I’m downright bummed while writing this post. I feel like I’ve lost an old friend as I consider the quick demise of the once-stellar singletrack trails in American Fork Canyon that have now been destroyed by re-allowing motorcycles in the area. That decision has, in two short years,  done more damage to the area’s once-buttery trails than could ever be done in a lifetime of use by mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians combined.

I’ve seen battles rage between the moto and MTB crowds on UtahMountainBiking.com, I’ve seen tempers flare on the trails and, most of all I’ve seen first-hand the extreme damage that motorcycles have caused. I’d say it’s about time the IMBA, local trails groups (URMB and WAFTA) and the US Forest Service takes action and either changes the rules for motorcycles or does an about-face by banning them once more.

South Fork Deer Creek Trail - Mudbog Heaven

The mud bogs in South Fork Deer Creek — Much of these have been re-routed since this post went live.

I realize that there are many motorcyclists who respect trail etiquette and/or who choose not to ride until the trails are completely dry, but the problem is that with such a powerful and heavy machine, all it takes is a single rider to turn a soft trail into “Jimbob’s Mudbog”. Add on top of that 3-4 friends and the trails get the 2-stroke beat-down in no time.

South Fork Deer Creek - American Fork Canyon Trail Damage

It’s on all of us to ensure trails don’t get damaged.

Once those deep ruts are placed in the trails, the trail no longer drains properly and water gathers in those ruts–thus exacerbating the problem. Just one rider who chooses to throttle his way through a muddy trail can and has caused extreme damage to much of the area’s best trails.

Not only are muddy areas increasing in size, but the ruts in now-dry trail sections are getting deeper and deeper, thus turning them into front-wheel grabbing danger zones. Many of these areas are now also unrideable because your pedals hit the sidewalls or your front wheel hooks up without warning and sends you over the bars in a jiffy.

On top of all this, many rocky sections are becoming filled with loose rocks that have been torn up by these motos. Those sections are very difficult to navigate on bike and make hiking in those areas dangerous–especially for older and younger hikers.

South Fork Deer Creek Trail Damage

Everyone (bikes, motos, horses) need to stay off muddy trails.

I realize that these trails are being ridden legally by motorcyclists, but it’s time we all do our part to ensure the trails in this area remain rideable and sustainable now and in the future. I propose one or more of the following solutions:

1) For starters just a single sign stating “Do Not Use Trails When Muddy” at every trailhead.
2) Place gates at all trailheads and close the trails to all users when deemed too wet for use.
2) Motorcycles be banned from the area until the trails are deemed dry enough to reduce damage by setting timelines for moto use (July – September?).
4) If the above options don’t work, motorcycles be banned completely or given access to the few trails that can sustain them

I recommend these options but also recognize that all user groups should refrain from riding the trails when muddy and walk bikes through short muddy sections. The closure gates that have been placed at the base of Clark’s and Ghost Falls Trails in Draper are great examples. Maybe some “Do Not Ride When Muddy” signs need to be placed at all trailheads in AF Canyon? It could be a simple interim solution.

I realize that motorcyclists feel they are entitled to ride the trails and feel like they contribute more in raw dollars to trail maintenance than other user groups.  They do have to pay licensing fees, which other user groups do not, but that’s no excuse or compensation for the damage that has been caused at the twist of their wrists. It’s time to make drastic changes to motorcycle access rules in American Fork Canyon or else these phenomenal trails will be permanently transformed into a 2-stroke wasteland.

Let me add to this a bit… Although my angst is directed squarely at the few moto riders who lack trail manners, there are people in every user group who are damaging the trails. Lets all be responsible in our use of trails and follow common courtesy by obeying the rules of the trails.

South Fork Deer Creek Trail Damage

Nobody wants trails like these.

NOTE: Take a look at the trail damage on South Fork Deer Creek and decide for yourselves. This is just a sampling of the damage that’s prevalent not only on this trail but on many other trails in the area. Mud bogs have tripled in size, ruts have increased dramatically and loose rocks are much more prevalent than the pre-moto days. Pictures were taken the morning of June 6, 2009 and many of these trails have since been re-routed. It’s up to us to keep them from turning back into this again.

About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.


  1. It is ridiculous. Last year there were similar photos taken on SFDC, Tibble and The Ridge. The damage is not repairable. It creates the need for a re-route which costs a lot in time and money and manpower.

    These photos, and others like them are all the convincing the FS should need to ban motos once and for all from the singletrack.

  2. Agreed that moto users should have common sense to not ride in muddy conditions. And I wouldnt mind issuing tickets to those who do…

    However this section of trail has been rutted for years. Throwing logs and other obstacles in the ruts (as i have seen plenty of people do) just makes people drive around the bog, often tearing up the sides of the bog and expanding the damage, or creating new ruts than then become just as washed out as the old ruts.

    Also if you have ever followed a group of Horses on a wet trail you will know that they do 3 times the damage motorcycles do. Plus that damage is done the whole length of the trail, instead of 1 bog spot. They tear up a trail really fast. But i dont see you lobbying to rid AF canyon of horses? Why is that? Yes I will be sure and take pictures of Horse damage next time I come across it, which is usually after every good rain storm…

    Complaining about loose rocks is really stretching your argument here. Those can be kicked around by horses, mtn bikers, hikers, as well as motorcycles. I have personally seen hikers put big rocks in the trail on blind corners and other dangerous places. Its the forest, its always changing with conditions.

    I get that you dont like Motorcycles. But elitism and its attitudes need to stop for all parties. We need to reach out and lift all backcountry users to honor public lands. Do you know how much trash i have picked up and carried out because hikers and mtn bikers didnt want to pack it out?

    Why not get in contact with some local motorcycle clubs, 4×4 clubs, and others to come help repair the trail damage, put up signs, etc. Rather than lobby the FS to shut it down, lobby the public and OHV crowd to step up.

    I for one will bring my shovel june 27 and help repair damage on 252. But you may not like my choice of vehicle to get there…

  3. By no means am I intending to be an elitist here… just stating what I’ve seen from first-had experience since motos were re-introduced to the area. The difference in the overall trail quality is night-and-day.

    But, you may not be able to see that since you may not have the same kind of trail knowledge I do before motos were re-allowed in the area.

    Yes, I am frustrated by motos in particular because they can do way more damage than any other user group. Yes, horses can do a lot of damage, but at least they are quiet and natural. At issue is the re-introduction of motos to the area. Getting horses banned is not my intention, nor is getting motos banned if we can all help it. If you read my post, my proposed solution is to ban motos as a last resort. However, ALL USER GROUPS need to come together and figure out a way to avoid permanently damaging the trails.

    About the rocks comment… again, the difference before/after motos is night-and-day and the sheer amount of rocks in certain areas is hard to deny. I know that in my years of mountain biking, I’ve never once dislodged a deeply-embedded rock and thrown it loose. But, I have seen plenty of motos do the same with one twist of the wrist. My legs pale in comparison to the torque provided by a 500cc engine.

    The muddy areas will be muddy every year, yes. But, how many motos will actually turn around instead of throttling their way through them? Mountain bikers do have an option (which some elect to do and unfortunately others do not) of walking through or around to minimize impact, but motos do not have the same option.

    The ruts in the other dry sections are also problematic and have been exacerbated by motos. How do I know? Well, a horse, MTB or hiker isn’t going to dig a 18″ trench 6″ wide that makes the trail unrideable. There are now several sections of SFDC (252) that look like this.

    I hope to make it to the trail day also, but that’s only one small part of the entire trail system that needs TLC. And, I don’t care how you get there… I’d be glad to see you there whatever your locomotion is.

    BUT… all this is falling on deaf ears because you didn’t include your real email address with your comment. Oh well…

  4. Jason, I appreciate your concern for the conditions of the trails, but I can’t help but point out your argument for horses “being natural”. If that is the case, perhaps you should leave your bike on the roof of your car and walk, because your bike is certainly not “natural”. Horses are not native to the area, nor is your bike, so that argument is a bit of a stretch. With this attitude, we will all be walking these trails and nobody will be enjoying them on two wheels of any kind.

    We all know there are two solutions. One is to selfishly ban motos, the other is to coerce and educate the forest service to better manage the forest resources in a way that will accommodate all users to enjoy their public lands in a sustainable and responsible way.

  5. I apologize for the incompletely built-out argument for horses. My intent there was that hiking, mountain biking and horses are all animal or human powered and none of them have the torque to damage the trails to the extent that motos can. To me, bringing equestrians into this argument (though they are a valid trail user) is a bit of a red herring. Hikers, bikers and equestrians have used the trails in AF Canyon for years and it wasn’t until motos were re-allowed that the conditions went downhill.

    I respect your opinions about motos and realize that you of all people can understand the beauty of human-powered access deep into the backcountry.

    I don’t think it reasonable to ban motos out the gate and that’s not what I’m advocating as a first, second or third option. If the damage continues and if the damage continues to have tell-tale moto signatures, then it’s obvious what user group is doing the most damage. The few bad apples will ruin it for the rest.

  6. Well, I had the opportunity to ride AF yesterday on my dirt bike. I declined, as I’m not a fan of being part of the controversy. I might ride in AF on the moto perhaps once this summer, but honestly I’d rather ride my bike there. It’s just not fun riding a moto in areas with so much user conflict and animosity. The same could be said for riding Mueller Park on a moto. While it is legal and posted as such, I’d rather not deal with the intolerance one would encounter.

    I’m fortunate enough to have the time to go a bit further south and have thousands of miles of trails to myself when I want to ride the moto.

    Anyway, we both agree on this discussion, the motos access issues in AF need to be addressed sooner than later.

  7. Is “intolerance” really an appropriate word for this discussion? Jason has been more than reasonable in his solutions to the problem. I’ve been called a bigot recently because I hate that motos are tearing up the AF trails. Those trails, all of them, are in the worst shape I have ever seen. And all the signatures of motos causing the damage are up there.

    This is not a matter of bikes VS. motorcycles. It is a questions of IF the trails can support moto use. And the evidence is no. Not at all.

    Jason, do you know exactly when motorcycles were reintroduced? If I remember right, it would have been 2005/06?

  8. Grizz…

    I think that was the timeframe. I rode to the top of the loop via 159 last Thursday and it’s all but turned into a creekbed due to all the ruts in it. I’m just about ready to swear off AF Canyon at this point, which is sad. The once-buttery trails are really in rough shape in many sections. Although the 216 to 150 downhill to Timponeke off the 157 is still in great shape compared to everything else.

  9. Robert Aagard on

    I couldn’t agree more–although you’ve stated the situation a lot more politely than I would have. Had some out of town bikers with me last week and a)they couldn’t believe the damage. We were going up today to photograph but your shots are pretty representative and b)they couldn’t believe the fs even allows this. I have emailed Jim Mcfarlane at the fs ([email protected]) multiple times last year with my experience. He stated that they are still considering what the ultimate trail use situation will look like. Maybe some more biker/hiker input would help.

  10. Robert…

    Thanks for your thoughts. I think I’m being pretty reasonable, so I appreciate that you think I’m being polite. Hopefully cool heads and obvious evidence can help to somehow talk reason into the powers that be.

    These trails simply cannot support motos to the extent that they have. It is going from bad to worse in a hurry.

    I rode Trail 159 from Salamander Flats up to the top of the Loop last Thursday, July 2 and the trail was more like a creekbed with water flowing through it and loose rocks galore. Due to the enlarged ruts, the trail was now a creekbed. We walked most of the trail because it was unrideable. That climb has always been one of my favorites so it’s sad to see it deteriorate so much.

    It is really sad to see these trails getting destroyed. I don’t know what the solution is, but it doesn’t take a genius to realize that they simply can’t support motos… plain and simple.

    I will reach out to Jim myself and make sure that my voice is heard. I’d encourage others to do the same.

  11. Partially Disabled on


    I used to ride my mountain bike many years ago in American Fork Canyon and have always enjoyed the beauty. I am partially disabled unfortunately had to give up mountain biking because I couldn’t even go up the smallest of hills. The last ride I took was trail 157 and had to walk the bike back. That was 15 years ago!

    I was even seriously converting my mountain bike to electric but I don’t think I could ride in the Salt Lake County canyons where I now live.

    I recently found out about the trails being opened to motorcycles and I literally got teary eyed. I have been looking into getting a motorcycle to slowly ride around the trails. If the trails were to get closed, I would really be beside myself. Also worth noting; I would never ride soon after a rain storm.


  12. Hey PD… sorry to hear about your situation, but it’s great that you’re still getting out there. Honestly, there are a ton of options when hopping on a moto should a ban be put in place. Quite honestly, it sounds like you’d be better off riding on doubletrack or dirt roads, given your situation anyway.

    But, I hear ya’ about missing the beauty of the area. We’ll see what the outcome is, but I got word from the USFS that they are working on a “wet trail plan” for next year that will hopefully help educate all user groups.

  13. Me and my dad, brother and friends have been riding the ridge trail since 1991 and we have been more than bothered from the damage caused by the motorcyles. Some parts of the trails are almost not rideable. Anything we can do about it? Is it the forest service that is in charge?

  14. I was just up riding in AF Canyon yesterday, on a motorcycle, for the first time in my life. Hadn’t had the opportunity before. I will say that it was absolutely the best ride I’ve ever been on since I’ve lived in Utah. Magical, beautiful, and the best endorphin-release I’ve enjoyed in a very long time. For me, this is exactly what trail riding is supposed to be, and I was in heaven. You probably don’t need to ask why I was so giddy, because that’s why all of you reading this page go up there on whatever modes you choose. But I can tell you something you maybe hadn’t thought of, since hikers, mtn bikers, and horseback riders have enjoyed unfettered access to those trails for all of history.

    My pure joy of flicking my way through the aspens was infinitely compounded by the fact that for the 24 years I’ve lived in Utah, I’ve been pretty much confined to the bleakest, un-vegetated, dustiest, ruttiest, unimproved garbage to ride on, that I began to wonder if I’d died without knowing it, and was now experiencing my idea of heaven. I’ve seen area after area get closed to riding for reasons not confined to “damage.” Development of housing, businesses, roads, infrastructure, etc., have left many of us not just feeling like second-rate citizens, but quite blatantly and unabashedly treated as if we have no right to exist. And it never matters how much money we get charged, or how much time we put in trying to make up for the few idiots; it’s never enough. There is a very vocal minority who will not stop until all public lands are locked up, except to allow whichever recreation they themselves participate in. The methods they use are reprehensible, and they have a lot of political power due to the services of a few lawyers well-trained in guerrilla legal tactics. For several years I quit riding, because it takes all the joy away when you have to worry that despite your best efforts to pitch in and get along, it’s never good enough.

    We are not the enemy. Many of us love and revere those trails just as much as those of you on other vehicles (including shoes), and we take care to tread as lightly as possible. And we’re willing to show up and help maintain trails, too.

    That said, I will say that the tone of this thread has been much more civilized than I’ve seen elsewhere, and I appreciate the sentiment that you’re at least willing to consider options other than immediate closure to motorcycles. I can’t help the feeling, though, that this is really just lip service, intended to be used as evidence that you really did “try” to work it out with OHVer’s, before providing some pictures showing it was really a hopeless cause all along. So I sound a little cynical, I hear you saying. Well, yes, I admit that after years of fighting for reasonable access to more than just the West Desert, and years of being treated like a second-class citizen, I do have a bit of a persecution complex.

    I’m not unsympathetic to your concerns. In fact, I don’t want those trails to be destroyed any more than you do. And I feel just as powerless as anyone else to defend them against the losers of all stripes who treat them disrespectfully. But I still bristle when I hear people demanding trail closures because “they’re not the same as they used to be.” These are the same people who buy a $50,000 high-clearance 4-wheel-drive truck with a Triton V-10 engine so they can feel cool driving down Main St. USA; but they drive it like it’s made of fine crystal that will shatter if they cross a gutter without stopping completely first, unless you happen to be in front of them on the highway on-ramp, because Lord-help-you if you impede their progress. I’m tired of people who believe that whatever it is they do is the most important and most valid activity, and that what anyone else does is therefore inferior and subject to derision, harassment, and legal exclusion. I can’t explain the selfish actions of those who disregard the rules of trail hygiene, but I will not quietly abide elitists who are so limited in their ability to process ideas that the only solution they default to is closure. To me, this kind of thinking comes from the same geniuses who gave us “Zero-Tolerance” rules in our public schools and our legal system; and my response is that zero-tolerance is born of simplistic and mindless mental laziness. Those limited by this inability to find creative solutions ought to be excluded from the discussion. But, unfortunately, political behavior is rarely scientific, so I’ll continue to wonder when the “No Mechanized Vehicles” signs are going to re-appear in AF Canyon…

    Oh, and for those of you who didn’t notice my careful choice of words; I intentionally used the word “mechanized” instead of “motorized,” because it’s an example of the craftiness of the elitists who are working toward full wilderness designation.

    So, mountain bikers, be watchful, and not so quick to support talk of closure, because when the signs go up outlawing mechanized vehicles, it includes you, too.

  15. @Galen… thanks for your well-worded and sincere thoughts on this topic. No question… those who respect and revere these locations come come from all user groups. I’m glad you’ve so poignantly phrased your joy at riding in AF Canyon–the place flat-out rules!

    My loss this year has been my reluctance to return to some of these trails that have been damaged by excessive runoff and overuse too early in the season by all users. Yeah, it’s easy to pick on the motos, but in the end if we’re not careful, all “mechanized” travel could be restricted.

    BTW… motos were allowed in AF for years, then banned for a few years before being re-allowed in the past 2-3 years. The unfortunate thing is that not all users (motos, mtb’s, equestrians) are educated in proper trail use nor do all of them have the same reverence to the areas that you and I both do. That’s the key.

    Thanks again for your comment… very well put.

  16. Outside Observer on

    I came upon this blog because of a friend who told me he was going to ride American Fork Canyon and told me to look it up. That being said, I have no bias either way on this discussion and enjoy both forms of recreation. After reading all the posts, I have noticed the following:

    1st – What a MTB rider views as destruction of the trails(Jason), a MOTO rider views as heaven(Galen). For an MTB rider to enjoy they want the buttery smooth trail while the MOTO rider is very happy with rougher/rutted terrain. The natural beauty of the area is obviously what both agree on and why all want to be there. The challenge of single track is also very appealing to both.

    2nd – I have noticed that although MTB riders are looking for a solution so both can utilize the trail system, they revert back to if none can be found that MOTO riders should be banned. These two observations have created certain conclusions that some people might want to hear and others may not. The MTB rider seems to be of the opinion that their rights to enjoy the area take precedence over the rights of the MOTO rider. The MOTO rider has not once in this blog stated that if no equal use solution is found the MTB rider should be banned. The MTB rider states it repeatedly. As someone who enjoys both types of riding very much (just at different times of the year), I would not like to see either one banned. Coexistence is definitely possible but it is not ideal for either user.

    We know this because it is already being done in other areas of UTAH. The forest service does this by alternating trail usage each year. It keeps any one trail from deteriorating to the point where an MTB rider will no longer enjoy it. Although it is not ideal for either rider because of the usage restrictions,it is a compromise that allows both groups to continue to enjoy the area (just not on the same trails at the same time). You can never change the fact that an MTB rider considers a rough and rutted trail deterioration while a MOTO rider considers it better/more challenging riding.

    However, you can educate and create more tolerance and understanding of each other. Banning one group of users to give another preferential usage/treatment of PUBLIC land should NEVER be an option. The MTB riders here are showing the presumption that their rights come first. I’m pretty sure that if the MOTO riders were trying to ban the MTB riders as a final solution, the MTB riders would be pretty upset.

  17. @Outside Observer

    Thanks for your thoughts and your comment on this issue. Yes, we both enjoy the beauty of the area, but liking/disliking rough trails is definitely not the major issue here. The issue is near trail destruction.

    Over the course of the summer the trails have improved, but some areas are irreparably damaged so much so that the USFS in conjunction with local user groups (motos, mtb, hike, equestrian) have already built new trail sections and are planning more with wholesale changes to better manage wet trail traffic come next Spring.

    The balls are in motion here and who knows… all “mechanized” traffic may get banned at some point if we can’t all work together.

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and re-state the obvious… when the trails are wet and soggy, a motorcycle does more damage than a bike can ever do. That said, both do damage and both are to blame for making the trail worse.

    If the current trails can’t support motos, then we all need to work together to build trails that do support motos, mountain bikes, hikers and horses to be happy. As it stands now, much of the trail network in AF Canyon simply can’t handle the traffic it’s getting.

    In the end, there will have to be some sort of compromise by all users (limited access, rotating usage, trail closures when wet), but in the end, our natural resources should be the #1 concern here… not who can ride and when. If we as users are destroying the trails, then we all deserve to be banned.

    If you feel comfortable with your use of the trails and can confidently say that you have done no harm, then congratulations. But, if you have knowingly ridden through muddy sections, throttled through other sections and spun out just for fun, then we will all have to live with the results of that type of behavior and all user groups will be hurt.

    In the end, education is the answer. Riders need to know when to turn around and they need to educate each other on how to take care of nature and the public land we are so blessed to have–I don’t care if you walk, bike, throttle, swim, sashay, skip or ride a goat. If you don’t respect the trails and take care of them then we are all going to have to live with the results of the few careless people who don’t. That’s what scares me.

  18. Use Vedder Mountain in BC as your guide. Motos use the Upper Mountain and stay off the MTB trails on the lower areas of the Mountain. See Pacific Northwest Motorcycle association and Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Association. Build separate trails for each group of users because the two are not compatible. If we didn’t ride in BC when its wet we’d miss a lot of riding. The Mtb trails have seen heavy bike traffic for years and stay in great shape. If you choose to ride the “Moto” trails at the top of the mountain you’ll see the same carnage you have at American Fork

  19. Would you like motorcycles to be banned from all trails?

    How about banning mountain bikes? Surely you won’t argue they don’t also damage the environment? It’s just that mountain bike damage is an amount that you as a mountain biker are comfortable with?

    Or is it just your mountain biking trails you’re worried about?

    What a hypocrite.

    • Jim… if you read my original article and subsequent comments, you’d understand my point-of-view. Yes, I firmly believe that motorcycles (really a handful of careless riders) are inflicting more than their fair share of damage to the beautiful singletrack in American Fork Canyon. While I’d love to see motos once again banned from the singletrack in the area, I do realize that it likely won’t happen and the best course of action is to find solutions that will suite ALL user groups.

      As much as I dislike motos, I realize that they do have the right to be on the trails. However, if motos are damaging the trails moreso than other trail users, there needs to be some education and, if necessary, restrictions put in place–plain and simple.

      And yes… there are bad users in all user groups. Mountain bikers are inflicting damage, yes, but they can in no way do the harm that one twist of the throttle can do on a wet and muddy trail. At the end of the day, a motorcycle with its extra heft and powerful motors can do more damage to a sensitive trail than any other user group. Therefore, motos might just need extra regulations placed on their use in the area to maintain trail quality for all other user groups.

  20. I have enjoyed the civil tone of this discussion. I ride AF canyon a lot in the summer on my moto and have been doing trail maintenence up there this past summer. I am going to make some of the please dont ride when wet signs and post them up there this spring. I have been cutting fallen trees and making ramps over fallen trees on the trails up there. I also want to point out that a lot of moto utah members helped with the re-route of the area in some of the above pictures.
    I guess the point I am trying to make is that the most evolved users of the trails are really trying to help maintain what we love.

  21. @Davrulz… I suppose the tone could get much worse, but I appreciate you calling it “civil”. I’d like to think it is.

    Thanks for your efforts with trailwork and education. Although I’m still pretty ticked off at the careless damage done by a handful of bad moto riders, I do realize that there are good and bad eggs in every user group. Thanks for doing your part!

  22. I’m both a cyclist and a motorcycle rider. I have not ridden in AF yet but plan to soon, and can assure you I’ll be respectful of the mountain and its other users. I plan to take my kids along with their motorcycles and will teach them to do the same.

    Jason, I appreciate your post and that you are asking for cooperation first, rather than an immediate ban. I imagine that many motorists see the title of this thread, its website and obvious lack of support for motorcycles and immediately get defensive. Funny, I found this post by searching for trail maps as I’m daydreaming about riding this summer. I’m not sure if anyone will ever read my response….or if I’ll be back.

    I have to say that I’m a bit confused by your post. Are you more concerned with the potential damage to the environment or your personal enjoyment of the trail? It sort of reads as if you are not enjoying the ride as much, and you want to eliminate motorcycles because enjoyment is of greater importance than mine is.

    Maybe if other areas were open to motorcycles, upper Big and Little Cottonwood for example, there would be less traffic in AF and the damage wouldn’t be as apparent. Also, it seems to me that there are a lot of places I can take my mountain bike. Don’t take this the wrong way, but if the ruts make it unsafe to ride in AF, maybe you should ride all of the other canyons and trails in the Wasatch Front that are open to mountain bikes but already closed to motorcycles. If you close this, where would you like us to go?

    There is no doubt a motorcycle can do a lot of damage by dropping its clutch in a puddle. And to a family on a hike, a mountain bike coming downhill around a corner at 30 mph is a serious safety concern. I know, because I’ve been that rider locking up the brakes on my mountain bike to avoid toppling a 3-year-old standing in the trail. Plenty of dirty looks from parents and comments like….”those things should be allowed on these trails anyway.” Keep in mind that my tires leave bigger marks than yours do, but yours are too big in the minds of most hikers. Be careful what you lobby for because they might use it against you.

    I like that I can have my bikes (of whatever variety) off my trailer and rolling within an hour of my home. Unfortunately, Dell, Utah is not my preferred location to enjoy the scenery and have a picnic lunch with my family in the middle of the summer.

    All of that said… it’s my mountain too; I’m willing to share, so please let us know how we can get along and keep riding. Alternating trails, upper / lower, alternating weekends, specific hiking, biking, moto trails, work groups that invest a couple of weekends a summer repairing bogs and marking trails, a trail management class taught by volunteers with a certification sticker that people can put on bike to show you support the mountain community. What would it take?

    I think you will be surprised at how much support you will see from the motorcycle community if you call for cooperation and co-existence, rather than closure.

  23. @Strawpeter… thanks for your thoughtful reply. I’m glad you are both a mountain biker and motorcyclist since that really does give you a good perspective. Honestly, I’m not too keen on motos… I’ve ridden them on singletrack… ridden them on dirt roads and the like. They just don’t do it for me.

    For me, yes, the trail is not only about the challenge but about the enjoyment. Solitude, peace and the quietness of nature are all a part of the fun. While a mountain bike is by no means natural, I’m not going to go running naked through the woods to get my thrills, ya know.

    We all enjoy nature in our own ways… some with throttle and exhaust and others with legpower and sweat.

    My main concern here is education and making sure that moto riders are properly educated in trail etiquette so we don’t all lose these beautiful trails. I agree that MTB riders can potentially be just as much of a threat to other trail users as well, so we should all tread lightly.

    I LOVE AF Canyon… don’t get me wrong. It’s the reason we bought our home right at its beautiful mouth. I can throw a rock there from my door. I don’t want to have to drive elsewhere to enjoy beautiful singletrack and really want the trails maintained to a level they once were. Maybe I’m an idealist or a dreamer… I just want the trails smooth, fast and fun like they all used to be. I will continue to love and enjoy AF Canyon in ways that many others can only dream of (backcountry skiing).

    I just want to make sure we keep the abusers at bay and educate all users to work together. This is where that all starts, so thanks for your criticism and feedback… lets all be better.

  24. Both MTB and MOTO riders cause damage. The issue is what level of damage is acceptable. To a MTB damage is acceptable only as long as he/she can ride the trail on a MTB. Unfortunately, MTB are unwilling to tolerate the damage caused by MOTO riders because it negatively impacts their “rights” to the trail – they don’t like to consider that maybe some trails should be MOTO trail only. There are far more trails in Utah that are available to MTB than to MOTO – yet the MTB crowd continues to complain. I suggest, as did Roy fm BC, that some areas of AF be closed to MTB and open only to MOTO.

    Jason, you also said it well when you said you don’t want to have to drive somewhere else to enjoy the beautiful singletrack – well either do MOTO riders. Yet you threaten that as an option. Why shouldn’t a MTB drive somewhere else to enjoy a trail the same as MOTO riders usually have to do. Again, close some of AF to MTB so MOTO can ride in peace and without complaint.

    I think we all understand it is well-funded, out-of-state groups that are restricting both MTB and MOTO access here in Utah. But, when the MTB community is as much an obstacle in this issue as those groups are, then we will continue to lose access for both groups. I fight for MOTO access every chance I get. But, when I see that battle is obviously lost, then I join the fight for no-access for anyone. I’m tired of preferential treatment for some users versus others. So, if one group loses access to a trail or an area, I support all users losing access.

    We should all be working together rather than against each other. But, if we can’t, we all lose.

  25. @Rider… yup, slippery slope indeed. It’s a tough battle that should be fought together. I’m first promoting education, which will benefit both MTB and MOTOS. Lets work towards that end… together.

    • @jason – joining this late, but this is the silliest discussion I have ever seen. last year on the mountain was wet for a very long time and not good conditions for anyone to be up there on.

      there are downsides to either group riding the trails. however, the motorbike people have the strike on their side of being much more visible that the bicycling crew. But the plus that they do have is that I have multiple times seen motorcyclists pulled over doing something to repair trails. I have never seen a mountainbike group involved in such activity. hopefully, the doofuses won’t ruin things for ALL 2 wheeled traffic.

      please have a little more positivity and put something together (besides this whine-site) and lets get out and fix those trails up. I have been looking and looking for something online today to see if there is going to be an early summer/spring clean up day to volunteer with, but have found nothing.

      as far as use goes, foot traffic and horses have been up there the longest. followed by some motorized, and bicycles are kind of the new kid on the block so to speak. so it seems to be silly for that new kid to complain too loud. get out there and be a good steward of the forest with those of us that love it too.

      closing trails to use is not the answer. ultimately they will be closed to all except foot traffic. tread lightly sir, it’s a slippery slope your advocating.

      • OK… so it’s not hard to find MTB trail crews out there fixing things. It’s also evident that moto riders are also contributing to trail maintenance. You’re right… everyone needs to do their part and everyone needs to be good stewards.

        Now that it’s been a few years since writing this article, I’ve continued to poll the MTB crowd on their stoke-level on AF Canyon trails. Without question, every single one of them has told me that the trails aren’t what they used to be and they are now migrating to other non-moto trails. That’s simply not right.

        If motos destroy the trails so much that MTB, hikers and equestrians can’t enjoy the tails too, then we’ve swung the pendulum too far. Maybe some of the trails should not be mixed use. Maybe some of the trails should be hiking only. Maybe we all need to stay off the trails when they are wet. I don’t know the answer, but all user groups need to work together so we can all enjoy the trails.

        As it stands now, the motos are abusing the trails in AF Canyon to the detriment of other user groups.

  26. Just one thing to point out, Rider. I don’t subscribe to your policy of “if I can’t moto there, then nobody uses the trails.” That’s a pretty bad attitude, IMO.

    Also… you’ve got to understand that AF Canyon was open to motos, then closed for 8-10 years and re-opened. During that time, mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians used the trails to their heart’s content.

    The major trail issues I’m concerned about have only surfaced since motos were re-introduced to the area. Coincidence? Once again, lets all get educated and help all trail users use the trails wisely.

  27. I just saw this post today i find it very interesting. I take advantage of both moto and mountain biking the trails up AF canyon and spend equal time on the Moto Utah and Utah Mountain biking forumns. I am just curious to what makes either group (mountain bikers or moto bikers) have the right to ban each other from any trail system in Utah? Both sports have their pros and cons.

    What i find the most entertaining is that horses were the first on the trials years before most of us were born. Then in the 70’s Tote Goats and Honda trail bikes started to use them and eventually motor bikes. When mountain biking started to become popular in the early 90’s, some how that group decided that they were the most important click on the planet. Since I mountain bike every day in the evening, motorcycle once a week and own a horse, would someone please explain to me what makes mountain bikers more important than all others.

    Serious replies only please..

  28. As both an avid mountain biker and motorcycle rider I am concerned with some of your arguments. One of the most disappointing mountain bike rides came after waiting for the trails to open in Bidwell Park (Chico, CA) after the rainy season. Bidwell Park closes the trails to horses and mountain bikers until they are dry. After having waited for the trails to open I hit my favorite trail. I was extremely disappointed when I got to the trails and found that some people had ridden horses on the trails when they were still wet. Riding through the dry hoof prints was not my idea of fun. Having also ridden both mountain bikes and motorcycles in AF Canyon I do not want the area to be closed to either uses. The real answer is responsibility by ALL user groups including hikers, equestrians, mountain bikers, and OHVs. In the picture from your original post there is a mountain biker standing next to extremely muddy trails. I wasn’t there but those trails sure look too muddy for anyone to use including mountain bikers. The answer is not too ban use to one specific group, but to limit use of all trails to ALL users until conditions permit use. A word of caution. I would be careful about getting one group banned from use because there are people who would ban all groups from use. ALL users need to work together to keep the trails open to ALL RESPONSIBLE users

  29. We ALL need to do our part to keep these trails in good condition and open to all users. I don’t pretend to think that motos can or will be banned completely, but if throttle hogs continue to inflict damage on sections of the trail, do we have much of a choice than to limit their use?

    The above pictures were in a section of trail that has since been re-routed. Yes, we were biking in the area, but we were forced to dismount and walk our bikes through about 200 feet of mudbogs that were exacerbated by 2-stroke carnage.

    Yes, I’d prefer not to see motos on these trails, but realistically, that’s not going to happen, so we all need to work together.

    Let me say this again… a 500 lb 500cc motorcycle can inflict more damage than any other trail user, plain and simple. Anyone who denies that needs to go back to school. Lets ALL be good trail stewards so we ALL can enjoy these beautiful trails.

  30. Jason

    For someone who wants to make the effort to keep the trails open to all you sure are negative against the moto guys.”Throttle Hogs” “2 stroke Carnage” “500lb 500cc”. Why would you prefer to not see motos on the trails? There are plenty of trails within your reach that are closed to motos, but there are none that are open to motos and closed to mountain bikers. Why is this? I see that you are a strong supporter in the Mountain Biking community and very active on other forumns. I dont understand why you bash the moto community. If you suceed in getting the trails closed to motos they will soon be closed to mountian bikes because the horses and hikers will not like the pedal bikes. The only question that i asked has not yet been answered. Why are mountain bikers more important than the rest? Please give me a logical educated respose to this question.

  31. I guess I should say this… I’m not a fan of motos, it’s just not my style. However, I have plenty of friends who enjoy the trails on motos. I have nothing against them personally and I know that the majority of moto riders are good trail stewards who avoid wet trails and don’t otherwise purposely damage the trails.

    What’s sad is that in my years up AF Canyon I’ve seen the few bad eggs on motos destroying what I see as sacred. It’s those images that are permanently imprinted on my mind and associated with motos. It just makes me angry.

    They are the minority, just like bad MTB and equestrian users are in the minority, but we all see and have to live with the damage they inflict.

    By limiting moto use to dry trail seasons and educating them as to proper usage, we can all enjoy the trails when the time is appropriate. Motos aren’t going away and I hope to see more good examples of motos caring for the trails so I can wipe away images of the Metal Mulisha every time I hear a two-stroke blaring away in the woods.

    None of us want to lose access, but lets all do our part to educate and help the bad apples make better choices for the sake of ALL trail users.

  32. I cam across a group of motos one time and they were sitting there, full throttle with the front brake applied just tearing the hell out of the trails. Stuff like that doesn’t get erased from my mind very easily.

    And yup… close the trails to everyone when it’s extremely wet and muddy, but some trails can support hiking or biking traffic while being too wet for motos or horses.

    Just be sure to leave the knick-knack, one-hander landers to the pros.

  33. I have been riding and biking trails for years all ove the sate and have never once seen the reckless actions that you are talking about. And you still havent answered my very first question. What makes mountain bikers so much more important than everyone else? Whats wrong, dont you have an educated answer? Or just another knick knack response. I thought that owners and moderators of these formuns were supposed to be responsible memebers of society who have viable arguments to support a good cause. Turns out your not an enviromentalist at all just a foolish tree hugger that thinks that his click is better thatn everyone else for some odd reason.

    Definition of Tree Hugger: 20,000 hippies that chain themselves to a big trees for three weeks claiming they want to save them. Then when the media leaves and the dust settles all of the hippies go home leaving 100,000 lbs of garbage behind for the tax payers to celan up!!

  34. rmk756

    Whoa… I guess I’m supposed to now put on my lab quote and pocket protector and give you a scientific reason based on years of research and all that. I apologize that my previous responses haven’t been sufficient in your mind.

    Look, I’m not out there trying to get people kicked off the trails as I know that’s not a reasonable expectation and frankly, I’ve got way to many other things to worry about. But, can we both agree that a 500cc dirt bike, ridden recklessly, will do much more damage than foot or bike traffic? The plain and simple response is, yes.

    That being said, lets make sure that ALL trail users are properly educated on trail etiquette. I’ll ask you to spread the word amongst the moto crowd that the actions of a few are putting us all in a bind. You say you’ve never once seen a moto misbehaving then well, you haven’t been out much because it’s not THAT hard to find (yes it’s out of the norm, but I’ve seen several over the years, but I’ve also seen a few bad MTB’ers as well and will gladly call them out if need be).

    I will do my part in the MTB circles to make sure that we are properly policing as well.

    And thanks for the dramatic and overwhelming generalization about environmentalists. Shall I also ask you to actually back that argument up?

    We can save that for another time. Lets all get out there and be good stewards and help other users become educated as to the proper use. We only have one earth and one American Fork Canyon… lets take care of it for ALL trail users.

    • fyi – most motorcycles on the mtn weigh in under 250 lbs. and the tread width of a moto tire is well under six inches. ease up on the exaggerations. also, I’m sure motorcyclists could point to a few bad eggs in your circle too. don’t be so inflammatory, pls. lighten up.

  35. I think that leaving some trails non moto would be a good solution. I ride moto in the mountains up and we can access alot more terrain than the rest of the users, due to the speed that we can travel. I also agree with restricting some trails untill they are dry enough to use. The truth is that if a trail is used be motorcycles long enough it is going to get WHOOPS and ruts and be ONLY ridable on a motorcycle. In such a sensitive area why cant we save some trails for the mountain bikers?

  36. Dirtbiker (both kinds) on

    You have an obvious disdain for the modern motor biker. Get help and get over it! It isn’t promoting “working together” in any fashion.

    I ride MTB and Motorbikes and have done so for years up A.F. canyon. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little irreverent blaring through the trails with my loud pipe and destroying the quiet sound of the tweety birds. I can cover a lot of ground and absolutely find great pleasure in being up in the mountains. If I could choose a place to pass from this world, it would be in the mountains. I will say that I yield to ANY individual I come across on the trail by shutting off my motorcycle. I feel a bit inferior to others on the trail when on my Motorbike. I would however be very disappointed if I were to be banned from these trails by the vocal minority.
    I guarantee I spent more money contributing to the maintenance of these trails than any mountain biker and can’t count the service hours spent up that canyon with Scouts and Youth groups. I feel it is just as much mine to use as it is yours.
    Educating is the best method and involving these groups rather than trying to ban them. Maybe you ought to spend some time with them and you would realize that most of these Moto enthusiasts don’t ride the trails when wet and do a lot to preserve the canyon. You continue to refer to a small group of riders that ride when it is wet. not everybody does that.
    I will also say that as a Mountain Biker I don’t enjoy the crap from the horses on the trail and the hoof prints left in mud creating a washboard for me to bike over. And I know that they don’t enjoy me bombing down the trail surprising them or the family hiking with little kids. Let’s not get this group complaining about how dangerous mountain biking can be to hikers. They can at least hear a motorcycle coming so I doubt they would complain about that. Again, I come to a stop if a come across someone while riding my motorcycle, apologize for scaring them and let them pass.
    A few items to clarify. Most Motorbikes nowadays are 4 stroke not two. The are a little better for the environment, not much. (After the BP spill does it really matter if I continue to recycle?
    I wouldn’t mind seeing some trails limited to Mountain Biking. No Horses, Bikers or Hikers. I think some nice hard packed single track like those at Deer Valley would be great. This might limit the whining from the Mountain bikers and I would be willing to bet I could round up more Motorbiking help to build the Mountain Biking Specific trail than Mountain Bikers. Go push for that and you’ve got my help! Push for a ban and look out!
    Bottom line, you live in a world with morons. The morons ruin it for the rest of us. The vocal minority speak up and all you will be left with is whiners and morons on the trail cuz the morons can’t read signs. I couldn’t think of anything worse!

  37. Dirtbiker (both kinds) on

    Oh, one more thing. You are breaking the rule you are complaining about! I have ridden my mountain bike when the trail is a little wet and it does similar damage! When you get a pack of bikers they can rut the trail just as bad. Look at the pictures of your own tire tracks…naughty naughty! Practice what you preach my friend!

  38. Dirtbiker

    Thanks for your thoughts and your criticism, but let me just point out a few things:

    1) Yes, I’m aware that most motos are 4-stroke, but I like harboring angst against the 2-strokes of yesteryear. It’s more fun.

    2) Thanks for telling me what I did/didn’t do on the trail. Actually, those tracks were there before we got there. We stopped, picked up our bikes and walked carefully through. Can you do that with a moto?

    3) I’m all for MTB only trails in the area or moto only trails for that matter. The bottom line is that the trails that are in AF Canyon weren’t built for all trail users. They were built for hiking. We need to either adapt the trails for all users or limit their usage.

    4) While I’d lament not being able to MTB in AF, it would not be a complete loss as I’d absolutely LOVE to trail run on those trails. If MTB’s and motos were banned, I’d be bummed, but OK with it as it would likely be what’s best for the long-term sustainability of the trails. Do you care more about the trails or your enjoyment? If the Forest Service deemed the trails unsuitable for MTB’s and moto’s I’d just start enjoying them on foot more.

    5) You (like most of the moto commenters) didn’t provide a real email address, so you won’t likely see this response at all… oh well.

    We need to push to have these trails repaired, re-routed and re-built for ALL users or closures are imminent because of morons and whiners (as you called them/us).

  39. Jason…you need a reality check. I’ve ridden the trails up AF canyon long before motorcycles were allowed. I might also add that I ride motorcycles quite often in that area as well Quite honestly, mountain bikers are no better than motorcycles. When AF canyon opens up on Memorial Day weekend, any mountain biker with a Grandma that can shuttle them up to the summit will head up there regardless of what the run-off has been so they can bomb down the Ridge Trail to Tibble Fork. I’ve seen mountain bikers come out of those trails covered head to toe in mud talking about how deep the runoff was that ran down the trail for 100yds. Don’t even get me started about horses…they don’t even need the gates to be open to head on up and destroy the wet trails.
    Your quest to ban motorcycles is going to backfire when they ban all forms of mechanical travel on the trails.


  40. how much do mountain bikers pay for the trail use? and have you seen what horses can do? i agree with you and most points. but what do bikers pay? ohv permits are required for mnt bikers? moto guys are limited to trails that they can use. mntber’s are welcome in more places. so if the trail suck, go find another? and it is a trail, and if the trail gets too tuff for you , then find another one, right?

  41. @Matt Degman: It’s hard to make the payment argument because hikers don’t pay anything directly either and nobody’s trying to kick hikers off the trails here. It’s not so much the “hard” factor of the trails, but the “fun” factor. Baby head rocks, pedal-deep trenches and mountain bikes don’t mix too well.

    @2Slo4u: I agree with you on many MTB riders being completely idiotic in their trail usage. Living at the mouth of AF Canyon, I see far too many mud-caked bikes sitting atop SUV’s on their way to I-15… chaps my hide.

    I really think the Forest Service needs to make it more apparent that we should all not use the trails when they are muddy. The image of the signs from Draper’s trails (see above) are what I’d suggest they place at the major trailheads. At least then people would see it and hopefully it would grind on their consciences.

  42. Getting really sick of people thinking they should have the ability to ban other groups from trails just because A) they don’t like them or B) they see some percieved damage and don’t understand that is what moto riders want or C) some combo of both.

    I would pretty much bet the farm on the fact that the majority of these trails were establsihed by motorcycles, not mountain bikes (as is the case for the majority of trails in the UT, CO, WY circle of heaven. We continue to lose our (moto) trails to MTBs and it is pissing me off.

    Jason- you seem ilke a well intentioned guy but are completely clueless when it comes to trail use, and damage. Two things to think about: This damage occurs when trails are closed to moto guys, pushing us into fewer and fewer trails, increasing use and the resulting damage. We need more places to ride, not less, thus spreading the use out. Second, you are viewing it from a MTB perpective, which is not wrong per-se, but misses the fact that we (moto) like mud, ruts and stuff to make it hard; some of us like the same thing on MTBs). If you can’t handle it on a mountain bike, well, you aren’t good enough to be on that trail, sorry.

  43. Branden… thanks for your comment even though you’ve taken it upon yourself to call me out on my MTB skills.

    Let me just say this one more time. Motos destroy trails faster than any other trail user. There is simply no way around it. No amount of arguing against that can dispel that fact. Do I want more motos in more places (sounds like an AT&T ad), well no. Do I want better-planned trails that can support multi-use trails (including motos), heck yes!!

    The problem is that most of the trails were not built to support motos and hence the trails get hammered, rutted and destroyed by a few loose throttles. Lets ensure that the existing and new trails are modified or built in such a way as to properly support ALL trail users. If you want to ban yourself from trails, the fastest way is to put undue wear and tear on the trails. It’s really in your hands. And, it’s also in MY hands. I trust that we will both take that stewardship seriously.

    • jason, most trails were also not designed to support mountain bikes either. mountain bikes became the rage only in the last 20 years or so. put a ban on the trails and ALL you’ll get up there are the bad eggs! the good ones obey the rules.

  44. I’d strongly disagree with your statement that motorcycles cause the most damage. Lets get a few things straight first off, very few motorcycles that are on these trails weigh any more than 300lbs (that would be a very heavy bike for these trails) so your claim of 500lbs is nothing more than an exaggeration. Second, 500cc…again very few are over 450cc, most are 250cc, once again exaggeration (I see a pattern starting to form here). Your pictures you’ve posted showing the destruction, maybe those were caused by motorcycles but in only one of those can I see motorcycle tracks, but in all of them I can see mtb tracks. If you think you did no damage by carrying your bikes around the “mud bog”, think again. If you can’t stay ON THE TRAIL, you shouldn’t be on that trail. Going off the trail causes more damage than riding a wet trail. Going off the trail is a very large part of what’s causing ALL GROUPS to loose access to trails. Pot…Kettle???

    On to the point of trail damage. CAN motorcycles cause more damage? Absolutely! But can an irresponsible mtb’er cause serious trail damage, of course they can. Do horses cause damage…IMO, they are by far the worse offenders. Let me clarify that a bit. There are a couple different examples of this. First, if you come to a muddy section, what do you do as a mtb’er? You proceed with caution, walk your bike if necessary, look for the driest route through the mud as possible to cause the least amount of damage…right??? What do I do as a responsible motorcycler? I proceed with caution, walk my bike if necessary, look for the driest route through the mud as possible to cause the least amount of damage or turn around if necessary (meaning I can;t make it through without going off the trail)…sound familiar? What do the horses do? They tromp through and tear the crap out of the trail. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rode parts of trails that had just been ridden by horses and the trails are nearly unrideable because the horses have torn it up so badly. Infact just last weekend I was riding the switchbacks on trail 40 up AFC, wrecked and was nearly gored by a freshly broken branch because a group of horses had just gone through there and torn up that part of the trail. Horses do horrendous amounts of damage. The second point I’d like to make is that how many of the horses up there do you think actually have the right permits to be up there? How many do you think followed the rules of feeding on local species before heading up? I bet one out of a hundred horses up there are there legally. If you think alfalfa hay is a local species, think again. Alfalfa is a disease, and if you think the horses crapping all over the trails (another HUGE annoyance) is not spreading alfalfa seeds everywhere, then think again.

    Point of this is not to point out that your “rant” is so lop-sided that it’s makes you look like a zealot, but rather to point out that you can always point the finger at another group. We all need to self police and educate other users. If I see a mtb’er tearing up the trail, you can bet I will make a point to set them straight and educate them about proper (and responsible) trail use…but the same goes for if I see a hiker, motorcycler, holier than thou horse riders, etc doing the same. If we don’t start to work together as groups, we may as well give up because if you think the environmentalists will be happy with just closing the trails to motorcycles then you are sadly mistaken. It’s happened far too often that a trail closes for ALL use besides foot traffic. If that’s your ultimate goal, then proceed on with your crusade, but just remember you could be the cause of loosing your favorite trails to ride as well.

    P.S. My email address is real 😉

  45. Oh, and I strongly agree with your point about limiting (or denying use) of the trails when they are wet. However, if they are closed to motorized travel, that includes MTB’s as well. 🙂

    • Yup, each user group can inflict real trail damage. We all need to do our part to protect the trails and educate our fellow trail users.

      I apologize for exaggerating both the weight and power of motorcycles. Not owning one myself, I’m taking a guess, but thanks for the education on motorized transportation.

      I admittedly cringe when I see a car with muddy mountain bikes on top coming down the canyon. I also cringe when I’m riding along Ridge Trail 157 at 7am and I hear the sound of motorcycles ruining the still, peaceful morning. It’s like fingernails on the chalkboard for me. I also cringe when I see the trail in the newly re-routed Maple Canyon that can only be done by motorcycles spinning their rear wheels around each of the 30+ switchbacks. I also cringe when I come upon an equestrian whose horse has just mangled the shoulder of the trail and caused erosion and hoof-marks the size of a roadside bomb.

      Trail damage in general ticks me off. All trail users need to be more aware of the damage they can and do cause. We all need to turn around when the trails become too wet and we all need to police each user group so we can all enjoy the area to the fullest.

  46. I ride with Caleb and I ride mtb’s with an occasional horse ride so I am familiar with most activities. I have to say without a doubt the horses are very detrimental to the trails and the riders seem to be some of the most discourteous as well. I understand that people on foot want the trails most conducive to foot traffic and mtb’s want the same for them but what you have to understand is that we all own the land and we all have rights to it so if you want special privileges then find trails that provide what you want instead of denying people the right to use the land they own.

    I would like to also mention that on our last outing the mtbr’s were riding in a way to make the trail unsafe for foot traffic so maybe we could remove them from the trails also.

    My email is real as well

  47. One thing a hate about mtn. bikers is having to watch out for them going up afc thay ride on the road like they own it, they don’t pay licenseing fees to have their bike on the roads like cars or 4 wheelers or motorcycles have to, I think they should start paying to be on the roads with their bikes

  48. I came upon this thread and could not resist to chime in.

    My Background: Professional Geologist, Certified professional in storm water management and erosion control, avid mountain biker and avid motorcyclist.

    My 2 cents…The root of the problem lies within the regulatory and governmental agencies never implementing real scientific principles and studies when determining appropriate use. Isolating use to only designated trails causes rill and channel erosion by all users. If the impact were spread into unisolated areas then the damage would be spread across the entire region but be repairable by natural erosion and slope stability processes.

    When the FS or other agencies are approached with viable alternatives by qualified professionals such as me or a few riding buddies (engineers and other degreed and licensed professionals) they say we don’t have the money to maintain the trail system, even though we are willing to maintain trails for them… I thought this was about the damage not $. The lobbyist, agency personnel, and lawyers that don’t have a background in science need to listen to the individuals on the other side of the table and address the REAL issues at hand or we will all suffer the consequences of full closure of OUR public lands. We need to force the issue that these lands are OURS not THEIRS.

  49. I’m unimpressed. Maybe we should all just stay home and play X-box. Video games don’t do trail damage? The problem is not the mode of transportation, it is the concentration of users and proximity to population centers. People have debated horses / pedal bikes / motorbikes for decades with no clear victor. All use does damage, and noone (no one user group) is ever completely respectful despite their best intentions, dear green Jason included (I’ll bet he’s locked up his brakes down the occasional damp hill, just like the rest of us). The only solution is to close it to all users. Even foot traffic does damage if the surface foliage is disrupted enough to cause soil erosion from runoff. So, the conclusion must be: the only way to avoid user conflict is to avoid users! Establish a wildlife preserve, and go home and play biking video games. Of course then you are just burning electricity from the coal-fired power plant… You can’t win, just give it up! Despite your best efforts, thoughts, philosophy, and research, you still end up with simple-minded, one-sided arguments about what sport rather than what person does the most damage. If you close it for one, you should close it for all, everyone pays the same (well I guess that depends on your tax bracket). I personally like human powered biking and dinosaur powered biking, I also like backpacking and hiking. However, over the years I have seen many, many, many, cool places fall victim to overcrowding, overuse, and user conflict. The root cause is simply popularity, ease of access and creeping urban/suburban development, not to be mistaken for which kind of sport causes erosion (the fastest).

    • Dear Unimpressed. Though I appreciate your comment, it’s hard to find much of value in there. Your obviously-sarcastic slippery-slope argument does nothing to address the situation. Yes, all users inflict damage — even at a micro level. But, nobody is opting for that type of drastic measure.

      I’m encouraging condition-based restrictions and common sense before drastic measures WILL be enforced upon us all.

      Case in point… the new upper Mill Canyon trail was re-constructed 2 years ago. While it still is an awesome trail, it has become the favorite ride of the Metal Mulisha and nearly every switchback corner is already rutted and damaged. Motos are obviously to blame… plain and simple. It’s for that reason that I don’t think I’ll ever condone motos in the backcountry. That’s my opinion. You can stick to your baseless slippery-slope nonsense.

  50. The hiker-based government management folks don’t like mtn-bikes or dirtbikes. If they had their way, they wouldn’t allow anyone to use it. So just keep whining and you’ll get everybody kicked out. Then you’ll have to drive an hour just to be able to ride. Fun for all!!

  51. Jason, I wonder if your choice of backcountry recreation was on a moto rather than a pedal would you have a different view of the damage?
    Is it ok to condemn a user group because of their choice of recreation?
    Multi use trails will forever be a battle between user groups, I feel horses do as much damage as motos and I find most pedalers I have encountered share the same eletist attitude you have. Surely there must be some non-motorized trails you can enjoy elsewhere?????????
    You have a choice, we do not!

    • Moto riders have the option of riding hundreds of miles of trails elsewhere, that’s a poor excuse. I also have other trail options and miles and miles of trails that MTB’s can’t ride on either. These trails simply cannot support moto traffic, period. If the trails were to be improved to drain better and support moto traffic, I’d be OK with it. But, motos put the hurt on these trails in a hurry. Again, look at the trails now versus when motos were banned. It’s night-and-day.

      Of course, this year, we’ll likely be until August before we’re able to ride up there at all.

      Take care of the trails and I’m just fine sharing them with motos. I just don’t know how a 500 lb bike can truly “tread lightly”.

  52. There is a mtn bike/hiker only trail near Denver (Morrison Slide trial) that is way more deteriorated than anything I saw a AFC. Of course, the hikers blame the mtn. bikers and want to kick them off. Trail users need to understand that it’s not the user type the causes deterioration but simply overuse. The best solution is to create more trail mileage to reduce the stress on already overused trails and to accommodate the increasingly higher number of users. The solution is for all trial users to unite and petition government agencies to provide more trails. Government will not do this unless we push them. This includes getting involved and volunteering time. You would be surprised how easy it would be to build a trestle where that pic was taken if you just contact the Forest Service with 10 volunteers. Pointing the finger at other trail users is only divisive, unproductive, and will only get everybody banned.

  53. I am a hiker, mountain biker ( since 1978) and now a dirt biker. I recently rode a number of AFs designated dirt bike trails. I have to say there is little sign of the damage this blog author describes. I saw a couple of gullies out trail sections but they were packed and smooth. I would say this trail network is in above average shape and I better shape then Wasatch Crest Trail. Yes, wheels and horse hoofs will affects a trail. All of these users educate each other on staying off wet trails. So I urge everyone to be vigilant in keeping our trails maintained, but let’s not raise a red flag where there isn’t a need. Now the social aspects of motorcycle noise is another issue. Even considering that, there are FAR more trails where motorcycles are not allowed. I am glad I live in a state that has a sense of fairness for all user groups.

  54. I love the AF canyon trails. I consider them mine and love them accordingly. I also ride a dirtbike and only ride when there has been descent weather, not muddy. Typically only ride July thru Sept, and only a few times each year.
    I take my family up there as often as I can and hike the trails as well. Since I have ridden them, become familiar with them, I love to take my kids on areas and show them the pretty scenery and sights.
    I wish all had respect for the mountain, the trails, the land. I wish we could all enjoy them with our favorite mode of travel.

  55. I would like to state that a lot of great things have been said here, a lot of poor things said from small minded thinking. The reality is freedom is at stake, when bands are made freedom is stripped away, and although it may be in your justified agreement you will be next in line to be banned. Be very careful what you wish for, because in the end we’ll all lose, and we’ll be saying “Hey remember when we could go in the mountains? Yeah those we’re the days”.

    There is no real justification for anybody to be banned. Again freedom will be lost and that’s not America. Nobody is taking responsibility and pointing fingers is simply wimpy, and childish. If you don’t like it fix it yourself and don’t worry about what or who my reck your improvements. If we all had the real heart of responsibility and fixed what we don’t like to see then we would not be having this discussion. All is to blame here, so next time you go out strap on a shovel and plan on doing some improvement work, or clean up. To be honest it’s pretty fun working up in the mountains.

    I love hiking, horse back, biking both Motor and unmotorized, hunting, and all outdoor activities, and I love seeing as many people as possible up in the hills…after all they’re ours. It saddens me when I see a trial, mountain, or road closed because of small thinking…freedom lost to satisfy the few. And they’re not really satisfied, and they go on to the next target.

    Let’s keep things as open as possible, and what we should be talking about is how we can get all trails opened up to everybody, or get our mountains back…keep and restore freedom.

    • Kevin, I applaud your patriotic outlook. However, liberties and freedoms are usually associated with a system of laws which ensures them. Please read my post below.

      This trail system needs organization. I’m not feeling very “free” right now since one of my favorite mountain biking trails has been all but destroyed by disorganization.

  56. You guys are all on drugs. Horses and Mbikes due just as much damage in mud. You MBikers get off and walk uphill when it is muddy. A few low spots that are swampy. Come on. You guys are like the Moab guys that try to get motorcycles out of Moab. Motorcycles were invented before mountain bikes…AND they found Moab way before modern bicycles could handle Moab trails. Everywhere you look you guys try to get rid of bikes. My first time to Moab we came upon two cyclists. It was dusty so we slowed way down and passed them very very slowly on a flat trail, near behind the rocks. We stopped at an arch and they caught up and they gave us the worst look. I couldn’t believe it. We crawled passed them, not even on a two-stroke that has smokey exhaust…..

  57. I have been mtn biking the ridge trail for the past 20 years, most recently last week. I hadn’t been to this trail since last fall (2012). Last week I was so upset at the dramatic deterioration of the trail since I had last been there that I contacted the trail manager to voice my concerns. It was VERY obvious to me that the damage has been caused by motorcycles. Specifically, this is the damage that I noticed:

    1). Large rocks have been unearthed and now scatter the trail haphazardly
    2). Soil has been removed from around tree roots, creating extremely uneven and bumpy sections
    3). The trail has deepened 6-12 inches in many locations, creating a “trough” that will only continue to deepen until an alternate trail will inevitable and irresponsibly skirt around the ruined trail, creating two trails paralleling each other. *Note: If motorcycles are not a destructive use, then why do they inevitably always create these alternate parallel trails???

    According to the trail manager, a hearing was held recently about this issue. She (Cheryl) said that, because only motorcycle advocates showed up to the hearing, the judge ruled in their favor and decided against imposing any use restrictions on the trails.

    Use restrictions need to be placed in this area. Allowing every use on every trail is not trail management – it is a copout. It is unsustainable, irresponsible, and unfair for everyone.

    Having ridden these trails for TWO DECADES, I’ve seen significantly more trail damage in the last 12-18 months than in all my other years combined. It is very obvious to me that these trails are being destroyed by motorcycles.

    To be clear, I’m not suggesting that motorcycles shouldn’t have their place. They should. What I am saying is that allowing every use on every trail at all times is not sustainable, and its simply not going to work long term with the growing Utah population. One trail use should not be allowed to destroy the usability of another trail uses – and certainly not on every trail in the AF trail system! This trail system desperately needs some organization before its too late…

    • Haha, that trail looks good to me. I’d ride a dirt bike, mtn bike, hell, I’d ride my single speed road bike down that trail really. I’m from PA and we’ve shared the trails here for years. Every once in a while we’ll get a fellow that’s new to the trail and he will complain but those types aren’t long term enthusiasts so we don’t mind much attention. These types can be spotted fairly quickly because all their gear is brand new and they “just got into the sport”. These types usually don’t last long and that’s why we overlook their point of view. My point is if someone considers themselves a mtn biker then deal with it. This trail is still passable for a mtn bike so don’t let it get you down. Look at it as a challenge or make a new line around it. This trail looks pretty slick in the pics so maybe stay off when wet (sign)?

      I’ve seen it here for years and the same thing always happens. It’s not a matter of moto or pedal. The diehards coincide and the short term enthusiasts get pushed aside.

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