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

the thing is you’ll end up with a bunch of useless 5 meter and less trails that all lead to the same spot, or stunts only a few can ride in the middle of a easily ridden spot, big assed black holes.why don’t we burn down a huge section of woods and then we’ll be able to ride whereever we want. this shitty unsightly approach affects mtb’s access to the woods in the long run whether people are on the same page or not. there’s already trail access issues and we don’t have a leg to stand on. if i was the city and saw some of our mess i’d be very reluctant to give up land. in some peoples eyes we’re just as bad as atv’s. plus it’s embarassing, especially being a builder.

…which is why I advocate appropriate permission etc…

It’s a bit cynical to assume that every unowned trail system will end up in the shitter, but the possibility is there. But then again, that’s all very subjective and who’s to say what’s right and wrong?

ps: I was joking? :slight_smile:

Something also to be aware of is that trails erode with age and use.

Take whopper main, some of those sections are wide because they see a lot of use, not just from mtb, but walkers, runners, weekend booze hounds etc…

Basically you get more than one person in there and they’ll walk two or three abreast if they can, they don’t care about ground conditions, this makes the trail wider, mtbs pick and choose what line they want, more people walk through and boom, its 6ft wide…

I think without proper planing as a multi use trail, this is what happens to a path in the woods when lots of people use it for many years… Short of building it as a crusher dust trail with a fence, I don’t think there is a lot that can be done about that.

Blaming it all on bikers with no skill is not quite right, there are a lot of other people “responsible”, and you know what? They probably don’t care.

I think thats part of the life cycle of a trail, unless you can prevent it becoming multi use and keep the public away, this will happen to any trail!

To prevent this you eitehr keep trail on the low down as long as possible, or buy the land and dictate what/who can and can’t use it.

current hot topic that’s related to this , ward mtn. now is it a case of people not knowing any better? or is it a case of not caring, and go at it no matter what? i’m glad dan didn’t give access to his back yard, because he’d probably be shooting people with rock salt, and creating more problems.

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.

To me this sounds like elitism. Many riders forget what it’s like to be a Newbie.

Interetsting conversation! Here are some random thoughts as I’ve been reading:

Challenges are great, and they are what keep us riding (“maybe SOME day, I’ll be able to ride that obstacle”), but challenges need to be within a rider’s ability envelope. Push someone too far or too long outside their ability envelope, and they get hurt, or have a bad experience.

A trail intended for public use needs to keep the ability of potential riders in mind. One shouldn’t have an attitude of “I’ll ride what’s challenging and fun to me, and screw everyone else.” If you want that, build a secret trail on private land and keep it to yourself.

IMHO, HRM doesn’t have many in-betweensy level trails. We’ve got flat, straight rail-to-trail and crusher dust trails like Shubie, which are pretty easy and trails like Fight Trail and Skull, which are generally pretty hard. Whopper main trail is not bad as an in-between level trail. I think we could use more intermediate level trails, rather than expert-level… and I think many experienced riders consider trails like Whopper to be easy, rather than intermediate. Talk to CyclingGirl, who’s still fairly new at trail riding, and see what level she considers it… but experienced riders prefer building expert level trails, because that’s what they have the most fun riding.

The Whopper System is fantastic, because intermediate riders can have fun on the main trail, and as they build skill and experience can venture into the harder side trails.

IMHO, the controversial ledge near the start of the Whopper is a flow-killer. I’d bet 80% of riders can’t ride up it, and 50% can’t ride down. It’s an obstacle that forces most riders to dismount within 5 minutes of the start of the ride, on the main trail. Although the bridge that was taken down might not have been the best solution for that obstacle, the terrain could still use better flow.

Ideally, one should consult the original builder of a trail when doing major changes, but how does one find out who they are? They don’t usually sign the trailhead with contact information… and if they did, would they have to worry about liability - would the landowner come after them, or might they be sued if someone gets hurt on something they built?

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.

To me this sounds like elitism. Many riders forget what it’s like to be a Newbie.

(got a couple beers in me so keep that in mind reading this…)

Elitism? What? There is plenty of stff I can’t ride… but I wouldn’t dream of changin it, simply because I’ve seen people clear it easily, or have fun trying it. Something to look forward to so to speak.

Re “THE LEDGE” in whopper, where did you get your stats from??

Out of all the people I’ve riden with or seen riding I don’t think I have ever seen anyone have problems going down it, and going up is hit and miss success rate, we all try it, sometimes you get up sometimes you don’t.

A fellow by the name of Shawn on a heckler (who was eye opening fast trying to chase him down lab pass) showed me the “fun” way out of there, when you’re going in, look a little to the left and you’ll see a drop with a slightly off camber landing leading up to said ledge.

You say it “disrupts flow”?! that drop to off camber transition then to the ledge and the almost 180 around that rock is just about the definition of flow, its smooth as, even on a hard tail with 80mm fork.

Sure, new riders may not be able to clear it, but they will some day, so why ruin it for everyone else?

‘Who owns the trail’ versus ‘what a trail should be like’ are two very different things. A trail should be whatever it’s “owner” wants it to be. Who “owns” the trail? Scroll up to find out.

It seems to me that back in the early days of Mountain Biking, trail builders were like Gods almost. Sure a lot didn’t have permission to use said lands but they spent a hell of a lot of time building trails so people would have a place to ride.
And when the Mountain Bikers learned of these trails they were in awe of the construction. The sometimes flowy sections were a blast, or the technical, difficult sections that made them crash and keep trying until they nailed it all brought them back to the trails again and again.

What we are missing today is RESPECT.
The respect for a builder who puts in more hours on the trail then they might at their day job. Respect for the lines that they as an ARTIST sees in the woods.

Sure we have all come across some questionable lines while riding a trail. In the past we would just learn how to ride it out of respect for those who build it as they envision how the trail should be.

Now it seems everyone who rides has lost the respect for the builders vision and will change things to make their rides easier.
There is a reason why companies build bikes with suspension. It is so that we don’t have to all ride on crusher dust trails.

To properly answer who owns a trail… The builder ultimately owns the trail.
As MTB’ers, we should never forget this.
Go find a builder and give them some love, lets start learning some respect for them once again.

I still think that ‘disrespect’ is often mistaken for ‘ignorance.’ Hard to go beyond that when generally speaking though.

tell me why i had to be a powerslave
i don’t want to die, i’m a god why can’t i live on
when the life giver dies all around is laid to waste
and in my last hour i’m a slave to the power of death
well actually, im a slave to the trail. (lol)

Woah… weird! I was about to say the same thing.

you should’ve seen the rock we moved to armor a corner on saturday.three of us could barely lift the light end of it. some levers propelling a diner table sized rock over some sliders. took about 20 minutes to move it 5 feet. woot! back to killing alders.http://resource.pedaltrout.com/old_site_images/c676407db519bdf42481870746f097d8.gif

I have not been following this post, I read it now interesting things said.

My opinion would take too long to write and some things better off not having a record of.

I have made many improvements
to popular trails I did not build, I have only noticed two negative responses, countless positive responses.

To Murrdoggs original post:

If anyone thinks that there could be work done to improve any trail that “I” have built.

I would be grateful if they did the maintenance or fixed the line, and I am thankful to those who have

I have only once stopped someone from adding a line to an existing trail because of safety reasons.

As for the Range trails, talking all but the Doggy DH; They are hit and miss,
some spots have had more work than others, most have had no work for 5-6 years other than the original cut and a few rakes.

Major drawback: There is no good way to get to the top.

I tried several times to find ways to cut a trail to the top. At the time I knew nothing about the less than 50% incline rule or the 10%-15% grade max rule.

So plenty of mistakes were made on challenging terrain with great potential, and if it was rerouted in spots and worked on regularly and it could be a great place to ride,

I once had a passion for that place, spending hours and hours in there when I lived one exit away now it is out of the way for me to go there.

There were tool stashes everywhere, I just pulled out a pile of tools that have been there for years a few weeks ago, just one stash left.

If anyone wants to do work on the trails get to it they need a lot of it.

Its great exercise.

Am I making people mad again because I’m being to vague? I’ve been doing that a lot lately in an attempt to be concise. Meh. Let’s try this:

  1. I believe that no trail work is ever done without the best intentions. If something has ever been done with the purpose of ruining a trail it’s vandalism not trail work.

  2. It’s true that ‘best intentions’ doesn’t translate into ‘best trail work.’ Not much you can do about that but educate with positive reinforcement.

I hope everyone’s still with me. Here is where I seem to be annoying people…

  1. It’s unreasonable to expect every trail system to be with documented ownership / permission… it just doesn’t suit every situation. However such circumstances can lead to conflicting interests if two or more groups don’t agree on a way to proceed. It’s an unfortunate situation, and in most communities I know reason and compromise will prevail.

There are other complications though, see #1. Not every biker is as connected as we are online and with cycling clubs. Some are off the grid. And not every trail system is in the lime light. In Fredericton for example, one can ride a particular spot three times a week and never meet anyone. That’s not because no one else rides there, it’s just the way it is in that town. Thus it’s easy for someone to feel entitled to the trail system. Maybe they even called around, visited the shops, checked out a website or two to see if anyone was maintaining the trails. It turns out they called the wrong people, visited the wrong shop and the people who do work on the trails aren’t online. So this ‘someone’ goes and flattens out a challenging step on a main trail because they assumed that everyone had difficulty riding it. Truth is, about half of the people who ride there likely thought it was a good idea. But the other half looked forward to trying to climb that step on every ride.

Who’s right? Depending on what circle you travel in you could make a great case either way.

Some trail systems have parents who you’d have to be blind, deaf and foolish to miss. Others don’t, and shit can happen. What’s improtant is for all groups to have sympathy for each other and to work together whenever there is a conflict, give and take.

I don’t think anyone is getting mad. Not from what I have been reading anyway. I could be mistaken though.
I understand your point of view 09. It makes perfect sense. I also hear what Spin says. It appears he went through all the right channels to do the right thing.
Actually, I believe that everyone here understands what the right thing to do is.
As a community I believe that we need to ensure that all trail users understand the basics of trail owership. Even if the basic ownership level may never hold up in a court of law.

I don’t think anyone is getting mad.

That’s what I’ve assumed a few times recently too… turns out I was mistaking. I’ve been careless with my ramblings so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t rattling any cages.

We are fortunate that we actually HAVE enough interest from our cycling community in trail building to generate this kind of discussion! Not to mention that so many of us are connected via the many online resources that we have, even though many of us have never actually met face to face.

I agree with Spin on the Range trail scenario though, I recently did a major scouting mission again looking for a good line to the top of those trails. If it is there, it would be a ton of work to create.

I was actually contaced by the guys who did the trail work I originally mentioned, and they seem like intelligent dudes who are truly interested in improving the trails. I still haven’t met them in person, but maybe someday soon we can all organize a building party and go tackle some of the trail again.

The Bedford Range is practically in my back yard, and I always go in with high hopes of finding a solution to the “climbing” issue, but always end up leaving with my spirits low. It is what it is, and if riders don’t mind climbing the gravel road, riding in throught the old prison site and fighting their way up the mucky road to the top, it’s an awesome ride back down! it’s just not fun for most newbie or recreational riders unfortunately.

I AM however thinking about putting together another major building party for the Spider Lake system, to continue the work we did on Inner Piece last year. The bugs are pretty bad right now to be standing around, but I’m sure we could get a good crew together and with some senior trail elves taking smaller groups, do a lot of work in a short time. (I think even the guy with the pickup that helped us haul in the gravel is back in town too!) - I’ll keep y’all posted for this one.

wow one thing i have to say is it’s great that this thread didn’t turn into a shit fest as they usually do. maybe it’s a good sign of things to come. keep it coming. WOOT

I totally agree - it’s nice to see level heads prevailing, especially with a topic that’s been pretty touchy subject matter in the past. My guess is that everyone here cares about trails far more than they care about stirring the pot.