Opposition is mounting to a proposed plan to ban bikes from a new rerouting of the Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail — or the CDNST — in southern Colorado’s Cochetopa Hills area of the Rio Grande National Forest.
For the last two years, the Forest Service has studied the development of a new, 31.2-mile trail in the area to pull CDNST hikers off a hard-to-navigate maze of gravel roads used by cars, motorcycles, horseback riders, hikers and cyclists.
After studying four alternatives in an environmental assessment, the Forest Service has identified a proposed action that would keep bikes off the new trail from Lujan Pass to the La Garita Wilderness. The agency cited trail erosion by bikes as well as the “social effects” of mountain bike use when it suggested its preferred alternative.
“A biker coming around a corner at high speed can come upon a hiker before either party is aware of the other,” reads the Forest Service’s review of each alternative. “In general terms, bicycle use on the CDNST is not consistent with the overall objectives” of the trail.
First things first: I am very happy to read that there is some strong opposition to this new plan by the USFS. Obviously trying to re-route sections of the Colorado Trail and Continental Divide Trail to a wilderness area (and therefore banning mountain bikes) will probably piss off a fair amount of the readers of this site, and I am one of them. It drives me batshit that reasons like “erosion” and “social effects” are brought up as reasons to keep mountain bikes off of trail. These “reasons” are a total crock of shit, and the assholes at the USFS who used them deserve a swift kick in the balls.
I had the pleasure of riding sections of the CDT trail in both CO and MT (you may remember I wrote about the section of the CDT off of Homestake Pass outside of Butte, MT). While riding I have encountered hikers, and by slowing down, making sure to say hello, and smiling (basically trying not to be a total dick), no one was harmed, and occasionally a friend was made. Similarly I’ve encountered horses while riding a bike, and by not being a deuche and following some simple rules no one was harmed, and all parties involved went onto enjoy their day. How about that for a “social effect”.
The sad fact is bullshit reasons like this have fucked over mountain bikers in great areas. The example that comes to mind is when 160 miles of trail in the Gallitan National Forest trails were closed down a few years back. The jackass of a judge who ruled on the decisions cited “solitude” as a reason to close the trails to mountain biking. Never mind the fact that you can go into a recognized wilderness area and load up a mule with a boombox and crank Slayer until your ears bleed (that is one way to destroy someone’s solitude).
Im not sure how this instance with the Coloraodo Trail and CDT is going to pan out, but I would like to see the intresets of mountain bikers factored into the decision. The good news is that the Colorado Trail Foundation has ganged up with IMBA and the Colorado Mountain Biking Association to work towards a logical solution.by