words of wisdom for autumn trails

By Jim Stanford on October 8, 2013

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Stewardship of trails requires some restraint.

Anyone who has ventured onto shaded or north-facing slopes in recent days has discovered muddy trails, so wet with melting snow in places that even careful foot passage is nearly impossible.

It’s frustrating when mountain bike season comes abruptly to an end, even more so when pathways are closed by a government shutdown. But there still are several good options (South Park Loop, anyone?) for getting a wheeled workout, especially on a road bike.

From Friends of Pathways:

Riding in mud can wreck the tread on the trail by leaving ruts that dry into hard bumps. This in turn contributes to erosion and further damage, while creating unrideable and hard-to-fix trail surfaces. If you are leaving a visible rut, the trail is too muddy to ride!

Varying weather conditions during the spring and fall can be especially critical for trails. You can still get out and ride and walk the trails, but please be aware of wet trail and very muddy spots. If you see that it is too wet, dismount your bike, push your bike through the mud, and walk on the edge of the trail.

Please don’t ride around the mud spots either; this creates an unsustainably wide trail and can even create two trails in one spot.

Perhaps it’s best to save the mountain bike for Moab or other points south.


Posted under Environment, Sports, Weather

12 Comments so far

  1. Boat 1 Retired October 8, 2013 3:43 pm

    South Park Loop, Teton Pass via old Pass Road, Fall Creek Rd, Fish Creek Road, Village pathway, Horse Creek climb, just several examples of road rides that are still available and riding well! Forget the mud – head to Poky for City Creek or other points south. Ride On!

  2. Sally October 8, 2013 4:06 pm

    “unsustainably wide trail” I wish the trails were wider. I want a nice big fat trial like the hiking trails in GTNP.

    Our trails are built for rich kids who have $10,000 for a pro gear – from body armor to bike. They are built for kids, not older adults who might enjoy a ride through the woods. They are built for people with health insurance who can afford the deductible. They are built over unstable terrain with steep dropoffs just to one side or the other.

    When’s the Forest Service and FOP going to build trails for the rest of us?

    I haven’t been up Josie’s Ridge in a while but earlier in the year, the Forest Service had blocked the nice hiking/biking spur that runs into the woods – an easier ascent.

  3. ransas October 8, 2013 10:51 pm

    The elk refuge is a great place to ride..Flat creek to the gate, sheep creek to the wilderness boundary, goodwin lake parking lot. Snow king is riding great…South Park Loop?SMH..

  4. Bruce McGillicuddy October 9, 2013 5:50 am

    I wish the horse people would heed the words from this post.

    Sally, those wide trails are called roads. And there are plenty available in the Hole.

  5. David October 9, 2013 11:45 am

    “Sally, those wide trails are called roads. And there are plenty available in the Hole.”

    Perhaps she wants to ride away from traffic and hikers. Bigger, smoother trails like those in the parks are not roads. There’s no reason why trails can’t be built that accommodate a wide variety of biking abilities and interests.

    One of the nice things about the trails up the pass is that they provide easy access via Old Pass Rd. You don’t need to ride up a dirt trail and fight off downhillers or hikers. A lot of those trails could be buffed out to accommodate different skill levels – they already have bypasses for most of the jumps, for example.

  6. Bruce McGillicuddy October 9, 2013 2:00 pm

    There’s a whole advocacy group centered around wider trails and they are called the Blue Ribbon Coalition.

    They’d love to be able to ride one of deez up on the red hills near the Gros Ventre Slide: http://www.polaris.com/en-us/rzr-side-by-side/4-seater/ranger-rzr-4-900-eps-orange-madness-le/features
    That rig will set you back $20k, much less than pro gear and a bouncy downhill bicycle. And you won’t need health insurance, lack of exercise, bad health habits and heart attack be damned.

    I’ve digressed. And I apologize to Sally. She mentioned he trails in GTNP, which for the most part are in need of some serious work and are too wide to be called trails. Unfortunately the volunteer hours are not spent there and are graciously spent near our population centers: Snow King and Teton Pass, each of which has a trail system that was designed and collaborated with land managers and the public. I’m sorry Sally didn’t attend the meetings.

    As I digress and pontificate, the original intent of the article is right: don’t ride or walk or run on muddy trails. Keep singletrack single.

  7. harkin October 9, 2013 6:15 pm

    Snow King’s trails need to be divided up between hikers, horse riders, and bikers. Dedicated trails for Downhill bike traffic would also enhance that area for everyone on bikes.

    The Ferrins trail on Snow King is fairly easy for downhill bike riders with average skills. You’ll find a fairly buffed surface and mix of narrow & wide stances. You won’t need an over-priced downhill bike. The drop into the south side of SK is also nice and has fewer hikers but sight lines on West Game can be fairly short and the trail does tighten up in spots.

    If ‘land managers’ can’t figure out that they represent all land users and not just the self-righteous types who like spending their free time at meetings, then they need to be replaced with managers who understand their obligations to the public extend beyond the Bruce McGillicuddy’s of the World.

    Having expert trails isn’t bad, (most are built by volunteers), but I can understand the frustration of riders looking for something more fun & challenging than a dirt road and easier than much of the single track around the Pass or SK.

    As for the mud, I was on the Fuzzy Bunny & the PT yesterday and they were mostly dry. A few riders ran the remaining muddy spots. You can’t always stop for a 2ft patch when you’re focused on the 10ft directly in front of you and traveling fast.

  8. km October 9, 2013 7:40 pm

    Bruce touches on a valid and important point. One misguided horse rider can cause damage that may last years. All trail users need to be aware of their impact.

  9. sammy October 10, 2013 8:23 pm

    Someone tell the hunters….find me a road that they don’t destroy.

  10. paul October 22, 2013 9:37 pm

    Muddy trails vs no trails:


    “For decades, the Bridger-Teton National Forest has permitted mountain bike trails in the Palisades Wilderness Study Area. But conservationists, hesitant to make enemies with the area’s avid mountain biking community, point out the potential illegality of the extensive network of trails on Teton Pass.”

  11. Sarah October 23, 2013 11:34 am

    If conservation groups are upset over a 100 acres of land nest to a highway (out of what, 50,000-100,000?), then they have lost their marbles. It’s all the more reason to NOT make it a wilderness area.

    Just adjust the boundary or add some acreage somewhere else. The boundary is fairly arbitrary anyway.

  12. ransas November 11, 2013 5:19 pm

    Apparently the hikers aren’t getting the memo, putt putt is getting trashed with deep footprint indents…cyclists seem to be the most well behaved of all the user groups, yet somehow get singled out with these public service announcements. A bicycle is useless in obscene mud conditions but the hikers trudge on through, thrashing the trail. Sad, because I would like to ride putt putt when frozen, but it’s depressingly chewed up.

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