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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
For any of you that plan to ride the Happy Jack trails near Laramie, WY (or race the Laramie Enduro 111k), we could use your help. The local Medicine Bow Nordic Association (MBNA) is formulating a plan that they will present to the Forest Service this Spring. The plan as currently posted will widen much of the trail system to 14' and then smooth them (and I mean complete rock removal) so that the ski groomers can groom the trail when there is little snow. The skiers want a longer season and more terrain at the expense of MTBers, runners, etc who want at least some challenges. I don't know about you, but if I wanted a smooth, wide trail I'd go ride a road...

Here is the plan: http://www.medbownordic.org/long_range_plan.htm
Including: "1. All groomed trails will be cut to 14? wide, as skied, to allow enough width for a skate lane and classic track. The summer surface of the groomed trails will also be smoothed out as much as possible. Justification - Width: A nice trail width is 13?. This allows for a 6? buffer between the groomer and trees. In places where we have this width we have found that the grooming is much cheaper. It is possible to groom faster because no weaving in and out of the trees is needed and our equipment lasts longer because it is not constantly hitting trees. Smoothing: This allows us to groom with less snow on the ground, so our season is longer (or in some years exists at all). It also reduces damage to the grooming equipment caused by hitting barely covered obstructions."

Also... I resent being told that ONLY skiers can be on them in the winter. Not too many steps away from having MTBers excluded from some trails in the summer.

April 24th is when the MBNA will reformulate the plan based on input.
So please input away...
Please contact: Via e-mail at [email protected] (or PO Box 2251, Laramie, WY 82073).

Just gets me so agitated! :mad:
 

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TRAIL KUBUKI CORNDOGGER
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A suggestion

I have to agree - this plan looks very skier-centric and doesn't accomodate other users. It reads like "We'll do these things for the nordic crowd and the other users can have the rest as-is".

IMHO both sides have valid needs. Being a backcountry skier in winter though I lean towards preserving the singletrack cos my trails don't need grooming. My wife's the skate skier in the family and I know she'd be jazzed to see more nordic trails near Boise - however, she also rides MTB so I think she'd lean towards preserving the singletrack too.

Unfortunately nordic skiers consume trails because skate skiers need a wide tread and classic skiers need set tracks - hence the 14' wide requirement. Our local ski area has plenty of pretty good groomed nordic tread - but these were already logging road doubletrack that sees MTB use in summer - although there is some prime singletrack nearby that's just not skiable.

Smileycook is right about looking at the alternatives - being USFS land, chances there are reasonable alternatives (keep the existing singletrack single, enhance the doubletrack for nordic maintenance). This would certainly require a more visionary plan than the one the skiers submitted. Also take advantage of the resources IMBA makes available for dealing with these issues.

For this to work for everyone both sides should be brought to the table in a non-confrontational manner and as a collaboration - that way both sides will win.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You all do make good points. We will be contacting IMBA today.

This area in particular has had groomed ski trails for some time, but they have been slowly expanding the system each year. I understand the needs of skate skiing, but have issues with rock removal for a longer ski season (wait for more snow instead) and widening of any singletrack. I also have issues with displacement - the skiers here get verbally abusive if you 1) are walking or snowshoing or 2) skiing slowly - and thus their proposal for winter is to have them be ski-only trails... Expanded grooming + ski-only policy = displacing non-skiers off of trails that they have used in the past.
 

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TRAIL KUBUKI CORNDOGGER
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MBMBPer said:
the skiers here get verbally abusive if you 1) are walking or snowshoing or 2) skiing slowly - and thus their proposal for winter is to have them be ski-only trails...
My experience is that skate skiers do have a holier-than-thou attitude. I've experienced it showing up at nordic areas with backcountry gear for access and getting "the look". It's like showing up at a road race with a mountain bike.

MBMBPer said:
Expanded grooming + ski-only policy = displacing non-skiers off of trails that they have used in the past.
Therein is the issue - accomodating one group at the expense of the other.
 

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MBMBPer,

How great of a singletrack is this? The reason I ask is, if it is only a "so-so" singletrack, maybe through the power of negotiation, you could let these Nordic fellers have this single track in exchange for the mtb'rs getting to build a bigger and better singlestrack adjacent to it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
14TripleD said:
MBMBPer,

How great of a singletrack is this? The reason I ask is, if it is only a "so-so" singletrack, maybe through the power of negotiation, you could let these Nordic fellers have this single track in exchange for the mtb'rs getting to build a bigger and better singlestrack adjacent to it.
Not a bad idea at all. Most of the trails they plan on changing I would classify as "so-so"... But it would pivot on allowances of these additional trails. I'll keep that in mind when the Forest Service starts examining proposals.
 

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Tracking up the place
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14TripleD said:
Do you got any pics of what the trail looks like now?
Just one pic righ now, then try this http://www.laramieenduro.org/2004 Race/index.htm

This is fanastic trails systems for all levels of riders, I got my wife to start biking here. There is technical sections, grunt climbs, etc...It is awesome...PLease help all of us in wyoming on this one...
 

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A differing view...

I will try to respond to these statements with a bit more patience and civility than I did on the Endurance board. I've lived, ridden, and skied in Laramie for 14 years. I've logged as many miles on the Happy Jack trail system on a bike as anyone during that time and know those trails by heart. I contend the following:

1). The claim that the trail system will be ruined by upgrading a fraction of the trails for improved Nordic track skiing is not true.
a. None of the trails indicated in the MBNA plan in any way shape or form can be considered technical. Those trails were built over two decades ago precisely to be ski trails, and but for a few exceptions were specifically designed to avoid terrain that would translate into "technical" for a mountain bicyclist.
b. These trails are not single-track -- maybe they would be classified as single track in other parts of the country, but all of those trails are already over 10 feet wide and there is always more than one line to ride. I ride them side-by-side with my children all the time.
c. The true single-track trails and technical ski trails (e.g. - Headquarters, Aspen, Middle Aspen, Death Crotch) are not included in the present or future grooming plans.
d. The recent addition of groomed trails did not impact any existing trails. These trails were designed expressly for skiing in conjunction with the USFS and in fact cannot be used for summer activities, per USFS directives, as they apparently cross terrain not suitable for either foot or bicycle traffic when not frozen. (Note: there is a historic trail variously called the Enchanted Forest or Haunted Forest trail that crosses Van's Loop, but it is not currently recognized by the USFS as an official trail).
e. This is not wilderness. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, the Happy Jack Trail system is only several hundred yards from Interstate 80. It is a heavily used recreation area with excellent access for those located in southeast Wyoming and down the front range of Colorado all the way to Denver. If there is a place in the entire Medicine Bow National Forest that should be developed for Nordic skiing, it is the Happy Jack trail system. It might be interesting for some of you to know that the NCAA champion DU ski team trains there in the early season, the UW ski team trains there year around, and it is the home ski area of current U.S. World Cup skier and World Cub biathlete Sarah Konrad. Sarah is also a former National Collegiate Cycling Champion and has won a number of mountain bike races held at Happy Jack.

2). The use of groomed ski trails in the winter by those not on skis is disrespectful and tantamount to vandalism.
a. Real money and real time is spent to prepare a fraction of the Happy Jack trails for use by those interested in Nordic track skiing, serving literally hundreds of individuals from Laramie, Cheyenne, Fort Collins, and the Denver Metro area. The fact is that running, riding, or snowshoeing on groomed ski trails in the winter damages them for use by Nordic track skiers.
b. Well over half of the Happy Jack trail system in not now nor in the future will be groomed, and those ungroomed trails are thus available for use by those interested in a back-country experience. Furthermore, from the Tie City, Happy Jack, or Headquarters Trail heads there are literally hundreds of miles of double and single-track open for use by those wanting to run, ride, or snowshoe during the winter. An extensive snowshoe trail system is also part of the MBNA plan.

3). Winter time use of the Happy Jack groomed trail system is welcoming and inclusive of all skiers.
a. For 10 years I plodded those trails with touring skis, most often with my family in tow. Never once did I feel not welcomed by the "hot-shots" flashing by. Only recently have I become a Nordic track skier, and along with the rest of the regulars I am excited by the increased use of the Happy Jack trail system.
b. The MBNA, UW Nordic Ski Team, and the City of Laramie have several classes a week for skiers, ranging from those struggling to stay up-right to those seeking to better their times in marathon races. This is not the sign of an exclusionary, elitist cult.

Finally, I would like to note that I don't know a single Nordic skier or member of MBNA who doesn't use the Happy Jack trail system in the summer, either as a runner, a cyclist, or most often as both a runner and cyclist. I myself am a cyclist first and foremost, and will not stand for any further erosion of our cycling habitat. This is not the case with the proposed grooming plan at Happy Jack. This, in my opinion, is a case of being able to have your cake and eat it too. I believe that MBMBPer has not given a fair representation of the MBNA grooming plan, perhaps misunderstanding the subset of trails which are groomed or will be groomed, and has apparently had less than friendly interaction with skiers on groomed trails. I am sure an understanding will ultimately be reached that is satisfactory to all parties.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Ok PeT. I concede that I may have jumped the gun a bit but felt a bit threatened. Other than Crow Creek, you are right, most of the trails in the plan are already wide (non-singletrack). Overall... I agree, let's work together.
 

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Ok ---I've looked at the map represented by the MBNA and the map of the original systems (linked) as I believe it stands. I am not in favor of increasing the width of any trails now in effect, as they are used by all user groups: Equine, hikers, bikers, trial runners, skate skiers, Nordic, snowshoe, and back country skiers. I personally as prior Laramie Resident ran, hiked, and biked the HJ area and felt that that area was really nice with great sightlines for all users, and enough room for hiker, runners, and bikers with good etiquette to use at the same time;( though, once while going uphill on headqtrs (the 1mile steep bugger part) with another guy we were screamed at by a hiker, though I stopped and pulled off the trail and let them pass down to the hill. I reflect that the area has always had user's conflicts) Note: Wasn't the Happy Jack Ski area abandoned due to lack of consistent snow conditions.

1. Are the groomed trails mentioned in Physical Trails System (1.) the original trails or the new trails or both?

I would agree with PeT that most of the trials in the Happy Jack System are not what is considered singletrack. I've ridden all of them myself while at UW. I enjoy them as is; and feel by taking a wider path through the majority of them, It will create problems with flow, usage, and a few accidents due to the speeds that will be then attained by very good bikers, or poor bikers and not alerting others.. This will fuel conflicts already mentioned above.

2. Has the MBNA formulated environmental impact statements to present to the USFS, concerning the effect on habitats of the Goshawks and other critters which will be affected by majority of users in the region during all seasons? Point being -- By widening trails and encroaching on animal habitat even though in winter, other users may or will inevitably cross illegally with intent/ or accidental into outbound areas such as meadow trail and effects those areas.

3. What is the proposed benefit to all user groups? IMO .02 worth it seems the Long Range Trail recommendations draft is centered only on the user groups skate skier, snowshoes, Nordic and backcountry. It seems to leave out the equine groups, mountain bikers, trail runners, and hikers among other user groups which I failed to mention.

4. Has MBNA looked at any FS locations in the Snowy's, I.e. near the Ski lodge or Northfork etc...?It seems that majority of trails in that area also seemed to be made for Cross Country Skiers and usually has better snow conditions.

5. Why does MBNA ask for the direct response to their Draft? As the FS will ultimately have final decision and my understanding is that the FS will then ask for a comment period prior to make adjustments, approvals, recommendations etc...

6. Is MBNA going/willing to work with other users groups in the area?

7. What meetings, public forums, have the MBNA tried, done locally?

8. What does the majority of Southern Wyoming residents think? DO they know?

I intend to offend no one, but seek clarity prior to submitting anything to either the MBNA or FS. Are the answers elsewhere in the draft?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Overall, I belive that the MBNA plan is currently open so that MBNA can revise it before it's given to the Forest Service. I'm sure that it is winter specific and they will leave it to the Forest Service to balance it with summer recreation concerns.

I get the impression from teh FS, whom I have contacted this week, that other groups will be contacted as well before any plans are solidified. I felt better about that! We may actually all get what we want, but need to be careful here - and foremost, we need to address environmental conecrns.

See ya at the Enduro!
 
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