Mountain Bike Reviews Forum banner

1 - 20 of 46 Posts

·
No known cure
Joined
·
3,911 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I've been mountain biking for 36 years now and have never heard this term until the past few days on some of the other regional forums here. Is it some new made up lingo like "flow trail" or "down country"? It's not used here (So Cal Mountains) in real life. I don't like riding in groups because they like to stop and chat too much so that may be the reason I haven't heard this term. Thanks.
 

·
Snow Dog
Joined
·
3,695 Posts
we call these "local yokel" trails here. They tend to wind off on their own, in between trees and along rivers. A lot of time they are game trails and stream beds. They are not groomed, and do not "close". Around here, they are used by whoever happens upon them, and any "damage" is repaired by nature. Luckily, they are not well known...almost "anti-social" trails. We blazed MANY of these on BMX back in the 70's and a lot of them are still in use...I ride these more often than our official trails honestly b/c they don't close when they are too wet to ride <---there is no such thing on these trails. Most of them are in local parks, and some are on private farms that have given us permission to ride on

I would call the paved rec trails more social trails
 

·
No known cure
Joined
·
3,911 Posts
Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Got it. The Forest Service here calls them "user generated trails", and allows them for the most part if they're built and drain well. One is my daily ride.

One "user generated trail" was secret until strava. Now it's used for testing DH bikes and suspension, and seeing pros and world champs is common. It's even on youtube, sigh...
 

·
Cycologist
Joined
·
6,925 Posts
I know the NPS ranger in charge of the trails in my nearby NRA and I've heard him use the term, referring to unofficial trails not created by the park service but usually not shut down. Usually they are created by people connecting to the park trails from their neighborhood. I'm not sure how he feels about bikes riding them, I imagine as long as they aren't causing any issues, they aren't too worried about them.
 

·
No known cure
Joined
·
3,911 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
This one was built by two well known riders who will go unnamed. It was less than two minutes from the house and I hit it several times a day after work with the GF doing the driving. It was my baby in the early to mid 2000s. I don't have a DH bike anymore though.

 

·
Snow Dog
Joined
·
3,695 Posts
Got it. The Forest Service here calls them "user generated trails", and allows them for the most part if they're built and drain well. One is my daily ride.

One "user generated trail" was secret until strava. Now it's used for testing DH bikes and suspension, and seeing pros and world champs is common. It's even on youtube, sigh...
I like User Generated....might start using that instead of local yokel...sounds more sophisticated
 

·
since 4/10/2009
Joined
·
30,138 Posts
I think a key aspect of "social trails" or "user generated trails" is that they're not actually built.

They're the sorts of trails that people usually walk in because they're trying to get someplace. Where I live, they're usually little spurs to reach a cool rock, overlook, a waterfall, or a stream access point. They start off as one person just walking off-trail (which is totally fine most of the time), but then someone else sees the trampled vegetation and decides to see what's over there, and eventually a trail gets packed in.

Sometimes they also go to adjacent land as the property owner accesses the public land/trail system from their yard. Occasionally they connect two trails that don't otherwise connect, or any connection they do make is a LONG way off and someone is looking to shortcut. You could consider it the same thing as short-cutting a switchback, but on a much bigger scale.

Sometimes bikes start using them because riders are curious where they go.

A "bandit trail" implies that the trail was actually BUILT (with tools) without permission, and that's a different scenario. Sometimes people go out and clear social trails to keep them open, and things can get muddy when it gets to that point. And sometimes the social trail has been used for so long and by so many people that it's indistinguishable from true system trails.
 

·
Snow Dog
Joined
·
3,695 Posts
I think a key aspect of "social trails" or "user generated trails" is that they're not actually built.

They're the sorts of trails that people usually walk in because they're trying to get someplace. Where I live, they're usually little spurs to reach a cool rock, overlook, a waterfall, or a stream access point. They start off as one person just walking off-trail (which is totally fine most of the time), but then someone else sees the trampled vegetation and decides to see what's over there, and eventually a trail gets packed in.

Sometimes they also go to adjacent land as the property owner accesses the public land/trail system from their yard. Occasionally they connect two trails that don't otherwise connect, or any connection they do make is a LONG way off and someone is looking to shortcut. You could consider it the same thing as short-cutting a switchback, but on a much bigger scale.

Sometimes bikes start using them because riders are curious where they go.

A "bandit trail" implies that the trail was actually BUILT (with tools) without permission, and that's a different scenario. Sometimes people go out and clear social trails to keep them open, and things can get muddy when it gets to that point. And sometimes the social trail has been used for so long and by so many people that it's indistinguishable from true system trails.
our social trails fit that definition for the most part. They were "blazed" years and years ago, and are now just part of that part of the park. They see ameture maintenance - like, I always have my camp saw with me to take care of downed branches and trail debris in the Spring. someone comes through with chainsaws when trees fall down, and I don't know whether that is park officials, or just us locals. There are no built up berms; jumps or features though. We ride them as they are....they are more like flow trails or true single track
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,728 Posts
I was on a USFS trail crew in the mid 1990s and the term "social trail" was used to describe a new trail that formed parallel to an existing trail due to people walking side-by-side (to make it easier to socialize) rather than inline.

We also applied it to places where a second trail formed in order to avoid areas on the "real" trail that would sometimes become muddy but that first definition was the intended one.

Based on what most of you are saying, it would appear that the definition has changed again.
 

·
since 4/10/2009
Joined
·
30,138 Posts
I was on a USFS trail crew in the mid 1990s and the term "social trail" was used to describe a new trail that formed parallel to an existing trail due to people walking side-by-side (to make it easier to socialize) rather than inline.

We also applied it to places where a second trail formed in order to avoid areas on the "real" trail that would sometimes become muddy but that first definition was the intended one.

Based on what most of you are saying, it would appear that the definition has changed again.
I'd say your definition still applies, but that the definition has grown a bit.

But I've never heard a land manager use "social trail" to refer to anything that was built with tools.

I get the feeling that phrase "social trail" has been adopted by people who build or ride illegal trails as a euphemism.
 

·
¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Joined
·
8,207 Posts
I give it the definition I do because of how I hear people describe them to me.

If it was a trail built in secret from the land managers, or without consent on private property, the trail builders/riders tell me it is a social trail. I think they use the term because they don't want to admit to building or riding something they did not have permission to build/ride.

I actually know a guy who built a secret trail on private land without the land owner knowing or giving permission. It is out in some hills off a dirt road in a area people would not think to mountain bike at since most think it is just steep fire roads. He would let a few people out there and eventually had the gall to post on Instagram that he would allow people to pay him to get access to the trail...... I am pretty sure he got a ton of back feedback on that move and quickly stopped posting about it at all. I am sure he is still riding and maintaining that trail, he just does not talk about it anymore. He referred to it as a Social Trail. I am guessing he used that term because he did not want to call it unauthorized/illegal/etc/
 
1 - 20 of 46 Posts
Top