Riding unauthorised trails

Guidance regarding riding unauthorised trails 

We (mountain bikers) ride unauthorised constructed trails, and other paths and tracks, under the rights of responsible access that the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC) affords us. The key elements of SOAC are that mountain bikers, and other access users, take responsibility for themselves and, must always, respect the interests of other people and care for the environment.

As Scotland went into lockdown in mid-March, most purpose built mountain bike trails were closed and landowners/land managers (and ourselves) have been very cautious around specifying if unauthorised trails are open due to the potential for increased pressure on our NHS and other emergency services including mountain rescue.  

However when we moved into Phase 1 of lockdown easing, we were able to confirm that mountain bikers have the right to responsibly access unauthorised trails across Scotland.

Please remember unauthorised trails have low/minimal management and may contain unexpected and very challenging features, they are not for inexperienced riders – now is not the time for risk-taking. It is essential that mountain bikers ride within their limits, only ride trails they have ridden before, and are comfortable riding, and comply with our guidance, the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and Scottish Government guidance.

Further information on responsible mountain biking throughout this crisis can be found here.

Further information on SOAC during Covid-19 can be found here.

Whilst riding unauthorised trails is permitted under SOAC, we would like to take this opportunity to remind our community that constructing trails is not permitted under SOAC. If you are interested in supporting trail development please contact your local Trails Association. You may also be interested in reading the ‘Unauthorised Mountain Bike Trails – A Guide for Mountain Bikers and Land Managers

Purpose Built Trails 

Please see our up to date information on trail centres across Scotland.  This will show you what centres are open, or closed or give you an expected date for reopening,