In the Adirondacks and in Vermont, people who care about trail systems have been noting recently that in many places the number of users of whatever persuasion have been increasing to the point that trails are being damaged and trail heads are overflowing.
Part of the problem seems to be trails built to standards cemented in the earlier part of the 20th century, but the number of users seems to have been rising exponentially.
I have for years been attending NEMBAfest at Kingdom Trails, and recently have been going up early to help set up. Circumstances in my life this year prevented my helping; I managed to get up to the festival, but though food and entertainment was over the top, with, what, 4,000 or so attendees, riding was virtually impossible – that number of riders on roughly 100 miles of trail is forty per mile!
Fast forward to the recent announcement that three KT landowners had decided that they had had it with mountain bike riders…
We should, as a community, have seen it coming.
Going forward, how are we to address the question of capacity, recognizing that any trail system has an effective limit to the number of users that it can support? How do we plan and inform accordingly? How do we secure the cooperation of the riding community?
We need these answers.