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  1. #1
    drunken pirate
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    Should mountain bikes be granted access to more existing trails in WNC?

    I wonder about this a lot. What do you think - Should mountain bikes be granted access to more existing trails in WNC?
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  2. #2
    Category Winner
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    Yes...

    as long as we tax the nude in my bed.


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  3. #3
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    I don't know if more trails should be open to mountain bikes but I definitely think more trails should be open to rollerblading.


  4. #4
    Big Mac
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    Yes.

  5. #5
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    Is this a trick question?

  6. #6
    drunken pirate
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    Not a trick question. I probably should have elaborated more in the initial post...

    Obviously the answer is that yes, there are some trails that should be opened to bikes but there are some that are just not suitable for mountain bikes.

    Some trails, like Chestnut Cove in Bent Creek absolutely should be opened to bikes. I can't imagine why bikes are not allowed on that trail.

    Others, like Bad Fork, which is currently hike only but has mountain bikers as the main user group on it, might be better if the designation was changed to allow for bikes. That way other users would know to expect bikes and the trail could be maintained to support bikes.

    Outside of the PRD there are dozens of trails I think would make for excellent mountain biking. Some, like a lot of the Wilson's Creek area, are already widely used by mtbs while other more remote and less known trails have not yet landed on mtb radar. It is these trails that I am torn over. Often when I am on them (on foot) I think about how great it would be to ride (and push) my bike on them. But then I think about how changing the designations and increasing bicycle traffic would inadvertently change the nature and character of the trail. What is now a pristine 8" ribbon of true single track would widen. Braiding would increase. The rate of erosion would accelerate and more maintenance would be required. And we currently can't maintain what we already have. So, I'm not too sure.....

    Select trails should remain hiking only. Our Wilderness should remain machine free. The Art Loeb should be left for hiker's only to enjoy. Sometimes things are just better on foot.... But as I look at my GSMNP map and the 800 miles of trail there that are bike free I can't help but wonder if it might be a good thing if some of those trails were opened to mountain bike use...
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  7. #7
    Fence guru
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    nope bikes should be allowed on anything ... ride them on my grave IDGAF

  8. #8
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    Chestnut Cove is a unique circumstance. Woodman and I beat that horse dead with the previous ranger. At a large public meeting, it was stated it would be open to bikes after it was re-worked. This change did not happen; the logic given was that by changing the designation on this short .25 mile section of trail that had been re-worked, by machine, to be usable by all user groups, the ranger would have to be open to changing designations that were also being pushed right then, specifically opening all of Squirrel to horses. Whatever- talk about comparing apples to carburetors. I'd like to see this re-considered in the Trail Evaluation...

    Otherwise, there are several trails that are either non-system or system trails that are not in wilderness and on which the primary user group is mtb-ers. All of these should be reviewed.

    I absolutely agree that some trails, especially legacy and wilderness trails, should be hiker only. I'm sorry, but it's a different and valuable experience to be in the woods where foot travel is all that is happening. That option needs to exist for people and if you can't understand that, sorry, I can't understand your perspective either.

  9. #9
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    The main reason the FS gave at the time for not opening Chestnut Cove to bikes was they did not want to address trail use on a one trail at a time basis but instead wanted to do a holistic approach and refereed to some trail planning process in the future. That planning process has turned into a just another failed FS in the minds of many who participated in the public planning meetings, and no real product is in sight.

  10. #10
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    There are so many trails that would be wonderful to ride in GSMNP! Trails so good they would eclipse Pisgah! I've always wondered why bikes are not allowed.

  11. #11
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    Wouldn't it b cool

    I've hiked a lot in the cataloochee valley and it would be some great biking! Horses and hiking are permitted but not bikes. It would be a great place to ride! Bikes couldn't do as much damage there as what I've seen the horses do. My opinion only...

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by thor34 View Post
    I've hiked a lot in the cataloochee valley and it would be some great biking! Horses and hiking are permitted but not bikes. It would be a great place to ride! Bikes couldn't do as much damage there as what I've seen the horses do. My opinion only...
    I will agree with this.

    I understand foot traffic only trails but I can't understand why a trail would be open to horse traffic and not bike traffic.

  13. #13
    thecentralscrutinizer
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjlued View Post
    I will agree with this.

    I understand foot traffic only trails but I can't understand why a trail would be open to horse traffic and not bike traffic.
    It's probably not an impact issue...it's about horses being spooked probably. Personally, I've met enough horse-people that I'd prefer not to share a trail while riding. JMO
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  14. #14
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    I agree with your feelings about a lot of horse people but their are plenty of trails that allow all three so I can't see why the possibility of spooking them allows them on the trails and not bikes.

    There are two reasons to not allow something on the trail. One is to keep the "valuable experience to be in the woods where foot travel is all that is happening" as Mike Brown said and the other is to keep the impact on the trail low.

    Not only does horse traffic have a higher impact on the trail, they would also ruin the valuable foot traffic experience more then bike.

    BTW, what we think about a lot of horse people they feel the same about us.
    I know quite a few and have heard horror stories of rude bikers.
    I also see it with their huge look of surprise when I ask them for permission to pass and/or dismount the bike at the first sign of nervousness.

  15. #15
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    "Bikes couldn't do as much damage there as what I've seen the horses do. My opinion only..."

    Not just your opinion, that is also what all research says. Below are some of the factors we look at when predicting the impacts of any given user group on trails and the natural areas they traverse:

    Average combined weight of trail user (horse with rider, mtn bike with rider, hiker with loaded backpack) Amount of surface area of user in contact with the trail tread (PSI).

    Hardness of the contact area of trail user in relation with trail tread surface (shod hoof, hiking boots, running shoes, tires)

    Alternating contact or consistent contact between user and trail surface

    Relative speed of travel modality and consistency of speeds travele (acceleration/deceleration, speed carried into turns, momentum forces)

    Distances traveled

    Relative amount of users in any given user group

    Duration of stay

    Physics of propulsion ( how do the different users propel themselves forward on flats and uphill and how do they resist gravity on downhill)

  16. #16
    drunken pirate
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    Interesting about Chestnut Cove. I do think that it is time to reconsider a lot of trail designations in the forests in our region, not just single trails, but there needs to be a way to get the process going for no brainer trails like Chestnut Cove...

    Directly attached to this issue is Poaching. When trails that are perfectly suitable for mtbs are not open to bikes riders ride them anyway. Just like non system trails as well. I think my stance on poaching is evolving these days. Maybe it isn't quite so bad to ride some trails that are not opened to bikes? Not all trails by any means, but some? Why not ride Chestnut Cove? It isn't the Art Loeb, MTS or in Wilderness and is perfectly suitable for bikes. Anyone hiking in Bent Creek is expecting bikes anyway.

    And then I wonder which would be better for the more remote and less known trails - keeping them hiking only or changing the designations? If the maps and signs changed more mountain bikers would be bound to explore them and with the increased bike traffic problems would be bound to occur. As I mentioned earlier the tread would widen, braiding would start, erosion would accelerate, more maintenance would be needed, etc. Maybe it is better just to keep those trails as they are and turn a blind eye to the few mountain bikers who ride them?

    And what about Wilson's Creek? Keep it as it is (some sort of Wilderness Study Area, or something) or change the designations and put the trails on the map? I might be leaning towards keep it how it is myself....

    No easy answers.
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  17. #17
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    As far as poaching goes, I am kind of mixed on the idea.
    I understand breaking a rule when the rule is just stupid but in this case, when large amounts people in a group break the rules, it doesn't win favor from the powers that be.

    That being said, mtbr's are the bastard children of the trail system even though it seems they do the most the work to help out on them. Poaching and breaking rules could very easily have a reverse affect and cause additional trail closing.

  18. #18
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    Um, yes.

  19. #19
    thecentralscrutinizer
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjlued View Post
    I agree with your feelings about a lot of horse people but their are plenty of trails that allow all three so I can't see why the possibility of spooking them allows them on the trails and not bikes.

    There are two reasons to not allow something on the trail. One is to keep the "valuable experience to be in the woods where foot travel is all that is happening" as Mike Brown said and the other is to keep the impact on the trail low.

    Not only does horse traffic have a higher impact on the trail, they would also ruin the valuable foot traffic experience more then bike.

    BTW, what we think about a lot of horse people they feel the same about us.
    I know quite a few and have heard horror stories of rude bikers.
    I also see it with their huge look of surprise when I ask them for permission to pass and/or dismount the bike at the first sign of nervousness.
    I'm reasonably sure user conflicts play into the decision making process at some point...it can't be based solely on physical impacts.

    I do agree that the conflicts are a two sided deal as well. I've had too many close encounters with people who can't control their animals.
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  20. #20
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    No kidding

    As a whole, I think mountain bikers are generally the most courteous people I encounter on the trails and horse people have been the rudest people so far. Hikers/runners just seem to fall somewhere in between.

    That being said, you could argue that they are being nicer because I am also on a bike but I have noticed this while hiking too. Also, I don't really count hikers too much as some of them are outdoor people and some are people that just decided that would be the day they went out for a walk.

    On the flip side, even though mountain bikers are generally the most courteous that I have encountered, there are a few of them that I have seen pull the biggest ****** bag stunts I have ever seen. They are few and far between which tells you it is a case of the few bad apples ruining it for everyone.

  21. #21
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    I've always thought mountain bikers should be more proactive about access issues. It seems most times we are on the defensive from the wilderness coalition types. But know your adversary and get the land manager on your side. If you lose an access fight, the tolerated poachers might be driven away.

    To a poster above, in areas where mountain bikers are prohibited and horses not, usually the distinction is that a horse is not "mechanized."

  22. #22
    drunken pirate
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pisgah View Post
    I've always thought mountain bikers should be more proactive about access issues. It seems most times we are on the defensive from the wilderness coalition types. But know your adversary and get the land manager on your side.
    It seems to me like the emphasis in mountain bike advocacy these days is for new trails to be built, not to try to gain access to existing trails. While new trails are a good thing that approach seems a little backwards to me. It takes a whole lot more resources to build a new trail than it does to maintain an existing one. And if mountain bikers are already the primary user group on such existing trails why not fight for legal access?

    If you lose an access fight, the tolerated poachers might be driven away.
    Excellent point. If we fight to make Wilson's Creek bike legal and lose the FS LEOs might decide it is time to shut it all down....

    To a poster above, in areas where mountain bikers are prohibited and horses not, usually the distinction is that a horse is not "mechanized."
    Is that the reason for the designations in GSMNP? I'm completely ignorant on that. Wilderness areas are a no brainer, but I'm assuming there are machines in GSMNP.


    Quote Originally Posted by kjlued
    ]That being said, mtbr's are the bastard children of the trail system even though it seems they do the most the work to help out on them.
    I'm curious as to where this belief comes from. I hear it all the time from mountain bikers but never from other user groups. In fact, most hikers I know ask what we mountain bikers do to maintain trails. I was recently asked by CMC members on Black what we are doing for that trail. Kind of hard to claim that we do more than them when they are building and maintaining the MTS and maintaining the AT in WNC....
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  23. #23
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    Forest Planning Meetings

    FYI: The USFS is beginning a round of planning meetings to guide the management of the forest (Pisgah / Nantahala) for the next fifteen years. If you are interested in being heard on this issue, now may be a good time.

    There's an article on the Mtn Xpress website - maybe someone else can post the link - I can't.
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  24. #24
    ready to ride
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    Short answer is yes. As you though I do have some reservations about opening access up for certain trails. Something is to be said that you must hike it in on foot to appreciate the rewards. However lots of those same places allow horses. Personally I feel that if the trails allows horses it should allow bikes. I think "tradition" is a big reason that equestrians are allowed but in this day and age I feel that the numbers of citizens who wish to use public lands should be taken into consideration.

    I too am somewhat amazed about the IMBA /SORBAs stance on trail access or rights. From what I have seen it is all about trail building or repair and less on on saying hey, we are millions strong and spend billions on the sport. That is all fine and good but the maintenance tact is but one they should be taking in my humble opinion. Look at the organizations like Ducks Unlimited,Trout Unlimited, and the NRA. Doing work on the ground is only one facet. As important as it may be they should also be putting as many if not more resources lobbying out politicians. You can bend the ear of local rangers all you want in regards to what local users wish they could do on certain trails. However you talk dollars and cents to elected officials and get the backing from industry leaders and manufacturers then we might see some change in land use equality.

    With that said, watershed and water quality should always trump all. Though as I already said in most cases equestrians are allowed to erode banks and cross streams in sensitive areas. Makes you wonder. I guess it takes flagrant abuse such as ORV riders and Tellico, and then only with TU raising a stink that something changes.

    In regards to the GSMNP, I think most of the reason is tradition. Traditionally horses have been allowed because equestrians screamed well that's how my ancestors got there. I think bikes have always been lumped together with mechanical travel such as ATVs. Apparently the superintendents have recently been given a lot of leeway in regards to trail usage rights.
    New Rule May Open More National Park Routes to Mountain Bikes

    While I have mixed feelings about biking access to the GSMNP now is probably the time to organize and speak our minds. Is this even on the radar of the IMBA or SORBA?

    Trail maintenance? I have seen a fair number of volunteers from various hiking organizations doing trail work. From what I have seem the majority of that is clearing down trees, scattering fire pits in wilderness areas, and occasionally fortifying a trail section with downed tress etc. Not to discount their work but I haven't personally witnessed them improving the actual trail. Though I am sure they do.

    So yes, I am in favor of more access. I just wish I had more time to explore and utilize all the miles we already have access to.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by driftwood View Post
    Interesting about Chestnut Cove. I do think that it is time to reconsider a lot of trail designations in the forests in our region, not just single trails, but there needs to be a way to get the process going for no brainer trails like Chestnut Cove...
    No easy answers.
    If only we had ONE IOTA of influence over this process on USFS lands, this might be more of a relevant discussion. But didn't this "Trail Strategy" dog and pony show teach us anything?

    On USFS lands, our best option is - as it has always been - slow, incremental change brought on by sustained pressure and support from organized groups like PAS. But the reality is, the whim of a single ranger on a single day can undo decades of progress at any time of their choosing.

    Maybe a better option is to look for opportunities on state, city/county, and private property instead.

    Edit: Oh, and National Parks. That's a Whole Nuther Story, as they say...good luck.

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