Mountaintown Hike Results

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Re: Mountaintown Hike Results

Postby robina » Tue Sep 09, 2008 10:18 am

TheHeckler wrote:yeah those Trckin-ho's seem to be more downtown that in the mtns but I may be wrong.

Giardia and Cryptosporidia are the two little parasites you have to be careful of when drinking creek water without running it through a filter. Although to each his own.

Larry Thomas is a great guy and certainly pro mtn bikes. I've known him for yrs so it is good to see that he was out there for the hike.

Larry Thomas is very involved in this project. He wrote the proposal, and he's heading up the environmental analysis portion, as well as overseeing the contract work that is about to take place. The Forest Service has a mission to provide recreational opportunities, and they do that partly through multi-use trails. Mountaintown is a multi-use trail, and should remain one. But, that could change. Stay tuned.
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Re: Mountaintown Hike Results

Postby neilster1 » Tue Sep 09, 2008 10:34 am

iride wrote:
neilster1 wrote:Creek water dude must have never heard of trichinosis.. not treating creek water before drinking is just plain silly.

ummm...trichinosis is a parasite in the raw flesh of pigs and hasn't been seen in this country since the 60s. did you mean giardia?

Oops.. yes, that's the one. :oops:
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Re: Mountaintown Hike Results

Postby mtnbikerider » Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:40 pm


I didn't notice Georgia Forest Watch's response until now. Sound's like they are anti-mountain biking to me.
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Re: Mountaintown Hike Results

Postby davidmuse » Wed Jan 14, 2009 1:37 am

Yeah, I guess that it's good that Forest Watch isn't the decision maker. Some of the claims they make in their response are false or irrelevant. The USFS folks were there during the hike and they know it.

Here's the response I sent in:

Dear Mr. Thomas:

As an avid mountain biker, and active SORBA (Southern Off-Road Bicycle
Association) member, I support the USFS plan to improve access to the
Mountaintown Creek Trail. The Mountaintown Creek Trail provides a
unique mountain biking experience in Georgia. As I see it, the plan
will reduce use conflicts, discourage traffic through the Hills Lake
area, improve the trail and continue to permit mountain bike access.

Thanks to the USFS for hosting a meeting to discuss the future of the
Mountaintown Creek Trail and for leading the follow-up hike down it.
The hike was a great opportunity to educate attendees on the impact of a
trail on the environment, the impact of traffic and environmental forces
on a trail, modern trail maintenance practices and the plan to improve
the Mountaintown Creek Trail. The opportunity to see specific examples
of each was extremely valuable.

At the meeting, a vocal opponent of mountain bikes on the trail argued
that the trail is inappropriate for mountain bikes, made negative claims
about the condition of the trail and alleged that mountain bikes were to
blame. The hike provided a needed opportunity to evaluate those and
other claims directly, respond and raise new concerns.

This call for public comment is a good opportunity to get my take on the
field discussion on record. Hopefully others will use this opportunity
to record their take as well. Below are the major claims made, and
concerns raised, and the responses I and others had to each, to the best
of my recollection.

* Claim: The trail is "completely blown out, top to bottom."

Inspection revealed that only two short sections of trail had enough
erosion damage to warrant discussion. One section (adjacent to the
north-most waterfall) has become naturally rock-armored and needs only
minor maintenance. The second section (in "The Gorge") requires
maintenance, and will be remedied under the USFS plan.

A few of the creek crossings and all of the rolling dips showed wear,
though the wear we observed is not specific to mountain bike traffic and
occurs on hike-only trails as well. Only one creek crossing appeared
more worn as a result of mountain bike traffic than it would be on a
hike-only trail. All but one rolling dip was still functional, and the
one failed because it had become back-filled with sediment from a
culvert on FS64.

* Claim: Several sections of the trail are over 30% grade.

Measurements taken on the day of the hike showed the two steepest
sections, both in "The Gorge", to be 24% and exactly 30% respectively.
The only other steep sections, a short one adjacent the north-most
waterfall and the initial descent from Buddy Cove gap were more shallow.

* Claim: The trail is so steep that a biker would build up so much
speed that avoiding hikers would be difficult or impossible.

Inspection revealed that the trail provides adequate line-of-sight to
allow mountain bikers to spot hikers and stop even at high speeds.
Further, the steep sections contain either rolling-dip water bars or
extremely rocky surfaces, both of which reduce the speed of mountain

During the hike, a trio of mountain bikers passed our group in one of
the steepest sections of the trail. They were able to spot us, slow
down to a crawl and give us the opportunity to control when, where and
how they passed.

A mountain biker's speed is not directly proportional to the pitch of a
trail. A rider will not exceed a speed they are comfortable with, even
if the trail allows them to.

A collision between a mountain biker and hiker would injure both
parties. Mountain bikers limit speed to avoid collisions. In addition,
modern disc brakes allow a rider to stop his bike much more quickly and
reliably than the brakes of the '80's and '90's.

The Bull/Jake Mountain trail system has seen heavy mountain bike and
equestrian traffic on the same trails since the '80's. There are many
trails there where a rider can reach the same speeds possible on
Mountaintown and collisions have never been raised as an issue.

* Claim: Traffic will increase to unacceptable levels because
Mountaintown will be connected to Bear Creek.

Bear Creek and Mountaintown have long been considered part of the same
trail system; the "Bear Creek/Mountaintown" loop is a classic ride.
Mountain bike traffic may return to the level it was before the gate was
put up on Riggs Road, though the draw of the Pinhoti Trail may prevent
even that.

* Claim: Before long, people will "definitely" begin shuttling to the
top and the trail will get an unacceptable level of mountain bike

This didn't happen before the gate was put up on Riggs Road. I don't
know of a reason that it would happen in the future. It's a long drive
to the top of Mountaintown, and again, the draw of the Pinhoti Trail may
make it even less likely than in the past.

* Claim: The presence of mountain bikers disrupt hunting and fishing in
the area.

At the meeting, several members of Trout Unlimited came forward to say
that they have never had an issue with mountain bikers on the trail. We
are happy to yield to anyone on foot. That notwithstanding, the USFS
plan will remove bikes from lower Mountaintown Creek where most hunting
and fishing is done.

Both out of courtesy and the misguided fear that they will be shot, most
mountain bikers avoid trails that pass through traditional hunting
grounds during deer and bear season anyway. Mountaintown also gets very
little bike traffic when it gets below about 60 degrees. It's
impossible to stay dry and the cold water numbs a rider's feet.

* Claim: A pinned log across the trail is as effective and more
economical than a rolling dip water bar.

The USDA trail-building handbook describes how to build a log-based
water bar and prescribes a rock-armored dip before the log. A simple
pinned log is not sufficient. The USDA and trail building professionals
recommend rolling dip water bars over log-based water bars because
log-based water bars are more complex to build and maintain, are less
effective and influence trail users to just go around them. Even when
effective, log-based water bars require more maintenance and thus have a
higher total cost of ownership than rolling dips.

During the hike we observed that all but one of the rolling dips
constructed 10 years earlier were still functioning, but every log-based
water bar was buried in silt and causing erosion on the downhill side.

* Claim: The mountain bike community has no right to use the trail
because no maintenance has been performed by anyone in the past 30
years. Specifically nothing has been done to address erosion.

The trail hasn't been open to mountain bikes for 30 years, but during
the hike, the USFS detailed the 7 trail maintenance events that have
taken place since the trail was opened to mountain bikes, most of which
were SORBA work days. The USFS installed rolling dip and log based
water bars and SORBA has cleared brush, cut out downed trees and cleared
log-based water bars. According to record, SORBA and the USFS have
performed trail maintenance and Trout Unlimited has built and maintained
creek structures, but no other user group has contributed to the
maintenance of the area.

* Claim: Maintenance wouldn't be necessary if mountain bikers didn't
ride the trail.

During the hike, the USFS pointed out that they perform regular
maintenance on similar hike-only trails in the Cohutta Wilderness. The
AT Conservancy and Benton Mackaye Associations exist to maintain those
hike-only trails. Were Mountaintown hike-only, it would require the
same clearing of brush, downed trees and water bars that it does today.

* Claim: The gate on Riggs Road doesn't currently create a trail access
issue; users can simply hike over the ridge from the bottom of
Mountaintown to Bear Creek.

There is currently no trail leading from the bottom of Mountaintown to
Bear Creek. Regular cross-country traffic leads to user-created trails.
Since they are the easiest geographical features to follow, user-created
trails tend to follow creek beds and ridge lines and run up and down
fall lines between the two. These are the least sustainable locations
for trails.

* Claim: There are already enough mountain bike trails in the national

"Enough" is subjective, there is no absolute standard for "enough", so
opinions vary. Comparatively speaking though, there are many more miles
of hike-only trails in Georgia than trails open to mountain biking.
Foot travel is legal anywhere in the forest whether on an inventoried
trail or not. Mountain bikes are only allowed on roads and designated

* Claim: Mountain bikers should be satisfied to just ride forest roads;
"What's the difference, you're still riding a bike?"

The difference between riding a forest road and riding a trail is akin
to difference between hiking a forest road and hiking a trail. We enjoy
both but would rather not to be limited to riding forest roads, just as
hiker would prefer not to be limited to hiking them.

* Claim: Mountain bike traffic is more damaging than foot traffic.

This has been refuted by many scientific studies, including but not
limited to:

"Impacts of Experimentally Applied Mountain Biking and Hiking on
Vegetation and Soil of a Deciduous Forest" - Eden Thurston and Richard
Reader - University of Guelph Canada - 2001

"A Guide to the Impacts of Non-Motorized Trail Use" - Don Weir and Assoc
- Alberta Canada

"Off Road Impacts of Mountain Bikes: A Review and Discussion, Science
and Research - G.R. Cessford - Dept of Conservation Wellington New
Zealand - 1995

"Erosional Impact of Hikers, Horses, Motorcycles and Off Road Bicycles
on Mountain Trails in Montana" - John Wilson and Joseph Seney - Mountain
Research and Development - 1994

* Claim: Mountain bike traffic on the trail has caused Hills Lake to
suddenly fill with sediment in the last 10 years.

Per public record presented by the USFS at the meeting, Hills Lake was
constructed in 1961 and was deemed at that time to have a 50 year
lifespan. It's been 47 years since it's construction and maintenance is

At the meeting, a professional dam builder from Trout Unlimited
explained what was happening in the lake. Creek water slows down and
drops it's sediment at the head end of a lake. It takes a while, but
eventually the depth of the water there is reduced to 2 feet. At that
point, enough sunlight reaches the bottom for vegetation to grow.
Vegetation traps additional sediment filling in that part of the lake,
the lake is then reduced to 2 feet further in, more vegetation grows and
so on. As such, lakes tend to fill up suddenly toward the end of their
lifespan, beginning when they are reduced to 2 feet of depth at the head

At the meeting, representatives from Trout Unlimited explained that
trout populations are highly sensitive to sedimentation. But population
studies conducted since before bikes were allowed on the trail have
shown a consistently stable trout population.

Inspection of the trail revealed a few sections that could be improved,
but the professional trail builders in attendance didn't believe that
these sections could produce enough sediment to destroy a lake. Even
so, the USFS plan prescribes improvement of all but one of these

During the hike, we did see a lot of wild hog sign. Apparently hogs
have become prevalent in the area in the past few years and have become
a concern; soil that has been rooted through is loose and contributes
more sediment than undisturbed soil. Trout population studies would
indicate whether a problem exists or not, but I don't know if any have
been done since the increased hog activity began.

* Claim: The proposed angler access trail provides a direct line-of-fire
onto private property and ends in a place that would encourage the
formation of a user-created trail in an unsustainable area.

The USFS offered to put up no-shoot-zone signage between the trail and
the private property. I argued further that to be more sustainable, the
trail should follow the contour away from the property instead of ending
after running down a ridge adjacent to it. Prior to the hike, a
representative from the USFS indicated that the exact route of the trail
has been reconsidered with those and other issues in mind.

To the best of my recollection, those were the major claims made and
concerns raised during the meeting and hike and responses that I and
others had to them. Additional concerns were raised regarding parking
at Bear Creek but resolution to them is outside of the scope of this
project. I hope that I didn't leave anything important out or misquote
anyone, but I don't believe that I did.

Thanks to the USFS for putting the improved access plan together,
hosting the meeting and leading the hike. Thanks to the Hills Lake area
landowners for providing access to Riggs Road in both instances. Thanks
to everyone who attended for the valuable and educational discussion. I
support the improved access plan and hope that it will turn out to be
acceptable to all parties involved.


David Muse
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Re: Mountaintown Hike Results

Postby FarmerG » Wed Jan 14, 2009 8:08 am

Well said David. Thank you.
Ride when you can. And when you can, ride hard.
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Re: Mountaintown Hike Results

Postby AlloyNipples » Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:33 am

Very well said indeed.
Never, ever, take Blankets Creek for granted!
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Re: Mountaintown Hike Results

Postby ScubaCruz » Wed Jan 14, 2009 11:31 am

Good read. Thanks David for the thorough reply to all of the concerns voiced by opposition to improved access for mountain bikers.
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Re: Mountaintown Hike Results

Postby Tweety » Wed Jan 14, 2009 12:06 pm

ScubaCruz wrote:Good read. Thanks David for the thorough reply to all of the concerns voiced by opposition to improved access for mountain bikers.

+1. thanks David.
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Re: Mountaintown Hike Results

Postby tenbsmith » Wed Jan 14, 2009 3:44 pm

Back to the the point. Kudos to those who attended and good tiding indeed.

As indicated by Dave, if GFW is using mountain bikes to survey areas, they must be changing their attitudes to some degree.
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Re: Mountaintown Hike Results

Postby wojtek » Wed Jan 14, 2009 7:14 pm

Cycling motion makes me wiser ;)
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Re: Mountaintown Hike Results

Postby Hunter » Thu Jan 15, 2009 12:32 am

I stopped reading GFW's response when they got in to outright lies. That was about page 5 where they said that in the July 2008 meeting there was only one mountain biker who had ridden Mountaintown Creek. I know David was there and he was the one who responded to the question about accidents, but I was there as well and when we introduced ourselves I specifically said that I had ridden the trail several times.

As David said, it is a good thing that GFW isn't the decision maker. The USFS is the decision maker and they have a good group of people in place. I used to work with Larry Thomas and he knows the good work that SORBA has done for mountain biking in the National Forest.

A big :thumbup: for the letter that David wrote. Everyone keep up the good work with this project. Doesn't look like the USFS has submitted a Recreational Trails Program grant for this project yet, but be ready to support them when Larry does.
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And the light shines on
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