Sharing this from the OT forum in case any of you missed it. Let's not give anyone a reason to ban bikes from the OT. More here
Passing on from a MOTRAILS post...
Recently while conducting maintenance on portions of the Middle Fork section of the OT, two potential problems have been noted that might be resolved if trail users were aware of the issues that arise when they fail to follow accepted trail practices.
First, on the long hill south of the Barton Fen area and heading towards Gunstock Hollow, there are several switchbacks. These are severe turns, and each has a significant constructed drain, so as to channel the water off the trail during rains. Trail signs clearly warn users of these switchbacks, yet someone recently piled debris on each of these drains, likely thinking that they were preventing a user from missing the turn. After these logs and branches were left there, leaves have accumulated, and drainage has been prevented. Erosion was already beginning to occur when these drain blockages were discovered and removed.
Second, bicyclists have begun riding the foot-only Barton Fen trail, instead of following the signs installed by the Forest Service, advising that equestrians and bicyclists cross Neals Creek and follow the gravel road when heading north. The issue here is twofold: First, there is the simple obligation/courtesy of all trail users to follow the instructions presented by the land agency charged with managing the trail within their jurisdiction. Second, in this specific situation, the foot trail is narrow, and some rock steps have been installed. These steps are quite functional for foot traffic, but bicyclists are unable to navigate them and are forced to ride to the side of the rock steps. On the last adopter maintenance visit on March 4, fresh bicycle tracks were evident, and the subsequent narrow channel created by the bicycle was already filled with water and creating an erosion problem. If you happen to know who has been violating this sensitive area with their bicycle then please let me know so that they can be reported to the US Forest Service.
It is understandable that a cyclist might rather follow the foot trail to the low water bridge and avoid getting his/her feet wet crossing Neals Creek. But, the foot trail was not constructed as a multi-use trail for a good reason. We were forced to build the trail on the steep hillside because private property begins only a few feet above the trail on that hillside, and the low ground (which was the first choice by the OTA trail designer, John Roth), is often flooded. The Forest Service determined that the existing option was the only reasonable way that the Ozark Trail could avoid public roads.
The quick solution to issues such as these is for all trail users to recognize that trail construction standards exist and were followed during the construction of the OT. And, it is highly unlikely that any single trail user or group has needs or urgencies that would justify him or her to ignore the trail courtesies that are followed by the vast majority of other users. We have also noticed bicyclist activity on the Ozark Trail between Hwy A and Hwy N on the Taum Sauk Section through some sensitive glade areas. To get there, a cyclist would have had to ride their bike through the Federal Wilderness Area and/or through the State Park. Both are prohibited.
You can e-mail me directly with any information that you might have on those responsible. Thank You!
Middle Fork misuse
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