Bicycle trails encompass a wide variety of trail types, including shared-use paths used for commuting, off road cross country trails and downhill mountain bike trails.
Hikers and Mountainbikers on top of the Drachenfels (Dragons Rock) in the Palatinate Forest, Germany
The number of off road cycle trails has increased significantly, along with the popularity of mountain bikes. Off road bicycle trails are generally function-specific and most commonly waymarked along their route. They may take the form of single routes or form part of larger complexes, known as trail centres. Off road trails often incorporate a mix of challenging terrain, singletrack, smooth fireroads, and even paved paths. Trails with an easy or moderate technical complexity are generally deemed cross-country trails, while trails difficult even to experienced riders are more often dubbed all-mountain, freeride, or downhill. Downhilling is particularly popular at ski resorts such as Mammoth Mountain in California or Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, where ski lifts are used to get bikes and riders to the top of the mountain.
EuroVelo bicycle routes are a network of (currently 14) long-distance cycling routes criss-crossing Europe in various stages of completion, more than 45,000 km (27,962 mi) was in place by 2013. It is envisaged that the network will be substantially complete by 2020 and when finished, the EuroVelo network’s total length will exceed 70,000 km (43,496 mi). EuroVelo is a project of the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF).
EuroVelo routes can be used for bicycle touring across the continent, as well as by local people making short journeys. The routes are made of both existing national bike routes, such as the Dutch LF-Routes, the German D-Routes, and the British National Cycle Network, and existing general purpose roads, together with new stretches of cycle routes to connect them.
Off road cycling can cause soil erosion and habitat destruction if not carried out on established trails. This is particularly so when trails are wet, overall though, cycling may have only as much impact as other trail users.
For more about mountain bike trails go here.