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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
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    Yes...

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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
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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
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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
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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.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbwnc View Post
    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.
    ,


    I would think that mountain bikers do have some influence in WNC. Much of that area is a mountain bike destination which brings people and money. But you are right, on the national level, all steps are small whether you represent mountain bikers or the wilderness bunch. And you are right again about state and county lands. Those areas are far more open to local changes from local land managers.

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    yes definitely

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    Everybody should believe in something...I BELIEVE I'll have another BEER!!!!

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    Everybody should believe in something...I BELIEVE I'll have another BEER!!!!

  30. #30
    drunken pirate
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    Quote Originally Posted by tnmtnbkr View Post
    Pardon my ignorance but how does Big South Fork relate to this topic?

    I looked at the links you provided and it appears that in that area there are way more trails closed to mtbs than open to them.

    I'll be real honest and come right out and say I am not convinced that IMBA's Model Trails are necessarily the most outstanding trails in any given area. They say Douthat "defines this region of the Appalachian mountains." Douthat might define what IMBA wants the mtb trails in the region to look like but based on what I have seen and experienced in that area Douthat is a far cry from being representative of the experience the trails in the region offer.
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    Having ridden at Douthat and many other trails in NC and VA, I'd say that for 90% of the masses, Douthat offers about as good as it gets--variety of terrain, decent elevation change, a contained, signed trail system, resources/camping, etc. For those (myself included) who like things with more features/more isolated/more rugged, you know enough to look/ride other places and you're not going to be happy with any "official" trail "system" that's going to be up for "model trail" status. Flame on.

  32. #32
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    Imba model trail ... Those are nice for my 7 year old

  33. #33
    drunken pirate
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    Quote Originally Posted by jstuhlman View Post
    Having ridden at Douthat and many other trails in NC and VA, I'd say that for 90% of the masses, Douthat offers about as good as it gets--variety of terrain, decent elevation change, a contained, signed trail system, resources/camping, etc. For those (myself included) who like things with more features/more isolated/more rugged, you know enough to look/ride other places and you're not going to be happy with any "official" trail "system" that's going to be up for "model trail" status. Flame on.
    I agree that Douthat is a good trail system (for what it is), but it does not define the region as IMBA claims. It defines IMBA style flow trails in the region.... A whole lot of people really like and even prefer that style of trail, I have no problem with that - diversity is a good thing.

    The Pisgah Ranger District will (hopefully) never qualify for any of IMBA's designations as the trails do not fit their criterea. But yet you will be hard pressed to find a more 'epic' trail system on the East coast as demonstrated by the number of riders who flock to it.

    I do not expect IMBA to lead any efforts for increased mountain bike access to existing trails in our region.

    I'm still curious as to the relevance of Big South Fork here...
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  34. #34
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    Clay- the relevance to Big South Fork is that the best part of the now-open trail system used to be closed to bikes. It's also totally sweet trail I really enjoyed when I, admittedly, poached it 10-plus years ago. The John Muir section, in particular, lived up to it's lofty namesake. It's also managed by the National Park Service, so it's the nearest precedent for your suggestion of doing things like looking at GSMNP.

  35. #35
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    I agree that we definitely should have more access to trails here. We should look at Oregon and Washington State as an example. The trails there are so much "nicer" as in I mean better groomed than ours. There is no reason why we should be able to plan nicer free flowing trails here in Western NC.

    Not to change the subject, but their road riding infrastructure is also far superior than ours.

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    "Flow" trails are def not nicer to me. Keep that to yourself

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    [QUOTE=driftwood;9973426]I do not expect IMBA to lead any efforts for increased mountain bike access to existing trails in our region.QUOTE]

    Yea, I wouldn't count on that. Locals make rules . . . .

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by shawnstar View Post
    I agree that we definitely should have more access to trails here. We should look at Oregon and Washington State as an example. The trails there are so much "nicer" as in I mean better groomed than ours. There is no reason why we should be able to plan nicer free flowing trails here in Western NC.

    Not to change the subject, but their road riding infrastructure is also far superior than ours.
    "Groomed" and "flow" trails aren't really what a lot of us are after here. What you described sounds a lot like road riding. While you may align yourself with the IMBA agenda, I do not and what you describe is exactly what I don't want.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Brown View Post
    Clay- the relevance to Big South Fork is that the best part of the now-open trail system used to be closed to bikes. It's also totally sweet trail I really enjoyed when I, admittedly, poached it 10-plus years ago. The John Muir section, in particular, lived up to it's lofty namesake. It's also managed by the National Park Service, so it's the nearest precedent for your suggestion of doing things like looking at GSMNP.
    Thanks for the answer . It is good to know there is contemporary precedent for changing the designations of existing trails.

    If we were to try to increase access in our area the Grandfather and Appalachian Districts would be the perfect place to start. Then we could move on to GSMNP. There are lots of opportunities in our region.

    Quote Originally Posted by shawnstar
    I agree that we definitely should have more access to trails here. We should look at Oregon and Washington State as an example. The trails there are so much "nicer" as in I mean better groomed than ours. There is no reason why we should be able to plan nicer free flowing trails here in Western NC.
    We already have many very well groomed and free flowing trails in our region. Building new trails like that doesn't really relate to gaining access to already existing trails. Most of those existing trails are not 'flow' trails so riders who are seeking that sort of riding probably would have no interest riding the Buncombe Horse Range. Planning new trails is fine but why not also look at increasing access to existing trails?
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    "[QUOTE=driftwood;9976005]Thanks for the answer . It is good to know there is contemporary precedent for changing the designations of existing trails. "

    More important perhaps than the precedent is the Trail Assessment done at Big South Fork by Dr. Jeff Marion. In his work, he found that mountain bikes have similar (no greater) impacts on trails as compared to hiking uses:

    Tennessee Mountain Biking Alliance » Resources

    http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/1324/f...rion&olive.pdf

    Dr. Jeff is the most respected recreation ecologist and researcher in the US, he has many published papers on all types of outdoor recreation impacts. His research has helped establish mtn biking as low impact. I will be working on a trails related book with Jeff and 3 other respected experts in 2013.


    "If we were to try to increase access in our area the Grandfather and Appalachian Districts would be the perfect place to start. Then we could move on to GSMNP. There are lots of opportunities in our region."

    Agreed. The hope was that the trail review process started by the FS last year would be a good opportunity to gain additional access to existing trails. The upcoming LRMP (Land and Resource Management Plan) will be another opportunity.


    "We already have many very well groomed and free flowing trails in our region. Building new trails like that doesn't really relate to gaining access to already existing trails. Most of those existing trails are not 'flow' trails so riders who are seeking that sort of riding probably would have no interest riding the Buncombe Horse Range. Planning new trails is fine but why not also look at increasing access to existing trails?"

    I assume you are referring to Bumcombe Horse Trail coming off of Mitchell? Maybe a good example of a trail possible to gain access to.

    Looking at the regions (western NC) inventory trails, there are actually way more heritage trails than "well groomed and free flowing trails". The largest source of heritage trails is past and previous corridor uses, mainly timber extraction. My guess is logging is the source of 80% of all "trails" currently in the various land managers inventory. There are really very few " purpose built trails" in the region (for any use group), there are of course some examples.

    Put yourself in a land managers shoes for a moment. Ask the question: Why would I want to add additional traffic to trails I know are not properly designed"? That is the question that comes into play for the most part in wanting to gain access to existing trails on any given public land base (different USFS districts or Great Smokies NP). If the mountain bike community can convince land managers they are collectively bringing something to the table, maybe there is some chance of additional trail access. That something to the table could be significant contributions to maintenance efforts on any given trail segment. If asking for access does not bring this to the table, then why would a land manager be in favor of adding traffic. For many of these heritage trails, not having high traffic counts is about the only thing holding them together as their design elements (to be physically sustainable) are non-existent.

    There are new trails being built all over NC/NC specifically for mtn biking. Mtn bike clubs are having great success in getting approval to build purpose built trail for bikes that use sustainable design principles. Those who want to see that should join in on the efforts for such. I have seen this group working hard and have great success.

    Folks who want to gain access to existing "heritage" trails should formally start such efforts (posting on MTBR does not count as mtn bike advocacy). My personal opinion is that there are very few riders being effective in this area currently.

    In addition to the physical sustainability issues of adding bikes to poorly designed trails (more traffic= faster erosion), there is the issue of social sustainability and possible user conflict. Trails that have been hiker only for a long time are hard to gain access to in many situations. That is why clubs often focus energy and efforts into new trails that will not have to fight that battle.

    Many riders state: " I am not going to join my local mtn bike advocacy group because they are not advocating for what I want (or are doing things I don't like)". You should instead be asking " why don't we get involved and then we can advocate for what we want, build what we want to ride, and influence the policy and direction of the club".
    Last edited by Woodman; 12-17-2012 at 01:28 PM.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbmb65 View Post
    "Groomed" and "flow" trails aren't really what a lot of us are after here. What you described sounds a lot like road riding. While you may align yourself with the IMBA agenda, I do not and what you describe is exactly what I don't want.
    65,

    Take a look at this video:
    Lookout December! on Vimeo

    Would you enjoy this trail?

  42. #42
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    Many riders state: " I am not going to join my local mtn bike advocacy group because they are not advocating for what I want (or are doing things I don't like)". You should instead be asking " why don't we get involved and then we can advocate for what we want, build what we want to ride, and influence the policy and direction of the club".[/QUOTE]

    No joke. But its easier to whine about it rather than work for it.

    Make some thing better happen on the trails.
    He/she who works the trails does so in their own image.

    Speed just slows me down...

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattnmtns View Post
    In regards to the GSMNP, I think most of the reason is tradition.
    I've been told by a ranger that it was written into the charter for GSMNP that a certain percentage of the trails in the park must allow horse access.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by humanpackmule View Post
    I've been told by a ranger that it was written into the charter for GSMNP that a certain percentage of the trails in the park must allow horse access.

    That explains why the AT running through GSMNP has horses on it, the only section north to south that allows such.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodman View Post
    65,

    Take a look at this video:
    Lookout December! on Vimeo

    Would you enjoy this trail?
    NICE! I would enjoy!

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by jstuhlman View Post
    Having ridden at Douthat and many other trails in NC and VA, I'd say that for 90% of the masses, Douthat offers about as good as it gets--variety of terrain, decent elevation change, a contained, signed trail system, resources/camping, etc. For those (myself included) who like things with more features/more isolated/more rugged, you know enough to look/ride other places and you're not going to be happy with any "official" trail "system" that's going to be up for "model trail" status. Flame on.
    Douthat is good for those that need a trail system with good signage, etc. Sort of like NF light. IMO the best riding in that area is outside the park in the GWNF. Aside from the race and some of the Stokesville-Douthat rides those trails see little use.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodman View Post
    That explains why the AT running through GSMNP has horses on it, the only section north to south that allows such.
    Yep, that's exactly it. There are a couple of trails in the park that I just don't think are suitable for horses. They just seemed too tight for a horse to get through, loose broken treadway and just seemed frankly dangerous to take a horse up there. I talked to the backcountry ranger out at twentymile a few years back and I asked him about it.

    His response was they didn't have a choice but to keep some existing but unsuitable trail open to horses due to the percentage quota. Mostly because there wasn't budget for new trail or reworking existing trail. GSMNP can't really maintain the 900 miles of trail that they have right now. So they have to meet the quota with what they currently have.

  48. #48
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    So tired of people using "smooth" and "flow" as if they mean the same thing. Way to prove you know nothing about mountain bike trails.

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    These make me think of Trout Lake in Blowing Rock. A one mile trail around a beautiful lake, but the trail is covered in horse poop most of the time. Horse poop that washes into the lake every time it rains then through the spillway into a beautiful mountain stream. Nothing against horses, but why do they get "special privileges"?

  50. #50
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    Fun Sponges. Welcome to *****ville.

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