Trail degradation caused by mountain biking and hiking: A multi-dimensional analysis

Wei FANG, Sai Leung NG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


Growing demands for on-trail activities have aroused challenges of how to balance outdoor recreation and protected area conservation. Unfortunately, most previous studies have focused on only one or two degradation features, so inconsistent views (i.e., no consensus on impacts induced by hiking and mountain biking) were obtained. This study investigated a mountain biking trail, a hiking trail, and an unmanaged trail in a Hong Kong country park for 1.5 years. Five dimensions of trail degradation, namely Trail Morphometry, Soil Texture, Soil Compaction, Erosion Feature, and Recovery Feature, were identified by Explanatory Factor Analysis. Significant correlations were found between hiking and all five dimensions, while mountain biking was significantly associated only with Trail Morphometry, Erosion Feature, and Recovery Feature. Trail grade and landform grade significantly affected Trail Morphometry, Soil Texture, and Erosion Feature, but trail slope alignment was a null predictor. Hiking caused more severe trail degradation than mountain biking, even after controlling for topography. These findings supplement the existing literature by providing a comprehensive understanding of the multitude of adverse impacts caused by hiking and mountain biking. This study provides a valuable reference for sustainable trail management in protected areas that receive both hikers and mountain bikers. Copyright © 2023 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119801
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Early online dateDec 2023
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


Fang, W., & Ng, S.-L. (2024). Trail degradation caused by mountain biking and hiking: A multi-dimensional analysis. Journal of Environmental Management, 351, Article 119801.


  • Erosion features
  • Landform grade
  • Recovery features
  • Soil compaction
  • Soil texture
  • Trail grade
  • Trail morphometry


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