Respect the Trails
With the unseasonably warm weather we have been having this year the frost has come out of the ground very early and the trails are very fragile. And a user, whether a biker (yes there are some ruts on the trails), hiker/runner (there are some really deep foot prints), or an equestrian (yes there are deep hoof prints) can damage the trails.
On the whole the number of trail abusers has dropped dramatically in the past 10 years, but all it takes is one or two (Iím really struggling to find a family friendly noun here) trail abusers to do severe damage to a trail. We believe that with the significant reduction in damage in the past years education has been a key to solving the problem.
I have been approached by individuals that believe that trails fix themselves and riding muddy trails is all part of being a biker, runner or equestrian. And after explaining how each foot/hoof print and rut holds water and prevents draining and creates mud holes and destroys the trail, most of them get it, but some do not. My feeling is the ones that do not are not too dim to get it; they are just too selfish to care. And it doesnít take more than a couple of these people to destroy thousands of hours of trail work and change the trail forever, and never in a good way.
Last week when the trails were very, very soft Palos received significant amounts of damage and to be honest the majority of it was caused by two equestrians. There were also some bike ruts and amazingly deep foot prints as well, so it wasnít just the horses. Some of this damage can and will be repaired, but in some cases the trail will never be quite the same. But in any case it will take hundreds of hours to repair. Time that could be invested in building new trails.
What is being done?
CAMBr is going to continue to reach out with education and reach out to running groups to ask them to help us educate trail users.
Palos Horsemen have reached out to CAMBr and are working to identify the users who caused the damage last week and have a talk with them regarding respecting the trails. They also have signs posted in all of the stables telling riders not to ride muddy trails.
The Cook County Forest Preserve District is very aware of the problem and is working with CAMBr to find solutions to keeping users off of soft trails.
What can you do?
First donít be a jerk when you see trail abuse or an abuser. And of course donít be that guy riding muddy trails. Use the CAMBr Trail Indicators to see if the trials are open at www.cambr.org. Then if you see someone heading out to ride on muddy trails, calmly explain to them that the trails are too muddy to ride and ask them to ride over at Waterfall Glen, a multi-track loop at Swallow Cliff, or I&M or Centennial Trail. There are many really solid non-singletrack options near Palos, or any of our other systems.
It only takes a few bad eggs to ruin it for everyone. So before you blame any particular user group, take a look at your user group too. Then do what you can to educate other trail users and set a good example.
Thanks for all your support and helping build a better ride,