Rant: Trail Maintence or Trail Destruction?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    Steep Hill
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    Upset Rant: Trail Maintence or Trail Destruction?

    I'm going to rant about something that pisses me off: The so-called "trail maintence" of digging up rocks in order to smooth out the desert trail.

    You have a favorite technical section of trail, so how would you feel if you discovered that it is now smooth as a babies behind?

    Is it a section that can redeem a not-so-good ride when you pull it off?
    Is it a stairstep at the top of a climb?
    Is it a rock you love jumping over?
    Is it rock obstacles that make singletrack not like riding down a Main Street?

    I've witnessed all these going away on my favorite trail. It happens more and more these days and I shouldn't be surprised with the urban growth going on. And leaving MTBing for a sec...what about the damage that will occur from run-off during the next heavy rain?

    Where is a @%!$# mountain lion when you really need one. Thoughts?
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  2. #2
    Steep Hill
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    Spelling Correction

    I know, I know...maintenance
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  3. #3
    Drugstore Trailrider
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    Funny that you post this today.

    Quote Originally Posted by AZClydesdale
    I'm going to rant about something that pisses me off: The so-called "trail maintence" of digging up rocks in order to smooth out the desert trail.

    Thoughts?
    My "home course" is the 50-Year Trail area at Golder Ranch north of Tucson. One of the arms of the 50-Year Trail goes south to a gate at the northern boundary of the Catalina State Park, and a very fun single track leads down the ridge to the Park Equestrian Center.

    About halfway down the CSP portion of the trail were two short (each no more than 10 yards), rocky, steep chutes that were the biggest single challenge of the entire trail, both going up and down. I personally had still never cleaned the upper section going uphill, but love trying.

    This morning I rode that trail for the first time in a month or more (in the CSP) and someone had "improved" (sanitized) both of those sections so that my grandmother could clean them going either way. It REALLY PISSED ME OFF. I don't know who did it, but if you can't ride the section, walk it, and leave it for the rest of us. As an alternative you could go ride the Rillito Riverwalk down in Tucson and probably find it more to your liking.

    Rant on!

    John W.
    Last edited by papajohn; 04-09-2004 at 11:47 AM.
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  4. #4
    Occidental Tourist
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    Preaching to the Choir

    Hey now when I go out on my KMart bike in the dead of the summer with my baseball cap on I need to make sure I can ride the whole trail and that Search and Rescue can easilly get to me.

  5. #5
    Saucy Size
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    Sanitized for your protection

    Which trail? And do you know if it is an organized work crew or freelance trail work?

    Let me know where it is and what you know and I can dig up answers.

    p.
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  6. #6
    Steep Hill
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    Lost Dog

    Thanks Paul. I have never encountered work-in-progress which proves they do not work early mornings or after 7pm on weekdays :-). I suspect they are freelance but I cannot say for certain. The trail is part of the Lost Dog Wash trail located on the southwest side of the McDowell Mtns., but the section I refer to may not go by this name. The trailhead is accessed by hikers at the end of 124th Street, just north of Shea Blvd.. Most Saturday mornings this trail fills up with heards of blue haired redsocks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul B
    Which trail? And do you know if it is an organized work crew or freelance trail work? Let me know where it is and what you know and I can dig up answers. p.
    ** Obey gravity. It's the law. **

  7. #7
    Saucy Size
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZClydesdale
    Thanks Paul. I have never encountered work-in-progress which proves they do not work early mornings or after 7pm on weekdays :-). I suspect they are freelance but I cannot say for certain. The trail is part of the Lost Dog Wash trail located on the southwest side of the McDowell Mtns., but the section I refer to may not go by this name. The trailhead is accessed by hikers at the end of 124th Street, just north of Shea Blvd.. Most Saturday mornings this trail fills up with heards of blue haired redsocks.
    My understanding of Lost Dog and the other trails up there is that the whole thing is a social network -- it's not part of the county inventory. So unfortunately you don't have a lot of recourse. On the other hand, you also don't have a trail authority telling you you CAN'T undo the "maintenance" going on.

    Some of that may be a tour company I know that operates out there. They may be cleaning/sanitizing the trail a bit for their clients.

    If they're just moving rocks, I'd say move 'em back. If they're dislodging rocks and back-filling the craters, then you've got a problem. I'd call county parks and rec and tell them someone's messing with the natural resources out there in that case (probably the next course of action since there's no ranger enforcement of non-inventory trails).

    p.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by papajohn
    My "home course" is the 50-Year Trail area at Golder Ranch north of Tucson. One of the arms of the 50-Year Trail goes south to a gate at the northern boundary of the Catalina State Park, and a very fun single track leads down the ridge to the Park Equestrian Center.

    About halfway down the CSP portion of the trail were two short (each no more than 10 yards), rocky, steep chutes that were the biggest single challenge of the entire trail, both going up and down. I personally had still never cleaned the upper section going uphill, but love trying.

    This morning I rode that trail for the first time in a month or more (in the CSP) and someone had "improved" (sanitized) both of those sections so that my grandmother could clean them going either way. It REALLY PISSED ME OFF. I don't know who did it, but if you can't ride the section, walk it, and leave it for the rest of us. As an alternative you could go ride the Rillito Riverwalk down in Tucson and probably find it more to your liking.

    Rant on!

    John W.


    I saw a guy out there at just that section (Assuming I'm thinkning of the same one) about one month ago....He looked to be an employe as he had a cart and many tools. Both times I passed the area he was gone when I got there, so I didn't have a chance to inquire as to his intentions....trail sanatizing is the bane of my riding existence, that and all those fires in the Mts.

  9. #9
    Fragile - must be Italian
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    Complicated argument...

    This is a tricky debate as there are good sides to both arguments.

    On one hand, mountain bikes do tear up the trails and leave ruts. Then it rains, and the water follows an "unnatural" path down the mountain (i.e. across or down the trail) and it washes away the dirt and causes general erosion. Remember -- there are no tree roots or grasses in the trail itself to hold the dirt back. Then more mountain bikes ride through the ruts, and before long you've got a small canyon on your hands.

    On the other hand, what exactly defines "good erosion" versus "bad erosion"? Some times the trail has eroded down to bare rock, which would mean the trail won't erode any more. Backfilling the area with dirt will just make it slide down the mountain once again. And if we (humans) do the backfilling, we have to be taking the dirt from someplace else to fill in the holes. So are we just harming the surrounding environment more?

    There are times when I see the IMBA crews "sanitizing" the Trail 100. Some of the times I think they are doing the right thing -- filling in areas where water has followed bike ruts, causing all sorts of mayhem. Other times I think they are merely cleaning up the rocky sections to make the area more "rideable" (to whom? not me...), which I am against.

    Anyway, I don't know what the "right" answer is, or even if there is one. I have my own favorite sections of the trail that I want left unmolested, but then there are other areas that probably should be maintained.

    Thx...Doug

  10. #10
    Steep Hill
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    Why Why Why

    Quote Originally Posted by PaulB
    If they're dislodging rocks and back-filling the craters, then you've got a problem. I'd call county parks and rec and tell them someone's messing with the natural resources out there in that case (probably the next course of action since there's no ranger enforcement of non-inventory trails).
    Yeah, they are back filling those craters and other times leaving a pot-hole. Sad. Thanks for the info, I call county parks and rec and let you know if anything comes of it. I'll call, but I won't hold my breath.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ironbar
    I saw a guy out there at just that section (Assuming I'm thinkning of the same one) about one month ago....He looked to be an employe as he had a cart and many tools.
    Damn shame!
    ** Obey gravity. It's the law. **

  11. #11
    caninus xerophilous
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    Like it or not times are changing.



    More users = varying uses, varying skill levels, and varying expectations.

    Ranting with you from a Catalina perspective:

    The population in the area has exploded with the low interest rates driving the development bases economy with access to the trail network becoming a key selling point. The population has probably doubled since we moved there two years ago and the trail use has skyrocketed.

    The trail use has gone from a core user group of local equestrians, hikers and MTB’ers that had been quietly using, maintaining, and expanding the local trail network to a horde of new users of all groups and abilities whose idea of a great trail is mostly different that what the core locals idea of a great trail.

    Unfortunately for most of us long time MTB’ers, we have become a minority and other interest control what goes on there for the most part. Tour groups (equestrian and hiking) taking retired baby boomers and affluent “adventure” tourist horse riding and hiking are responsible for quite a bit of the “sanitation” that I have seen in the Catalina area.

    Also some of the local clubs (equestrian and MTB) have helped in the “dumbing down” of the main trails in an effort to maintain the trails in the face of the onslaught of uneducated and less skilled trail users in addition to the trail expectations of some individual members.

    Additionally there are some yahoos out there that perform modifications so that the trail meets their personal expectations.

    Of the three examples I cited I am most concerned about the tour operators. The people they cater to are transients and yet the business owners are so greedy for the green that they take anyone regardless of the ability on trails like Baby Jesus which of course must be sanitized to keep Ward and Doreatha from falling of their horses or turning an ankle. All this in turn leads to dumbed down sanitized lowest common denominator trails that are highly erosion prone as Baby Jesus has unfortunately become.

    I guess the bottom line to me is that we LOCAL users need to step up and get our voices heard lest we let out of staters, a few local users, and tour operators determine how or trails will look. Get of your bumbs and get involved! Times are changing.

    Ok, I step down from the soap box.

    Anybody ever been to Speakers Corner in London’s Hyde Park?

    Louis

  12. #12
    Steep Hill
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    Speakers Corner

    Quote Originally Posted by SunDog
    Anybody ever been to Speakers Corner in London’s Hyde Park? Louis
    I bet Srexy has. I will be in London (Soho) later this month, maybe I will check it out between pub crawls.
    ** Obey gravity. It's the law. **

  13. #13
    caninus xerophilous
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    Oi!

    Quote Originally Posted by AZClydesdale
    I bet Srexy has. I will be in London (Soho) later this month, maybe I will check it out between pub crawls.
    I believe Sunday is the big day, definately worth it.

    Louis

  14. #14
    MTBR Tool
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    Quote Originally Posted by SunDog
    I believe Sunday is the big day, definately worth it.

    Louis
    That is a very scary place Like the UN on crack...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgangi
    On one hand, mountain bikes do tear up the trails and leave ruts.
    Therein lies the problem. Responsible riders know how to ride without tearing up the trail and leaving ruts. It's pretty simple to do, don't skid, don't ride on muddy trails (which there are few of in Phx). I'd venture to say hikers and horseback riders do more trail damage than responsible riders.

    But as somebody pointed out below, they are multi-use trails, and a rock in the trail might be a good thing for us might be a bad thing for the President of the AARP hiking club.

  16. #16
    Occidental Tourist
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    Aren't you supposed to be in the land of nick and jessica ?

  17. #17
    Drugstore Trailrider
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    Let's Go Easy on this AARP thing!

    Quote Originally Posted by skinny-tire
    But as somebody pointed out below, they are multi-use trails, and a rock in the trail might be a good thing for us might be a bad thing for the President of the AARP hiking club.
    My AARP card is in my wallet sandwiched between my MBAA membership card and my NORBA racing license! Don't be too quick to generalize!

    I understand Sundogs point about multiuse trails, expecially in the Catalina area he is discussing, but when I started trail riding 18 months ago there wasn't a trail in Tucson I could ride well. I measure my progress not by cleaning up the hard parts so I can ride them, but by riding them over and over until I can ride them AS THEY ARE. Or walk if I can't.

    I may be retired, but I'm not old.

    John W.
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  18. #18
    I bike, I brew
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    I Concur completely - regarding the Catalina State Park/50-Year Trail sterilization. I've seen the guy at work - it's a State Park employee that drives up there in his Gator tractor and has been working on cleaning things up, putting water bars, etc. I too was extremely saddened with the sanitation of the rock garden that you cited. I *finally* got the guts to ride down it a few months ago, and it felt like a big step for my riding (and "guts") ability to say I finally cleaned it. Then the next time, just last week, I took a friend there wanting to show off... and found it baby-ized. He also pointed out that there's even an easier by-pass to the immediate west side for those that can't still do the baby-ized route.

    I don't know who else "sanitizes" trails, I know the club I belong to doesn't unless it's a bigger issue (erosion, etc.). I think it would be equally as important for guides to instruct proper trail riding by educating the knowledge of when to get off and walk if a rider thinks they need to. Cleaning is only a short term crutch that ruins it for the rest of us.

    Hank

    Quote Originally Posted by papajohn
    My "home course" is the 50-Year Trail area at Golder Ranch north of Tucson. One of the arms of the 50-Year Trail goes south to a gate at the northern boundary of the Catalina State Park, and a very fun single track leads down the ridge to the Park Equestrian Center.

    About halfway down the CSP portion of the trail were two short (each no more than 10 yards), rocky, steep chutes that were the biggest single challenge of the entire trail, both going up and down. I personally had still never cleaned the upper section going uphill, but love trying.

    This morning I rode that trail for the first time in a month or more (in the CSP) and someone had "improved" (sanitized) both of those sections so that my grandmother could clean them going either way. It REALLY PISSED ME OFF. I don't know who did it, but if you can't ride the section, walk it, and leave it for the rest of us. As an alternative you could go ride the Rillito Riverwalk down in Tucson and probably find it more to your liking.

    Rant on!

    John W.

  19. #19
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    Maybe on multi-use trails...

    *Some* rock removal may be OK on multi-use trails, but I have yet to see that it does anything other than add erosion problems where there used to be none. Take Fantasy island for example--there are any number of sections where someone has pulled out rocks to smooth the trail out. Now, particularly in the downhill sections, there are "bowls" (for lack of the correct word) where the rocks used to be. I'll grant that these still add some "technicality" to the trail, but it sure seems that the trail would live longer and maybe need a little less maintenance if the rocks were left where they were.
    And like most of you who've already weighed in on this, I'd rather walk a section and try to improve my riding skills than to see smooth trail. I might take my daughter to the Rillito bike path, but I like a little more challenge than that and I'm sure she'll want something tougher as she gets better.

  20. #20
    caninus xerophilous
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    What about the hack job on the High 50? (ranting on)



    A local equestrian club that has "permission" from the USFS to maintain the 50 Year Trail recently completed a brush back and created several bypasses on both the USFS and State land portions of the High 50 (Upper 50).

    In my opinion it was a very poorly planned and executed job, if any planning actually went into it. I have seen the brush backs conducted by equestrians on the trail network before and they appeared to be fairly well executed, although not to my liking. However I do understand the equestrians represent a major and influential user group and that their trail requirements vary from MTB’ers and hikers.

    This most recent cut back was done by ONE individual person from the equestrian club and it appears poorly done for the following reasons:

    1. Excessively cut back. In places the vegetation is cut back 6-8 feet from the trail.
    2. No clean up. The cut vegetation was left strewn trail side.
    3. Vegetation haphazardly cut. Branches were broken rather than properly cut.
    4. The bypasses appear to be poorly conceived. They were intended to bypass erosion prone/technical areas but are themselves very vulnerable to erosion.

    All this led me to conclude that the ONE person doing the work was:

    1. Unsupervised.
    2. Improperly trained.
    3. Improperly supported.


    It is a total shame that the equestrian club was allowed to conduct the brush back and bypasses to such low standards on what is a very beautiful section of public land. It appears to me that the trail will become wider and more erosion prone as a result of this ill conceived cut back. I understand someone has to do it, but they should be trained or supervised by qualified personnel and properly supported if they are working a public trail system, particularly USFS land.

    The status quo should not be allowed to continue, where in one person, representing one user group can alter the appearance and feel of a public trail on USFS or State land to what they perceive as a rideable trail, which is what I fear has occurred in this case.

    I voiced my concern to the USFS, if you find also find it excessive please call the USFS and voice your concern.

    Louis
    Last edited by SunDog; 04-13-2004 at 09:19 AM.

  21. #21
    Drugstore Trailrider
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    Upper 50

    Quote Originally Posted by SunDog


    A local equestrian club that has "permission" from the USFS to maintain the 50 Year Trail recently completed a brush back and created several bypasses on both the USFS and State land portions of the High 50 (Upper 50).

    In my opinion it was a very poorly planned and executed job, if any planning actually went into it. I have seen the brush backs conducted by equestrians on the trail network before and they appeared to be fairly well executed, although not to my liking. However I do understand the equestrians represent a major and influential user group and that their trail requirements vary from MTB’ers and hikers.

    I voiced my concern to the USFS, if you find also find it excessive please call the USFS and voice your concern.

    Louis
    Thanks Louis.

    I'll probably ride that trail this afternoon to get a look at what you are referring to. Don't get me started on what the equestrians have done to the Baby Jesus Trail. Their impact on that trail makes it almost unrideable for trailbikes most of the time.

    I appreciate your continuing concern and efforts to educate the rest of us regarding this whole issue.

    John W.
    Body Armor--Don't Leave Home Without It!

  22. #22
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    have you ridden rocky rid trail?

    i concur with the thoughts of taking rocks out of techy sections. rocky ridge in flag used to be the best warm up ride. techy sections to get you in shape for the new bike season. but no, some labia head couldn't handle the rocks and needed a trail that is easily cleaned now. i used to not be able to clean all of rocky ridge and that is what made it an awesome trail. now it's close to being paved. i agree that this is all horse crap and our flag techy sections are dwindling. how else can i work on balance riding smooth buttery single track all day. not that there is anything with buttery singletrack, but you need techy sections and trails to keep your skills honed and sharp. what is next, taking the rocks out of upper moto so it can easily be cleaned by these weenies on huffies.

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