The paper examines mountain biking as an increasingly popular adventure recreation activity. Some of its extreme derivatives have been incorporated into international events (e.g. Olympics). We review trends in mountain biking, consider the appropriateness of this activity in public natural areas with a conservation mandate (e.g. national parks, nature reserves) and consider alternative locations. We conclude that (1) mountain biking will continue to increase in popularity; and (2) venues developed in rural areas outside of national parks have provided economic benefits to local communities; but (3) the evidence of social conflict with other users and/or environmental impacts is not clear, mainly because of data limitations. Careful management of natural areas designated for recreation and conservation is required as a precautionary approach. Successful models operate outside of national parks that demonstrate a 'win-win' solution for stakeholders.