Trail Filter Features - What Are They and What is the Purpose?

“A trail filter, sometimes referred to as a gateway or qualifier, is a high-skill-level, low-consequence obstacle that demonstrates the difficulty of the upcoming trail or trail feature.” -Matt Miller (Singletracks)

Miller, M. (2022, March 7). Squirrels Beware: What Exactly is a Filter Feature on MTB Trails?. Singletracks. Retrieved From

Who here has heard of filter features on trails? Better yet, who knows what they are? Trail Filter Features are a relatively new concept in the world of trail building and despite looking dangerous they are put in place to keep people safe and protect land managers from liability. At this point we all know that people generally do not like to read warning signs, so what is going to stop someone from riding something that is beyond their skill level? The answer: Filter Features. In basic terms, a trail filter is a feature or qualifier at the very beginning of a trail intended to make people think before embarking further. These are specifically designed features built into the beginning of a trail intended to warn users of the level of difficulty ahead. In most cases, the filter feature is more difficult than most features further down the line, but are designed to reflect what to expect ahead. Hopefully, this new trail-building technique makes people think twice, keeps people within their skill level, and prevents injuries among mountain bikers everywhere.