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  1. #1
    SNIKT! Karldar's Avatar
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    Opinions on horse/multi-use trail damage?

    I couldn't find a thread on this(surprisingly) so I thought I'd start one. The main and nearest trail I ride around here is a horse trail and I have no problem sharing it. It's on Corps of Engineers' land and we're lucky to have a trail there at all, IMO.

    My problem is the fact that some anti-mtbikers/environmentalists complain about the damage that bikes do to trails. Y'know, everthing from riding when it's wet to lockin' up brakes gets brought up-or used to anyway. I have never heard similar complaints lodged against horses or hikers, but it seems obvious to me that a horse, or even a hiker, does more to make a trail unrideable that a bike. Now, I'm not saying I want 'em off the trails or anything--I'd just like for them to acknowledge any damage they're causing and try to limit it. Sometimes it feels almost like I'm ridin' a jackhammer when I hit all the dried up hoofprints after horses have been ridden on a wet trail. I haven't had any bad experiences with horses/riders themselves, just the aftereffects. I was just wonderin' what everyone else has observed/experienced on this topic....
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  2. #2
    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    It's always been my opinion that horses cause more trail damage than bikes. That and oftentimes, their owners do not clean up the droppings. Most of the trail impacts look worse than they are since the depressions are being made on less sensitive and already hardened portions of the trail. I think horses can coexist better with bikes and other trail users if their riders were a little more disciplined. But of course that can be said of all trail users.
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  3. #3
    Withdrawal Symptoms! Cornish_Rdr_UK's Avatar
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    That is true, Horses do cause more trail erosion than bikes, not too sure about Hikers though....

    We have a few trails like that over here...... Basically, all you can do is live with it, your always going to get somebody having a rant that your destroying the trails, just think about the damage they're causing an move on, luckily we dont have this problem anymore because we found some of the best trails ion Cornwall and they're so remote nobody goes there....

  4. #4
    SNIKT! Karldar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cornish_Rdr_UK
    That is true, Horses do cause more trail erosion than bikes, not too sure about Hikers though....
    The only reason I included hikers is cuz I didn't want it to seem like I was picking on horses--even though I was Plus, I think that they are the main litterbugs when it comes to trashy trails. Not that that necessarily damages the trail physically, mind you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cornish_Rdr_UK
    We have a few trails like that over here...... Basically, all you can do is live with it, your always going to get somebody having a rant that your destroying the trails, just think about the damage they're causing an move on, luckily we dont have this problem anymore because we found some of the best trails ion Cornwall and they're so remote nobody goes there....
    Some of the best trails we had in Germany were wild game trails made by goats and boars. I don't think we ever saw anyone walkin' those babies--much less ridin' a horse up there.
    I like pie!
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  5. #5
    bike/raft DrGonzo's Avatar
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    Usually these complaints stem from hikers and horseriders being pissed off that there are other *gasp* people on their trails going faster than they do. Sometimes they'll get scared when a biker goes around a corner and stuff. In simple they do not know how to share.
    practice, practice, practice...
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    I have no prob with horses or hikers, BUT DONT YOU DARE enter the woods and expect that someone else will pick up YOUR trash or YOUR horses poop. NOTHING angers me more than seeing trash on a trail because I always stop to pick it up, or having to clean crap of my wheel. I CHERISH the mountains and ANY plot of land I can get away from the hustle and bustle of modern society and all their SH@T. If I had my way there prob wouldnt even be humans!
    -Jacob

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    I own 2 horses and have riden them on local trails - the same trials that I've biked on. I will be the first to say that on soft ground horses can make a mess with 8-10" sink holes. Most horse riders don't like taking their horses into these types of conditions and will tend to keep to harder ground. On the same type of ground, bikes will do some damage but not as much unless there's a lot of traffic. I've never had problems co-existing with other trail users(be it on a horse, on my bike or on a hike). I also have no tolerance for human made garbage left behind.

    BTW, my horse has taken me places that I couldn't possibly have gone on my bike, unless I carried it

  8. #8
    Back to granite skunkty14's Avatar
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    From what was said above, I'd agree with most of what has been posted so far. I believe horse cause significantly more damage than most MTB riders on any trail. It's just a simple weight issue; roughly 2000lbs of horse spread over 4 hooves covering maybe 1-2 square feet vs. 150-300lbs of biker/bike on maybe 1/2 a square foot.

    That being said, equestrians(sp) should work with MTBers to maintain multiple use trails. The multiple use trails that I use see probably 90% of their traffic from MTBs, so I supposed they should bear the brunt of maintaining the trails, but horse owners and other users (mainly foot traffic) should help out. Problems will/have arisen in certain areas though, since a 1 foot wide ladder bridge over some water isn't going to help horses at all, and most riders probably wouldn't want the equivlant of a ATV or tractor bridge running through their local singletrack, so a compromise must be reached somewhere in the middle.

    My biggest pet peeve still comes from horseback riders not clearing the trail of their mounts waste. I'm equally annoyed by trash left behind by riders/foot traffic, but have sh*& flung up into my grill when I can't avoid it on a corner really places a damper, although brief, on my ride.

  9. #9
    SNIKT! Karldar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by boyze
    BTW, my horse has taken me places that I couldn't possibly have gone on my bike, unless I carried it
    Yeah, the trail around here has got some crazy hills that are really hard/impossible? to get up on a bike(dry creekbeds with huge rocks/roots in 'em), but I love trying to get up them on my F700. Great cardio workout.
    I like pie!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karldar
    Yeah, the trail around here has got some crazy hills that are really hard/impossible? to get up on a bike(dry creekbeds with huge rocks/roots in 'em), but I love trying to get up them on my F700. Great cardio workout.
    yup, me too.

    A seasoned horse will easily step over 6-18" logs and jump 2-3' larger ones. Same for ditches. They will climb some amazingly steep banks, usually at a run. The most fun I've had is walking them down a large creek with a shale bottom and 12-18" of flowing water. They're very sure footed. They can also be walked right into the middle of a deer herd and the deer won't even look up. Don't get much of a cardio workout though - need the 2 wheeled horse for that

  11. #11
    Old School Rad mtnbiker66's Avatar
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    The trails in DuPont St. For. are all multi user. The horses tear up trails really bad after rains. I wish some folks would use more common sense and let the singletrack dry before they ride it( bikes & horses). The problems in this area come from hikers that think no one belongs on the trail but hikers and their unleashed dogs.They love to dish out dirty looks and attitude.This really sucks, I live 5 min. away and have to deal with it on a regular basis. Anyone have any ideas on how to deal with butthead hikers?
    Like a circus monkey on a stolen Harley......

  12. #12
    SNIKT! Karldar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbiker66
    The trails in DuPont St. For. are all multi user. The horses tear up trails really bad after rains. I wish some folks would use more common sense and let the singletrack dry before they ride it( bikes & horses). The problems in this area come from hikers that think no one belongs on the trail but hikers and their unleashed dogs.They love to dish out dirty looks and attitude.This really sucks, I live 5 min. away and have to deal with it on a regular basis. Anyone have any ideas on how to deal with butthead hikers?
    I haven't actually had to deal with hikers since I left Europe, but they seemed to be much more tolerant of bikers over there than here in the States. Prolly the only non-violent thing you can do is try your hardest to ignore the "barstards".

    As far as letting the trail dry, there are spots on the trails I ride that just don't dry up. I guess cuz they're in the constant shadow of the trees. Any ideas how to circumvent those areas without ticking the equestrians off, Boyce? I try to ride around(as do the horse riders), but that just widens the trail.
    I like pie!
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  13. #13
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Letting a trail dry would stop the entire PNW from riding.

    I really don't have any trail use problems. There is a lot of work done by the city, riders, and riders clubs to make sure trails are built VERY well...this means

    1 - if stunts are used they are built well and serve a purpose. Most stunts go over bad run off spots or sections that have damage.
    2 - Trails work with natural runoff instead of forcing the runoff elsewhere. This means endless things. Laddars, rock gardens dug down into the ground to allow the water to run, I have even seen tubing in the ground like they use for roads.
    3 - following closely closures and opens for the trail access
    4 - not abusing trails by avoiding or chopping rough stuff out of the trail. It is forced narrow and left as natural as it can be (for the most part) If you can't ride it, walk, I have almost gotten into fist fights with beginners chopping a trail because "its too hard"...ARG!!...that fallen tree might be left as a stunt, for natural beauty for the hikers to work around etc...

    I can't think of anything else specific, but it takes years to build a trail properly that will be left and be good for the environment. I also honestly don't think we have a horse group here like you guys do. I saw a horse for the first time a month ago...

  14. #14
    Old School Rad mtnbiker66's Avatar
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    We have places that won't dry up too. You kinda have to deal with those areas.One trail we have is a short (.75mi) single track down hill, super fun when it's dry but wet is another story. It's red clay and when wet it's just mush and tears up very easy. It's also a connector trail so it can be avoided. If you see where i'm going with this,horses destroy it and there are other routes around it.We have lot's of places where if it has'nt rained in weeks you'll still come out muddy. Sometimes just giving a trail a day to dry helps a lot.
    Like a circus monkey on a stolen Harley......

  15. #15
    SNIKT! Karldar's Avatar
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    Yeah, we've got a lot of red clay around here and when it's wet you wind up with 4" tires that won't even rotate after awhile.
    I like pie!
    "The bright flicker of our television screens is the stolen incandescence of a thousand young minds." - Theodore W. Gray
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  16. #16
    Old School Rad mtnbiker66's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karldar
    Yeah, we've got a lot of red clay around here and when it's wet you wind up with 4" tires that won't even rotate after awhile.
    Fer sure, I've been to Murfreesburo seems like a great place.Smokin' hot during Uncle Dave Macon Days,brutal heat!
    Like a circus monkey on a stolen Harley......

  17. #17
    Esquire
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karldar
    Yeah, the trail around here has got some crazy hills that are really hard/impossible? to get up on a bike(dry creekbeds with huge rocks/roots in 'em), but I love trying to get up them on my F700. Great cardio workout.
    Middle TN has "crazy" hills? I assume in the first post you were referring to Lock 4? Not ridden much in the Nashville, Franklin, M'boro, Galatin area that is too hilly. I am up oin the area from time tpo time and have a good bunch of friends that ride Hamilton Creek, Lock 4, Mont Bell and Chickasaw trace so I might bump int you sometime

    Back on topic we do Tons of Trail work in the Chattanooga area and we have quit working on any Trail that carries a multiuse designation that includes ATVs. We also do limited work on Horse trails based on the fact the horse riders in our area are rough on trails and they do NO work. Both of these user groups damage trails and have little remorse about it.

    I don't think hikers are damaging anything and I also don't feel a biker does either. The weight is only 20-30 pounds more than a hiker on average and actually has a smaller footprint. This perception is just ignorance on the other user groups part.

  18. #18
    Dan
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    New to the board but can’t help to comment. With 20 odd years of experience in range management, forestry and trail maintenance. The number one killer of trails is erosion caused by rain run off. Where the water gathers and gains speed taking soil with it causes depressions which gather more water gain more speed and take more soil, turning to wash outs. Wherever possible you want the water to spread out evenly with vegetation to maintain soil integrity and prevent erosion. If the traffic is too heavy to sustain vegetation you will need some type of base material gravel, clay, etc… As for horse manure the fiber breaks down naturally and to some degree assists in slowing the water on trails but it is not there in enough substance to truly merit recognition. As for cleaning it off the trail I guess I am to country to comprehend that. My daily ride takes me threw cow pies. It washes off. As for the jackhammer effect of tracks I guess if I get to sensitive to bumps I can become a roadie.

  19. #19
    Dan
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    ATV and Mud equal disaster for a trail. They are just going to need more maitance if an ATV is allowed on it.

  20. #20
    Junior Member smurfette's Avatar
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    I agree with Boyze, I am also a rider (bikes and horses) and a hiker. When I had my horse, I would kick the manure far off the trail (as it is obviously hard to leave no trace with manure! and it's not smelly like dog poo) and found that the people I ran into on trails were usually respectful of eachother, and bikers would call out when coming up behind so you're not startled, and I do the same. I think the problems stem from people not respecting other trail users, or the trails themselves. A lot of bikers and hikers have negative opinions of horseback riders because a lot of them (riders that is) expect other trail users to cater to them, and they tend to be careless and snooty to other people, which is unfortunate because it gives all equestrians a bad name.

  21. #21
    SNIKT! Karldar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trey
    Middle TN has "crazy" hills? I assume in the first post you were referring to Lock 4? Not ridden much in the Nashville, Franklin, M'boro, Galatin area that is too hilly. I am up oin the area from time tpo time and have a good bunch of friends that ride Hamilton Creek, Lock 4, Mont Bell and Chickasaw trace so I might bump int you sometime
    Actually, I wasn't referring to any of those trails--although I've ridden Hamilton Creek and Lock 4. There's a horse trail that's pretty much equidistant from home and work. I start at East Fork Recreation Area. It's near where Stones River flows into Percy Priest Lake(I think). Not much elevation in MT obviously, but the dry creekbed that makes up most of the trail is full of monstrous rocks and
    roots in places. A hill might only be 30-40' tall, but it's enough to kick my out of shape butt. Really seems crazy to me that people made a trail out of it, but I enjoy it nonetheless.

    So I assume you've got some really good trails down that way? I'd like to check them out sometime when I get the chance to take a road trip.
    I like pie!
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