How We Talk About Other Trail Users

I was just reading the DaMinion thread and it brought up something that bothers me and I’m concerned is actually detrimental to the end game of more people on bikes and more places to ride. I’ve noticed a trend on how other trail users are communicated about on the forum. There are a lot of default blaming dog walkers/hikers/trail runners for changes to the trails or anything about a trail use that isn’t up to par.

None of us like being blamed for poor behaviour of mountain bikers at trail heads yet the status quo around here is to default blame other users for anything that is unliked on a trail.

The reality is that McRun has opened up trails to a lot of new people and covid has brought even more people to the woods than ever before. We need these people if we want more sanctioned trails built around the city. We need trail users in general. This consistent “us vs them” isn’t constructive and it feeds community resentment. It feels a lot like the dude who went off about the ages of people using McIntosh Run on facebook not that long ago.

How we talk about other trail users here on the forum or at a trail head or at the bar impacts how mountain bikers are perceived in the community. Words matter. Especially when you don’t actually know who’s listening and paying attention.

Right now we have a lot of extra work to do in building good relationships with our communities (I’m thinking of McRun specifically, but it goes for all trail systems in any community). We’re not seen favourably by a lot of people - rightly or wrongly it doesn’t matter. Point is, we need to go above and beyond to be respectful of others and when a trail change or something is noticed immediately blaming a group of “others” when the facts are completely unknown just sucks.

Anyway, rant over - just wanted this off my chest. Thanks for reading.

(Signed a trail runner & hiker & dog walker who is also a mountain biker and is really over the lumping of people together as the “problem” with trails in the area.)


… no coherent argument here just some thoughts …

Many if us fit into multiple groups. I’m a dog walker, hiker and at one point geocacher.

There are always some people critical of other groups.

Any statement of opinion into a crowd will offend someone. (rightly, wrongly, intentional or not)

MTBers argue among ourselves about a rock on a trail that was moved for frigs sakes!

It does bother me when one group decides that they have a right to a trail system but group X shouldn’t be allowed here.

Another factor may be that groups don’t share each others values: some want quiet nature, some want a smooth ride, some want no one else to be there.

Not all dog walkers leave bags of feces hanging in trees with no intention of picking them up. The ones that do give the whole group a bad name.

Some people really dislike mountain bikers. Not everyone.

Access to nature is something we need to share in harmony. Divided we fall… or rather the trees fall and condos rise.


Even though you may think we are eluding to other physically active groups at Whooper, far from it. The main culprit tends to have 2-3 or 4 wheels and a throttle.

So don’t think we are shitting on certain groups. That’s the main group. They tend to leave their beer cans everywhere as well.


My comments came from direct quotes blaming other physically active user groups. I didn’t drop links to them cause I didn’t want to call attention to anyone commenting in particular.

And honestly, it’s not just a whopper thing. That’s the convo that brought it to mind again, but it’s sentiments I’ve heard freely expressed here and in other places.

I’m not trying to accuse people (maybe I came off too harsh), it’s as much a reminder to myself as anyone else. We can all check ourselves.


Thanks, @Sarah. This is a good reminder. For sure there are some trail users that cause frustrations. Those that litter, those that damage trails and structures. Recently at Nine Mile, we had a trail marker post go missing. Someone pulled it out and threw it in the woods. Couldn’t figure why someone would do that.

Sometimes when doing trail management or design, people talk about users as a class - e.g. hikers tend to cut corners, mountain bikers tend to avoid mud and widen trail, moto users tend to dig mudholes, and then need to think about trail design and construction accordingly. We should remember to be respectful and not snobby, especially when we’re talking about multi-use trail.


As someone who posted in that thread, I don’t really see which statement triggered your thoughts to be completely honest.

Question for you though Sara, are you aware of any trail running groups? Or personnel that are actively involved in building trails? Helping maintain them? Has the trail running community been involved in the development of Mac Run at all?

In no way is any of this meant to be condescending, or an attempt to call you out. I am actually curious.

I love trail running, but do it solo mostly and am not really involved with any other aspects of it.


Hey Chris - Yes aware of MANY trail running groups in the city. I usually trail run alone or with friends rather than with a formal crew too, just my style but I’m happy to give you recos if you’re looking for a crew. Also yes, very aware of active trail building groups and people that are active in maintaining them - and yes, these groups extend beyond the mountain bike community and are often generous to include the mountain bike community when it comes to engagement and the hopes of saving areas from construction development and having them become sustainable sanctioned trails or wilderness areas. I know (myself & family included) many trail runners who have given time at Mac Run and trail running groups that promote build days or volunteer in different ways - they may not have announced themselves but it would be false to say that only the mtn bike community is investing in the system.


Yes, Mac Run receives love from all aforementioned groups.

However Sarah, I know all these groups don’t put time in at Whooper. The only changes going on out there are from the MTB community in terms of any maintenance or building.

Just saying.

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I’m not arguing that others are pitching in at Whopper. I’m simply saying we don’t need to be crass in how we talk about other user groups.

I would also likely suggest no one else has ever been approached to help at Whopper or feel like they have the authority to pitch in or know even where to begin. So it’s a bit off write people off when an invitation hasn’t been extended.


I also think people would 100% pitch in if they knew they could be useful or how to be helpful.

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I can attest specifically to North End Runners hosting their own trail-build/maintenance days at McIntosh Run; not just NER folks attending a session, but their own specific “we as a group are hosting a day” build. I know a few other bikers who are also trail runners who I have personally seen at build sessions. Plus there’s Sarah herself who’s a trail runner, and I know she’s brought other trail runners (and beginner bikers) to build sessions as well. Again, at McIntosh Run, likely because they’re the only sanctioned trails in Halifax. (I don’t count Brunello here, since those trails are on private land and to my knowledge do not invite volunteers to work in the system.)

Further to that, two of the biggest volunteers at McIntosh Run sessions, one of whom was also part of the paid crew for a while, are hikers who don’t bike. At all. In another thread, a few of us have mentioned working with non-bikers who are running for council in District 11 and have dedicated some of their time to working on the trails.

So to the question, do non-MTB’ers help build trail? Absolutely. If we all work together and show how much these trails are used and appreciated across multiple ages, genders, and disciplines, then the better it is for all of us to help get more sanctioned trails built. :slight_smile:


Great, and from my perspective that culture is whats going to change the outlook Sarah brought up to the general mtb population.

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I hope so. We’ve all got way more in common than we have that’s different.

My kids will yell “BIKE RACK” every time we see one on a vehicle and sometimes will say “that car has no bike rack. They don’t know bikes are fun. (And inevitably) Why they don’t know bikes are fun?” And honestly, that’s kinda the attitude I’ve started to take with trail users. They fall into two categories - those who know bikes are fun and those who haven’t figured it out yet. And we’re all just out here trying to do our bit to help more people realize bikes are fun and the people who ride them are fun. :wink:


I’m not sure on the subject of this thread why who works on the trail matters, unless it’s just curiousity. All trail users should be considered and treated with respect. I do think when people volunteer (thinking especially of those that have caused damage to a trail, intentionally or unintentionally) for trail work, they develop an appreciation of the thought, care, and effort that goes into a trail.


I usually post here on the forum when I plan to go out. I’ve yet to have anyone join me.

Don’t think I don’t share in these other groups as well. I hike, run and cycle. We all wear different hats. I take it upon myself to or chat with some of the leaders here on the forum about any work I engage in. But at the end of the day Whooper is unsanctioned and it’s use at your own risk. Work put in today could be wasted tomorrow, that’s the chance we take.

So like your little rant, some of us get frustrated and rant here on the forum. I really don’t think there is as much ill intention as you elude to.

End of rant!

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We all agree to agree we just can’t agree on how to agree


Well it was just curiosity, however I believe if you are an avid trail user of any kind. You should somehow be giving back to the trails. There are countless examples of this.

I know the “no dig no ride” mantra would probably trigger some folk and 100% offend a lot of people, but from my experience, NS is pretty far behind with that concept compared to a place like NFLD.
We are for sure light years ahead then we were even 5 years ago, but lets be honest. How many people were out building trails before that, vs the people using them. But I believe we are on the right path 100%.

But as far as respect for anyone goes, ya absolutely. Give it until its not deserved.

I will close by saying, I always find it amusing when I come across hikers or people walking animals, who are legit blown away by these mystical machines riding on trails they thought grew there naturally.


I agree with @Rockhopper that every user deserves respect unless they are trashing the trails etc.

I used to believe the myth that “only MTBers do much trailwork”, but my experience now is that there are saints and sluggards in every user group.

At McIntosh Run there have been 1000s of hours of labour by hikers, runners, dogwalkers, highschool kids, Scouts, conservation groups like CWF and Ducks, and corporate work groups that included people who have probably never even been on singletrack before. If you haven’t been to bunch of volunteer sessions, you might not realize that.

The work of hikers, birdwatchers, etc… is also a major reason why all of the land up to Flat Lake wasn’t blasted into smithereens for a larger subdivision. And non-MTBers contributed time for years to developing a landuse agreement that now permits us to ride and build singletrack on what is now a city park.

I remind myself every day I’m out there, building or riding, to be grateful to non-MTBers. And MTBers :wink:


I knew there were other users assisting, but only recently learned that from Mr Pike. Great stuff, the future is bright.

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Those deer paths sure grew in unique and fun ways! :wink: