up a shovel and do some work. Yes it's not their land, and yes you're allowed to go wherever you want.. but atleast show some respect.. people put in a lot of hours to build jumps for them to ride.. and you go in and use their facilitys.. it's just like how you pay for a lift ticket at whistler.. you gotta pay for what they've build.. your comments are the reason why people chain off jumps
  • 0 0
 if your gonna build a trail anywhere specially if its on an old hikers trail build lots of walk arounds only way to save your trail
  • 1 0
 i don't mind if people on bikes ride the trail but not retarted dirt bikers that leave foot wide ruts
  • 0 0
 ahhh yeah shrew.
can we please get chased by hawks again this year after the out door show?
  • 0 0
 Good article Drew! Looking foward to your knowledge up at my new place for BC's best pump track!!! :0)
  • 0 0
 and i quote 'arguing on the internet is like running in the special olympics, even if u win your still retarted'
  • 0 0
 Sweet artcle maybe if everyone listened it would be a better world. Thanx.
  • 0 1
 KEEP ARTICLES LIKE THIS COMING!!!!!!!EVEN IF ONLY ONE KID GETS IT THATS ONE MORE SESSION TO BE HAD WITHOUT THE FRUSTRATION OF CLUELESS PEOPLE DAMAGING YOUR HARD WORK!
  • 0 0
 who is the author of this im doing some shit for school someone help me out and reply today or tomorrow
  • 1 0
 one thumb up
  • 1 0
 i love the jumps.
  • 0 0
 that is totaly what i was trying to say
  • 0 0
 I completely agree with every single word in this article.
  • 0 0
 Great article!!!
  • 0 1
 amen to that!!

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