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Photo: Matt Gephardt, KTVX. Courtesy abc4.com.

Don’t get us wrong, we love the US Forest Service. The Forest Service is one of the biggest federal supporters of mountain biking and most of our favorite mountain bike trails around the US are located on Forest Service land. But methods used in a recent trail closure near Salt Lake City, UT leave us scratching our heads.

In Little Cottonwood Canyon, Forest Service workers closed off an unauthorized trail used by mountain bikers by cutting down mature trees to block the path. According to this article, agency workers claim this is the most natural way to close a trail (we might add it’s also one of the quickest and easiest ways to do it). Nothing harshes the flow more than huge trees trunks and tops blocking a trail and we predict this will be very effective at keeping riders out.

But what about the environmental impact of felling mature trees just to block a trail? Obviously the trees can’t be harvested – then they wouldn’t doing their job blocking the trail. The Forest Service claims the old trail was damaging the watershed – but how damaging is removing living trees? We hope there’s more to this story (like the downed trees were infested with Pine Beetles or something)…

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Sope Creek trail closure.

Last year during a trail work day at Sope Creek our group closed some old bike trails by piling logs, leaves, and branches from the surrounding forest on top of the old track. After a few hours it was literally impossible to know there was ever a trail there. Sure, we had plenty of manpower and there was a good supply of natural debris in the surrounding woods but these were wide paths – wide enough for a car to drive down. I’m sure after we were done no one wanted to ride their bike down the old path, even if they had the log hopping skills of Hans Rey.

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# Comments

  • Goo

    Sometimes you think they can’t get stupider (closed trails in Bozeman), and now this….

  • eastwood

    Closing trails is one thing… but cutting down healthy trees to do it…. you are the freakin forest service, you can’t find some dead downed trees to utilize as trail barriers??

  • Asfyxiate

    I live in Vermont, the state is about 90% forested, and this is a pretty common method. However this doesn’t work in the slightest around here. People end up creating a ramp or jump from the tree, and it usually works!!

    I say don’t bother cutting down a live tree, because for those who couldn’t make use of it, they take a chain saw and make fire wood out of it in about 5 minutes… pointless tactic all around.

    If the trail is worth riding, then a fallen tree will not stop riders.

  • pulaskimcloud

    It does seem counterintuitive to fell trees to block a trail….but why were mtn bikers riding it to begin with??? If it is unauthorized/illegal, stay off the trail….or work with USFS and see if they can make it legal.

    If our user group continues to just ride wherever we want to…with a blatant disregard of the rules set forth by the landowner, this type of event will just make it more difficult for all of us to ride anywhere. Play by the rules or go home.

  • trek7k

    @pulaskimcloud: I think most of us agree mountain bikers should ride responsibly and that the FS has every right to close unauthorized trails. The issue here is the method they used to keep bikers out.

  • pulaskimcloud

    trek7k..I agree…their method of felling good trees to block a trail is just needless destruction and such a waste of natural beauty. I wonder if the FS had any type of communication with any of the area’s mtn bike clubs about this?

  • DairyRidgeRider

    We are having the same situation in Croft Natural Area. The bike trails are not officially recognized, but they have been in existence for ten plus years. What does a six inch bike trail really hurt?

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