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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone,
Haven't been on here in a little while.
Still riding a 2013 Knolly Endorphin.

Recently I completed hiking the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail.

I used to browse these forums a lot more and thought the PCT should be for cyclists too. Then I moved to a town close to the PCT and that opinion ended pretty quickly when I started getting a clearer picture of what it's about. I used to think 'us mountain bikers should have access to it'. The intention is to provide a long distance trail and the intended method of travel has always been by foot. That is stated quite simply by Clinton C. Clarke, who is the founder of the Pacific Crest Trail Association (then the PCT Conference), the father of the idea, and the man who got people across the three states to get together. Though it allows horses, I never saw one and only heard of one person doing a 100+ mile section this year. Really, it is intended for people to walk it.

I write this to urge anyone who believes that bikes should be allowed on the PCT to reconsider their opinion. Bikes may not be motorized forms of travel, but they certainly are mechanized. Mechanized travel was never intended to be a part of the PCT. The values that went into founding the PCT go beyond the values of the Wilderness Act.

I don't know how important it really is to state my opinion here, but back when I browsed there was more discussion about it back then and the bias seemed to lean towards giving mountain bikers access to the PCT. I used to identify strongly as a mountain biker when it came to my identity as a recreation enthusiast but these days I have found my activities more multi-faceted.
 

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fine, then you can't hike on my bike trail.

seriously though, i don't care. aside from being on the other coast, i think it's fine that some trails are meant as specifically for one use or another wether it's hiking, biking, powered motor sports, or whatever. at the same time i wish MTBs had more access to more trails, if that makes any sense.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
How many mt bikers did you share the PCT with during your thru hike? What's your trail name? Congrats on completing it!
I saw one group and cheered them on as they approached while I was already sitting off trail. It helped ease the tension I could see in their faces.

My trail name is Day Tripper. And it's not just because my base weight was 5 & 1/4 pounds. It looked like I had a day pack on, but there was a fine day at Deep Creek Hot Springs that inspired the name.

fine, then you can't hike on my bike trail.

seriously though, i don't care. aside from being on the other coast, i think it's fine that some trails are meant as specifically for one use or another wether it's hiking, biking, powered motor sports, or whatever. at the same time i wish MTBs had more access to more trails, if that makes any sense.
I really am excited about mountain bike only trails. I still fondly remember the first time I rode one. I remember thinking then and I still believe that there probably need to be more mountain bike specific trails. It would alleviate conflict and provide unique opportunities.

I think that mountain biking is getting more access than we're losing. I've read about a few Wilderness Areas that screwed up a few iconic trails, but more often than not I see things moving forward for the better. I feel that a sort of registry would appropriate these sorts of assumptions but that would be somewhat difficult. Imagine, a log that shows how many miles of riding bikes have access to - how much has been gained that year, how much has been lost, and the net gain/loss. A digital map, sort of like the Strava activity map. It'd also be interesting to show how many legal miles there are and how many are poached but that might add fuel to the fire.

I'm also optimistic about the new Outdoor Recreation Act which will help substantiate the value of recreation. Hopefully this will in turn provide reason to fund the maintenance of existing trail systems and the future of new systems.
 

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We ride it quite frequently. We do stay off of I?t when the hikers are coming through in my area, usually late April-early June.
I was told by a very reliable source ( head ranger for the district) who also mountain bikes, that the USFS cannot legally enforce the "no bikes" on PCT, due to a lawsuit from when the PCT was shutdown to bikes in the 80's. There was no eis and no public forum, just pressure from the Sierra club to close it to bikes. An agreement was made that there would be no enforcement, but the no bike signs would remain.
When we do ride it, we yield to other users, we watch blind corners, we limit skidding, etc.m
 

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Why does it have to be all or nothing? Why can't some sections of it be hike/bike where it makes sense, and other sections remain hike only?
(Ive never been on or near the PCT, but it seems like most conversations about trail sharing speak in absolutes)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
We ride it quite frequently. We do stay off of I?t when the hikers are coming through in my area, usually late April-early June.
I was told by a very reliable source ( head ranger for the district) who also mountain bikes, that the USFS cannot legally enforce the "no bikes" on PCT, due to a lawsuit from when the PCT was shutdown to bikes in the 80's. There was no eis and no public forum, just pressure from the Sierra club to close it to bikes. An agreement was made that there would be no enforcement, but the no bike signs would remain.
When we do ride it, we yield to other users, we watch blind corners, we limit skidding, etc.m
Is there any source you can site for that claim that is documented online?
I personally don't mind people riding it the way you do but I also understand that people are trying to escape out there and sometimes they can only do it during the shoulder season. I did get a laugh out of some of the hikers on trail who were heavily anti-mountain bike. The overwhelming majority seemed to be forgiving but simultaneously were Wilderness 'ethic' advocates.

Why does it have to be all or nothing? Why can't some sections of it be hike/bike where it makes sense, and other sections remain hike only?
(Ive never been on or near the PCT, but it seems like most conversations about trail sharing speak in absolutes)
I understand that the all or nothing mentality comes off as sort of crass. This year the PCTA had a permit system to limit the number of people on the trail. So impact is one reason, it is already at the carrying capacity during 'hiker season'. The original intention was to provide the unique aesthetic of a long distance footpath. Which really is unique. What is going on out there is unparalleled by anything else and the idea of altering it is risky. I mean think about it, where else in the country do we get these things? There are only a few long distance trails in this country. Compared to the long distance walking trails of Europe, we are very very far behind. This is largely due to the founding of this country as well as the terrain. Most of our pioneer trails have been through places that now have highways on them.

That and it's not as if there isn't enough traffic on it to keep it alive. Besides a few fire closures, the trail is in immaculate shape. There are a few parts of Washington with large trees that have fallen but it wouldn't be any easier to get in there with a bike to try to maintain it. Additionally the intention was to provide this opportunity year-round. As the popularity of the trail increases, so does the number of enthusiasts attempting winter thru-hikes, winter and shoulder season sections hikes as well. There is a growing notion that the trail actually needs a little rest from the high intensity of traffic it receives to allow some of the impacts to settle.
 

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I truly hope that someday I have the option and ability to legally ride the PCT on my MTB.
 

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I like the idea of hiker only PCT, it's great. I have used a tiny portion of it, as a connector, twice. The issue I have, is when a county, or group of anti Mt bike people, don't let us build a parallel section of trail (I'm talking about ALL Non Bike trails here). My classic go to argument is always the same: You have an 8 lane cement highway cutting through the environment, with 1000's of polluting cars an hour, but we can't build an 8 inch wide dirt trail? Ride what you want. I do. I pretty much stay off PCT, out of respect for the incredible accomplishment these hikers are accomplishing. Edit: It's one of the few "No Bikes" trails, that I agree with.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I truly hope that someday I have the option and ability to legally ride the PCT on my MTB.
A few things make that unlikely. One being that a lot of the trail would suck to ride and rebuilding it to accommodate cyclists would be unlikely and in plenty of places impossible. That and the PCTA, which manages the use of the trail, is strongly opposed to it. That and I imagine the PCT, Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, other Nation Scenic Trails (there are 11 currently and more proposed) all generate more advocates for preservation. The likelihood of the PCTA changing its stance on the use of the trail isn't a matter of a new generation of opinions. That and the Wilderness Act would not only need to be amended, but the land managers would probably have to approve use on a case-by-case system. It goes through 48 Wilderness Areas and seven National Parks. In places where the trail goes through National Parks it probably won't happen ever.

I like the idea of hiker only PCT, it's great. I have used a tiny portion of it, as a connector, twice. The issue I have, is when a county, or group of anti Mt bike people, don't let us build a parallel section of trail. My classic go to argument is always the same: You have an 8 lane cement highway cutting through the environment, with 1000's of polluting cars an hour, but we can't build an 8" wide dirt trail? Ride what you want. I do. I pretty much stay off PCT, out of respect for the incredible accomplishment these hikers are accomplishing.
Yeah, the PCT is a sort of corridor. I think there's a 1/4 mile protection around it. The aim of the trail is to provide a pristine wilderness experience.
 

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You definitely don't get out much. (said with a smile). Check out the Sustainable Trails Coalition and look into the Bill that is being sponsored. It doesn't amend the WA because it doesnt' need amending, just returns it to its original state. It would put the decision to allow bikes back on the local land manager, as you suggest. If you want more advocates for preservation, I know how you can get millions of them at the stroke of a pen. Until you and other hikers can give a better reason than simply "we don't like bikes", I don't see a reason bikes shouldn't be allowed. Especially the moment horses are allowed. With that, you don't have a leg to stand on. I really don't want to argue this because it just isn't worth it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I don't see this as arguing. I'm familiar with the bill and the STC. I tried to hint at that by mentioning the 'best case scenario' that they've provided which involves land managers making the decision. And that's about as far as the bill has gone so far. But that has little to do with the PCT and more to do with Wilderness as I said in the above post. The PCTA sits on the same level as the land manager when it comes to managing the trail through Wilderness. So how the PCT is managed is somewhat different than the Wilderness it goes through.

You're probably familiar with the fact that if a Wilderness is in a National Park, the NPS manages it. If it's in a National Forest, USFS manages it. But in the case of the PCT, the PCTA manages the land where the PCT goes whether it is Wilderness or not.

I provided more reasons than 'we don't like bikes' if you read through the thread. The aesthetic of primitive travel is what is being achieved. That goes far beyond 'we don't like bikes' and whether you can see that or not is perception. I used to see it the way you do and then I went and lived in a trail town and then I hiked the PCT and all I can do now is legitimately relate to you. And like I said, that was the original intent of Clinton C. Clarke, founder of the PCT is that it is for foot travel and that was the consensus of the PCTA then. That horses are allowed on it is something that went into the equation later and simply isn't common on the trail anyways. As I said earlier, there was only one known equestrian user that did over 100 miles on the trail this year.

Plenty of mountain bikers are wilderness advocates for preservation of the current model. Many of the hikers on the PCT are mountain bikers. I feel that there are many mountain bikers actively engaged in advocating for preservation as well whether it is for wilderness or not simply by engaging in trail maintenance and building. There are plenty of places to build and ride that are not in Wilderness Areas. After all, Wilderness represents a very small percentage of public land.

The trail has reached a carrying capacity and the impact is already having to be managed through permits.

The trail is in immaculate shape. The numbers of volunteer trail crews and donations is incredible. Mountain bikes would not help provide remote trail maintenance - there isn't anywhere that dedicated volunteers can't get to without a cross cut saw.

I think this is a conversation worth engaging rather than something to argue about. I do have empathy for the perspective you harbor, I shared it for a long time. I hope that you can understand that I'm talking about preserving an experience that is so unique that no one really fully understands it unless they're a thru hiker. Getting to walk 2,650 miles without any sort of disruption besides someone else walking at 2.5 mph is about more than 'we don't like bikes'. I think most thru hikers would agree.
 

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I have ridden a short section of the PCT as a connector from one riding area to another (there is no other way to connect them). It's the one Hurricane Jeff speaks of. We walked our bikes and gave plenty of clear passage when we encountered hikers. Some didn't care, some glared at us. We did see at least one "no bikes allowed" sign but they were not official Forestry Service signs. Anti-cyclist users had clearly posted it.

Otherwise, riding the PCT does not interest me because we have plenty of legal riding trails to use already.
 

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ehigh- I'm glad you had a life changing experience. Arguably, all thru hikers do. I now challenge you to thru-bike the Arizona National Scenic Trail or the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail and then report back if your experience and sense of accomplishment is much different.

p.s. I can't think of a single xc oriented trail of any measurable distance that is bike only. That's not how land management works in this era, and if Clinton Clarke envisioned the PCT in the late 1800's instead of the 1930's, this wouldn't even be a thread on MTBR.
 

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This is a really good discussion. Thanks ehigh for not taking the bait and being a rational dude in a sea of opposing forces.
 

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I'm not aware of any written source that backs my claims, only the person who said it. I bet you can do a Google search on this matter. From what I was told, Victor Vincente of America( his real name and a mountain bike pioneer) was the only one who was held against his will and ticketed for riding the PCT, in which the ranger was reprimanded for doing( that's the story I heard!) Ive also ridden by forestry personal< spelled wrong I know)who never say a thing.
I'm not for opening up the PCT to bikes throughout its whole length, I know it goes through wilderness areas, but for most of trail I've ridden, probably 30+ miles of it, I wouldn't see a problem, it's too tough for the rad DH, bmxer types to tear it up and bikes regardless of how they are ridden do far less damage than horses. Its an age old problem, bikers just don't have the politica,l bureaucratic or monetary power that the other groups have, it's getting better, but we are still are seen as a bunch of ruthless knuckle draggers bent on death and destruction, but that's sometimes our own faults, I yell at a-hole riders all the time.
In conclusion, I'll still ride the trail when I need. BTW, Hawg, you are only half right when I do ride the trail, it's usually from Onyx to Little bear springs and everywhere in between.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I have ridden a short section of the PCT as a connector from one riding area to another (there is no other way to connect them). It's the one Hurricane Jeff speaks of. We walked our bikes and gave plenty of clear passage when we encountered hikers. Some didn't care, some glared at us. We did see at least one "no bikes allowed" sign but they were not official Forestry Service signs. Anti-cyclist users had clearly posted it.

Otherwise, riding the PCT does not interest me because we have plenty of legal riding trails to use already.
At least in California, I believe trails have to be approved and marked with 'bikes' signs to indicate that they're allowed. My understanding as a mountain biker here has been that unless it is marked as something I can ride, I stay off it. I wonder what those rules are in Oregon. I would have been stoked to see you and would have tried to lighten up anyone who might have grumbled about it. There's a Northern Sierra / Cascades fire road bike packing route I have been plotting and it would involve doing what you did and if anyone gave me grief for it I'd ignore them. You could joke, "I got a few starbursts if you're into that". Hikers love candy. Except vegan ones.


ehigh- I'm glad you had a life changing experience. Arguably, all thru hikers do. I now challenge you to thru-bike the Arizona National Scenic Trail or the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail and then report back if your experience and sense of accomplishment is much different.

p.s. I can't think of a single xc oriented trail of any measurable distance that is bike only. That's not how land management works in this era, and if Clinton Clarke envisioned the PCT in the late 1800's instead of the 1930's, this wouldn't even be a thread on MTBR.
I do plan to walk every National Scenic Trail in the country. I used to think I'd pedal sections of the AZT and CDT before ever walking the PCT. I actually used to believe I wouldn't ever be able to walk long distance trails with a heavy pack because of a type 5 separated A/C (shoulder) and an out of place scapula. Then I got into ultra light packing.

I still would like to pedal sections of the AZT and the CDT, but that's exactly what it is - pedaling sections. I know there are numerous blogs about pedaling the AZT and I remember one particular Pinkbike article about biking 'the real CDT, not the GDMBR' which was sort of a false claim cause you can't ride the entire length of either due to Wilderness and National Parks. But it would still be fun. I remember reading a while back about a lady that got sponsored by Blackburn to pedal all the pedal-legal sections of the CDT and then she'd bounce her bike ahead to hike the hiker only sections. But that's something people typically do only when they're sponsored or uber rich cause no thru hiker really likes futzing with equipment that long and the cost of sending the bike around was probably half the cost of my food on trail.

Though it is unlikely to see bike only distance trails, the idea of using OHV green sticker funds to create a NST for OHV that is still fun for bikes doesn't seem to far fetched. After all, I still consider the PCT as some wild pipe dream. That they got it approved and together is sort of a work of art. Did you know they originally routed it by using groups of YMCA and Boy Scouts to do 50-100 mile sections in relays? There were over 20 relay groups in all. We, as cyclists, just got to organize and make dreams a reality.

I suppose I am not sure what you mean by if it was dreamed up in the late 1800s that this wouldn't be a conversation. Of course the era had everything to do with it - there needed to be developed city centers and communities on the West coast for any of it to matter. But perhaps you meant something else? I am curious.

This is a really good discussion. Thanks ehigh for not taking the bait and being a rational dude in a sea of opposing forces.
Thanks, I appreciate it. I feel passionately about this topic and feel the need to experience what this sort of conversation is like. I recently listened to a guy speak on behalf of STC and I nearly bit my tongue off. He seemed to think mountain bikes should be allowed in Wilderness but he couldn't name a single Wilderness in California that made sense to ride. As someone that's been into 50 Wilderness areas this year, I felt the need to see his side and I tried to be convinced. But he failed miserably.
I understand that MTBR has generated a lot of traffic on the behalf of the STC and anti-Wilderness, bike-PCT, and Wilderness is anti-bike sentiments.

I feel that there has been a sort of movement to encourage mountain bikers to feel that we're losing access, by and large, and that being a mountain biker means you must be anti-Wilderness to fit in with the rest of the crowd. Which is downright BS. I think that STC is intentionally driving a divisive message that Wilderness automatically creates anti-Wilderness advocates among mountain bikers as if we're a bunch of idiots. It's as if, "uhh... I've pedaled thousands of miles every year for close to a decade and just recently walked 2,600 more... " so now I'm on the dark side or something and my opinion as a 'mountain biker' doesn't count?

I know it's scared a number of people out of the conversation when so many people are unwilling to respect the ethics of hikers. It's scared a lot of mountain bikers out of the conversation. I mean really, mountain biking could very easily be dismissed as a fad that isn't worth investing in infrastructure on a grand scale until it proves itself as here to stay. Look at what happened to Whitewater Kayaking in the 90s. Boom and bust. And the truth is mountain biking has been around for only a blink of an eye in the grand scale of how long we've valued walking. I don't think it's ever really been about 'we don't like bikes' like so many allege, it's about maintaining an ethic and bikes are simply excluded. I know a lot of mountain bikers who love Wilderness. And considering it makes up such a small amount of public lands, it seems like it would simply make sense to try to get access to public lands that don't have the highest level of protection on them. Which is something like over 95% of all the other public land.

I'm not aware of any written source that backs my claims, only the person who said it. I bet you can do a Google search on this matter. From what I was told, Victor Vincente of America( his real name and a mountain bike pioneer) was the only one who was held against his will and ticketed for riding the PCT, in which the ranger was reprimanded for doing( that's the story I heard!) Ive also ridden by forestry personal< spelled wrong I know)who never say a thing.
I'm not for opening up the PCT to bikes throughout its whole length, I know it goes through wilderness areas, but for most of trail I've ridden, probably 30+ miles of it, I wouldn't see a problem, it's too tough for the rad DH, bmxer types to tear it up and bikes regardless of how they are ridden do far less damage than horses. Its an age old problem, bikers just don't have the politica,l bureaucratic or monetary power that the other groups have, it's getting better, but we are still are seen as a bunch of ruthless knuckle draggers bent on death and destruction, but that's sometimes our own faults, I yell at a-hole riders all the time.
In conclusion, I'll still ride the trail when I need. BTW, Hawg, you are only half right when I do ride the trail, it's usually from Onyx to Little bear springs and everywhere in between.
Dang that would suck. I've gotten a few illegitimate tickets in my short time here and at least won fighting two of them. I was definitely quick to dodge every ranger I saw. After all I didn't exactly like explaining the story of my trail name 'Day Tripper' to law enforcement officials when they'd ask.

I got a kick out of reading your post, I was thinking, "oh yeah I bet I know where he's talking about" and then I got to the end of the post. I'd be a liar if I send I didn't think about good parts to ride. That one was included. But watch out, when I was walking through there I cleared at least six traps around corners. That's when I thought, "wow anti-bike PCTers aren't doing themselves any favors with this." Apparently there had been a lot of traffic the day before. Considering you could easily shuttle that section, it would probably need a permit system to limit the numbers of people who might otherwise run laps on it with a shuttle company. I don't want to give some places away, but if riding it in non-Wilderness sections were allowed it would have to be so heavily regulated because of how awesome shuttling that section would be. There are other sections that have nearly 40 miles of downhill, and who wouldn't love 40 miles of downhill? There are so many epic sections that would be vulnerable in that way. If I was ruthless I'd set up shop in no time knowing what I know about good places to ride. And I know that's sort of the business model for shuttle companies. I know people drive hours from the Bay Area to come see Downieville. Without being a fear monger, I could see it easily becoming like the dark days of the Demolition Forest shuttle sprees. I feel that the number of road crossings that would provide that opportunity in different regions and that would become the focus of weekend warriors' use of the trail.

That's why I'm an advocate of doing what you're doing the way you're doing it without raising a bunch of attention. I guess some people can't enjoy doing what you're doing enough and feel the need to get some notoriety writing articles about it to generate business for a shuttle company they work for or something.

Thanks all for contributing.
 

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When we do start riding the trail, we all clean up the trail. Things like removing small downed trees( things most hikers and equestrians seem to go around, creating a new trail) and removing brush and small landslides. We alert the rangers of bigger hazards on the trail. We are not there riding the trail to tear it up, but to appreciate it just as any other user would.
 

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ehigh - This is a very interesting and seemingly well researched thesis paper on Clinton Clarke, Warren Rodgers, the PCT, Wilderness, etc (nothing about mt. biking). To invoke Clarke into rationale for excluding bicycling in any capacity, in my opinion, means you also need to consider how he'd feel about what the PCT has become. Personally, I think he'd probably be happy the trail exists, but how it has been commercialized and commodified would irk him to no end.

However, his vision for the trail -- to escape from the oppression of the mechanized (motorized/industrial) world, a cure for the nation’s sluggish youth, and an educational tool for building strong bodies and sound minds -- certainly describes a place where mountain biking fits in.

http://scholarship.claremont.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1339&context=scripps_theses
 
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