International Mountain Bicycling Association Wants Access To National Scenic Trails

The International Mountain Bicycling Association is running a campaign to gain access to National Scenic Trails, such as the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, and is being opposed by the American Hiking Society and watched by other groups.

While IMBA touts the campaign as a way to allow mountain bikers to "continue to enjoy our nation's best trails and open bike access on more," the American Hiking Society counters by stating that it "believes that trails that allow hikers to explore the outdoors without competing with bicyclists are in some instances entirely appropriate."

Across the country there are a number of national scenic trails -- the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, and the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail, just to name a few. While many of the trails are managed by the National Park Service, others are managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. As might be expected, these different entities have different regulations when it comes to mountain bikes on national scenic trails.

The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, which is managed by the Forest Service, permits mountain bike use "along those segments that are outside of designated and recommended wilderness areas, and have been approved by the federal land managers. However, these activities may only occur as long as they do not 'substantially interfere' with the nature and purposes for which the trail was created- namely foot and stock use."

The Park Service, meanwhile, prohibits mountain bikes on the Appalachian Trail. Bikes also are prohibited on the Pacific Crest Trail, which is managed by the Forest Service.

IMBA Communications Director Mark Eller did not respond to a Traveler inquiry as to which national scenic trails his group wants access to. However, in a blog post on IMBA's site in August he wrote that there obviously are some trails too rugged for bikers.

"The Appalachian Trail is specifically designated as a foot-travel route, and as someone who spent many years leading backpacking trips on the AT in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania I can tell you that it ... would not make an appealing venue for mountain biking. Other trails traverse wilderness parcels where biking isn't an option," he wrote.

"IMBA is not being absolutist in our approach. We are more than willing to discuss how to advance more opportunities for long-distance trails, and where bikes will, and will not, be a welcome addition," he added. "It's a discussion we hope to have with many groups, and land managers, in upcoming weeks. Ideally, we could all talk while enjoying a nice hike, or bike ride, together."

IMBA's efforts to expand biking access onto national scenic trails is being watched by a number of groups, including the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

"The National Scenic Trails community, as well as the American Hiking Society, is aware of IMBA's push for biking access on some portions of National Scenic Trails. ATC has seen recent rhetoric and we are working collectively with the Partnership for the National Scenic Trails and the AHS to address concerns with IMBA's initiative," Laura Belleville, director of conservation for the Conservancy, said in an email.

"The A.T. is designated 'footpath only' by Congress, and we have not had any specific proposals for bike access on the A.T. Thus far we have not made any organizational statements about IMBA's 'campaign,' but we fully support PNTS and AHS," she added. "We are carefully watching the campaign and will offer a statement at the appropriate time if necessary."

Comments

Go IMBA. The legality of the PCT closure is questionable, and it's about time that mountain biking becomes legalized again on the non wilderness portions of the PCT. Although, it really makes no difference on the ground. People ride the perfect cycling trail all the time.


People ride the perfect cycling trail all the time.


Zeb - That really doesn't help your cause. You know I am not anti biking, and having never been on the PCT I can't opine on its suitability for biking. But what I do know is that if folks are breaking the existing rules, its unlikely they will get much trust in following new ones. Please encourage your constituents to obey the existing rules and petition for change through legitimate channels.

I'm one of the founders and a core member of the Pacific Crest Trail Reassessment Initiative (PCTRI), which since 2010 has sought to restore the bicycle access to the PCT that existed before the summer of 1988. It was in that year, a quarter-century ago, that three Forest Service employees typed up an order excluding bicycles from the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT). The three gentlemen found a forest management provision that's ordinarily used to close a campsite for a couple of weeks to clear out a beehive and mistakenly invoked it to issue a long-term order. Then, everyone forgot that this type of order is supposed to be temporary; moreover, in 1988 no mountain bike group was around to point out to the Forest Service its mistake. The no-bikes signs went up and so it was until 2010, when PCTRI began its work.

The 1988 typewritten closure order plainly violates the federal Administrative Procedure Act. There was no public notice and opportunity to comment. It is not codified as a regulation. It is thus unlike the bicycle ban in federally designated Wilderness, which, although foolish, outdated, and misguided, at least is in a regulation that was enacted following an opportunity for public comment, although at the time (circa 1977-1984) there were almost no bicycles on trails so the public comment response was tiny, maybe just one comment on one key occasion.

As for the Appalachian Trail, no one seeks bicycle access to it. First, unlike the PCT and Continental Divide Nat'l Scenic Trail, on which the governing statute expressly authorizes bicycle use if otherwise justified, the Appalachian Trail is statutorily designated as a footpath. Second, anyone who's ever walked any part of the AT will soon see that it's unsuitable for riding a bike. Frankly, it's unsuitable for hiking too, because its design is so bad. But many hikers who are not also mountain bikers tend to know little about modern trail design (it's mountain bikers who are spearheading those advances) and will put up with dreadful trail layouts.

Although PCTRI welcomes IMBA's support, and that support is key to restoring access to the PCT, IMBA did not launch this effort on its own. It came from PCTRI, and we should be the target of any criticism, however misguided.

Meanwhile, the American Hiking Society's (AHS) campaign has been, and continues to be, laughably clumsy. It has consisted of Jim Crow-style rhetoric that readers of this page can assess for themselves. (See https://www.facebook.com/AmericanHiking.) To wit: its campaign slogans have been "Some Trails Weren't Meant to Be Shared" (which is what apartheid-minded whites also said about the beaches in Durban, South Africa) and "Is a hiking-only trail really too much to ask for?," which overlooks that the entire Wilderness Preservation System trail network is already limited to hikers, the only other allowed users being the profit-making dude ranch outfitters who despoil Wilderness trails and meadows with their giant trains of lumbering mammals.

It may be noted that the American Hiking Society gets only a mediocre two-star rating from Charity Navigator (http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=10990#.Uh-rOH9h_hI), which may be contrasted with IMBA's top four-star rank (http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=10677#.Uh-rmn9h_hI). Also, the latest statistics for the AHS show, also according to Charity Navigator, "Primary Revenue Growth" of -8.0% and "Program Expenses Growth" of -8.1%. So one has to wonder whether this antibike campaign is born of desperation.

But I digress . . . .

Back to the PCT. The PCT is mostly empty most of the year. Major parts of its are overgrown from underuse. The Pacific Crest Trail Association has been unremittingly hostile to PCTRI, but it admits that the trail cannot be properly maintained under present circumstances, in which it is set aside basically for a few hundred through-hikers that traverse a particular section during a period of few weeks, leaving vast swaths of the trail unused for the rest of the year. PCTRI seeks the restoration of access only to the 60% of the trail that lies outside Wilderness. Sooner or later, we will succeed, and everyone, not just mountain bikers, will be better off for it, as will be the PCT itself. In fact we'd like to set up a system to ferry water to the PCT hikers who run out of it and have occasionally had to be evacuated because of dehydration.

We invite readers to see our two websites for more information:

http://www.sharingthepct.org/

https://www.facebook.com/SharingThePct

Hi National Parks Traveler -- I'm the Mark Eller mentioned in the story. Never received a request from you for comment on this piece. I'd be happy to do so if you plan a followup story. An important note I'd like to add is that IMBA fully accepts that the Appalachian Trail was enacted as a foot-travel-only route. Many other National Scenic Trails may have potential for improved bicycle access, as the story describes.

Mark, wonder if the request got eaten by your spam filter...sent it August 23. As for the A.T., I hear there are some IMBA groups near the trail who are eyeing it lovingly...;-)

But now that you're here, could you explain what National Scenic Trails IMBA is interested in accessing, aside from the Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail?

Well that can't be right. Are you saying, as fact, that the USFS is blatantly violating their own rules?

How would a group go about "fixing" that? They can't simply ignore you can they?

Why should we allow horses on trails but not mountain bikes?

I'd like to expand the scope of this discussion to include National Parks like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There is a great need for a complete reassessment of all hiking trails in the Smokies for purposes of determining their suitability for use as horse trails. Presently, nearly 80% of the hiking trails in the Smokies are dual-use (horse and hiker). Many of those trails are clearly well-suited for use by mountain bikes, however, with a few exceptions, all trails in the Smokies are off-limits to bicycle usage. My view has always been that horses do far more damage and, in the minds of hikers, are much less welcome on trails than mountain bikes. With proper selection, many hiking trails in most national parks could be multi-use (hike, bike & horse), especially for those parks allowing horse travel on the same trails.

Hi, Sarah,

Yes, the no-bikes rule on the PCT does, in our view, violate federal law and we've pointed this out repeatedly to the Forest Service, which, as of this writing, continues to contemplate our arguments, although the agency did reject our initial petition earlier this year. Ultimately, if we can't persuade the agency to follow the Administrative Procedure Act, someone is going to have to challenge the 1988 closure order in court.


My view has always been that horses do far more damage


Absolutely no doubt about that. However, I must dispute imtbikes contention the AT is a poor hiking trail. This is a great trail as thousands of through and section hikers will attest each year. And, while mostly not conducive to bikes, there are actually a few sections that could easily accommodate bikes. (the 30 miles north of Harpers Ferry immediately comes to mind)

Hi, ecbuck,

Thanks for replying. I did overgeneralize. One risk of writing quickly is that of reducing things to stereotypes. I'm extrapolating from a few sections I've seen in Mass. and Vt., which were fall-line, steep, muddy, mosquito-ridden, rooty, and/or eroded. (And that was in the 1970s.) For all I know 90% of the AT could be fine! However, I would suspect that the AT's age gives it problems in areas other than those I've seen.

I think that mountain bikers generally, and the International Mountain Bicycling Association specifically, have brought trail design and construction into a golden age that has long escaped a number of public land managers (although the NPS trails I've seen seem to be well-designed and -built). Obviously I've seen only a tiny amount of the National Forest and BLM Wilderness trails, but in my experience many have been either (a) semiabandoned or (b) loved to death, particularly by horses and packstock, and never designed for the use they're getting. The miles (so far just a handful, maybe in the hundreds) of IMBA Trail Solutions-designed trails are, by contrast, marvels of engineering. I think Kurt disagrees with me on this, though.

I've been to Harper's Ferry, W.Va., but never hiked the AT there. It sounds idyllic, because the area around Harper's Ferry is beautiful. (Again, I may be oversimplifying, but that's my recollection of it, which also dates back to the 1970s.)

Ec, I'm just stating the facts. Furthermore, many sections the PCT, like most backcountry trails, are mostly empty outside of the through hiker season, and could benefit from a bit more use. Whether cyclists use it or not is not going to impact the decision of the USFS.


Whether cyclists use it or not is not going to impact the decision of the USFS.


I don't know that if that is true. If the USFS, or the general public whose support you are trying to garner views you as "outlaws", you aren't going to win their support regardless of the merits.


Whether cyclists use it or not is not going to impact the decision of the USFS.


I don't know that if that is true. If the USFS, or the general public whose support you are trying to garner views you as "outlaws", you aren't going to win their support regardless of the merits.

EC, I think it's harmless. HOHAs would not support cycling regardless of whether cyclists follow that inane closure order or not. The rest of the population does not care. So, in the eye of Joe Public, following or not following the closure order will make zero difference. LIfe is short, might as well enjoy while one can.

As for the USFS, they clearly have been dragging their feet on this one. The reason is pretty obvious, reviewing the closure order has no upside for them. It's a lot more work, and regardless of the outcome, some vocal minority will be upset. One just needs to look at the PCT-L posts to see the hatred that came out when the initiative was announced. I'm guessing that the USFS would rather try to wiggle its way out of doing anything.

Zebulon is referring to the Pacific Crest Trail Association-affiliated listserv PCT_L, on which one or more people have threatened to lay maiming or lethal mantraps for any cyclists who might ride the PCT if multiuse is restored, to sabotage the trail to try to thwart cyclists' use, and/or to try to block cyclists bodily.

It's a disgrace to the PCTA that it hasn't censured the fanatics in its midst. (It's an interesting cultural question what gives rise to such fanaticism in the first place.) Moreover, the violence-minded are foolish to vent on PCT_L, since their statements can be used against them in any eventual prosecutions for murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault, simple assault, battery, and/or false imprisonment.

See, e.g., the discussion for October 2012 on PCT_L:

http://mailman.backcountry.net/pipermail/pct-l/2012-October/subject.html

National Parks Traveler and IMBA aren't honest enough to admit that mountain bikers ALREADY have access to all of these trails: ON FOOT, just like everyone else. They are just too lazy to walk. But that's no reason to change the rule.

Bicycles should not be allowed in any natural area. They are inanimate objects and have no rights. There is also no right to mountain bike. That was settled in federal court in 1996: http://mjvande.nfshost.com/mtb10.htm . It's dishonest of mountain bikers to say that they don't have access to trails closed to bikes. They have EXACTLY the same access as everyone else -- ON FOOT! Why isn't that good enough for mountain bikers? They are all capable of walking....

A favorite myth of mountain bikers is that mountain biking is no more harmful to wildlife, people, and the environment than hiking, and that science supports that view. Of course, it's not true. To settle the matter once and for all, I read all of the research they cited, and wrote a review of the research on mountain biking impacts (see http://mjvande.nfshost.com/scb7.htm ). I found that of the seven studies they cited, (1) all were written by mountain bikers, and (2) in every case, the authors misinterpreted their own data, in order to come to the conclusion that they favored. They also studiously avoided mentioning another scientific study (Wisdom et al) which did not favor mountain biking, and came to the opposite conclusions.

Those were all experimental studies. Two other studies (by White et al and by Jeff Marion) used a survey design, which is inherently incapable of answering that question (comparing hiking with mountain biking). I only mention them because mountain bikers often cite them, but scientifically, they are worthless.

Mountain biking accelerates erosion, creates V-shaped ruts, kills small animals and plants on and next to the trail, drives wildlife and other trail users out of the area, and, worst of all, teaches kids that the rough treatment of nature is okay (it's NOT!). What's good about THAT?

To see exactly what harm mountain biking does to the land, watch this 5-minute video: http://vimeo.com/48784297.

For more information: http://mjvande.nfshost.com/mtbfaq.htm .

If the Smokies allows horses on the fragile trail system then parity for mtn bikes is only logical. But Smokies management defies logic and there is no organized mtn bike coaltion that carries sufficient economic sway to garner attention from Dale Ditmanson like the equine lobby. (refer to the horse concession smack dab in the middle of cades cove)

However, I think neither of them belong in the Smokies anyway. And I mountain bike.


I think it's harmless.


If everyone did what they thought was "harmless" despite the rules, the country would be in caos. And, if you think lawless behaviour doesn't influence peoples opinions, I believe you are mistaken.

For mjvande - your position is so extreme its laughable. "To lazy to walk" ????? Have you ever riden a mountain bike? I can assure you it is far more difficult than walking. No inanimate objects should be allowed on the trails? So no hiking poles, no GPS, no water filters? I guess we all have to hike naked.

Yes, bikes have somewhat greater impact on trails than do hikers, but not dramatically more and certainly not as much as the "animate" horses. Further, the biking organizations are strong contributors to trail construction and maintenance. I hike mixed use trail frequently. I have never seen "killed small animals" or detrimental plant damage. "Rough treatment of nature" LOL. I can assure you nature is much rougher on the bikers than they are on nature.

To folks new to the debate, "HOHA" is the name some of those who want mtn biking allowed on National Scenic Trails, National Parks and Wilderness Areas have given to people disagreeing with their effort. Even if you support mtn biking in many other places, apparently you are still a "HOHA".

As I recently posted in the comments of an article at http://pedestrianview.blogspot.com/2013/08/hiking-and-biking-sometimes-need.html , I genuinely want to:
- see more miles of off-road bike trail;
- work with off-road bike organizations to expand the LWCF so that more land along National Scenic Trails could be acquired for new human-powered trails; and
- help off-road bikers identify places along (not on) the Ice Age National Scenic Trail (IAT) where new off-road bike trail systems could be created.
I would even like to see a stronger IMBA if it meant the organization worked to expand active outdoor recreation for all (by helping see that more land gets protected, that good trail engineering standards are more the norm, etc.) instead of at the expense of other types of active outdoor recreation.

My personal view is that biking should be restored to Wilderness like it used to be. The ban on bicycling defies logic and common sense. If groups of 20 horses are okay to trample and crap on trails in Wilderness, I really don't see why cycling should not be allowed. That being said, it's beyond the point at hand.

As for Mr. Vandeman, here is his background: http://www.outsideonline.com/blog/outdoor-adventure/the-trial-of-mike-vandeman-1.html The best course of action is to ignore him.

Per the urban dictionary:

HOHA: Hateful Old Hikers Association

In addition to Zebulons assertion that Wilderness areas be open to bikes it is reasonable to consider that added support from the cycling community for the wilderness designation would be benificial in having additional areas protected from development.

With regards to MJvande, he is Mike Vandeman. Convicted of battery with a handsaw against two bikers. He has posted the same quote in every single mountain bike related story he can find on the internet. He gleefully posts news stories and incidents of mountain bikers getting injured on newslists and has advocated violence against cyclists. He has harrassed online users and even gone so far as to contact peoples ISP's.

Just finished reading A LOT about this issue of mountain bikes wanting more access. I cannot deduce why people are so very adament and upset at the idea of encountering nature loving and responsible outdoor enthusiasts whose mode of travel differs slightly from their own.

It is emabarrassing for me to read many of the posts that contain nothing but flat out lies, vitriol and ignorance coming from "adults" in the hiking community.

Hikers have unfettered access, most of which excludes other trail users, to ALL of the public trails in the United States. I am baffled by the stance that groups such as the American Hiking Society, the PCTA, the NCTA and the hate group PCT-L take in relation to seeing a bike evey so often. It truly is shameful behavior.

- Sarah W

Hiker - not mountain biker (I am too old)

Hi Kurt -- we've got to stop meeting like this!

As some of you know, I'm IMBA's communications director. Kurt and I have had several lengthy discussions in recent years, on these comment pages, and in a few phone conversations.

To answer Kurt's question about IMBA's interest in National Scenic Trails, we believe that there are more opportunities for shared-use segments that could include biking than are currently being offered.

Here are some caveats and observations that go along with that position:

- Wilderness areas can not host bicycling, so portions of the NSTs in Wilderness will not be on IMBA's wish lists for bike access.

- The Appalachian Trail is designated for foot travel only along its entire length.

- Some NSTs, like the Contiental Divide Trail and the North Country Trail, already offer significant opportunities for shared use, including mountain biking. IMBA would like to see even more of these opportunities.

- The complete ban on mountain biking on the Pacific Crest Trail should, in IMBA's view, be reconsidered. We do not envision that mountain biking would be workable on the entire PCT, but there are segments where it could be a welcome addition.

- IMBA beieves that trails can be shared among different user groups, and that separate trails for different users is often too costly and unnecessary -- especially on long-distance trails.

- The scientific evidence published in peer-reviewed journals strongly suggests that mountain biking and hiking have similar impacts on the natural world, and on the trail surface its self.

- Some groups, including the American Hiking Society, have declared that presence of mountain bikers detracts from the hiking experience -- but many hikers who are members of those same organizations have voiced their willingness to share trails with mountain bikers.

- IMBA agrees that not all trails are suitable for shared use among hikers and bikers. Some trails are not well suited to biking and should be managed for hiking only, or shared use amongst hikers and equestrians.

- Some trails should be optimized for bike travel. Currently, there are many more miles of trail in the world where bikes are not allowed than ones where biking is the preferred mode of travel.

- There's not much value in conflating bike access to trails in national parks with the NST issue. IMBA and the NPS have held a partnership agreement for many years, and more than 40 national parks already allow mountain biking on dirt roads and trails.

Phew! Sorry for the long list -- I hope that helps clarify IMBA's position. Of course, not all mountain bikers hew exactly to IMBA's views. Zebulon ... take it away!

In the spirit of "sharing", wouldn't it be good to also open up all bike trails to motorcycles and atvs?

Sarah - Your statement that hikers have access to "ALL" public trails is not accurate. See Big South Fork NRA for examples.

Imtnbke - thanks for conjuring up apartheid and Jim Crow laws in respect to your plight as a mountain biker. I never realized just how much your rights to a reasonable life have been stepped on. Enlightening. I also enjoyed your excuse regarding the "risk of writing quickly". I hope you don't have the same flippant approach on your trails where there is an inherent "risk of riding quickly".

Scott Merritt, IMBA's view -- one that is shared by our partner organizations in the Outdoor Alliance (outdooralliance.net), and by most land managing agencies -- is that human-powered recreation has significantly different impacts than motorized recreation. That's not to say that IMBA is against motorized recreation, but we do think that in most cases the management strategies should be different.

Nothing to add to Mark's excellent answer. The push is to have access to suitable and significant portions of the PCT outside of Wilderness (about 1000 miles).

A good example would be in Truckee, CA. The Donner Lake Rim Trail is not multi use yet, because a good portion of it is part of PCT. And the PCTA is opposed to a multi use trail simply crossing the PCT. That's a segment of a few miles that would perfect for multi use. Similarly, the segment from Truckee to Downieville is also well suited to multi use. To add to the madness, in Downieville, the USFS decided to move a portion of the PCT to an existing multi use trail, and voila, bikes are banned from an historic trail!

Mr. Merritt,

Yes, I am correct in stating that hikers have unfettered acces to ALL public trails in the United States as there is nothing illegal about hiking a trail built for mountain biking.

A hiker cannot receive a citiation for walking on a mountain bike trail.

A mountain biker will receive a citation for riding on a hiking only trail.

Do you see the difference now?

Washington PCT hiker here -

Personally, I see enough middle aged, agressive men in their Spandex costumes around Washington trails. Speeding dangerously, hollering, attitude of owning the trail, no respect for other users or the wilderness they are plowing through.

Then, would come their races with all their empty Goo packs and other litter they don't want to carry with them and toss to the side of the trail

Don't think the mountain bicyclists have ever heard of Leave No Trace around here.

No thanks.

Wow Cynthia!! That was quite the answer. I take it that you don't like middle age men in spandex. :) And that hollering, that is truly intolerable. I mean, how can one dare to have so much fun in nature?

I don't get your whole race/gu gel argument. Nobody's talking about racing on the PCT, and the trash argument is just ridiculous.

Here is how Mark Eller of IMBA is wrong on several points.
He writes
"Some NSTs, like the Continental Divide Trail and the North Country Trail,
already offer significant opportunities for shared use, including
mountain biking. IMBA would like to see even
more of these opportunities." Yes, the CDT does allow mountain biking
on a great deal of the trail, but the CDT is mostly two track forest
road and not a singletrack type of trail. The only places where biking
is allowed on the NCT is where the NCT shares a "hard surface" trail
like a rail trail, etc, or where mountain biking has been grandfathered
in on a section of trail. All the new trail that the NCT and NCTA is
building is hiking only. It's the NCT and NCTA's dream to become "The
Nation's Premier Footpath" and IMBA is trying to ruin their dream

He writes
"The complete ban on mountain biking on the Pacific Crest Trail should, in
IMBA's view, be reconsidered. We do not envision that mountain biking
would be workable on the entire PCT, but there are segments where it
could be a welcome addition." The PCT was established, designed and
built as a hiking and horseback riding only trail. It continues to be
maintained by hikers and horseback riders. Is it fair now to turn it
over to Mountain Bikers. Plus the law regarding the PCT says that the
trail should be "primarily a hiking and horseback riding trail." It's
obvious that if bikes are allowed on any section of the trail that
section possibly could be taken over by mountain bikes, thereby not be
primarily a hiking and horseback riding trail

Mark Writes
"IMBA agrees that not all trails are suitable for shared use among hikers and
bikers. Some trails are not well suited to biking and should be managed
for hiking only, or shared use amongst hikers and equestrians." Great,
then why is IMBA pissing off hikers and horseback riders by advocating
biking on the PCT?

Mark writes
"Some groups, including the American Hiking Society, have declared that
presence of mountain bikers detracts from the hiking experience -- but
many hikers who are members of those same organizations have voiced
their willingness to share trails with mountain bikers." Well, if some
groups have declared that the presence of mountain biking detracts from
the hiking experience, why are you intentionally trying to ruin their
experience? Plus there are many Mountain Bikers that think trails like
the PCT should be left to hikers and horseback riders. Don't you even
listen to some of your own members?

Mark Writes
"Sometrails should be optimized for bike travel. Currently, there are many
more miles of trail in the world where bikes are not allowed than ones
where biking is the preffered mode of travel."
I agree that some trails should be optimized for bike travel. But some
trails like the PCT are optimized for hiking and horseback riding, that
should be okay, too. I'm not buying that there are no places for
Mountain Bikers to ride, and they need to intrude on the PCT.
Singltracks.com lists 473 trails that mountain biking is allow on in
California, 128 in Oregon, and 110 in Washington. Meanwhile, California
and Oregon have only 1 National Scenic Trail, and Washington has 2

Mark Writes
"IMBA believes that trails can be shared among different user groups, and
that separate trails for different users is often too costly and
unnecessary -- especially on long-distance trails." This is not some
rinky dink little trail we are talking about. These are National Scenic
Trails where everything possible should be done to preserve them for
their intended users. If that means building a new mountain biking
trail to connect two existing mountain biking trails, then so be it.
IMBA is fully aware that in Virginia Mountain bikers have patched
together a 500 mile mountain biking trail. And they did that using some
of the same trailheads as the Appalachain Trail. I don't know why on
god's green earth that something like that can't be done out west where
there are more public lands.

Mark Writes
"There's not much value in conflating bike access to trails in national parks
with the NST issue. IMBA and the NPS have held a partnership agreement
for many years, and more than 40 national parks already allow mountain
biking on dirt roads and trails." What the heck do you mean? National
Scenic Trails ARE part of the National Park System.

I'll end it right there with responding to Mark. But Maybe Mark should respond to some of these questions.

According to the Forest Service 3 out of 4 trails are not maintained up to
standards. That means over 80,000 miles of trail that allow Mountain
Biking are not maintained up to standards. Shouldn't you be taking care
of trails that already allow Mountain Biking instead of trying to take
over a hiking and/or horseback riding trail?

According to the Outdoor Industry Association, the premier resource for Outdoor
Industry information, Mountain Biking participation has dropped by over
30% in the youth 6 to 17 age range. Shouldn't you be spending some more
time creating and maintaining beginner trails instead of trying to take
over National Scenic Trails?

And to Sarah Wilson, there are trails that are "Mountain Biking Only Trails" so if a hiker causes a crash by hiking on those trails, yes, the hiker could get a ticket.

Yes! My mentor and idol, isawtman has arrived to save the National Scenic Trails from the wheeled locusts! His facts are infallible (so don't even attempt to question any of them!), and mjvande should bow down to His Holiness... a new Sheriff is in town! Praise McMahon!!!

that is incorrect isawtman - there is no law/rule in place that allows for the isuue of a citation to a hiker on any public trail in the United States for hiking.

There are of course laws/rules in place for hikers who start fires, litter, etc.

Please get your facts straight.

Sarah, there are several mountain biking only trails around the country that hikers could get ticketed, especially if there is a crash involved. But I also feel that it is very dangerous for Mountain Bikers to bike on a hiking only or hiking and horseback riding only trail. Bikers go a a much higher rate of speed than hikers, sometimes upwards of 500% faster. Are you saying that mountain bikers shouldn't get ticketed for riding on a hiking only trail?

Here is an example of a Mountain Biking Only Trail. So if a hiker is hiking on the trail and has a crash with a mountain bike, it's the hiker's fault and they can be ticketed.

I would like to dispel some of the misinformation that Imtnbike has stated here earlier in this thread. First of all Imtnbiker stated “The 1988 typewritten closure order plainly violates the federal Administrative Procedure Act.” It is very unclear whether that’s even the case. According to Americanbar.org “The APA’s exceptions for “interpretative rules” and “general statements of policy,” however, exclude the vast majority of agency statements from the requirement for notice and comment.” It’s obvious that the permanent ban order for bikes on the PCT is an interpretive rule which is interpreting this law: (sec 212.21) “The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail as defined by the National Trails Systems Act, 82 Stat. 919, shall be administered primarily as a footpath and horseback riding trail by the Forest Service in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior. The use of motorized vehicles may be authorized by the Federal Agency administering the segment of trail involved when use of such vehicles is necessary to meet emergencies or to enable landowners or land users to have reasonable access to their lands or timber rights.” It’s obvious that the PCT could cease to be “primarily as a footpath and horseback riding trail” if hordes of Mountain Bikers take over the trail.

Secondly, Imtnbiker wrote “Second, anyone who's ever walked any part of the AT will soon see that it's unsuitable for riding a bike.” That’s absolutely ridiculous. The AT is suitable for mountain biking, but it’s boring, so they don’t want to pursue it. Further more, Mountain Bikers in Virginia have created a continuous mountain biking trail system of 500 miles using some of the same trailheads as the AT. But seemingly, that can’t be done out west, even though there are more public lands in the west.


Imtmbike wrote “Major parts of its are overgrown from underuse.” Yeah, they were discussing an overgrown section of the PCT on their facebook page when another biker said he biked it frequently. That doesn’t sound so overgrown to me. Plus, Mountain Bikers need longer sight lines because they go faster. So what a mountain biker says is overgrown might be perfectly all right with hikers. The Forest Service has reported that 3 out of 4 trails are not maintained up to standards. So, there are over 80,000 miles of trails not up to standards that allow mountain biking. Maybe they should worry about those trails being overgrown instead of worrying about the PCT being overgrown.

Mountain Bikers like Imtnbike and other are continually slamming the Forest Service, Hikers and Horseback Riders. I believe that Imtnbike and the other founders of “bikes on the PCT” movement are morally corrupt. I personally have caught them several times misrepresenting the truth and creatively editing material. In fact I’ve done it so many times that they have banned me from their facebook page. Plus it appears that Imtnbike’s post here is one big giant advertisement for his facebook page and website. Imtnbike and others like him are doing nothing but hurting the relationships with the groups of people that mountain bikers should be working together with. It’s an absolute shame.

Quote from isawtman:

"I believe that Imtnbike and the other founders of 'bikes on the PCT' movement are morally corrupt."

I think it's even worse than that—we're gravely morally disordered. Catholic scholars have said the same of contraception:

"It is clear then, merely on the basis of these few points, that for the Magisterium contraception is such a morally disordered form of behaviour that it constitutes gravely sinful matter."

I now see the error of my ways. Let us avoid both behaviors and pray for forgiveness.

(Quotation source: Fr Lino Ciccone, C.M., Professor of Moral Theology, Lugano, Switzerland.)