Authorizing Recreation Mountain Bike Trails on Provincial Crown Land: Operational Policy


Recreational mountain biking is an important activity to BC’s residents, and is also an activity that attracts a large number of tourists to the province.  Trails used by mountain bikers must be constructed and modified with authorization of the province according to the Forest Range and Practices Act.  This process allows for considerable assessment of the location, safety, interference with other resource users such as First Nations and tenure holders, and environmental impacts of the proposed trail. Unfortunately, the overwhelming extent of trails throughout the province dictates that unauthorized trail construction happens frequently with little regulation. As a result, non-registered trails will often violate one or more of the screening requirements.  It is therefore the goal of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) to review existing, unauthorized trails as well as to authorize the construction of new trails provided that the new trails: are properly located, are safe, do not result in  environmental damage or user conflicts; are reviewed in collaboration with First Nations, tenure holders, and other stakeholders; and are properly maintained with long-term management in place.

Policy Goals and Strategy

The four main policy objectives of MFLNRO’s screening process for mountain bike trail authorization are:

  1. Public safety surrounding and on the mountain bike trail is not threatened by the presence or activity of mountain bike
  2. No user conflicts exist over the trail or the area in which the trail is situated
  3. No environmental damage occurs due to construction or use of the trail by mountain bike riders
  4. New trails and old trail modifications are approved only after thorough assessment that there are no impacts to First Nations, tenure holders, stake holders, environmental impacts and saftey issues.

The main strategy of MFLNRO is to collaborate with mountain bike clubs and other local organizations in order to provide direction for creation, use, maintenance and development of mountain bike trails.  These collaborations will be in the form of partnership agreements that allow FLNRO to ensure public safety, user conflict avoidance, First Nations and stakeholder approval, and environmental stewardship regarding the trails and their surrounding areas. MFLNRO also holds the right to remove any unauthorized trails or facilities that violate these policy objectives.

Policy Goals

The overarching theme of the Mountain Bike Trails Operational Policy is to confirm that all authorized trail construction or modification complies with the objectives of public safety assurance, user conflict mitigation, First Nations and stakeholder approval, and environmental protection.

Application for Mountain Bike Trail Construction or Modification

Construction of new trails or modification of old trails must be authorized by MFLNRO via an application process.  To be eligible to apply for trail construction/modification authorization, the interested party must be a registered organization such as a First Nation organization or a non-profit organization. Individuals not applying through an organization are only permitted to apply for short-term trail maintenance or rehabilitation projects.  Proposed trail development in areas not part of a pre-existing trail system will be prohibited unless stated otherwise by a local land and resource management plan which explicitly elucidates the opportunities and locations for trail development. The proponent submitting the proposal must also show support from the local trail community and agree to, and provide the competence for, the responsibility of long-term trail management.

Where Trail Agreements Are Not Possible

Should FLNRO become aware of unauthorized trails for which no individual or group is available for long-term management, the District Recreation Officer of MFLNRO will assess the trail for the following criteria:

  • The Trail must be in an appropriate location
  • The Trail must be popular with local recreational users
  • The Trail must not contain TTFs
  • The Trail must not jeopardize public safety, user conflict, First Nations or stakeholder land use, or environmental integrity
  • The Trail must be manageable by BC Recreation Sites and Trails under their present budget

If all of these criteria are met, the trail with be officially registered and established under the Province’s official network of recreation trails.  If any of the criteria are not met, the District Recreation Officer holds the right to modify the trail in order to address concerns.  Necessary actions may include removing TTFs, restoring environmental areas, or prohibiting mountain bike use on the trail.


The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations produced this operational policy in an effort to address concerns regarding the increased mountain bike activity in the province.  This policy will be the most effective management tool in ensuring four important factors are monitored for impact by mountain bike trail users: public safety, environmental integrity, First Nations and stakeholder approval, and user conflicts.

  • Source Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Ressource Operations. Authorizing Recreational Mountain Bike Trails on Provincial Crown Land. Revised – May 2013. Available at : [Accessed 03/2021].