Singletracks trail statuses: How reliable are they?

Forums Mountain Bike Forum Singletracks trail statuses: How reliable are they?

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  • #118964

    So we recently received a request from a land manager (gov’t agency) asking us to stop reporting the status of a particular trail the agency manages. The land manager stated they want to be the only source of trail closure information which totally makes sense since they have the final (and official) say.

    That got me thinking: how accurate/useful are the Singletracks trail status reports anyway? I know Corey mentioned that maybe we ought to reset really old statuses (like, if they hadn’t been updated in months) but honestly, conditions change every day due to rain/weather. For me personally, if I’m going to be traveling a long way to ride a trail I often verify the official status anyway using a club website, etc.

    So is it a waste of time to collect and display user-generated trail status updates on Singletracks?

  • #118965

    It seems throughout the course of your post, you convinced yourself that they aren’t, so I’m not sure if answers are even needed 😀

    FWIW, I do not check trail statuses because I ride trails I’m very familiar with and am usually there often enough to be the first one(of this site’s members’) across any changes in the trail system. I do leave a proper status for each trail when I check in.

    That being said, it seems if you simply change the system to "warnings", instead of status, for instance, "is there something about the trail we should know about?", that it would give the folks with the big hats and salaries to match absolutely nothing to complain about. They can’t really take issue with someone reporting a downed tree or washed out section and nobody is trying to take their job away by stating that the trail is "open".

    PS: and be sure to roll the warnings off as time progresses. You can either attach dates to the warnings or simply use shading to lower the importance of them as they age.

  • #118966
    "schwim" wrote

    it seems if you simply change the system to "warnings", instead of status, for instance, "is there something about the trail we should know about?", that it would give the folks with the big hats and salaries to match absolutely nothing to complain about. They can’t really take issue with someone reporting a downed tree or washed out section and nobody is trying to take their job away by stating that the trail is "open".
    PS: and be sure to roll the warnings off as time progresses. You can either attach dates to the warnings or simply use shading to lower the importance of them as they age.

    This is an excellent idea. I rode a trail the other day (I also update trail status when I ride even if I was just there a few days prior) and was hesitant to update the status to "Needs Maintenance". Although there were a few trees down because of recent storms it didn’t really take away from the ride at all. I don’t want to stop someone from riding a trail because of a negative status. I agree that maybe a "Trail Update System" where riders can list possible issues with the trail would be more beneficial. Of course people have to update them. For example: FATS "Trail Status" has not been updated since 4/13/13. I’m sure someone that uses this site has road there since then. The system will only work if we use it. Maybe offer incentives for updates. If you "check-in" at a trail you get a badge. Why not create an incentive program for updates?

  • #118967

    Thanks guys. Schwim, I actually had a similar thought: what if we just took away the "open" and "closed" statuses and made the choices more subjective? We were kinda moving in this direction recently anyway, adding "groomed" and "frozen/icy" to the list.

    Ok, so what statuses should we offer as choices? Here are some I’ve been kicking around:

    – Tacky
    – Muddy
    – Hardpack
    – Dry/dusty
    – Frozen/snow
    – Neglected (or is "needs maintenance" better? overgrown?)

    The cool thing is we’re now saving trail status histories which might be interesting to chart over time. For example, you could look over the Trail 401 (Crested Butte) status history to see when the trail switched from muddy to tacky to hardpack from year to year to help plan a summer trip.

    Might also be helpful to add a link to the official trail status page maintained by the land manager or club. When we first added the trail status function very few clubs were doing this on their own website but now it seems like many do…

  • #118968

    Yeah this is a tough call. For some trails like Monarch Crest, it’s good to know when it does finally open, but Absolute bikes runs a web page for that which is updated frequently. For other trails, more often than not the data is so outdated that it’s useless, or like you mentioned, subject to daily weather fluctuations.

    What about replacing that link with an ‘Official Info’ link, even though it would be a lot of work initially to start building that list.

  • #118969

    One way to improve it is to have links to either clubs or land managers that close/open the trails. I for one will give updates to problems to my local group sorbacsra about FATS (my afterwork ride) and the other trails in the area. If I am going to a new area I will use singletracks for overall impression but will look up the local club for more up to date info.

  • #118970

    I think where the current difficulty with the trail statuses lies is what others have already mentioned: inconsistent use. I have this vision of every Mtber using Singletracks and updating the trail status via the app every time they ride, but that vision might be a ways off.

    I do think that the inclusion of the trail status update with the check ins is an excellent feature, and I hope that we’ll see a pretty immediate increase in trail status updates as the trail challenge gets rolling.

    However, I do think the idea of more subjective listings is a good one. While some trails that are more tightly managed are "closed", most on the national forest NEVER close, but at certain times should t be ridden due to wet conditions.

    As for what statuses we SHOULD have, I think the ones you provided, Jeff, are a good start. As for needs maintenance, would it be overkill to add specific ones like "downed trees," "overgrown," etc? Also, might want to add a "leaf covered" status for fall riding conditions.

  • #118971
    "jeff" wrote

    Ok, so what statuses should we offer as choices? Here are some I’ve been kicking around:

    – Tacky
    – Muddy
    – Hardpack
    – Dry/dusty
    – Frozen/snow
    – Neglected (or is "needs maintenance" better? overgrown?)

    I think vagueness is your enemy in this particular case. "Neglected" could still be construed as trying to do the manager’s job. Overgrown, rutted, muddy, dusty, etc. are all traits that would be useful to know about and in no way could be something that the managers would take as their task to tell you. They let you know when you can and can’t ride there. Use us to tell you what to expect.

  • #118972
    "schwim" wrote

    Use us to tell you what to expect.

    Right, I’m thinking *maybe* really geeky people will want to know so they can choose which bike or tires to run based on conditions.

    Leaf cover is a good one to add and I think you’re right–we need the maintenance option to be more specific. Do these cover it?

    – Leaf-covered
    – Overgrown [as in, difficult to follow]
    – Down trees [this one is tough because some down trees are left there on purpose 😀 ]

  • #118973

    Don’t forget "lots of thorns!" 😀 Last week’s brush creek portion of my ride left me looking like I got into a fight with a switchblade salesman.

  • #118974
    "schwim" wrote

    Don’t forget "lots of thorns!" 😀 Last week’s brush creek portion of my ride left me looking like I got into a fight with a switchblade salesman.

    I think that could be covered in overgrown, but I hate it when that happens!

    Other ideas:
    "Rutted" or "washed out"

  • #118975
    "mtbgreg1" wrote

    "Rutted" or "washed out"

    I thought about this one too but figured erosion is more of a long-term condition (except when it isn’t 😀 ).

  • #118976
    "jeff" wrote

    [quote="mtbgreg1":3r5dnpxv]"Rutted" or "washed out"

    I thought about this one too but figured erosion is more of a long-term condition (except when it isn’t 😀 ).[/quote:3r5dnpxv]

    Yeah, I was kind of thinking about after a torrential rain… But that damage is harder to fix and migh be around for a while too.

  • #118977

    I do try to consistently update the trails in my area after noticing that some trails I ride hadn’t had a status update in years. While the status was accurate, if I was coming in from another area, I wouldn’t trust it.

    One missing status I had trouble with was for Northstar resort (this would be a similar issue for any of the other resorts listed). While it is no longer frozen or muddy, the trails just aren’t open until June, so there really isn’t a good status for that (I chose frozen, as it is a ski resort and posted the opening date in the trail review). Maybe add a a seasonal closure option? I do look at the status, when I’m thinking about traveling somewhere to ride, so I think it should stay.

  • #118978

    I’ve started updating every time I check in, even if the last time was yesterday… only takes a few seconds… And while – for the most part – here in Orange County, So Cal, especially in summer the trails will be the same as the day before, I appreciate that’s not the case for everywhere else in the country.

    Its a useful feature, as I expand my wish list, looking at a trail status is a big help, well, to me anyway. Providing its (fairly) current…

  • #118979

    When I go ride a new trail in an area I’m not totally familiar with, the first thing I check is the rainfall and weather conditions in that area over the last 24-48 hours. I’m not lazy, but it sure would be cool to have that info right on the trail homepage to make an educated decision on whether or not I can get a ride in on a reasonably dry trail.

  • #118980

    Weather channel, and Singletracks are the first two sites on my tool bar. Being able to check previous days/ weeks rainfall is really helpful in deciding where I’m going to stop and ride.
    Jeff I really like the idea of adding a link to the local club/land managers site, the more info I can get the better. Some clubs are very good at current trail conditions, and some not.
    A more detailed trail status would also be helpful.

  • #118981

    Most of your suggested statuses will work, Jeff. But, for example, "overgrown" could be translated in a different way by different people. Once I rode a trail in WI that had been described as Overgrown in the most recent review. What I saw was an excellent singletrack with tall grass on the sides. What I can rate as Overgrown is a short part of Maah Daah Hey where you barely see a trail snaking through 6" tall vegetation.
    "Wet" or "Muddy" are probably will be equal to "Closed".
    Still, it depends on users who update status. And mostly users are lazy to perform this simple task. While I update trail status everytime I ride I do rely more on weather channel to determine either should I ride that trail or not.

  • #118982
    "stumpyfsr" wrote

    Most of your suggested statuses will work, Jeff. But, for example, "overgrown" could be translated in a different way by different people. Once I rode a trail in WI that had been described as Overgrown in the most recent review. What I saw was an excellent singletrack with tall grass on the sides. What I can rate as Overgrown is a short part of Maah Daah Hey where you barely see a trail snaking through 6" tall vegetation.
    "Wet" or "Muddy" are probably will be equal to "Closed".
    Still, it depends on users who update status. And mostly users are lazy to perform this simple task. While I update trail status everytime I ride I do rely more on weather channel to determine either should I ride that trail or not.

    Agree; trail conditions can be very subjective to the user. I don’t consider a trail overgrown unless I come away bloody, same with downed trees, 3 trees down on a 10 mile trail does not mean needs maint. But then thats just me.
    We see the same thing in the reviews, what one person sees as hike-a-bike rocky, another sees as fun rocks to play on.

  • #118983

    Absolutely, all of these status options are subjective and that’s kinda the idea. I mean, trails start out muddy and become tacky… but who’s to say when a trail crosses that threshold?

    Regarding weather, I personally don’t use rainfall as a guide because each trail drains differently. After living here in Atlanta for several years I kinda know which trails will be in good riding shape the quickest after a rain and I plan accordingly. But out-of-towners don’t have that knowledge.

    With that in mind, I think it might be helpful to know someone reported the trail "muddy" two days ago. If it hasn’t rained since then, there’s a good chance the trails aren’t muddy anymore.

    I do think we should expire the statuses after a certain time period, say a week?

  • #118984
    "jeff" wrote

    I do think we should expire the statuses after a certain time period, say a week?

    This is great idea!

  • #118985

    I agree that it’s beneficial to have them expire.

    If coding hours were no object, it would be super doozy to have the app "follow up" with the rider checking in sometime after the ride(perhaps an icon in the taskbar):

    "Hey, Bob Geldof reported this trail as being "overgrown". Is that still the case?" and allow them to modify the status.

    I suggest the follow up approach because the current setup lends itself to pulling up to the parking lot, checking in and hitting "open" because they haven’t actually ridden the trail yet. I had to change my habits to checking in at the end of my ride so I could give a truthful status report.

  • #118986
    "stumpyfsr" wrote

    [quote="jeff":1arpmeab]
    I do think we should expire the statuses after a certain time period, say a week?

    This is great idea![/quote:1arpmeab]

    Good idea. But since a week isn’t very long, could it be possible to send an email notification to the last person that updated the status asking if they would like to renew their trail status? This might help people remember to keep trails up to date.

    I would think maybe a month expiration would be better than a week?

  • #118987

    Our new website for the gateway off road cyclists [url:35qa39l9]http://www.gorctrails.com[/url:35qa39l9] takes the status of a trail back to unknown after 3 days if not updated! A lot can change in just a few days let alone a week or a month. I would rather see unknown and go check it out then see dry and packed and get all geared up to find out it is horrible out!!!

  • #118988
    "Stl_Greaser" wrote

    Our new website for the gateway off road cyclists [url:2ssufkoo]http://www.gorctrails.com[/url:2ssufkoo] takes the status of a trail back to unknown after 3 days if not updated! A lot can change in just a few days let alone a week or a month. I would rather see unknown and go check it out then see dry and packed and get all geared up to find out it is horrible out!!!

    +1

  • #118989

    Also if you could add a section where the submitter could leave limited text, mayby a 100 to 150 characters to leave any notes. "a few puddles but overall rideable" "Upper trails are good to go, lower trails are under water due to high river" "The most perfect conditions ever, what are you waiting for!" You know stuff like that!

  • #118990
    "Stl_Greaser" wrote

    Also if you could add a section where the submitter could leave limited text, mayby a 100 to 150 characters to leave any notes. "a few puddles but overall rideable" "Upper trails are good to go, lower trails are under water due to high river" "The most perfect conditions ever, what are you waiting for!" You know stuff like that!

    We’ll have to see if there’s a way to keep it simple so people will actually use it… but also allow more details for those who want to add them.

  • #118991

    True!

  • #118992

    Ill always update the trails in CB as they open but I will not be doing it every week. Like Jeff said every trail in every region is different, If it rains in CB and the sun comes out after… the trails will be amazing! 😃

  • #118993
    "Stl_Greaser" wrote

    Also if you could add a section where the submitter could leave limited text, mayby a 100 to 150 characters to leave any notes. "a few puddles but overall ridable" "Upper trails are good to go, lower trails are under water due to high river" "The most perfect conditions ever, what are you waiting for!" You know stuff like that!

    Really like that idea. 😃 Many trail systems some of the trails are ridable right after rain some not. Especially helpful in the spring as trails dry out/ snow melts. Locals know, out of towners don’t.

  • #118994

    I think a link to the land manager would solve a lot of questions. Here in S Florida summers rain is quite frequent and our trail will close if it received an inch or more the previous afternoon. We have a club FB Page that announces closures, but the primary source is the land manager.

    [url:2x8t7zrd]http://www.leeparks.org/facility-info/facility-details.cfm?Project_Num=0253[/url:2x8t7zrd]
    [url:2x8t7zrd]https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mudcutters/147312821987511?v=wall[/url:2x8t7zrd]

    Even with this we still have the whiners that will drive 150 miles to find the trail gated.

  • #118995

    I agree that it is a waste of time for you to post the trail status and unless updated daily it is inaccurate. I too always look it up through my local site or call a pre-recorded daily update rather than check Singletracks.

  • #118996

    The trail status listed here is useless and completely unreliable. This kind of status can change daily. However, linking to the official trail manager is of huge benefit as a quick reference <Click here for official trail status>. …and being able to leave a short comment from your most recent ride is also useful.

  • #118997

    Check out how these guys handle it, as well as the disclaimer to go check the forums …

    http://www.bhmba.org/trails

  • #118998

    That is about how we handle our trail conditions over at GORC
    [url:2trgfj8w]http://www.gorctrails.com[/url:2trgfj8w]

  • #118999

    I guess i take a look at the system differently. There are a bunch of what i call outlaw trails that were made in my area and while at one time they may have been open and the private landholder ok with the trails they are no longer either ok with it or the property has changed hands. So the trails are listed as closed now. I actually have contacted one of the landowners and was told anyone caught riding on their land would be arrested. I don’t really look to them on a day to day basis but for if they are still able to be ridden at all. I do however like the idea of status but it seems there aren’t many singletracks users in my area of the world so not sure it would affect me much.

  • #119000

    Anyone else having this problem? When I update the trail status on the app, it will change… on the app. But, when I look on the website the trail status is not updated. So, I tried to update on the website, and it reverts back to no status. ??????

  • #119001
    "PSUtuna" wrote

    Anyone else having this problem? When I update the trail status on the app, it will change… on the app. But, when I look on the website the trail status is not updated. So, I tried to update on the website, and it reverts back to no status. ??????

    This is a known bug that Jeff is working on resolving, but thanks for mentioning it!

  • #119002
    "mtbgreg1" wrote

    [quote="PSUtuna":2eikzwmt]Anyone else having this problem? When I update the trail status on the app, it will change… on the app. But, when I look on the website the trail status is not updated. So, I tried to update on the website, and it reverts back to no status. ??????

    This is a known bug that Jeff is working on resolving, but thanks for mentioning it![/quote:2eikzwmt]

    Sounds good! Thanks!

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