PLEASE NOTE: BEFORE YOU GET OUTRAGED AND START BLAMING CERTAIN USER GROUPS, PLEASE READ. WE’RE ALL RESPONSIBLE. THIS IS NOT INTENDED TO CALL OUT A SPECIFIC USER GROUP.
If you’re reading this, you’re likely a trail user. Whether it’s riding, running, hiking, xc skiing, or just laying in the middle of it while you’re sleeping after a tough climb, we’re trail users. Along with the use, comes some responsibility. It’s like that with most things in life. We have a responsibility to leave it at least how we found it, and in the best case, a little better.
I think that one of the ways we can really have an impact is to just teach others. Remind them to grab a piece of garbage, show them ways they can help with time and/or money, or teach someone new to trails how to use the trails responsibly. We can’t assume that people know what to do.
We see it constantly in the spring – pictures are posted throughout social media showing tracks of riders and runners through muddy trails. We get pissed. We fire off assumptions about who did it, why they did it, how horrible they are, and that they did it to the entire trail rather than a small piece of it. Many times people just don’t know. As mountain bikers, I feel that we’re a little more tuned into trail conditions because, in many cases, we’re walking on egg shells. It’s clear who it was when there are tire tracks sunken into the mud and we’re an easy target at that point. Also, in many situations, it’s the local volunteer mountain bike organization that spends the time and money fixing any issues, so we’re more vested in the maintenance.
The picture below popped up today in a group that I follow and it was a clear reminder that we share the trail with people who don’t realize the impact that they are having on the trails. The comments offer some insight into that. BEFORE YOU GO OFF BLAMING ANY GROUPS, please know that this is not meant to point blame at runners. This was just a very clear example that got me irritated.
I won’t say what group it was from and I’ve blacked out names and profile pics (except mine.) There is only one picture of the trail in question too, so it very well could have just been a small stretch in a larger piece of doubletrack or road. However, that does not change the fact that there clearly needs to be some education in this area. It happens – you get rained out part way through your ride or you come upon some sections that are muddy in an otherwise good part of trail. No big deal – just minimize the damage and remember for next time.
I have seen it where local running groups have been helping out with trail work and posting information about staying off closed trails (shout out to the a lot of the runners out at Elm Creek Reserve near Minneapolis.) That’s very encouraging and appreciated.
It’s also important to consider local conditions and the trail itself. Some areas can get away with using wet trails with little impact, while others are unusable with any amount of precipitation.
Please use this example as an opportunity and motivation to proactively reach out to your local groups – runners, riders, horses, etc and offer some help, education, and try to work with them so that we can all avoid this happening in each of our neck of the woods.
What do you think? How can we educate people? Do we need to resort to trail cameras everywhere?
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