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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm not a "favorites" guy. I don't really have a favorite book, band, or movie. But I'm finding I have a favorite trail. Strangely, it's a multi-user trail, where hikers outnumber bikers 10:1.
Anathema, right? But here's why I like it:

- It wasn't engineered as a bike trail. I like the fact that the challenges just evolved naturally, through erosion and roots and rocks that just happened without a plan.

- Yes, the hikers are a pain, and they can be so slow, but I like knowing nobody's going to come barreling down on me on their bike. Or at least they shouldn't, because doing so would be dangerous on a two-way multi-use trail. The slow pace encourages me to see how slow I can go through the challenges. Sometimes it feels like a dance, like bikes shouldn't even be able to go that slow on a steep rugged trail. Anyway, I worked hard on the ascent, and I like savoring the descent. Of course, there are a few spots where a certain speed is required to get through safely.

- I know it sounds vain, but I'll admit I like when hikers say "what the heck? How can you possibly ride a bike down this"? I'm honest, and tell them it's not as hard as it looks. (I may be vain, but I won't take credit where it's not due.)

Nevertheless, I do avoid weekends, and I start at dawn to avoid crowds. Even though I'm allowed there, I would feel like an interloper on a busy weekend at mid day. I suppose it's a bit like being a fifth year high school student: sanctioned and legit, but still awkward.

Do you ever take guilty pleasure in the enjoyment of a multi-user trail?

Note: Yes, I know this is a somewhat pointless topic, but hey, you saw "musings" in the subject and opened it anyway. ?
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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We have a few like that and they are an experience. Few bikers try them and it takes some dedication to put up with the occasional hike-a-bike. The reward is some truly amazing arctic tundra, valleys and mountains. According to the FS and some land owners, bikes aren't "recommended" on some of these, but they are not prohibited. Only the most dedicated riders get there.

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Mountain Sky Water Slope Highland
 

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Sneaker man
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We have a few like that and they are an experience. Few bikers try them and it takes some dedication to put up with the occasional hike-a-bike. The reward is some truly amazing arctic tundra, valleys and mountains. According to the FS and some land owners, bikes aren't "recommended" on some of these, but they are not prohibited. Only the most dedicated riders get there.

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Got to say, those are the sorts of trails I love to ride, and cut my teeth on mtbing 30 years ago. Not smooth, but nothing particular technical, just cruise along (go as fast or as slow as the day delivers), don't need FS if you don't want. Just narrow worn trails that probably came from an animal trail in the first palce.
 

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I generally prefer trails that were not built as bike-specific trails, unless they were built by old-school DH/freeride guys like me. If it's an IMBA-spec trail, then there's an even greater chance that I'll hate it.

I don't mind multi-use trails (that's all that we're allowed to have here) as long as the number of other hikers and bikers is reasonable. More importantly, that their attitudes are reasonable. Unfortunately, my town has been completely overrun by out-of-state, entitled Karens and newcomers who are young and apparently retired, who demand that everything change to suit their needs/wants. Some of my favorite old trails are just not worth the drama anymore.

Last week, I was on the other side of town because my daughters had a gymnastics camp for three hours, so I brought my bike and decided to ride a trail in the range north of town which I seldom ride anymore due to overcrowding. This was on a Tuesday morning (9:30). Sure enough, within 10 minutes of the initial climb I was told "you shouldn't be here, this isn't a bike trail" by some woman. I informed her that, indeed, it is a legal trail for bikes and continued on my way (I've been riding this trail for half my life). This particular trail is a loop, and after a split in the trail, you can't ride right, but you can go on for 25 miles if you take the left branch deeper into the mountains. The lower portion is always full of people, 24/7/365. The upper part after the split is where the actual ride starts, IMO. Anyway, I use a Timberbell primarily to alert other users that I'm in the area -- as a courtesy. 15 minutes after the first lady, another lady informs me that "Bells actually lure bears in and attract them" -- in a condescending/woman-splaining voice. Getting a little irritated, I simply replied "that hasn't been my experience" and continued up the climb. Five minutes later, I climbed past an old dude who couldn't give me anything but a scowl. Mind you, all of this was just on the climb. I think that's the last time I'll ever ride that trail.

Anyhow, these days I primarily ride steep old-school jank trails and/or unsanctioned DH trails hidden in the mountains. The former are steep enough that they deter the more, shall we say, "amateur" Karen-hikers and a lot of the bikers because for some reason a lot of mountain bikers won't ride where they have to push their bikes. The latter are just...unknown, so they remain awesome. Incidentally, a lot of these trails are not really "high-speed" experiences, which is just fine with me. They are relatively slow, but far more technical experiences compared to the more modern trails.

In my opinion, multi-use trails built by mountain bike clubs, if we must have them, are kind of being built the wrong way. When they are built for "flow," this encourages high speeds, and more riders riding them at high speeds, since they are easy. In building such trails, we are shooting ourselves in the feet, since they only lead to more user-conflict and a bad reputation for bikers.
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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Jayem, that last pic looks like it's right up my alley. I don't see any challenging terrain, but that's okay, the scenery is so nice I wouldn't want my eyes stuck to the trail.
That bottom pic is a sustained 45%+ grade. If you can just breeze through that, you deserve accolades.
 

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Nevertheless, I do avoid weekends, and I start at dawn to avoid crowds. Even though I'm allowed there, I would feel like an interloper on a busy weekend at mid day.
Refreshing to see this attitude in a forum overflowing with entitled prix.

We'd have a lot more friends on the trails if more of us used busy trails like this.
 

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That bottom pic is a sustained 45%+ grade. If you can just breeze through that, you deserve accolades.
I rode a trail in my area recently that peaked around 40%, but it was sustained at 35% or more for quite a distance. It was far more eroded than that, and had loose, exposed head-sized rocks stacked on top of loose, exposed head-sized rocks. It was quite an experience. After dropping off that trail, it intersected with another loop trail that had a fair number of casual hikers coming up. They were definitely the sorts amazed that we were riding down it, and even though it was still pretty technical, it was NOTHING like the upper section (where we didn't see a soul). It felt like an absolute cakewalk of a trail in comparison, even though it really wasn't.

In some respects, I'm glad that bikes are so common on most of the trails in my area. A good number of them also get lots of hikers. But hikers pretty much know they're going to encounter bikes (and honestly, most of those hikers also ride, too), so trail encounters here almost always go really well. It's funny sometimes to wind up having bike gear discussions or mtb route discussions with hikers who also ride. I certainly appreciate trails where there's nobody out there, but I'd probably take trails with a solid mix of hikers and bikers over many bike-only trails. Seems to me that when people expect to see other trail users (and they actually do), that people are a lot more considerate. I've even been having a good number of positive encounters with horse riders this summer, even. My favorite one was a few weeks ago when I was teaching a beginner mtb clinic. Most of these folks have never been on a mtb before, so everything is new to them. We were already stopped talking about some skill or another, and saw a couple horses approaching on a wide gravel path. I got them all on the same side of the trail and said hello to the horse riders, talking to my group about good etiquette. One of the horses was really confident and curious and approached the group sniffing everybody, and accepting rubs on his muzzle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
another lady informs me that "Bells actually lure bears in and attract them"
You should have said "citation needed". That's manifest nonsense.

That bottom pic is a sustained 45%+ grade. If you can just breeze through that, you deserve accolades.
Well sure I can, it looks totally easy in the picture! ?

Refreshing to see this attitude in a forum overflowing with entitled prix.
I'm still a little new at this. I'm sure I'll be an entitled prick in no time.

One of the horses was really confident and curious
I wish I encountered more like that. Recently, I dismounted and stepped off-trail for horses, and was told I can't do that, because horses will get spooked if another user is off to the side of the trail. This was on a narrow overgrown trail, so there were only two options: in the middle of the trail, or in the brush. I think if a horse is so timid that the rider has to give other trail users detailed instructions on how to pass, that horse isn't ready for multi-user trails.
 

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I wish I encountered more like that. Recently, I dismounted and stepped off-trail for horses, and was told I can't do that, because horses will get spooked if another user is off to the side of the trail. This was on a narrow overgrown trail, so there were only two options: in the middle of the trail, or in the brush. I think if a horse is so timid that the rider has to give other trail users detailed instructions on how to pass, that horse isn't ready for multi-user trails.
agreed. I've encountered horses like that that aren't ready for prime time and they make me nervous as hell. if your horse isn't ready for other trail users, then you need to be more discerning about where you ride it, and you need to do the work to train it.

I've also encountered horse riders doing a really good job with training their horses. taking a young horse out on a lead with experienced horses so the new horse can see how the experienced horses react. stopping to talk to mt bikers and hikers so the horses can see other trail users and interact with them so they learn that we're not going to eat them.
 

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Almost all the new trails around here are built as multi user but are built by mountain bikers. My favorite is the Lake Beryessa North end trail built by the Forest Trails Alliance (best builders in Northern California, maybe the world). I ride weekdays exclusively and almost never see another person, but always stop for some chit chat when I do. I prefer the multiuser trails over jump trails and feature trails because I'm 73 and don't want to destroy the other hip but retirement allows me to ride when few others are out. Retire as soon as you can - best job ever!
 

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My favorite MTB trail is a multi-user trail, but it has been off-limits to bikes since about 1993. It's hard. It has some very steep hills (up and down), lots of root step-ups/-downs, creek crossings with steep shale banks, and a few flights of stairs... but great scenery and very rewarding to ride an entire section without putting a foot down.
It also is a fairly long trail made up of short-ish sections between road crossings where parking is far away so most hikers are of the more serious sort and the etiquette is generally good. At least it used to be. I'm waiting for the day when the no bike policy gets changed. I think it would work on this particular trail because there are only a couple sections where a bike can get any real speed. 🤞

-F
 

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We have a few like that and they are an experience. Few bikers try them and it takes some dedication to put up with the occasional hike-a-bike. The reward is some truly amazing arctic tundra, valleys and mountains. According to the FS and some land owners, bikes aren't "recommended" on some of these, but they are not prohibited. Only the most dedicated riders get there.
You must have great confidence in your riding ability. As for me, I would consider riding the section of trail in the second photo, but would be too concerned with plunging to my demise on the other three. Cheers. 🚴‍♀️
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