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A social trail is basically "the beaten path." ex: If there's a rock or something off to the side of the trail, people will go there and bump jump off of it. Eventually, that line is worn down. Nothing is growing there, like the path, so it looks like a trail. People see that others have gone there and say, "Oh, that looks fun."

Let me emphasize just a little bit more.
A social trail is "the beaten path."
 
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since 4/10/2009
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A social trail is basically "the beaten path." ex: If there's a rock or something off to the side of the trail, people will go there and bump jump off of it. Eventually, that line is worn down. Nothing is growing there, like the path, so it looks like a trail. People see that others have gone there and say, "Oh, that looks fun."

Let me emphasize just a little bit more.
A social trail is "the beaten path."
Land managers are mostly a bit more broad with the definition than that. I guarantee that more social trails are created by people just walking. Are you saying that people walking their dogs are bump jumping off rocks? I mean, my dog likes to huck off stuff...but the creation of social trails is not limited to that sort of thing.
 

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Land managers are mostly a bit more broad with the definition than that. I guarantee that more social trails are created by people just walking. Are you saying that people walking their dogs are bump jumping off rocks? I mean, my dog likes to huck off stuff...but the creation of social trails is not limited to that sort of thing.
I know. I was using that as an example. Another example: Say there's a muddy spot in the trail. People go around it. This beats down the area where those poeple ride or walk, and creates a social trail.
 

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I know. I was using that as an example. Another example: Say there's a muddy spot in the trail. People go around it. This beats down the area where those poeple ride or walk, and creates a social trail.
IME, that's generally not enough to count. sure, what you describe will widen the existing trail or create braiding if the problem spot is allowed to persist even longer. But a braided trail does not necessarily equate to a social trail. Land managers' criteria for distinguishing a social trail from a braid in an existing trail probably varies. I've heard them use the term most often when referring to a trail that goes someplace the official trail doesn't go, as I said in my first post.
 

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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.
Also found leading to viewpoints, private property, interesting plants /archeology / geology or oth resources where the real trail avoids it.
 

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Rippin da fAt
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Social trail = user-created. There are more negative terms but generally trails built without the land managers consent or approval.
Great, now we have facefvck and twatter trails, go figure!
 

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Great, now we have facefvck and twatter trails, go figure!
Not sure what you mean but maybe you like wildcat or renegade trails better? Social or system, whatever, most system trails started out as social trails. In my neck of the woods there haven't been many trails proposed and built and most are simply old trails that have been adopted.
 

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Self Appointed Judge&Jury
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I’ve heard these type of trails referred to as cow trails.
 

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I’ve heard these type of trails referred to as cow trails.
Depends where you are, I suppose. I've spent time out west in open range type places, and cattle absolutely do create trails as they move around between water, grazing, and shelter. If people start using those trails, then there you go.
 

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Snow Dog
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I’ve heard these type of trails referred to as cow trails.
they get called deer trails here in Ohio sometimes

in the city, they are also called make-out trails...I have surprised a few couples in my lifetime of riding those trails
 

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they get called deer trails here in Ohio sometimes

in the city, they are also called make-out trails...I have surprised a few couples in my lifetime of riding those trails
as have I. and sometimes just out in the middle of a big, grassy field, too.
 
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