Biking Etiquette and Safety Along the Bitterroot Trail

The Bitterroot Trail is a multi-use, paved trail in western Montana that stretches from Missoula to Hamilton along Highway 93, a four-lane highway. Between Hamilton and Darby, there is no trail, but there are wide shoulders. Vehicles enter and exit the highway on roads and driveways that intersect with the trail. These tips will help you and others stay safe, courteous, and legal while biking, walking, and enjoying this spectacular trail.

Be Safe

Riding a bike for recreation on a relatively flat trail is not a dangerous activity. However, you will be operating a machine and interacting with other people, so it is good to take some time to consider safety. Remember, you are responsible for your own safety.

  • Make sure your bike is in safe-operating condition before your trip. Click here to download the checklist.
  • Be predictable – stay to the right side of the trail, obey signs, use signals.
  • Use lights at night and dawn/dusk – white in the front and red in the back.
  • Consider wearing light colored/reflective clothing and a properly-fitted helmet.
  • Hearing is important. Avoid using headphones/ear buds or at least keep one ear open.
  • Don’t assume drivers see you – make eye contact before crossing in front of a stopped car.

Be Legal

Montana state law grants bicyclists all of the rights and responsibilities of drivers. It also grants bicyclists the rights and responsibilities of pedestrians when using sidewalks, trails, and crosswalks. If you follow the advice to be safe and courteous, you will be legal as well. Obey all signs and signals, including Stop and Yield signs along the trail.

Be Courteous

We are all ambassadors for bicycling. Help build and maintain good will with all trail users and community members you encounter on your trip.

  • Keep to the right side of the trail regardless of your activity (cycling, walking, rollerblading, horseback riding, etc.) and pass on the left when oncoming traffic allows.
  • Slow down when passing people. Give them an audible signal – either by voice or a bell.
  • The trail is for everyone. It might not be the best place to ride like a world-class sprinter.
  • Make purchases when stopping to use restrooms at stores along the way.
  • Yield to fellow trail enthusiasts according to this sign:

Bitterroot Trail Partners

  • A special thank you to