Anyone else's local trails extra worn in for this time of year?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Anyone else's local trails extra worn in for this time of year?

    I think all the extra people out on the trails (hiking, running, and biking) due to COVID-19 have really made our trails in my area a lot more buff than in years past, with the trail really clean (few sticks/leaves/etc). Even seeing a few new trails and features pop up here and there. Is it similar where you live?

  2. #2
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    Everywhere.

  3. #3
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    Worn, rutted out and braided like crazy.
    AreBee

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    I've also had to avoid riding the weekends because trails and lots have been too busy.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arebee View Post
    Worn, rutted out and braided like crazy.
    All from a spring/early summer of slightly increased use?

    Sounds like those trails weren't very well designed or built.
    Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades.

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    Quote Originally Posted by iceboxsteve View Post
    All from a spring/early summer of slightly increased use?
    I think the point is that we haven't just seen "slightly" increased use but in many places maybe 3-5 times the normal use.

    But yes, this massive use is certainly exposing some trails that may not have been built incredibly well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by trimess View Post
    I think the point is that we haven't just seen "slightly" increased use but in many places maybe 3-5 times the normal use.

    But yes, this massive use is certainly exposing some trails that may not have been built incredibly well.
    Well I would say that is because this is CT and most of our "trails" are old legacy paths or rogue built by a small group for a small group.

    Versus the mentality regarding trails you find outside the northeast, where more and more they are viewed and treated like public infrastructure. With planning, design, and construction intended to provide the longest lasting positive experiences possible for the most people possible.

    We have a lot of trails for sure in the northeast, and lots of people but generally the trails and our land management agencies aren't interested in providing for everyone. We have a twisted view of conservation, where we think a trail that looks "primitive" is better for the environment.

    Just saying we could do much better, and the fact that the public actually got outside more and the trails suffered is proof. It's not like population swelled, people simply got outside more, in their own backyards and towns.

    I for one would love to see more of the public engaged in nature, their public lands, and trails. That often puts me at odds with our local riding scene.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceboxsteve View Post
    Well I would say that is because this is CT and most of our "trails" are old legacy paths or rogue built by a small group for a small group.
    I've been riding the same trail system in CT for almost 20 years and although there are some new trails being built there, the vast majority of the 60+ miles of trails are older legacy paths, hardpacked with with roots, rock and ledge. They were NOT new when I started riding them. They have taken some natural damage from year to year mostly from water erosion, but they have shown more "overuse" damage since February than I've seen in all of the previous years. Rocks being dislodged from trails, roots being further exposed, corners cut, and alternate easier routes around everything and anything.
    AreBee

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arebee View Post
    ...but they have shown more "overuse" damage since February than I've seen in all of the previous years. Rocks being dislodged from trails, roots being further exposed, corners cut, and alternate easier routes around everything and anything.
    That's not damage, that is wear and tear. That is a sign of a trail needing maintenance, or maybe (in CT likely) to be redesigned and rebuilt.

    Trails are (often) public resources, we have a big population density here in CT and New England. If the trails can't stand up to normal wear and tear from consistent use from that population, they probably need to be fixed.

    The braiding and easier line issues are more common this spring anecdotally, to me just a sign we have missed providing solid trail experiences for a segment of the population.

    These issues are easily fixed with more planning, design, and support. Unfortunately New England seems to have this trifecta of: bureaucratic red tape, a skewed sense of conservation, and a user group who likes the smaller-older MTB culture.

    DEEP has no interest in providing the recreation the state of CT deserves. But then again the MTB and trail user groups haven't really effectively asked for that.
    Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades.

  10. #10
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    I think our trails in Fairfield County are probably seeing 10x the use that they had last year. There are tons of people out on beater bikes, where neither the bike nor the rider have seen a trail in 10 years. I see groups of kids being dropped off because M&D want them out of the house!

    I think it's mostly a positive for us - as long as we all behave, more people using should bring more positive attention to trail maintenance. But a lot of the newbies ride when it's muddy, braid trails, skid around and rip things up, etc. And we all scare the crap out of the runners who obliviously run a trail with their airpods in and turned up loud.

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    re: DEEP - they're a joke unless they're talking about fishing.

  12. #12
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    DEM is RI is the same - they could care less about biking and wouldn't shed a tear if they closed areas to biking.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by trek7inCT View Post
    re: DEEP - they're a joke unless they're talking about fishing.
    Quote Originally Posted by habsfan View Post
    DEM is RI is the same - they could care less about biking and wouldn't shed a tear if they closed areas to biking.
    From what I can tell DCR in MA isn't much better. Why is it this way? We certainly have a ton of trails in the northeast, we are blessed with access in many ways compared to other regions.

    But, I'm also seeing other regions developing more and more, especially new modern stuff. Again and again I go back to to our history and culture.

    We have far older recreational history, when old roads and rake-n-ride were the norm. Our agencies are buggered up in bureaucratic red tape, and so heavily washed with outdated ideas, they don't want to try anything new.

    And we have this conservation ethic that is both very noble, but also pie-in-the-sky. As if just because a trail is primitive looking it has little impact. When you weigh this against the big population and their needs, it tends to pale for many of these smaller parcels we deal with in this part of the worl.

    But to me the real kicker is the community, a lot of riders don't want more people, smoother trails, or whatever it is they can complain about. Therefore we've never organized and dreamed big like other places.

    Its all a negative feedback loop; LM's do nothing, community doesn't ask for more/better, so LM's think nothing is right, and community complains LM does nothing so never ask....
    Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades.

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    Some of it is the 'purpose' of the land manager (DEEP/DEM/DCR) - if the land controlled is for conservation over recreation, that is most of the problem. RI has Management Areas, which is more conservation, whereas Parks and Recreation is for recreation.

    Frankly, many times the left doesn't know what the right is doing. There was a story on RI FB page that DEM Forestry was fixing a bridge in a swamp in one of their own parks and DEM Police served them a Ceast and Desist Order to stop the work. As we say 'Only in RI'.

    I get you in the other states that actively promote it - around here, it is being done by the land trusts and private owners.

    The vast divergent views from the riders sure doesn't help - from the old guard that likes things the way they are to the newer crop that want the Bentonville/KT trails everywhere. If as a group we can't even come to a concensus among ourselves, we'd be hard pressed to convince land managers.

  15. #15
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    I dunno...I've been riding in Eastern CT since late '80s and most of the riding around me is sort of a hidden treasure that still has very little traffic. Places like Grayville, Mooween, Day Pond, Gay City, Case, Bluff Pt, Hartman, Devils Hopyard, Nathan Hale, Crandalls, etc. Some days you need to plan ahead and the lots may be busy but I've ridden them all so many times I know great loops that most people have not discovered so there's never more than 2-3 people I run into on a typical 2hr ride. Rockland used to be in my rotation but it's been 'discovered' so I don't hit it much anymore but I can still do a great 12-14 mile loop and hardly see anyone even though the lot is full.

    Over the years I've ridden many popular areas in VT, NH, ME, NY, even NC but the 'destination' locations means crowds and every time I go to one of them I realize how great I have it right here.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceboxsteve View Post
    Well I would say that is because this is CT and most of our "trails" are old legacy paths or rogue built by a small group for a small group.
    I didn't quote it all, but agree with your entire post. I moved to CT from Oregon and there's a very different mindset between out west, and New England. I could post a great deal on this, but that's not what this thread is really about.

    To the OP's point, an article appeared just today in Forbes about mtb sales, and trail usage going up. Quotes from Dave Wiens as well.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/timnewc.../#22578ff33ddf

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rider51 View Post
    I didn't quote it all, but agree with your entire post. I moved to CT from Oregon and there's a very different mindset between out west, and New England. I could post a great deal on this, but that's not what this thread is really about.

    To the OP's point, an article appeared just today in Forbes about mtb sales, and trail usage going up. Quotes from Dave Wiens as well.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/timnewc.../#22578ff33ddf
    Welcome to New England! I too feel bad hijacking, but did want to point out to the OP and others these seemingly "trail use" issues to me are really a lack of amount and quality of local trails. We have a high population base, this use is easily anticipated. We need more and better trails, or else these issues will persist.

    I could go on and on with you, I have on here before. New England isn't a place for change. Puritanism is alive and well in our cold stubborn hearts.

    Some have hopes with NEMBA hiring a new ED, but I am betting on more of the same.
    Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rider51 View Post
    I didn't quote it all, but agree with your entire post. I moved to CT from Oregon and there's a very different mindset between out west, and New England. I could post a great deal on this, but that's not what this thread is really about.
    Small world, I moved to CT from Portland, OR about 2.5 years ago. Definitely some differences, but overall I've found a lot more riding options closer by than what I had in Portland.

    I should say that in general, I don't think the trails near me are on life support or anything and this point they're just being used a lot more. I don't think anybody anticipated a pandemic to cause 300-400% increase in trail usage in one spring. At least out by me (Danbury) area I don't think there is enough population density to support a big, purpose-built trail system) like what you're seeing in Arkansas or Minn. But I'm an XC rider, so I don't mind not having any features.

    And iceboxsteve, if you think conservationists are tough here in NE, you have should spend some time out west. Look at Forrest Park for a taste of Portland's decades-long MTB woes.
    https://www.koin.com/local/multnomah...bate-heats-up/

  19. #19
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    I've been on this forum for a long time and see the endless discussion about all the problems the 'destination' areas face from increased traffic. Trails being sanitized, legal troubles, violent incidents, areas being closed down due to dirtbags not respecting owners property, horse vs bike, hiker vs bike, ebike vs bike, even whacko's setting booby-traps for cryin out loud!

    Bottom line, no matter where you ride if it's a 'destination' it's not going to get better with time because people will ALWAYS screw it up eventually. Look at the VT Kingdom Trails threads...there's a bunch of them that go on and on about all the BS they are dealing with up there.

    This is precisely why we have it really good in some parts of New England. Eastern CT falls into this because it's NOT a destination and it never will be. There's great challenging XC trails at 6-8 areas with-in 30 minutes of my house that will never see any of the crap the 'destination' locations are constantly dealing with. Unless you need a lift to get you to the top, or a designer latte served to you at the bottom what can be better than that?
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceboxsteve View Post
    Welcome to New England! ...

    Some have hopes with NEMBA hiring a new ED, but I am betting on more of the same.
    Well, I have lived here for nearly a decade, and visited before, FWIW!

    I would imagine any change from a new NEMBA ED will be slow and gradual, New England Puritan style!

    Quote Originally Posted by trimess View Post
    Small world, I moved to CT from Portland, OR about 2.5 years ago. Definitely some differences, but overall I've found a lot more riding options closer by than what I had in Portland.
    Yes. I witnessed the same.

    And iceboxsteve, if you think conservationists are tough here in NE, you have should spend some time out west. Look at Forrest Park for a taste of Portland's decades-long MTB woes.
    https://www.koin.com/local/multnomah...bate-heats-up/
    True. This is something else I've had a hard time explaining to people. If in New England some 90% of all trails allow bicycling, in many areas out west 90% are strictly off limits. This topic alone could use it's own thread, but my experience is that:

    a) Putting people and bikes on many of the same trails has created a natural co-existence where both have learned to respect one another. I have witnessed this first hand in New England.

    b) Nature is viewed as being sacred through much of the west, even though there are vast square miles of it hardly touched, or if touched, done so by logging, mining, etc, which causes significantly more damage than trail building, let alone riding a bike on one.

    c) Mountain bikes barely damage trails much more than feet do, and horses can cause notably more damage. This isn't the case with all trails, as that article points out, but out west it is the default assumption that it does.

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    I feel like a lot of damages are result of less skilled riders.

    I can usually go down a hill without skidding but there are so many braking bumps now from folks hard on brakes before a turn. Once those bumps start, man they grow quickly.
    Now too, I'm in one of the parts of the world where trail conditions are as dry as dry gets, and the edges of trails are blown out from people missing the turns.....they are making the trail more narrow. haha
    Seriously though, with the edge of the bench being pushed away the trails are taking a beating from too many front wheels over the edge. I rode a trail last week that I haven't ridden for weeks and it's a lot worse than the previous.
    It's also been 100 degrees, one would think less traffic, but apparently not based on trail conditions.

    A lot more use
    Different level of riders on the trails either skidding to turns, skidding over bits a little more techy, therefore pulling early away with them.

    Alternatively, we could have our trails closed and preserve them.
    Regardless, yes the trails have seen more wear and tear/abuse and yes the trails are available for use by all to enjoy.

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    Parking lots have been a horror-show lately, especially multi-use lots. After we finished our ride last Sunday we were relaxing and having a beer, some woman pulled into a full lot and started yelling "It's not fair!" because we had multiple cars. I had my buddy block me in so she could park. She was so belligerent that I was worried that she'd tell the officer controlling the nearby lot that we were getting drunk and getting ready to drive.
    AreBee

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