• 09-30-2012
    Big news: Feds to consider allowing bikes on PCT
    For the last two to three years a small group of us has been working to get mountain bike access to non-Wilderness sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. (About 60% of the PCT lies outside Wilderness.)

    We have convinced the Forest Service that its 1988 closure order requires reconsideration.

    As a result, the Forest Service is going to begin a rulemaking procedure, probably in March of 2013, to consider making the non-Wilderness parts of the PCT multiuse. This will involve public notice and comment.

    When something similar happened with the Continental Divide Trail about four years ago, the Forest Service received about 8000 comments. The PCT reconsideration can be expected to generate even more controversy.

    If the Forest Service decides to keep bikes off the Pacific Crest Trail, we can expect that closure to stay in place for the rest of our lives and maybe those of our children. If the Forest Service decides to open it, it will be revolutionary.

    Stay tuned. We'll be looking for your help in coming months.
  • 09-30-2012
    Very cool.
  • 09-30-2012
    Very cool indeed. Which groups are driving this?
  • 09-30-2012
    Thanks, Dave. Yes, places like Winthrop and maybe Leavenworth (I live outside Washington so I'm not an expert) would have exciting new riding options.

    Here's what you can do now if you're interested. If you belong to any mountain bike organization, let it know that you support this initiative and ask it to support it as well. Much political maneuvering tends to occur when something of this magnitude appears, and some mtb groups might be hesitant about supporting PCT access (because of a relationship with a particular Forest Service office or employee, for example). There's nothing to worry about. If this goes through, it'll mean that the Forest Service wanted to do it. But change can make people nervous.
  • 09-30-2012
    Our small group is called the Pacific Crest Trail Reassessment Initiative. We sent our formal petition letter to the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service on November 12, 2010. Since then the Forest Service has taken over as lead agency in dealing with us. We're based in the Bay Area but have members in Portland and San Diego. No one in Washington state. We haven't tried hard to enlarge our group because during this negotiation process keeping ourselves out of the public spotlight has been important. I have no idea how any other mountain biking advocacy group, such as the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, will respond now that our initiative has become public knowledge. I do belong to a number of mountain bike advocacy organizations but can speak only for our own PCT Reassessment Initiative group.
  • 09-30-2012
    Sections south of Snoqualmie Pass (I-90) would be it for this state.
  • 09-30-2012
    dirt pirate
    This is great news and really shows that mountain biking is a sport that has earned it's place in the top of the outdoor user groups. Keep us informed as to how to participate in the process. Thanks for the effort.
  • 09-30-2012
    OK folks, if you want to see EXACTLY what this impacts....
    Google Earth shapefiles from Wilderness.net + PCT trail file from Forest Service

    And when you put them all together you get a 7MB KML here.

    (edited because I got the stupid link wrong)
  • 10-01-2012
    This would be nice. i wish the trail was a corridor thru Wilderness. The thought of people taking a month or two to pedal from Mexico to Canada would be interesting to follow/read/hear about.
  • 10-04-2012
    Need info when it's available on how to provide comments and feedback. This would be amazing.
  • 10-04-2012
    Hi, druidjaidan and everyone,

    We'll be getting you the info as soon as we can. We're gearing up for this effort and as we reach stages that your comments and feedback can tie into we'll let you know right away. Thanks!
  • 10-05-2012

    This is great news and really shows that mountain biking is a sport that has earned it's place in the top of the outdoor user groups. Keep us informed as to how to participate in the process. Thanks for the effort.
    We can only hope!
  • 10-07-2012
    We've created a Facebook page for this effort. I invite everyone to "like" it.

    Currently we have six mtbr.com pages going, and we'll continue to post information on them. The Facebook page, however, will make it possible to post information in one place that people will receive quickly.

    Here's the link: https://www.facebook.com/SharingThePct
  • 10-12-2012
    Regarding both bikepacking and day rides: one thing that would be very helpful would be for people to post the opportunities in their area that would open up if access were legalized. What good rides would become available that weren't before? What out-and-back rides could become loops? And, if you feel like being candid, what problems could arise from mountain bike use on those trail miles, and how could any such problems be solved?
  • 12-19-2012

    From an IMBA blog


    If you live in the Pacific Northwest and love mountain biking, you have probably thought about how great it would be to ride your bike on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), which runs from California to British Columbia and is currently closed to bikes. Each time I hike a portion of the 2,600-mile National Scenic Trail, I find myself wishing that I could also access the stunning scenery, backcountry setting and phenomenal singetrack on my mountain bike. I also think about what a great resource mountain bikers could be in the efforts to maintain the PCT and other long-distance, remote trails.

    The U.S. Forest Service recently indicated that it might consider a process to review the current ban on bicycle access to the PCT. Some bicycle advocates have actively challenged the legal basis for the current bike ban, but IMBA has not joined these efforts. We are instead focusing on communicating with both the Forest Service and other key stakeholders in the recreation community to assess current trail-use issues and identify potential opportunities.

    IMBA believes that mountain bike access to long-distance backcountry trails is extremely valuable, though that does not necessitate opening the entire PCT to bikes (we will not pursue bike access in designated Wilderness areas, and some sections might not be conducive to riding). As the discussions evolve, IMBA will provide updates about which trail segments of the PCT are best-suited for bicycle access, and we will advocate for access to those sections.
    Click on the above link for more info.
  • 02-08-2013
    Well the USFS issued it's reply - standard BS.

    Summary version:

    Originally Posted by USFS Summary by CHUM
    You have enough trails to ride and we don't care if we are violating our own policy...

    so there - neener, neener...

    Please read FULL version and steps on how to change their mind. The USFS clearly does not comprehend how 'aware' we are as user group to the issue at hand.


    Originally Posted by USFS
    This letter is in response to your October 22, 2012, email. I appreciate your interest in finding solutions that minimize conflict and the offer to work collaboratively on resolving and improving trail stewardship. My staff and I have a keen interest in improving mountain bicycle recreation experiences and increasing opportunities in appropriate places where shared use with bicycles already exists or is not prohibited. Both here and nationally, the Forest Service has partnered through a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) and other organizations to collaborate on the development and maintenance of shared use trails that meet agency goals for resource protection while providing and improving high quality mountain biking experiences.

    Nation-wide the Forest Service provides the largest trail system in the nation with over 157,000 miles within the system. Outside of designated wilderness there are 125,962 miles of trail, of which 123,739 miles are open to mountain bicycling (98%) and 12,389 miles of trail managed specifically for mountain bicycling. We agree that there is much to be gained by selecting focal areas to work with communities and non-profits to improve mountain bicycling opportunities.

    National Scenic and Historic Trails are to be managed for the activities and uses for which they were established by Congress as set forth by law. The primary uses for the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) were determined by the Comprehensive Management Plan and are also found in 36 C.F.R. § 212.21 as “primarily a footpath and horseback riding trail.” The Comprehensive Plan is explicit in its “Criteria for Location, Design, Signing and User Facilities” that the trail should “provide opportunities for hikers, horseman, and other non-mechanized travelers.” The bicycle closure for the PCT (1988) was developed with the unanimous support of the PCT Advisory Council after the Comprehensive Management Planning effort was completed. As you are likely aware, the Advisory Council, required by the National Trails System Act (NTSA) (Sec.5(d)), contained members from each state at the recommendation of the Governors, representatives from each federal or independent agency that the trail passes through, and members appointed to represent private organizations, including corporate and individual landowners and land users.

    Legislative direction for considering additional uses beyond the primary uses of foot and horse travel is found in NTSA Sec. 7(c): “Other uses along the trail, which will not substantially interfere with the nature and purposes of the trail, may be permitted by the Secretary charged with the administration of the trails.” The requirement to determine an identified carrying capacity of the trail and a plan for its implementation (Section 5(e)) would also need to be met. At this time, the Forest Service will not be pursuing a Comprehensive Management Plan Amendment and the rulemaking that would be required solely to consider adding “other uses” to the PCT. We will not be pursing “termination” of the bicycle closure order either for similar concerns. Our focus for management of the PCT continues to be ecological restoration and the backlog of maintenance resulting from wildfires, the Sierra Wind Event of 2011, and the flood events of 2006 and 2009 in Washington State.

    There are many places where shared use with bicycles already exists or is not prohibited, and we support working together to improve mountain bicycle access and opportunities to connect local communities to National Forest System lands. Our region is currently working with the IMBA to identify where these opportunities exist and we welcome your assistance to identify sites and work to leverage resources for planning and implementation. . . .


    /s/ [employee] (for)
    Regional Forester

    Facebook page - Sharing The PCT

    Originally Posted by Sharing The PCT
    The Forest Service has rejected our request to rescind or reconsider the Pacific Crest Trail bicycle ban. Its letter to us, which we received two days ago, i.e., on Feb. 5, 2013, is posted below in the comments section.

    It is time for you to take action and here are instructions for exactly how to do it.

    We believe the Forest Service's decision is shortsighted, biased, and legally questionable. We are not going to stand by while the Forest Service ignores its own rules. The 1988 bicycle ban emerged from behind closed doors. Decisions made in 2013 cannot be made in similar secrecy.

    The Forest Service's decision is bad policy—bad for cyclists, bad for the trails community, and bad for the long-term preservation and success of a trail that needs all the public support it can get.

    While we work on the legalities, we ask you immediately to insist that the 1988 bicycle ban be rescinded. Here's how to do it in two simple steps:

    1) Contact your member of Congress. Tell them who you are and what you want. Make it reflect your personal views. A sample letter is shown below. Your member of Congress is HERE: Find Your Representative · House.gov.

    2) Contact Tom Tidwell, the Chief of the Forest Service, in Washington, D.C. Tell him who you are and what you want. Make it also reflect your personal views. His contact info is here: USDA Forest Service - Caring for the land and serving people. (direct e-mail address ttidwell@fs.fed.us).

    Beyond e-mailing your member of Congress and Mr. Tidwell, please spread the word among your friends and fellow trail users. Sign up on our contact list at Sharing the Pacific Crest TrailHome » Sharing the Pacific Crest Trail. And please let us know what you hear back from your elected officials and anyone else. Our e-mail address is pct.initiative@gmail.com.

    Your voice is important and will be heard by those you write to. Each one of you who writes directly impacts the small group of people charged with making broad, far-reaching decisions about how the PCT can be used. Ask for a direct response to your inquiry and don't hesitate to follow up until you get one.

    Re your letter to your Congressmember, here's a SAMPLE.

    Since your member of Congress likely won’t know much about the PCT, it’s probably best to start your request with an introductory paragraph along these lines:

    « Dear [name of Congressmember]:

    I am a cyclist who would like to bicycle at least some part of the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs for 2,663 miles from Canada to Mexico along the Cascades and the Sierra Nevada. In 1988 the Forest Service closed the PCT to bicycles with no public input. The closure order was simply typed on a piece of paper and signed by three Forest Service employees. I would like that closure order to be rescinded.

    Today, the closure procedure is widely understood to be defective because the original decision was made behind closed doors. Also, the closure order is of a type that’s supposed to be temporary, as in the case of a safety problem with a campsite or a dock that needs repair. Such orders are not designed to put in place an enormously consequential blanket policy and keep it in place for a quarter of a century.

    Mountain bikers did not have a voice in this matter back in 1988, but we are keenly aware of it today. Since 2010, a citizens' group called the Pacific Crest Trail Reassessment Initiative (PCTRI) has been working on getting the closure rescinded or at least reassessed so that responsible cyclists like me can enjoy at least some portions of the PCT by bicycle.

    But on February 5, 2013, the Forest Service announced that the behind-closed-doors approach remains in effect. It is refusing to hear from the public and plans to keep the entire trail closed to bicycles. I believe the rule to be capricious and baseless.

    I am writing to ask you to ask the Forest Service to rescind the 1988 order. It was summarily imposed, so it can and should be summarily canceled. Unlike in 1988, the Forest Service knows very well how to manage shared-use trails, and the PCT should be no exception. The PCT belongs to all of us and I want my voice to be heard.

    [Your name] »

    In addition to the foregoing and any points you think of yourself, you could mention these items to your member of Congress, the Chief of the Forest Service, and the PCTA (but keep it short!):

    1. According to the Pacific Crest Trail Reassessment Initiative, most of the PCT is lightly used most of the year and parts of it grow over from lack of use by anyone.

    2. The Pacific Crest Trail Association admits that it cannot keep up with maintaining the entire trail. It is always seeking federal funding to do the work. Mountain bikers could quickly become an invaluable volunteer resource for maintaining the trail.

    3. The PCT runs through counties that are struggling economically. The few hikers and horseback riders who use the trail don't seem to be putting much of a dent in those economic problems. Mountain bikers would bring in new revenue to the thousands of local businesses, motels and restaurants along the trail's route.

    4. Mountain biking is quiet, environmentally friendly, and healthy. If everyone in the country who could ride a bike would do so, we’d have a much lower national health bill.

    5. This isn't about allowing motor vehicles on the PCT. Bicycling is human-powered, just like walking, jogging, and skiing.

    6. Please check out the Pacific Crest Trail Reassessment Initiative's website for more information: Sharing the Pacific Crest TrailHome » Sharing the Pacific Crest Trail.

    Thank you for your support! The campaign is far from over. We remain optimistic for long-term success.


    Letter Writing WILL make a difference - this is not a giant group of officials shutting off trail access....this is 1 or 2 people behind closed doors not doing their job because they want the easy way out. We have to make them get off their butts and do something....
  • 02-08-2013
  • 02-08-2013
    I'll be sure to mention this on my next WTA outing.
  • 02-09-2013
    A wise lady from white salmon once asked me what PCT stood for.

    Scroll below for her answer:

    "Perfect Cycling Trail!"

    Let's do this!

  • 02-19-2013
    Let the Pacific Crest Trail Association know your thoughts
    Hey guys, I realize there isn't a ton of the PCT in Washington that isn't in designated Wilderness, but you can still provide a voice for mt. bike access to non-wilderness portions:

    The Pacific Crest Trail Association, which serves to "preserve, protect and promote" the PCT, just put out an on-line survey asking folks for input on their 2013 Strategic Plan. This is an excellent opportunity for mountain bikers to voice their opinions about how the MTB community can help the PCTA achieve their goals, which are:

    1) The PCT corridor is permanently protected.
    2) The entire PCT is designed, constructed and maintained through partnerships.
    3) The PCT is well-known nationally and internationally.
    4) The PCT Association has the financial resources needed to accomplish its mission.
    5) The PCT Association has the human resources needed to accomplish its mission.
    6) The PCT Association has the systems and infrastructure needed to accomplish its mission.

    The PCTA is currently opposed to bikes. As you can imagine, the positive effect the MTB community can have on these goals of trail construction & maintenance, funding (via memberships, donations and grants), and global marketing should be hard for them to ignore. Not to mention our ability to get youth involved with the trail, creating life-long stewards of this National treasure.

    Whether you have a personal interest in accessing the PCT, or live across the country and support equal access for mt. bikers on public trails, your brief input would be appreciated. There are only 3 questions.

    Survey: PCTA 2013 Strategic Plan Input

    For question #2, if you don't have any insight into a particular section in need, feel free to write: "All non-Wilderness portions should be available to bicycles."

    BTW, when you read "preserve & protect" the PCT, it has very little to do with bicycles (if any) and mostly everything to do with maintaining the trail while fending off development and logging encroachments that affect the character of the trail.

    Thank you for your support.
  • 02-22-2013
    Done, I pointed out that I have some of their t shirts from volunteering on that trail.
  • 02-25-2013
    The Sagebrush Slug
    Bump. Got my reply in, thanks for the repeated encouragement!
  • 02-27-2013
    Good luck with getting access.
  • 03-05-2013
    from the Sharing the PCT Facebook page.
    __________________________________________________ ___________________
    Last Thursday, PCTRI sent a letter to the Forest Service's regional forester in charge of the PCT, replying to the agency's initial rejection of our request to cancel or reconsider the no-bikes policy. The reply is long and has a lot of legal stuff in it, but perhaps a few people will be interested to read it. Those who are may want to copy it into a Word or pdf document; it'll be easier to read.

    Here's the text:

    We received your letter of February 6, 2013, declining to rescind or reconsider the 1988 order closing bicycle access to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

    We hereby request that you reconsider the decision. In addition, we would like to meet with you and your staff to discuss this controversy.

    We offer the following reasons for our request, which are in
    answer to items communicated in the letter.

    I. Federal statutes and regulations

    The letter notes the existence of 36 C.F.R. § 212.21, in which the Forest Service declared that the PCT is “primarily a footpath and horseback riding trail.” The regulation was, however, promulgated in 1978, when the only alternative to foot and horse travel was by motorcycle or other motor vehicle. In the context of its time, it is essentially a declaration that the PCT is off-limits to motorized travel.

    In addition, the regulation arguably was superseded by act of Congress, because in 1983 Congress amended the National Trails System Act, which governs the PCT, to declare that “bicycling,” including specifically “trail biking”—i.e., mountain biking—is a suitable “[p]otential” trail use on national trails. (16 U.S.C. § 1246(j).) In addition, as the letter observes, “[o]ther uses along the trail, which will not substantially interfere with the nature and purposes of the trail, may be permitted . . . .” (16 U.S.C. § 1246(c).) This is what allows bicycle use on the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDNST) despite a Forest Service declaration that the CDNST is primarily dedicated to foot and horse travel (see the next paragraph).

    Furthermore, primary (36 C.F.R. § 212.21) does not mean exclusive. The 2009 CDNST Comprehensive Plan declares that “[b]ackpacking, nature walking, day hiking, [and] horseback riding, . . . are compatible with the nature and purposes of the CDNST.” Mountain biking is not mentioned. Yet the same plan also declares that “[b]icycle use may be allowed on the CDNST (16 U.S.C. § 1246(c)) if the use is consistent is consistent with the applicable . . . management plan and will not substantially interfere with the nature and the purposes of the CDNST.” As is well known, lots of mountain biking takes place on the CDNST and there are few if any problems.

    Finally, we note the letter’s reference to 16 U.S.C. § 1244(e), which provides in relevant part that “within two complete fiscal years of November 10, 1978, for the Pacific Crest and Appalachian Trails, the responsible Secretary shall . . . submit . . . a comprehensive plan for the . . . use of the trail, including but not limited to, the following items: [¶] “(1) specific objectives and practices to be observed in the management of the trail, including . . . an identified carrying capacity of the trail and a plan for its implementation.”

    Since the Forest Service believes the PCT Comprehensive Plan must be revised to allow for bicycle use, then, in fairness, it should also have revised it in 1988, when three employees signed the document closing the PCT to bicycles. We are not aware that any such effort was made, and we observe that the 1988 closure order does not appear in the appendices to the plan. In addition, the statute does not call for a plan revision each time there is a change in trail management practices. Finally, within the PCT Comprehensive Plan, language exists that allows for bicycle use. It is found on page 1 of the original version and consists of President Johnson’s embryonic 1965 statement that led to his signing the National Trails System Act of 1968: “The forgotten outdoorsmen of today are those who like to walk, hike, ride, horseback, or bicycle. For them, we must have trails . . . .”

    In sum, we doubt that the enormous undertaking of a PCT Comprehensive Plan revision is required in order to repeal or reconsider the informally created 1988 PCT bicycle closure.
    Although we have asked for rulemaking in the alternative to rescinding the closure order, we also disagree with the letter’s statement that rulemaking, along with a Comprehensive Plan amendment, is required. No rulemaking accompanied the order and none is required to rescind it. It is simply a typed declaration of what should have been a short-term, temporary policy as the Forest Service worked out mountain biking management on the PCT in 1988, as it has since done successfully on the tens of thousands of miles of other trail to which the letter refers.

    II. Public input following the described PCT Advisory Council decision

    The letter mentions that the closure was unanimously supported by the then-existing PCT Advisory Council. We are not aware that any mountain bikers were on that body. More to the point, we know of no evidence that mountain bikers or the public at large were informed about this drastic change in policy.

    The lack of public notice and of an opportunity for public comment are central to our position that the policy must be reconsidered to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act, as well as 36 C.F.R. § 261.70, the Forest Service regulation that provides:

    "(a) Pursuant to 7 CFR 2.60, the Chief, and each Regional Forester, to whom the Chief has delegated authority, may issue regulations prohibiting acts or omissions within all or any part of the area over which he has jurisdiction, for one or more of the following purposes:
    [¶] . . . [¶]
    (3) Protection of property, roads, or trails.
    [¶] . . . [¶]
    (7) Public safety.
    [¶] . . . [¶]
    (9) Establishing reasonable rules of public conduct.
    [¶] . . . [¶]
    (c) In issuing any regulations under paragraph (a) of this section, the issuing officer shall follow 5 U.S.C. 553.
    (d) In a situation when the issuing officer determines that a notice of proposed rule making and public participation thereon is impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest, he shall issue, with the concurrence of the Chief, an interim regulation containing an expiration date.
    (e) No interim regulation issued under paragraph (d) of this section will be effective for more than 90 days unless readopted as a permanent rule after a notice of proposed rule making under 5 U.S.C. 553 (b) and (c)."

    In other words, the 1988 bicycle closure became invalid 90 days after its promulgation, because there was no rulemaking pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Its effect may have been revived by the Forest Service’s decision of February 6, 2013. But in our view that decision will become ineffective on May 7, 2013, for want of the followup procedures required by 36 C.F.R. § 261.70. We understand that there may be an APA exception for so-called interpretative rules, but in our view a blanket ban on bicycles on the PCT cannot be merely interpretative given its far-reaching substantive nature and the requirement that the policy be harmonized with 16 U.S.C. § 1246(j)’s allowance for mountain biking.

    III. Questions of fairness and policy considerations

    The letter informs us that there are many miles of national forest trail managed specifically for mountain biking. Overall, however, Forest Service policy toward mountain biking is unfair and unjustifiably exclusionary. In California, Oregon, and Washington, the great majority of the most beautiful and remote Forest Service trails are off-limits to cyclists because they lie in Wilderness areas. The non-Wilderness PCT would be one of the few exceptions were it not for the separate closure order that forbids bicycle use on it too.

    The letter mentions the PCT’s problems with “ecological restoration and the backlog of maintenance.” (P. 2.) The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) has acknowledged that it cannot sustain the entirety of the trail. Presumably this is a PCTA appeal for yet more taxpayer funding. At the same time, the PCTA wants to preserve the restrictionist status quo. Mountain bikers have an established history of doing restoration and maintenance work on trails. It seems incongruous to us that the PCTA and the Forest Service would look askance at a source of volunteer labor, to be provided by a nonmotorized and environmentally benign user group, only to turn to the federal government for more money to fund the PCT for the relatively few people who currently use it. In this latter regard, our research has disclosed that much of the PCT sits virtually unused year-round except for a few weeks during which a smattering of through-hikers may walk a section.

    One continuing problem with the current policy is the manner in which it divides the trail community. On the Internet, PCT purists have been threatening to assault any mountain bikers they find on the PCT. The threats have been coming from hikers who, thanks to the 1988 closure order, regard the PCT as their taxpayer-funded private preserve and retreat. This is a management problem for the Forest Service that a fair policy will alleviate.

    IV. Unbalanced input from interest groups preceding this decision

    Finally, we wish to observe that after the Forest Service communicated to us that a review of the closure order might occur in March of 2013, we asked our supporters not to bother your staff or the PCTA before any review occurred. The PCT traditionalists were not so considerate, however, and bombarded both your office and the PCTA with hostile, pleading, and frantic e-mails. In addition, despite our request, your office has never been willing to meet with us, at the same time that we have the impression it was consulting with the PCTA regarding our request. This strikes us as unfair. Our offer to meet with you and your staff remains open.

    Again, we ask you to rescind or reconsider the 1988 order.
    __________________________________________________ ___________________

    so awesome...so very, very awesome....
  • 03-07-2013
    Great response. Last two sections say it all.