The Mountain Bike Invasion of Wilderness Areas

We are not mountain bikers but live a very short ride away from 3000 acres of private forestry land that supports around 50 miles of trails. In the 33 years we have seen the progression from dirt bikes, 4x4, hikers and horses to mainly mountain bikers and hikers/runners. The motorized folks left trash, wore down the pipeline right of way until they hit the sensors (and you don't do that in a town that had a huge pipe explosion that killed 3 young people). They would pound on our doors in the middle of the night drunk and stuck somewhere off the logging roads. Several times they spent the night bogged down on our pasture. Finally, the owner put up gates which put a stop to mechanized access. About this time, one of my neighbors had been building mountain bike trails. He hauled out a whole bunch of garbage, also. Then, the momentum built and today we have hundreds of bikers from Seattle to Vancouver, BC who ride. They police themselves as far as behavior, groom the trails and repair damage to the trails from logging working closely with the owner and the logging company. Great bunch of people. They have an advocacy group who were also at the table for a re conveyance of state timberlands to the county park system, 9000 acres of woods overlooking Lake Whatcom.

We talk to quite a few of them and they are grateful to have such a great place to ride. They keep it clean as it is rare to find any garbage. It is also popular with families and we chuckle to see little kids with helmets almost as big as they are. They respectfully yield to hikers although if we hear them, we move out off the way. There are trails identified as downhill which we avoid walking only the cross country as identified on a map. They bring money to town and yes, we have seen the $5000 bikes. They are very passionate about their sport even riding in the famous rainy weather we have.

So yes, they are powerful but more respectable and organized. There are a few rogue builders on DNR land but most riders on Galbraith are either students, families, even retired and middle age business people. A good cross section of America.
As a MTB advocate this story warms my heart. I gotta spend some time riding on the west side!

People, if you believe MTB trail users to be respectable and conscientious trail users, please reach out to your elected representatives and ask them to support the Human-powered Travel in Wilderness Areas Act.

The only catalyst to this movement has been the repeated loss of longstanding trail access in newly formed Wilderness areas. We are only asking that access be restored to trails that were managed and ridden by the MTB community for years by allowing local land managers to determine which trails are appropriate for bikes. As an example, you can read about a great bikepacking route that was only recently introduced and then quickly lost to the new Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness designation.


Christophe Noel

Expedition Leader
I, like others in this thread, hope that the OHV community can learn to do the same, for sake of its future access as well.
I've said that for years and been open about challenging one of the more vocal and well known leaders of the OHV community, much to the dismay of this community. I don't challenge his mission, just his methods. He has fostered a very us versus them, all or nothing, we're right and you're wrong approach. The mtb community has typically done well by picking the battles they can win, making things an issue not a war, and not to put too fine a point on it, been better stewards of the land. The OHV community needs to address the weaknesses within their group BEFORE they try to espouse how virtuous and worthy they are of the trails they have.

But anyway, the mtb demographic has done very well in recent years. There's ample room for improvement, but overall, I'm pleased with the results of our collective efforts.

And like you, I'm a cyclist above just about everything. Take that away and there's not much left. LOL