If you're heading to Mammoth Cave National Park with your mountain bike, you can no longer pedal down the Sal Hollow Trail. However, if you're heading there with your horse, you can explore that trail with your steed.
Under the park's Comprehensive Trail Management Plan and Environmental Assessment, the 8-mile-long Sal Hollow Trail closed to bikes on September 1 and opened to horses on the same day; it has always been open to hikers and will continue to be open to hikers.
Meanwhile, construction of Big Hollow Trail, which is proposed to be open to both hikers and mountain bikers, is tentatively scheduled for this fall and winter.
“The opening of Big Hollow Trail for bike use is contingent upon approval of a new federal regulation that is now in process,” said Superintendent Patrick Reed.
The proposed special regulation to designate Big Hollow Trail for use by mountain bikes has been prepared and published in the Federal Register. The next step in this rulemaking process is to review the public comments, address issues, and obtain agency approval before the proposed rule is finalized. The park hopes that the special regulation will be finalized before construction of Big Hollow Trail is completed.
“There will be a period of time, from September 1, 2011, until the special regulation is complete, that there will not be a single-track bike trail within Mammoth Cave National Park designated for mountain bike use,” added Superintendent Reed.
Bicycling does, however, remains authorized on all park roads that are open to public vehicle travel, on the Mammoth Cave RR Bike/Hike Trail, and on five designated administrative roads.
Next year the park plans to develop a trail stewardship program; in the meantime, all trail users are asked to think about how and when they use park trails. Leave No Trace® is an excellent guide line, with principles such as plan ahead and prepare; travel on durable surfaces; dispose of waste properly; leave what you find; respect wildlife; and be considerate of other visitors.
"Any time I talk about trail work, I have to mention the significant contribution that our volunteers make to trail upkeep," said Superintendent Reed. "Anyone interested in volunteering at the park may contact our Volunteer-In-Park Coordinator Eddie Wells."
Wells can be reached at 270-758-2143, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The fall Backcountry Workdays (September 24, October 15, and November 19) will focus on the segment First Creek Trail that lies between the trailhead and Clell Road.