The Forbidden Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail is an official American National Scenic Trail that zigzags its way from Mexico to Canada. Located within easy driving distance of San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Portland and Seattle, the PCT is both easily accessible and blissfully wild at the same time – making it a popular trail for hikers in the Pacific Northwest. Like the Appalachian Trail, people often hike major stretches for days or months. The PCT is widely regarded as scenic, serene and peaceful and hiking long stretches is said to transport one to another world. Because of the isolation, the adventure is known to be mentally grueling as much as it can be physically grueling.
Mt. bikers were allowed access to the trail until, in 1988, the US Forest Service restricted access without public involvement or an appeals process. Kraig “Brock” Brockelman with the Southern Willamette Valley mt. bike club Disciples of Dirt says the decision was made quickly without an opportunity for mt. bikers to explain their side of the situation. There has been no concerted effort to reverse the decision, until now.
The Pacific Crest Trail Reassessment Initiative is working to share information with the US Forest Services that could reverse that decision. Since 2010, a growing number people from the cycling and trails communities have been working with US Forest Service to potentially allow bicyclists access to portions of the PCT that are outside federally designated Wilderness areas (where separate rules disallow bicycles). As early as 2013, the USFS will begin taking comments from the public about this effort.
In Oregon, the effort is being led by Disciples of Dirt. The issue is particularly important to them not only because it is an area where they would like to ride, but also because mt. bikers are well known for being good trail stewards, maintaining the land where they ride. “As is well documented. we take care of where we play,” Brock says.