Due to the excessive amount of rain in WNC, Bent Creek Experimental Forest and Dupont State Forest are closing singletrack trails until Friday, June 1, to prevent further damage.
Both forests are keeping gravel roads/forest roads open, but encourage users to be careful due to slippery conditions. Cars are encouraged to take it easy on forest roads to prevent ruts from developing.
In a press release issued by the Pisgah Ranger District, “We’ve had some pretty bad soil erosion so far and we need the public’s help to protect these trails by staying off them when they’re this vulnerable to damage,” said District Ranger Dave Casey. He added, “It will take a few days for the trails to dry out and stabilize before they can handle the number of visitors we usually see in Bent Creek.”
The N.C. Forest Service issued a similar release on Tuesday, May 29, stating that “Saturated trail surfaces will be muddy and foot traffic, bicycles, and equestrian users will cause erosion issues and the trails to become rutted. There will be temporary closures of all DSRF singletrack trails.”
Other forests in the area are suffering from the above average rainfall as well. Trail systems across Georgia and South Carolina are closing due to the wet and muddy conditions. The Green River Games has organized a trail restoration weekend in the Green River Gamelands, just outside of Saluda, N.C. They haven’t seen weather like this in over a hundred years, with mudslides completely decimating some of the trails.
But I came to send it on some epic downhill bro!
Whether you live here full time or are traveling here to ride, stay off the singletrack when it’s wet and muddy. We’re fortunate to have amazing volunteer groups who maintain our trails, but this only makes their work harder. Selfishness for one muddy session can ruin trails for countless others. If you see someone heading out into closed trails, contact an official. They will be happy to teach them a thing or two.
If you’re caught on closed trails, you will get a hefty fine, which could’ve gone towards some new components or a new bike. That’d put a pretty huge damper on future riding. To report issues or trail misuse at Dupont State Recreational Forest, contact them at (828) 877-6527. For Bent Creek, Contact the Pisgah Ranger District at (828) 877-3265.
What’s one ride going to hurt?
I spoke with Jeff Keener, head of the Pisgah Area SORBA to get his input on riding muddy trails, “Once you get two to three inches of mud, it’s a hell of a lot of work to repair,” says Keener. “What most people don’t realize that it takes hundreds of man-hours and volunteers to fix the damage.”
It goes without saying, but when Keener and his team are working to fix these trails, they aren’t riding. This means you won’t be riding either. Why? Because the same conditions that are perfect for riding are perfect for trail maintenance.
So lets weigh the pros and cons here. Squeeze in a ride when it’s crappy and have the trail closed during the good weather for repair? Or would you rather sit out the rain and ride when it’s beautiful outside?
According to Keener, some of the trails in Bent Creek are in the worst condition he’s seen in over a decade. “I could not believe the number of people that were riding. It was packed,” says Keener. “This is the first time in don’t know how many years that it’s been closed.”
Give Back To Your Trails
The easiest and best thing you can do is to stick to the gravel when it’s wet and muddy. Want to get involved and help improve your local trails? Then get out and volunteer! Look up your local SORBA group to spend some quality time in the woods, meet some great folks, and help maintain the singletrack you love.
See you on the trails (when it’s dry).