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More trails, better etiquette on minds of mountain biking community

More trails, better etiquette on minds of mountain biking community

Building more quality trails and better educating the community about trail etiquette topped the wish list of Jackson and Teton Valley mountain bikers and residents at Thursday’s meet and greet event put on by Mountain Bike the Tetons (MBT). Getting to the heart of that wish list is exactly what MBT Executive Director Amanda Carey said the event was all about. “What we’re trying to do is get to know Jackson riders better,” she said. “We want to know what isn’t being done that we can help with.” Carey said user conflicts is something MBT is hoping to help educate and address with the community -- to provide a better understanding of how to share the trails especially in high use areas like Cache Creek and Teton Pass. Many of the attendees echoed the concern for more community education to ensure multi-use trails are a good experience for everyone. “Mountain bikers sometimes get a bad name for not yielding to hikers or uphill riders,” said Julie Lindstrom, a Jackson resident. “I think it’s a matter of education.” David Agnello of Jackson agreed. “My concern is between user groups and ending up with conflict that endangers usage,” he said. “The goal of improving etiquette is to make sure we don’t get to the point where we have to instill regulations.” Many of the attendees felt better education and etiquette from all user types will help keep the trails fun for everyone and not force things like too many directional trail systems. Kevin Kavanagh, a MBT board member and president of the Teton Freedom Riders (a local trail building nonprofit), said safety and awareness on multi-use trails is especially important. “It’s one thing if you’re hiking up Glory with headphones,” he said. “But they’re dangerous on multi-use trails.” Kavanagh said having more events, setting a good example and growing a trail ambassador program are all strategies that can help educate the community and the region’s many visitors to keep everyone’s experience on the trail a positive one. In addition to trail etiquette, building more trails was on the minds of many riders. Most everyone was excited about the development of the new Skyline Trail between the top of Snow King Mountain and the Cache Creek-Game Creek divide. Some riders expressed an interest in more mountain bike specific trails, including Mark DeOrsay, a Jackson resident of 19 years. “Trails are busy especially close to town -- separation of users makes it nice for everybody,” he said. Kris Quandt, a Jackson resident and MBT board member, said from a personal perspective he’s hoping to see new trails using the terrain to the best of its potential. “I’d like to see more compact trails as opposed to one long trail,” he said, pointing out the benefit of stacked loops to create a bigger trail system. Kavanagh agreed, saying more trails will help deal with density, and ensuring they are engineered correctly is critical. “Quality, purpose-built trails prevent erosion and degradation and lead to less maintenance,” Kavanagh said. Lindstrom also voiced her hope for “really well-designed trails” in the future. “One of my favorite places to ride is up Targhee,” she said, noting the design and quality of Targhee’s trail system. “It would be wonderful to connect Teton Pass to Victor with trails -- to connect our communities,” she added. To tackle the challenge of creating and maintaining quality terrain, MBT now employs two trail crew workers full time. Alec Johnson is one of them, and he agreed making sure new trails within the system are up to International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) standards will help keep them in better shape. He said that many of the trails within the current system weren’t designed with mountain biking in mind, which is why there’s a lot of steep trails with erosion problems. “If you’re plugging up a fall line trail, it’s probably an older one,” Johnson said. Overall, the evening was buzzing with dirt-focused, positive conversation and the excitement that comes with the start of the riding season. Riders enjoyed appetizers upstairs at Snake River Brewing while chatting on the current trail conditions and brainstorming how to best approach community education and outreach. “These are exciting times,” said MBT Board Member Todd Warden. “We’re so blessed in this region with incredible resources that we can be one of the best mountain biking regions in the country,” he said. “One of the hallmarks of what MBT does is that we represent mountain biker interests, but we can be an advocate and also be open to collaborating with all different user groups to come up with the right solution.” To get involved in the conversation or to join up for volunteer trail work like Maintenance Mondays, visit http://mountainbiketetons.org. *Photo: Bart Flynn hits the trails last summer on Teton Pass* #frazier #buckrail #news