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Grant, you are so right-everyone has a right to ride a trail on public land as
much as anyone else does. The most responsible thing you can do is report
those secret trails to the land managers and perhaps volunteer to help
decommission the trail. But wait- you seem to enjoy riding those trails, so
maybe you don't mind them being there, eh? You've obviously done your fair
share of trail work, so you understand how much work goes into building and
If I'm correct in the previous two sentences, then I assume you want to
protect the trails from being decommissioned by land managers, or perhaps in
some cases, getting torn up by livestock or motorcycles . Granted, in some
areas, land managers turn a blind eye to undocumented trails, but it is a
touchy matter and one must be in tune with the local situation. Even where
land managers may seem to let undocumented trails exist, I think it is still
irresponsible to advertise and flaunt the trails.
Perhaps in your area, no one has a problem with the building or existence of
non-system trails, so perhaps my post is irrelevant to you. If that's the
case, you are certainly the exception and you can't expect the technique of
"Showing anyone and everyone the trail, no matter who they are" to be an
effective way to preserve undocumented trails in most areas. If one does not
exercise at least some caution in who they show the trails to, then there is a
good chance the trail could eventually be closed down. I think if you are
sensitive and respectful of the local ethics, then it is much more likely the
locals will, "Show you the goods".
Yes , I'm sure there are those that build their own "private" trails and don't
want anyone but a few close friends to ride them. Often these bootlegs are
poorly designed, so the builders are likely to blame others when their trail
ruts up. Best to stay off those trails anyway. But mostly, it's not about
being elitist, it's just common sense. If a trail is undocumented, and you
want to preserve it, it probably needs to be kept low key and under the radar,
and the only way to logically control that is by hiding the entrances and
screening the users. If that's not your thing, then be happy riding all the
accepted, legal trails and stay away from the others.
Even if the trail builders are elitist, bitchy assholes, you still want to
ride their trail and preserve it, don't you? If not, go back and read the
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