Who "owns" a trail or has the right to change it?

Every trail with stunts that is a public trail HAS to have an alternative line around.

Murrdogg’s recent post re: the Bedford Range trails made me think this would be an interesting topic to dicuss.

Most of the trails we have are built on public land for use by the masses. Some of our trails are built by people with lots of knowledge & experience while others are carved out by new builders or people looking for a specific thrill (such as a stunts section).

In the past I’ve organized many trail maintenance days, usually on trails that I had nothing to do with creating. Sometimes these maintenance days involved simple fixes like filling wet spots or removing deadfall. Othertimes, however, more drastic measures were taken such as altering lines to create more sustainable trail or replacing or removing bridges and stunts that had become decrepit. Sometimes these actions were met with praise, but other times the builders took issue.

So where do we draw the line? Who has the right to fix or alter a trail? Should the builders (if they’re known) be consulted? What about stunts and bridges that aren’t maintained by the builders?

Lola mentioned a spot a couple of days ago that was “dumbed down” on a trail. Do people have the right to make things easier if they can’t ride them?

Let’s hear some thoughts! I’d like to know what people see as acceptable in the world or trail bulding, altering and maintenance.

I own a trail, unfortunatly/fortunatly its on private land, 100km’s
form the city. Fortunatly because I can pretty much control who
rides it. Unfortunate because right now its unrideable and actually
isnt’ a trail yet. Its more like a goat path about 500/1000 feet
into the woods :slight_smile:

Actually I brought this up with RiderX over chinese food. The land
is my father in laws, its on an island with a family cottage. He
said I can cut any trails whatsoever I want on the 60+ acres.

That being said its a family cottage, so no unaccompanied visitors
are not welcome, and how do you talk a small group of your friends
“hey come out and help me bushwack for 16 hours, but hey, you can’t
ride here unless im with you and that will be about once or twice a
year” … know what I’m saying?

Hope this didn’t hijack your thread… I think i’m still sorta on
topic :slight_smile:

non issue stuff like rock and root stripping , filling wet spots , and clearing deadfall, even alternate lines, especially if it’s done proper like, go at it and get it done. sort of touchy issues if a bridge crosses a soft area or standing water, if it gets ripped up, it should get replaced in the same work session, stunts (if they’re solid) shouldn’t be altered. as to dumbing stuff down, i’m on both sides of the issue, liability vs personal fun, i enjoy adrenaline rushes, yet i don’t want to see someone get hurt, lately we’ve been making stuff a little more user friendly. anything that makes a trail more ridable is fair game, nothing worse than smoothing out something and have someone whine about it the next day. as to private land, the owner\ builder has final say no matter what and people should be thankful to get to ride it.

Rock and root stripping I have a bit of an issue with. In lots of cases rocks are better trail surface than the ground in between, and chopping roots away will damage trees in the long term. Sure, there are cases where removal of rocks and roots is appropriate, but I think lots of times people remove them simply because it’s easier to ride a trail without them. East coast terrain is MADE of rocks and roots so we have to be judicious about exactly which ones we take away, no?

I’m not sure about making things easier because one can not ride the line… I’m certianly not a great technical rider but I like the challenge and wouldn’t alter a line to make it easier for me

I don’t rember if it was in reading something at IMBA or speaking with Spin but I remember hearing that if there is a section that needs to be more difficult than the rest of a trial that it should still be the easiest way through the section.

IE. if you have to go through a rock garden it should be because any other way would either involve clearning alot more trees or going through a section that would not be sustainable… not just to up the gnar factor.

inshort there should not be an easier way around it that would “promote” cheater lines

Rock and root stripping I have a bit of an issue with. In lots of cases rocks are better trail surface than the ground in between, and chopping roots away will damage trees in the long term. Sure, there are cases where removal of rocks and roots is appropriate, but I think lots of times people remove them simply because it’s easier to ride a trail without them. East coast terrain is MADE of rocks and roots so we have to be judicious about exactly which ones we take away, no?

i agree it does take a little thought as to what to strip out of a trail or add to a trail. we’ve been assesing spots on a case to case type of approach. roots that run parallel to the line, or loose rocks that sit in the middle of a trail, good bye. roots that run across the line, perpendicular, might get pulled unless the tree that owns the roots is really close to the trail. sometimes you can smooth out a rough rockey rooty line by adding more rocks. once again it depends on the situation. then there’s stuff like pulling turkey necks (alder stumps), finding solutions for standing water spots (bridge, armour, and or drain) fixing straight climbs and descents so they won’t deteriate with rain. once you start it doesn’t seem to end.

I must say I do hate dumbing down lines. Mind you, I am biased towards really technical riding. However, I can see how it promotes trail use by more people and allows more folks to get out and ride. I agree unsafe stuff should go. Like rickety stunts, rotten bridges or turkey necks. Or making drops rollable for the XC crowd. But I get a little teary eyed when a real hard section is suddenly too easy all of a sudden. I like the thought of harder loops/legs off of main trails. That seems to work around here.

I agree with all, and I’m always thrilled to see folks interested in working on these trails. Truth be told, we need more elves! I hate to see someone’s hard work go to waste in the case of using improper materials or techniques. Building stunts is fine, as long as they aren’t built in the middle of the trail without a cheater line. The jump lola was referring to was thrown right in the middle of the Hog’s Back lower line and it was a nasty little speedbump, too steep for actually jumping. I had intended on remaking it into a smoother jump which would allow me to catch air while keeping my speed. I hate being throw straight up into the air when I’m howling down a nice line (And I’m not complaining about jumping, cuz you know I love to! You should just make sure the jump corresponds to the flow of the trail where it lives.)

I am also a fan of technical trail. There are always parts that will be hard to ride but should be left as a challenge, then there are always parts that are just heinous and abusinve to rider and bike - who should judge? I don’t know. All I do know is, I take crews out to do trail work regularly, and most of the work we do is raking, armouring wet spots, and lopping the occasional roots (I’m very sensitive to the trees and if a root system looks too vital, I’ll armour it instead). I have built bridges but nothing too serious and always out of long-term materials. (Like the little stream crossing at the bottom of the Hog’s Back in the woods made out of pressure treated wood. Thanks Daver and AMart for the help on that one!)

I hope to be able to share any useful knowledge I have with new trail builders, and prevent birch bridges and berms that hold standing water, but I hope I don’t offend their efforts!

A great tip is to buy and read this book: imba.stores.yahoo.net/trailsolutions.html
All about creating sustainable trails. I own it. I’ve read it. I love it!

Now that the NSMTBTA is formed, maybe we will have the opportunity to manage a trail in HRM somewhere. Wouldn’t that be cool? Actual permission to build?

The owner of a trail is the person who owns the land or who has
permission to use / build from the actual owner of the land. There
is no such thing as “public land” per se, only land to which the
public has access. The closest thing to “public land” would be
crown land, and in this province it’s scarce. Even crown land
requires permits to build trail on.

Anyone building trail in a particular area where they don’t own the
land, nor do they have formal permission to build is effectively
squatting. “Squatter’s” rights don’t really apply to trail if you
ask me. This discussion has shown that if everyone involved was
presented with a plot of land to build, it’s likely that we’d have
a different trail from each person… each trail being appropriate
for that person. And I’ll bet that every builder could make a
compelling argument for why they should be the proprietor of that
trail.

The long and short of it, in my opinion, is that if you don’t have
ownership or documented permission, then it’s not yours and you
don’t have any more “say” in what happens than the next person who
dicides they have a better idea.

Ain’t it the truth.

The long and short of it, in my opinion, is that if you don’t have ownership or documented permission, then it’s not yours and you don’t have any more “say” in what happens than the next person who dicides they have a better idea.

[if gte mso 10]> [endif]–>
In a legal sense you are right…

But… and there is always a but…

Since pretty much none of the trails in the HRM are built by people that “own” them legally and given your opinion that anyone can do what they want you would then be totally ok with people changing trails to their hearts content. This would include riding in the wet (cos its fun and challenging), changing trail to make it unridable (by a hiker for example), building big stunts on the main line etc etc.

This obviously would not be “beneficial” to the communities that use those trails, or very encouraging to those people that spend countless hrs building trails on land they don’t own (ie most trail builders here).

In my opinion, don’t change the main line of a trail, if you want to build a go-around because you personally can’t ride something, do it properly with out affecting the section of trail you are going around, or become a better rider.

Don’t make a trail easier, get better at riding, the trail exists like that because people ride it the way it is. There is no such thing as a trail thats too hard, because that would never have been built, its only too hard for you.

You have to pay some respect for the people that build/built the trail and the intention it was built in other wise there are going to be pissed off trail builders. They’ll either stop working on trails or keep the trails they build secret.

The way I look at it is if you are changing a trail to suit you, you are encroaching on someone else’s hard work and if the trail is being actively maintained you should try to establish who is doing the work and at least check in with them, make yourself known etc. More help is always wanted and its better for everyone concerned if the work is a little coordinated. When making changes to suit you, you are also being a little lazy, rather than building a whole new trail how YOU want it, you are piggy backing on someone else’s many many hours of work building a trail how they want it, this is what made it possible for you to do your change.

You also have to consider that making a change is potentially dangerous if something like a stunt has been added or changed that people aren’t expecting when they a booking it through a section they know well.

Basically be respectful, yes legally you have as much right to do what you want there as the next person, but that does not necessarily mean you should.

Since pretty much none of the trails in the HRM are built by people that “own” them legally and given your opinion that anyone can do what they want you would then be totally ok with people changing trails to their hearts content.

It’s not my opinion to be “okay” or “not okay” with. It’s fact. Sure, there are hundreds of un-written rules to the unowned trail, but my point is that everyone can write a set of rules which all mean well, but the next person won’t agree. And unless it’s your land or you have permission, then no one person has any more of a right to expect their rules to be followed.

i want to fly off the handle on this topic, because not only my hard work, but other peoples, has been abused way too many times, and too many people take the approachs you mentioned andrew, that type of shit has to stop, it’s stagnating what scene we have, or killing off the glory of past years scenes. why does common sense always seem to get thrown out the window? man thats it, before i start cursing and swearing…

I know what you guys are saying, and I figure our philosophies on trail work are probably more or less in synch. I personally wouldn’t lift a leaf off a trail without finding out who built it, how often they work / maintain it, how they feel about work / maintenance on the trail, and whether or not they are interested in help. I’ll also encourage anyone who inquires with me to do the same.

It is common sense, as you said, to do such a thing. But it’s easy to end up being fed misinformaiton. It’s easy to ride a trail every week and never meet anyone. It’s easy to make inquiries into “ownership” and turn up with nothing. Thus it’s easy to develop a sense of entitlement. Know what I mean?

There are definitely some trail locations that have clear parents. Anyone who makes any kind of an effort to find them will be rewarded in both knowledge and experience by working with them. But there are other spots where the original builders have moved on and one or more groups do sporadic work at best. These are the spots where it’s easy for confusion to arise, and when everyone has the best intentions but differing opinions… combined with uncoordinated efforts often oblivious of the other what can you do? Most groups I know will play nice and compromise, but if someone decides to be a jerk or if for whatever reason the groups just can’t get together with one another… that’s the price you pay for squatting.

I’m not disagreeing with you guys, just kind of saying that there really isn’t anything you can do about it when the shit hits the fan because technically, unless it’s documented in some capacity, you don’t own it. AND I’m also saying that even with all parties involved in a conflict it’s quite possible that everyone is good natured and agreble folk caught up in a bad situation just because they couldn’t get co-ordinated.

As much as I respect the rights, vision and choices of any trail builder, I think that there are situations where consultation is irrelevant. If I come across a broken or dangerous structure, for instance, I think I would be negligent if I didn’t either fix it or remove it ASAP. Those sorts of “fixes” seem like a no-brainer to me.

If the matter becomes one of rider skill, however, I think that changing a line to “dumb it down” is one that should be left up to the original builder. That said, builders should take into account the people who are likely to use a trail on public land and provide options that accomodate less-skilled riders when sections are very difficult. If they’re not willing to do so, they can hardly get upset when cheater lines start popping up.

Yeah if something is broken or dangerous, for sure fix it/take it down! Thats a no brainer. That includes dead fall, clearing brush thats grown in, etc.

Re cheater lines, don’t care about that either, as long as the cheater line is done properly and doesn’t affect the part of the trail that you’re cheating on. We usually try to do an easy way around a stunt or tech section of trail anyway.

A good example of a “cheater line” or “dumbing down” that I think was inappropriate was someone built a bridge up that first rock ledge going into whopper, the problem was not that it made it easier to climb, but it made the fast line out impossible to ride and dangerous if you didn’t know it was there.

It was the only time I was ok with some kids in there drinking burning things, cos that bridge was one of the things they burnt :slight_smile:

(other wise I was planning on taking that bridge down…)

how about cheater lines where skill level is not an issue. nothing worse than seeing lines pop up that go straight through a couple of switchbacks, or a trail gets widened to more than car width because some can’t lift their front wheel up something that’s curb height. simple stuff, simple bike skills. or the opposite side, you reroute, or dumb down something to make it a better section and you have some idiot undo your work, or talk shit about your work. or the idiot that starts building uneeded stunts, when not even 100 meters away a spot could use a bridge, not to mention spray painting their name on rocks (thanx for the wood JIMB, it created\replaced three different bridges) that’s why i don’t bother with whopper (wait, we named it electric lichen land) anymore. but unfortunatly ano-thresholds are more important than the trails to unleash it upon, and that’s that and don’t complain cause it’ll never change. i’ll continue to build, and if the trail gets unused and grows back in, all the better.

Whopper, Electric Lichen Land… or Bayers Lake Trails maybe? It’s got a lot of history that I can’t pretend to understand. It sucks if your work was ever compromised. I can’t speak for your idiots in quesiton, but generally speaking such idiots should be more appropriately called well meaning builders. No builder does something to a trail without having good intentions. Regardless of how high your standards are for checking into a trail before working on it… someone else has a higher standard that will look bad on you for proceeding. It’s an undefined property that will only ever result in trouble because ownership doesn’t truly exist and there is no entity to ultimately say “yes” or “no.” In the case of conflict all you can hope for is reasonable and respectful participants who are willing to compromise.

By the way, cheater lines are the perfect example of something that no entire population will ever agree on… and all camps can make a great argument for their case.

stupid switch backs, I want to bomb STRAIGHT down the hill thank you. :stuck_out_tongue: