Managing Informal Mountain Bike Trails – December 2019

13th January 2020


In early December 2019, Sport Northern Ireland and Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland hosted a Visitor Safety Group Seminar at Tollymore National Outdoor Centre focusing on Managing Informal Mountain Bike Trails.

Delegates from across the United Kingdom and Ireland shared their experiences through a range of expert presentations and a site visit to Castlewellan Forest Park.

Mountain bikers are increasingly seeking new challenges and as a result there has been a growth in the number of mountain bike trails constructed without the permission of land owners / managers.

This has been heightened by modern mountain bike design and GPS tracking platforms. This has resulted in a range of challenges including multi-user conflict, creation of potentially dangerous hazards and negative environmental impacts.

The seminar was developed to:

  • Gain the mountain biker’s perspective – why informal mountain bike trails are important
  • Outline the issues for land owners / managers
  • Outline models for engagement and managing informal trails – how land managers and mountain bikers can work together to potentially find solutions.



Michael Cowan – Chain Reaction Cycles
A Mountain Biker’s Perspective


Barbara Fleming-Ovens & Matthew Bushby – Newry Mourne and Down District Council and Mourne Heritage Trust
A local perspective


Bob Campbell & Dave Liddy – Natural Resource Wales
A Welsh perspective – Informal MTB Trail Management


John Ireland – Forestry and Land Scotland 
A Scottish perspective


Mark Torisus – IMBA Europe (International Mountain Bicycling Association)
DIRTT Project- The path to sustainable mountain bike trails in Europe