New rule in Arapaho National Forest limits bikes to designated trails |

New rule in Arapaho National Forest limits bikes to designated trails

Headwaters Trails Alliance Executive Director Meara McQuain descends Rogers Pass with the Mary Jane in the distance on July 2.
Photo Courtesy of Meara McQuain

As the U.S. Forest Service and local stakeholders move forward with a decade-long project to improve the trail system in the Fraser Valley, new rules are being implemented for bikers in the Arapaho National Forest.

On Monday, the Forest Service announced that bicycles will no longer be allowed off designated trails and roads in the Sulphur Ranger District, which covers the Arapaho National Forest. The restriction applies to all kinds of bikes in both the summer and winter.

“A key aspect of this project is to balance all these trail improvements with the conservation of wildlife habitat, watersheds and other natural resources we value,” Ranger Jon Morrissey said. “Part of finding that balance is curbing the proliferation of user-created routes and keeping the impacts to the trails system so that wildlife and other resources can thrive.”

In addition to the explicit requirement for bikes to stay on appropriate trails, two trails — Tipperary Creek and Flume — will be closed to bikers in the winter.

The change comes as part of the Trails Smart Sizing project, which aims to construct new trails and improve existing ones in the Fraser Valley based on a plan created by the Headwaters Trails Alliance in 2015.

Keith Sanders, a founder of the Grand Mountain Bike Alliance, said he was disappointed by the closure of two trails to winter bikers, noting that the Tipperary Creek and Flume trails were some of the limited options available to bikers in the winter.

“It’s 100% people who don’t want bikes,” Sanders said. “There’s no safety reasons for why a fat bike and a skier can’t co-exist other than one doesn’t want to see the other one.”

However, he’s not opposed to all of the rule changes and Trails Smart Sizing updates. Sanders has played an integral part in the project as a stakeholder and he understands the need to keep bikes on trails to protect the overall experience and environment.

“It’s to control the human impact on the forest and what’s out there,” he said. “There is a certain amount of give and take that you have to have in order to have a trails plan and move forward.”

Improvement efforts include adding signage, maps and trailheads to provide better wayfinding and help reduce social trails. Trails will also get a difficulty rating system similar to ski areas to help bikers identify which trails best suit their abilities.

So far, the project has constructed or reconstructed six miles of new bicycle trails, 28 new directional signs have been installed and 1.6 miles of unneeded trail was decommissioned.

That work will continue this year with the installation of 23 new signs and 1.5 miles of new or reconstructed trails.

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