National Parks

Visitor Activity Guidelines

Mountain Biking

Printable version (PDF, 163 Kb)

Date of Approval: August 2010

Description of Activity

Mountain Biking (le vélo de montagne): is an activity which consists of riding bicycles off-road, often over rough terrain, using specially adapted bikes. Typically mountain bikers ride on dirt, gravel or natural surface trails. Trails may be multiple-use or specifically designed for mountain biking. Trail width is variable from wide gravel roads to narrow paths where riders must travel in single file.

National Direction

Parks Canada approves mountain biking at the national level in accordance with the following national guidelines. While mountain biking is approved at the national level, the activity may not be approved at all Parks Canada locations. In places where this activity is approved, additional guidelines may be created in order to meet location-specific needs.

Activity Guidelines

General Conditions
  • Cross country will be the principal form of mountain biking offered in national heritage places.

  • Mountain biking will only be offered on trails that have been approved and identified by Parks Canada and will adhere to applicable zoning policies and regulations.

  • Parks Canada will not offer downhill-specific trails for mountain biking due to visitor safety concerns and potential wildlife conflicts.

  • Participants will use existing roads to access areas where mountain biking is offered.

  • Resource inventories, assessments and monitoring will inform trail selection and ongoing management of mountain biking as necessary.

  • Safety, risk and liability will be considered during local assessment processes and throughout the ongoing management of mountain biking.

  • Educational messaging related to the national heritage place and activity-specific etiquette and safety information will be incorporated into the mountain biking offer.

  • National trail guidance (guidelines, standards etc.) is available for enabling the design, construction and management of trails that support mountain biking.

  • Technical trail features1 (TTFs) will be designed in a way that respect the heritage area’s character of place and will appeal to different skill levels.

  • TTFs can be created using existing natural features, enhanced natural features or engineered / human-made structures:
    1. The use of existing natural features2 can occur in zones 2, 3, 4, and 5 in national parks.

    2. The use of enhanced of natural features3 can only occur in zones 3, 4, and 5 in national parks.

    3. The use of engineered or human-made structures4 can only occur in bike parks and in zones 3, 4 and 5 in national parks. Higher maintenance, cost and liability must be taken into account when considering their addition to a trail or bike park.

    4. TTFs will be considered in other national protected heritage areas on a case by case basis.

  • The design, construction, operation and maintenance of TTFs must adhere to applicable industry standards and codes as necessary.

  • Bike parks5 can only occur in zones 4 and 5 in national parks and can be considered on a case-by-case basis in other heritage areas.

  • When choosing a location for a bike park, priority will be given to locations with existing supporting infrastructure and to disturbed sites.

  • Management of bike parks will preferably be assumed by a third party, who must obtain appropriate permits, licenses and adequate liability insurance.

  • Commercial operators offering mountain biking opportunities must be well versed in Parks Canada’s mandate and will work with Parks Canada to provide necessary information and messaging to participants.

  • Parks Canada Ski Area Management Guidelines and ski area specific site guidelines will govern decisions related to mountain biking at ski areas.

Definitions

1. Technical Trail Features: are obstacles or design elements on a mountain biking trail that improve trail flow or add difficulty in order to challenge the skill of trail users. TTFs are an important part of mountain biking trails and are meant to enhance the mountain biking experience. Typically, a mountain biker has the option to ride or bypass a TTF. Works constructed solely for the purpose of enhancing trail safety or access (e.g. a bridge crossing a stream) or to ensure ecological or commemorative integrity are not considered TTFs.

2. Natural Feature: Incorporated natural features that are already in existence in the location. Makes use of rock slabs, boulders, rock gardens, and fallen trees as control points in the layout of the trail.

3. Enhanced Natural Feature: Manipulated natural materials: moving rocks, logs to create drop-offs, rock gardens, boulder rides, log pyramids and log rides.

4. Engineered or Human-Made: Constructed structures: includes ladder bridges, wooden ramps, teeter-totters, etc. These structures often require artificial materials such as processed lumber and fasteners.

5. Bike Parks: are generally a variety of natural obstacles such as rocks and logs, constructed features such as ladder bridges, pumptracks and mounds of dirt for jumping over, all arranged in a controlled and defined area. Bike parks are designed to offer unique features that build skill and confidence and cater to a variety of styles and levels of ability of mountain biking.

Special Thanks

Parks Canada wishes to thank everyone who participated in the consultation to develop these guidelines.

These guidelines are subject to change in response to future market trends and to the evolution of technical elements related to the activities.


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