Friday, March 20, 2009

Mapping Michaux

A somewhat heated discussion started on the MTBR forums regarding trail work, 'improvements', and the overall master plan of what our vision is for the trails of Michaux. The discussion centers around a few people modifying trails that other people were perfectly happy to ride as-is.

I'm not sure of our exact current roster numbers, but MBM represents at least 60 area riders who are passionate about the Michaux State Forest trail network and who have committed to its upkeep.

I think the time has come to make our trail network a bit more formal. I propose we organize a working group to include DCNR, club members from MBM and other area riding groups (YBR?) to sit down and establish a long term vision for the Michaux trail network. I would like to see this group tasked with mapping the trails, grading the difficulty of trails, and marking trail heads. I would like to see these maps available at the popular trail heads around the forest and made available to emergency personnel.

I also see the need to mark certain trails as appropriate for beginner riders; a place where we can introduce friends to the sport without destroying them on log crossings and rock gardens. In concert with this, many trails can be marked as expert level to discourage 'dumbing-down' obstacles that we have come to expect when riding Michaux.

Let's make this happen.

29 comments:

Joshua Wolfer said...

Hello! I am a first time visitor to your site. I began biking about 2 years ago and have slowly begun experiencing the Michaux trails. I'm ready for the next step and get out on the trail with some other folks who may know the area. I am 29 y/o and at a "beginner" level. I have had trouble finding trails in the area that are not out of my skill level. I think your idea is just perfect, and while I am VERY new to the sport... I'd be willing to pledge my support and willingness to help!

If anyone is up for a beginner's trail ride and is ok with someone who is out of shape... hit me up! josh.wolfer@gmail.com I live in chambersburg and can really only do weekends (working full time during week)

camps said...

This is not so easy to make this happen, and some would say that it already has happened.

DCNR has already mapped the beginner mountain bike trails (aka the Fitness/Ski Trails) and the Flatrock Trails. Both of these maps are available for free at the Michaux office and at Family Bike Shop in Chambersburg.

eoakman said...

I will have to agree this needs done. I am new to MBM (just registered yesterday) but not to the sport, so my opinion may not matter to many. The problem with not having a network of trails mapped or marked is that it makes it seem like there is no ownership of the trails to those new to the area or sport. This situtation leads to others thinking they also have they same rights as everyone else to build trails, this only leads to a situation like what happend in the State Games lands (aka Lambs Gap). I wouldn't think it is necessary to map all the trails but a nice varity of trails throughout the entire forest and not just fireroads and ATV trails. Because of the internet, message boards and races being held in the forest, Michaux is becoming a well known destination for mountain biking, so I can only see this problem becoming worse as years go by. When people see signs and maps they may be more inclined to respect what is built and not feel the need to build more now that they know "the more" they are looking for actually already exist. I am sure there will always be people trying to ruin things, and doing this may bring more people to the trails, but I think it could make this issue you are facing easier to manage in the end. This is just my 2 cents.

I like Josh am willing to dedicate time to help with this effort if it is needed.

Morgan said...

Larry, while I understand that this is a major undertaking, I still feel strongly that it needs to happen. I wasn't aware of the map you speak of, but that'll be a great starting point.

As I stated in my post, my concern is twofold.....identifying the beginner trails and protecting the advanced trails.

camps said...

I don't disagree with anything you guys are saying.

We (MBM) aren't the ones who decide what gets mapped (if "mapped" = official). DCNR has already mapped every trail in Michaux. If it's not on the maps, it doesn't exist. They aren't in the market for more inventory to manage.

There may be a big statewide change in a year or two that could affect this, in a maybe good or bad way.

Mooch said...

I like to ride my bike on trails that don't exist. It adds to the mystique of the place. Now back to nursing the kitty tender lips.

buck4science said...

I am a new MEMBER so I feel like I can make a comment. I think the beauty of MT biking is to ride the trails as they are. If there is a tree making the trail impassible, then by all means, clean it up. But really, we are up there to enjoy the peace and solitude of nature; not to make nature suit our needs.
By the way, I am a rookie and I don't complain when I go on a technical ride. I just walk if I can't ride the trail. A weekly beginner ride would be nice though!

Morgan said...

Thus the suggestion to involve DCNR, considering they have oversight of the land. I'd think they would be all for having a map of existing trails in case there is an emergency call.

Anonymous said...

Can we get stimulus money?

Anonymous said...

Some trails that have obstacles also have a bypass option for some of the more difficult ones. If "Management" means providing for every level rider then this is a good idea. It will keep people from removing desired features from the path.
Since I see horses and hikers almost every ride, you need to acknowledge that these are all shared use.
Good Luck

Chief said...

For all the beginner riders of MBM I am willing to take you all for rides on our Thurs. evening rides. I would like to know if you are coming and we can see what your skills are and go from there. Our Sunday rides are for the more skilled riders. I for one don't think the trails should be marked or mapped. If you want to learn the trails come ride with us.

Morgan said...

Chief, could you explain your reasoning for not wanting to mark or map the trails?

Travis said...

This is such a hard decision. I don't want maps of Michaux. I want as much as a woods experience as possible. More maps equals more people and I remember reading a blog entry of people waiting in line just to try iceberg in the shed,...I couldn't even imagine this. MBM needs to be the central focus and let people grow from there, slowly and around people that care for the forests whether our opinions differ or not. I would volunteer to lead a beginner ride once in a while or help to establish a beginner loop,...something my kid could get started on,...that being said, I don't want a Raystown manufactured trail system here,..tradition, tradition, tradition. I'm not sure what the club is like now, but the last time I was a member, meetings were infrequent and descisions made by a select few. Regularity and persistence is key but being "THE" club is much more than simply group rides. Check out smbc in the burg,...arguably the best establishment out there. I'm an old man now and care much more than simply placing in the race series and which way the course will run.
I hope my miscellanious ramblings and spelling errors mean something.

Josh aka Maverick Mohawk said...

The downside to making maps available to the public, is that you are making them available to the PUBLIC. There are alot of good people in the world, and unfortunately, there are also those that will destroy that which others enjoy. I fear the trails would be overrun and destroyed.

If the maps are made, I say make them a MBM/YBR only item.

Morgan said...

I could go for a MBM/YBR map. It seems the biggest concern is overuse of the trails. What if we made the map available as a PDF only on the MBM and YBR websites and had something like IMBA's rules of the trails printed on the map?

My wife and others I've talked with want to ride more, don't know the trails, and have schedules that conflict with the club's occasional beginner rides.

Mooch said...

As the wise Mr. Camp stated earlier, there are maps of beginner trails availabe at the Michaux office and Family Bike Shop in C-burg for those that can't make the scheduled rides.

Mooch said...

I've got an idea! Let's make a t-shirt with a map of the trails on it. ;)

Anonymous said...

riding in tumbling run on friday someone is cutting log on trails on top .this is private land. i ran in to sum of the members an they do not want anybody on there land .also do not park at the lot off bendersville rd 2 weeks ago a group of bikers got warning note about riding that tail we call community service the trail head is the park ,there used to be no biking sign but sum one took them down ,this is what make the park mad.riding at michaux for 25+ yr as biker who love to ride we need to be aware.

Buck said...

Trail map on a t-shirt that sounds like a plan!

T said...

No Maps!

Chief said...

I'm just old school and don't care for the map deal. As for beginner rides If you give me enough heads up I will show you all the beginner trails out there. Once you learn them then they can ride all they want when they want. The best thing for a beginer to do is do what I did. Get on your bike and ride it. There are alot of dirt roads that have plenty of climbing and down hills to get the ol heart pumping. That is the first thing you have to do is get some fitness so you can ride the trails. But as I said I would be very happy to take anyone riding weather you are a member or not!

Mooch said...

I wish Chief would take me for a ride. Every time I try to ride with Chief he says I can't borrow any of his stuff and to buy my own. Sheesh, what fun is that.

Chief said...

I'll take you for a ride Mooch....bad leg and all. Hey it might be fun. Like they say hire the handicapped there fun to watch. Sorry me and Obama don't mean to affend anyone.

Anonymous said...

Two things here.
1) I have never seen a biker with a chain saw or any saw for that matter. Cutting a ten inch log with a boyscout folding saw would be tough. I doubt thats making the smooth cuts I see.
2) whenever I cross a log I notice that all the bash marks on that log are at the lowest point. If there is a way around the log then that becomes the new trail. So, for those suggesting they ride the high side, you are a minority. Just look at the logs.
I think that mostly horse riders cut the logs. You can't (shouldn't) jump a horse on a rocky trail and they CAN carry cutting tools. You may be getting upset with the wrong crowd. Aside from the guy building "stunts" I have never seen a biker doing anything but putting logs ON the trail! We can't just leave every log that falls on the trails there. Some need removed. I think you are confusing upkeep with "dumbing down".
Remember, just becuase you're called MBM doesn't mean you own the forest or have any more say than any other group. The park officials will only work with you as long as it serves them. A horse owner could make a big campaign contribution any day and end our riding mecca as we know it. You need to reach out to "michaux riders" (the horse group) and enage them in construcive coexistence. Maybe hiking groups too. OK, I'll stop now. Thanks for hearing me out.

camps said...

Anonymous, if you're connected to the horse or hiker groups, maybe you can help us out?

brett said...

Anonymous, hearing who out?

clownbike said...

I can't read this crap anymore and I hate nameless posts.
Anonymous you obvously have never ridden with MBM and have no idea what we do on our rides.
1)Last Thusday night Camps, Chief and myself removed no less than 30 downed logs. We added none. The Sunday ride group also removed deadfall and a blowdown. We even have members that rarely ride but still do trail work.
Further more I have never seen a horseback rider dismount to fill in a mud hole or remove a dislodged rock or anything else to improve the trails. Trail stewardship is every users responsibility.
2)I have taken a chainsaw into the woods to clear trails and often carry a folding saw.
3) I do ride the high side of log crossings. So when I remove logs I
try to clear the logs to suit the difficulty level of the trail.
If you think I'm going to remove a log just because I can't ride it your nuts. Why should I steal a better riders fun just because my skill level isn't as good as theirs. Walking over big logs is good exercise too.
4)You've obviously not talked with the DCNR about trails in Michaux. The only trails that exist are the ones that are on current maps and that's the way they want it.
5)We don't think we own Michaux, ask the people that do own the forest, they like us.
My suggestion to Anonymous is ride your bike more and blog less.

brett said...

Wow, you said everything I wanted to, but didn't feel like arguing with a nobody on the interwebz.

Anonymous said...

I have no intention to P.O. anyone. Just stating some observations. Sorry I offended you or your group. Won't happen again. BTW I don't ever clear trails or make new ones. Never said I did.