Mostly, mountain bike trails and, in many cases, riding off designated roads (dirt, paved, or otherwise) inside America’s National Parks is not allowed. Mainly, this is because much of it is managed as wilderness. Now, finally, one of our most visited parks has decided that Mountain Bikes are OK, and has opened the door to trail building.
Reported by People for Bikes, GSM NP studied the impact mountain biking could have and, not surprisingly, found what most of us have known all along – that mountain biking proposed no significant impact.
The results of that National Park Service Environmental Assessment will be an 11.8 mile trail system in the Wears Valley region of the park. Currently, there are fewer than 8 miles of bicycle-approved trails in the park, but more than 800 miles of pedestrian and other trails.
The next step is getting funding approval, which will be used for trail construction, an access road, trailhead with bike wash/repair station, picnic tables, and restrooms. More details on the project on the NPS’ Park Planning website. Proximity to Knoxville is pure bonus (photo above is from Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness trail network).
The precedent this sets is encouraging, as it’ll (likely) show that mountain biking has a positive impact on tourism and park use without crowding existing trails or degrading the environment. It’s also proof that your voices count…whenever there are open calls for public input, make sure your voice is heard!