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Kozmic Zian
02-23-2004, 11:40
Yea......Horses. I think it would be interesting to hear some of your positions on Horses up The AT in the Smokies. I think there are concerns related to the usage and damage factors and the relationship of hikers and riders.

I certainly believe, personally, that multi-use of our National Parks is fair use, to a point. When damage and abnormal wear and tear result from the wrong vehicle (4 wheelers, snow mobiles, horses) being in areas of conservation, or where natural appearance is high concern, and usage less of a concern, then multi-use options become less applicable. The rules in SMNP apparantly allow horses to traverse The AT up on the Ridge Line. Would't it be in the interest of the Park itself, and the Hiking Public, to restrict Horse movement on The AT? Your opinions, please, fellow Users.

Jaybird
02-23-2004, 11:50
K.Z.:


Horse trails run thru-out the Smokies...& yes, the trails do run across the A.T. from time to time.....i, however...dont like to see the horse hoofs prints embedded in the softened (now hardened) earth as i hike/backpack.

horses are used near the Russell Field shelter, for sure. & mire up the trail with their excrement, etc., etc

I'm also under the understanding that some of the Park Rangers use horses in their duties in the area.


see ya'll UP the trail!

chris
02-23-2004, 12:20
On the AT in the Smokys I believe horses are allowed between Shuckstack and Spence Field, between Buckeye Gap and Silar Bald, and from Pecks to Davenport Gap. I haven't seen a horse yet between Pecks and Davenport and don't recall any damage to the trail there. The Buckeye-Silar stretch is mostly to allow riders to connect between the north and south parts of the park and is really short (like 2 miles or something). The most horse damage is on the Shuckstack-Spence stretch, but even this isn't too bad. Some ruts and churned up trail. The proximity to Cades Cove draws horse riders to this particular stretch (and bears). Horse damage on the AT in the Smokys is really pretty minimal and I don't think there is any reason to worry about it. Off the AT, there are some truly gruesome horse trails, but these are mostly on fairly unscenic, unvisited (except by horses and a very few number of hikers) trails.

Bankrobber
02-23-2004, 12:42
I heard that the reason horses are allowed in the Smokies is that the AT was originally a trail used by horses. In exchange for allowing the trail to become the AT, there was a guarantee that the horses were assured access. They definitely cause erosion throughout the Smokies. I would love an oppurtunity to take a horse trip through the area.

Kozmic Zian
02-23-2004, 13:26
Yea......Chris, when I was up there one trip, A bunch of riders came into Spence Field shelter area and approached the shelter (this was after dark) and said they had reserved the shelter and everyone had to get out, in no uncertain terms. Well, needless to say a ballyhoo broke out. Eventually they tied out and set up tents(big canvass ones). But, what they did next, was really unnerving. They began to walk their horses down to the spring to get water with no ethic for the spring. The horses were making droppings all the way down to and around the spring. Next morning, I didn't even go there for water, just headed up The Trail. The problem in those sections of SMNP where the horses are is just that. The Riders have no trail etiquette and the conflict of interest was obvious. I've also, had some experiences on the North end of the Park where The Trail is narrow coming down into Davenport Gap, where the horses were coming up The Trail, and pinned us up against the wall on the right (nowhere to go on the left!). Hey, I like horses too, but, these guy were close and rather scarry, being as we didn't know them, and we looked scarry to them with backpacks on and everything.....I thought they would bolt, all snorting and neeying as they passed. Tense situation, again, the riders were unconcerned for the hikers safety, apparently. The most concern though, that I have is the springs and wear on The Trail. That section around the South End is really tough to traverse when it rains. When does it not? I realize the Horses were there before the hikers, but it's the 21st Century and rules are made, for the here and now, only to be changed later, when conditions and times change. Just an observation. Maybe the horses could be routed accross The Trail and onto another Horse Trail without traversing N to S. I'm sure the issue has come to the Forum before and also been an issue in the SMNP. The NPS is so jacked on this 'multi-use' system that they employ to keep all the separate 'groups' from bickering about usage, that, at times the rules (usage) need some kind of flexablity to allow for neccessary problems. I wish the ATC would somehow work with the NPS and SMNP to remedy these conditions and problems. Maybe I'll write um a [email protected]

Blue Jay
02-23-2004, 13:39
Yea.....rules, you really do like them. The laws on access to the Smokies have worked well for many years. They need to be left as they are. I'm sure the equestrians have many hiker horror stories to relate. I have hiked the Smokies 3 times and not only have not had a problem but have enjoyed all of the equestrians I have met.

Saluki Dave
02-23-2004, 16:18
My one encounter with horses (well a horse and a mule) was about a mile north of Pecks Corner at around 8:30 AM. A fellow on a horse pulling a mule was delievring equipment to a biological test site somewhere over by Tri-Corner Knob. He had already come up the Hughes Ridge trail, been over to Tricorner and was on his way back by 8:30 or so. It had rained the night before and there were hoof prints and steamy piles plainly in evidence, enough so that I was cautious where I stepped for the next 5 miles or so.

I don't have a problem with the multiple use philosophy, but its impacts should at least be reviwed from time to time. An argument could be made that X-many hikers equal 1 horse, and on that basis access to trails limited for hikers as well. While I'm not advocating that, at least consider the possibility when you talk about curtailing the rights of others.

azchipka
02-23-2004, 23:33
Yea......Chris, when I was up there one trip, A bunch of riders came into Spence Field shelter area and approached the shelter (this was after dark) and said they had reserved the shelter and everyone had to get out, in no uncertain terms. W........... I wish the ATC would somehow work with the NPS and SMNP to remedy these conditions and problems. Maybe I'll write um a [email protected]

Just a few quick notes about horses on the trail.

Basicly its true the trails in the GSMNP was used as a horse trail long before it was the AT and the agreement with the USFS, NPS and ATC for being able to turn this into a park and having the AT run through it was horses would always have unlimited access to the park, this is part of the same arangement that allows free entrance into the park instead of having a cost like most national parks. So there is really nothing that can be done my the NPS, USFS, or SMNP to limit or reduce the number of horses on the trail unless the agreement to turn the land into a park and have the AT run through it was discarded completely and then who knows what would happen to the area.

In regards to them telling everyone to egt out of the shelter. If they have made reservations they do in fact have a right to do this. All shelters in GSMNP require a reservation with the exception of thru-hikers holding a permit, the only thing is only 3 spots in the shelter are held for thru-hikers. So they could very well have had the other 8 spots in the shelter reserved. If you want to avoid this problem during your travels in GSMNP stick to a time line for your time in the park and make reservations at the shelters you plan on using. The 3 spots in the shelter for thru-hikers only applies to shelters that are along the AT. The 8 other spots in the shelters in the park are for use by reservation only, granted alot of through hikers ignore this. Those ignoring it can find them selves with a hefty little fine as well if someone who had reservations wants to being nasty about it.

9 Mules
02-24-2004, 09:40
I worked for SMNP doing trail maintenance and my crew hated having to repair the damage done by horses. It ate up alot of our time if we wanted to do things right. We only maintained 150+ miles x 3 passes per season =s 450 miles and thats plenty for a 8 man crew. None of this was on the AT.
The AT is maintained by volunteers, not SMNP service crews, thats another reason the AT is funky....the lack of man power & the time on site.

SMNP should cache trail maintenance tools at Fontana for NOBO to use LOL. We'd improve our image, gain political power and maybe a little love from NPS? A ridge runner/leader, a thru-hiker crew of 2-4 and 1 day of work could kick butt. I'd even sharpen your Polaski for ya! haha.

**Partial use of the AT is all they get, plus the usage fee for camping.
**The AT through SMNP has been around long before horses, its our job to keep it healthy. Have you done your share?
**Horses have blind spots front and rear. To the horse you appear as a dark figure.
**Horses have the right of way. Hikers should stop, get off the trail the best they can, be still and let the horses through.
**Narrow trail, spooked horse, novice rider, hiker gets stomped, end of thru-hike.
**If you wave your hand as a greeting towards the rider (or the horse!)....do so it at a distance...

Chip
02-28-2004, 17:01
I live in Asheville, NC and go backpacking in the Smokies a few times each year. I believe too many trails are open to horseback travel. If you look at the GSMNP map you will see what I mean. After years of horse travel a trail
becomes a deep ditch! The Polls Gap trail in the Cataloochee section of the
Smokies is one of the worst trails I have ever hiked. In some places the trail had been relocated next to the old path. The reason was that the trail was
a 4 to 6 foot deep rocky ditch where rain water had also helped in the erosion process along with the horse shoes that had cut into the soil. I now believe this trail is closed, too rough to maintain by volunteers. Each year there seems to be more & more horseback riders in the Smokies. I just think there should be a fair balance between foot trails only and horseback trails.
Maybe I am wrong but that is my 2 cents worth. As for the AT I don't see
much horse travel and hope it stays that way !

Doctari
02-28-2004, 18:26
I once met a horseman on a local (Ohio) trail, his serious comment was "look at the damage the deer are doing to the trail!" he was sitting on a 17 hand horse (1 hand = 4" measured at the horses shoulders) with steel shoes at the time. He failed to notice the deer trail we were standing next to as this heavily travled deer trail was barely trampled undergrowth/duff. The biggest deer I have seen in this area, was a max 8 hands, & didn't have a 250+ lb man sitting on it.
Who was doing the trail damage? This trail was "multi use", a neigboring trail for Hikers ONLY has minimal erosion, this horse trail was 4' deep in places, it gets almost no foot traffic because of the horses, bet you it aint the deer doing the damage.

I love horses, raised & rode them for years. Still feel that they have no place on a foot path, or on fragle terrain!

Doctari

MedicineMan
02-28-2004, 23:29
but only one encounter, maybe 11 riders near the shelter (Spence) and then 2 riders 3 miles southbound...no problems, the first group avoided us and the second said howdy...no apparent trail damage, but yes at the shelter they headed for the spring. Personally I think the Smokes is large enough park for separation of church and state, but the original agreement stands and probably will for my lifetime at least...the positive is that if you were hurt they could more readily extract you (depending on what was hurt of course).....many many years ago I encountered some riders on the way to Big Bald NoBo from Sams Gap, one offered me a dope,,,,hmmm I thought and politely said no. They dissapeard and we cont. on to Big Bald Summit, again the riders appeared and seeing me soaked with sweat again offered a dope, this time reaching into a saddle bag and producing an ice cold Pepsi, then I rememberd my dad calling them soda-dopes years earlier-- I then said YES and thank you very much!
I can tolerate the occasional rider much more than I can 4wheelers or motorcycles...I've got a Honda enduro but i would never consider getting on the AT with it....probably the way we were raised.

Kozmic Zian
05-17-2004, 15:52
Yea......Thanks for your input Mules. That's some 1st hand info, that's really helpful. I agree with you in what you added. There aren't enough maintainers up the AT in the Smokeys and weather or not horses should be allowed on the AT is an issue. I was just reading about Govt' cutbacks in NP's and there's only 1 full time ranger in Cades Cove to serve all the tourist at peak summer season, so you can believe that maintainers on the AT are few and far between. As for the danger between horses and hikers, like you said, it's real, rather a few of these posters think so or not. With all the other areas and Trails in the GSMNP, it's difficult to understand why they allow horses up the AT. But, you know the NP's philosophy, 'Multi-use' or no use. That includes, ATV's, Jeeps, Horses, Ox-Carts, Snow-mobiles, Water-ski's, cell-phones, PRC-25's, TV's, Plastic-hotels, Plastic kids toys, Land Rovers, and just about anything else that 'serves' the public. [email protected]

Kozmic Zian
05-17-2004, 16:03
Yea......Chip. I hear you. That's exactly what I'm talking about. Too many horses, and too much damage. The fact that 9 Mules said in a previous, that the maintainence is done by volunteers and not Park employees, further exacerbates the problem. I've already drafted an email to the NPS about these kinds of problems. Hopefully, they'll be dully addressed. Thanks for your positive [email protected]

eyahiker
05-17-2004, 16:43
I own seven horses, so I have a stake on both sides.

Equestrians, like any other group, have good folks and bad folks that participate. Some will meticulously clean up after their mounts at campsites, others get drunk, trash places, and move on without giving a poop. ( No pun intended)

My experience has not been on the AT, but I will share the frustration of a horse owner who wants to use trails in other states, that are not part of trail system that is used 'primarily' for foot traffic like the AT, just for info's sake.

Many states have shut trails down to horses but opened them to bikes, snowmobiles, and ATV's. PA is one of the worst states for this, on a DER road (well maintained, about 2 feet deep in cinder/gravel) it is illegal to ride a horse, and one can aquire a $150.00 fine if caught, but all of the other means of travel listed above is OK.

On a day trip with a horse it's usually not the kind of trip that damages trails
1) usually you don't start out on a rainy day and ride on muddy trails, you wait for nice weather.
2) you are in and out, and are often trailering horses to a location with a drivable/trailerable parking area.
3) you don't need the kind of overnight equipment or spare horse/mule for hauling that you would on a longer hike

However, those out for the long haul have no choice on which days they ride, and hooves can muddy up a hiking path beyond recognition, as well as damage flora/fauna on the sides - this is just laziness on the part of the rider(s), if you can't keep your horse in single file, you probably shouldn't be on him in the first place!

That said....

I love horses, raised & rode them for years. Still feel that they have no place on a foot path, or on fragle terrain!
DoctariAgree with you Doctari! Also, many horses don't do high altitudes on the East Coast, out west, another story where even more harm can be done. Long Dist. or Endurance rides/races are usually not done in fragile areas, nor on footpaths, but there may be the exception..........

So, both sides in my opinion, but I personally do want to hike the AT next year and DON'T want to walk through a bunch of horse apples/trashed trails.....:confused:

Blue Jay
05-18-2004, 08:11
Yea......With all the other areas and Trails in the GSMNP, it's difficult to understand why they allow horses up the AT. But, you know the NP's philosophy, 'Multi-use' or no use. That includes, ATV's, Jeeps, Horses, Ox-Carts, Snow-mobiles, Water-ski's, cell-phones, PRC-25's, TV's, Plastic-hotels, Plastic kids toys, Land Rovers, and just about anything else that 'serves' the public. [email protected]

It's not difficult to understand. Horses were there before the AT, you don't like it please go somewhere else. To equate a beautiful living creature with all this other American cultural junk is flat out ignorant. Thrus have already walked in miles of mud and snow. A little horse s**t for the few miles they are allowed on, won't kill you. Clearly you've never hiked in Maine. Some days you feet never leave Moose s**t. No one is crying about that.

tlbj6142
05-18-2004, 09:39
To equate a beautiful living creature with all this other American cultural junk is flat out ignorant.Well horses are a non-native species. Just like ATVs. Llamas are the only true native pack animal of the Americas. Though they left the North American continent 15,000 (?) years ago. Their feet (pads) don't do near the damage that horses hooves do. But, then, they are a bit slower and not near as strong as a horse.

Now that I'm on the subject, what is the horse's natural range? Mid-East? North Africa? Just curious.

Kozmic Zian
05-18-2004, 10:16
Yea......You always have something so positive to add to the thread, don't you, Blue Jay....what a nice person you must be. Really Looking forward to meeting you [email protected]:D

Blue Jay
05-18-2004, 10:58
Well horses are a non-native species. Just like ATVs. Llamas are the only true native pack animal of the Americas. Though they left the North American continent 15,000 (?) years ago. Their feet (pads) don't do near the damage that horses hooves do. But, then, they are a bit slower and not near as strong as a horse.

Now that I'm on the subject, what is the horse's natural range? Mid-East? North Africa? Just curious.

I didn't say horses are a native species. People have been riding them there since before the AT. As for Yea.....Koz. Your constant anti-horse position is negative to a legal, long term, natural, human activity, then you claim I'm negative. I'll be nice and not bring up the hypocrisy issue. Yea.....Koz, you just might be the only member of White Blaze I would not want to meet as I would be inaned to death. You do take great pictures however, words are just not your forte.

Bill Harris
05-18-2004, 11:27
Last year my partner and I were doing the section from Hot Springs to Bland.Just shortly after leaving Old Orchard Shelter,we encountered a man and his wife leading mules onto the AT.Evidently they had came down the trail from Va.603.My partner and I tried to pass,but the man stopped and turned his mule so he could see us.The mule started getting restless,like it wanted to come at us.My partner told the man that we wanted to pass.The man looked at us and said,my mule don't like hikers.I was just about to say something to him,when his wife told her husband,let them pass.
Sometimes I feel that people like that have their own agenda and,use the animals to their advantage.Surely when the man made the statement about his mule not liking hikers,that came from the owner and his own stupidity.

Blue Jay
05-18-2004, 12:03
I truly do not mean to continue to be disagreeable, but mules like anyone who gives them food. As getting food away from a hiker is darn near impossible, there might be some truth in his statement. :jump
It is also possible some mule people, like some dog people enjoy scaring others.

Bill Harris
05-18-2004, 12:28
I don't like to be disagreeable either,but what I was talking about,the guy opened his mouth and stupid fell out.Even his wife was aware of that,of course she's probably had to listen to it for years.If anyone uses an animal to intimidate other people,they(the owners)should be locked up,not the animals.

Kozmic Zian
05-18-2004, 16:08
Yea.....But, hypocritically, you are constantly negative and by the way, Mr. "Knowitall", I have nothing against horses, just getting stomped by one on a narrow trail. I have no problem with squishing through Horse S***, either, just seems to be a bit much down at the ole' spring, Mr. Yea....Jay. So, get offn' your high horse, and come back to earth. Think thats possible? Do ya...huh? Huh?....????

p.s. Think you could mirror somebody else's posts for awhile, otherwise, I think you like me or something....you couldn't do that , now could you?

eyahiker
05-18-2004, 16:33
----------------------------------------:)

Uncle Wayne
05-20-2004, 03:37
A couple of years ago someone else started a thread about horses in the Smokies. Here's the link:http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?t=57

Blue Jay, you made a good point about the moose droppings along the AT in Maine. I think I may have found out why no one complains about moose droppings. I got a box of them for a Christmas present last year. The box stated they were fresh and even more surprising, edible. What the heck, I tried one and was pleased to find they taste like chocolate. I can't wait until September during my Maine section hike to try some more. :D

Blue Jay
05-20-2004, 08:20
Blue Jay, you made a good point about the moose droppings along the AT in Maine. I think I may have found out why no one complains about moose droppings. I got a box of them for a Christmas present last year. The box stated they were fresh and even more surprising, edible. What the heck, I tried one and was pleased to find they taste like chocolate. I can't wait until September during my Maine section hike to try some more. :D

That's not very nice. Clearly many people believe everything they read.
Ewuuuuu. :banana

eyahiker
05-20-2004, 09:27
:rolleyes: Ick.......

Bill Harris
05-20-2004, 09:55
Uncle Wayne, didn't you notice that those things stain yer teeth? :-?

Dainon
05-20-2004, 15:26
I've never once set foot on the AT. While I'm planning a section hike in early September, my knowledge of the AT consists solely of what I've learned from a couple of books, trailjournals.com, and this website.

That said, I have a lifetime of experience with horses and currently own two, one of which I use for trail rides. My horse is 16.2h, weighs approx. 1,300 lbs (add another 220 lbs. for me and the saddle), so over 3/4 of a ton in total. As do many who use a horse for trail rides, I keep the horse shod in aluminum plates with "stickers" (for hoof protection and traction). The result is that the ground is fairly torn up by my horse, and that's on dry, packed dirt. On wet soil, the result is like a rototiller. As such, I only ride on designated horse trails/parks or on the farm where my horses are kept.

From what little I know about the AT, I can't imagine anyone even wanting to ride a horse on it. First, when I'm riding, I'm approx. 11 feet off the ground (measured from my head to the ground). It's a pain in the a** trying to duck under branches, and most of the pics I've seen of the AT have tree branches just high enough for people to walk under. Second, the unevenness of the AT trail (from what I've seen from pics -- rocks, tree roots, etc) would make it too hard on my horse. Third, while I'm an experienced rider, I don't like being on trails that are narrow -- if the horse spooks, I want to have a bit of a cushion to get him under control before being knocked off by branches. I've also read that some people take dogs on the AT -- my horse (as would most) would spook if a dog came up charging up barking (as nearly every dog does), and being on a 1,300 lbs. horse that's in a panic is not fun at all. Finally, out of mercy for the horse, I try to avoid trails that have serious inclines/declines -- no matter what you've seen on a John Wayne movie, it's too damned hard on their legs and does nothing but invite injury.

So I vote 'no' on allowing horses on the AT.

At least that's my stupid opinion.

eyahiker
05-20-2004, 15:48
So I vote 'no' on allowing horses on the AT.

At least that's my stupid opinion.
Welcome:welcome
There are no stupid opinions here, but there are some stupid people.:jump

Thanks for your two cents! Don't ever be afraid to post, good thoughts, and I agree with you.

Sprocket - Matt
10-13-2008, 14:58
I've never thru-hiked the Smokies... I've done several multi-days in the White Mts. in NH. and sevral multi-days through a lot of WNC. Even some time out in the Front Range in Co. and the Cascades for a week in the PNW.

Horses, Dogs, what have you....
Think of the animal's well being first and you'll avoid 95% of the issues.
I wouldn't put my dog in any situation which might cause harm either physical or emotional to him or any other animal/hiker. It just invites trouble.
Please remember, these animals were "brought" to the trails by their owners, animals that are a hazard to themselves or others on the trail need to be considered a danger to themselves FIRST, and not brought out the trail where they could injure themselves, horses are expensive, especially the emergency vet costs... So think of your animal's well being first.

That being said... Horses and dogs have both been companions to man long before any National Park was created, let alone the laws surrounding it's trail useage... Here in Central IN. Horse people have the $$$, therefore they get trail access at the political level before most hikers, or even us mt. bike guys learn that the park is going to be opened to multi-user access. That being said, I've seen far too many horses with riders who are trashed on cheap beer who decide to leave the Pabst Blue Ribbon cans on the trail. Again, showing that they're not the RESPONSIBLE animal owners... And you'll always have a mix of these people, 1 bad apple and all that.

But like always, the mentality isn't always to be considerate first.
"YOUR" horse, dog, bike, girlfriend on "MY" trail....
There is plenty of acreage, with plenty of trail access in the GSM park..
IF WE ALL JUST LEARN TO GET ALONG.

sliderule
10-14-2008, 10:04
Horses, Dogs, what have you....
Think of the animal's well being first and you'll avoid 95% of the issues.


Think of the trail's well being first and there won't be an issue. Horses cause serious damage to the trail, and it doesn't matter how well behaved the horse or its rider is.

Skyline
10-14-2008, 11:02
The worst result from horses on the AT in the Smokies is the degradation of water sources. The rest is mostly aesthetic in nature and we can probably live with it. Besides, horses and their riders provide a valuable service to trail maintainers in the Smokies by bringing in heavy supplies for them.

To lessen the likelihood of horses fouling water sources, perhaps it would be smart to build a corral around each of them as is done in the Grayson Highlands to keep the feral ponies and other stock out of the springs. Make the corral as large as necessary, require hikers to walk through or over a stile to access the water source (keeps animals out) and build sturdy rock walls to deflect drainage into the water source.

We cannot do too much about careless, selfish people on the Trail, whether they be hikers or horsemen, but the Park could be more proactive in protecting water sources.

NICKTHEGREEK
10-14-2008, 11:15
There's some sections of the C&O canal towpath that permits horses and the park rangers keeps a few mules gainfully employed pulling a boat loaded with yokels from Great Falls Tavern north about a mile. The whole path is open to hikers and bikers and fishers and dog walkers and spies who are pretty judicious in avoiding the steaming piles left by the horsies. In a way I like the horses because it keeps the bike speed down. Imagine the carnage hitting a horse from the rear at 40 mph.
Maybe even Lone Wolf would carry a hiking pole here, cause sticking a passing horse in the ass is an instant wild west show.

Pedaling Fool
10-14-2008, 11:19
Those speeding cyclist need to get on the road if they want to break any speed records. Maybe LW would carry hiking poles to thrust in their spokes while recklessly speeding around pedestrians and small children - that would be funny:D

Sprocket - Matt
10-14-2008, 11:50
Those speeding cyclist need to get on the road if they want to break any speed records. Maybe LW would carry hiking poles to thrust in their spokes while recklessly speeding around pedestrians and small children - that would be funny:D

As a cyclist, let me just say... OUCH!!!
However, also as a cyclist (both road and mt.) I give EVERYONE the right of way on the trail.... Bikes are the last to gain access to trails usually, and as a result of bad marketing in the late 80s and early 90s Mt bikers have been given a really poor image... So with all that, I make sure to be EXTRA careful about all the trail rules while riding... Foot Traffic (human or horse) always get the right of way, and if a bike is coming uphill they have the right of way over a bike heading downhill... But bikes shouldn't be on the AT soooooo.

Pedaling Fool
10-14-2008, 12:13
As a cyclist, let me just say... OUCH!!!
However, also as a cyclist (both road and mt.) I give EVERYONE the right of way on the trail.... Bikes are the last to gain access to trails usually, and as a result of bad marketing in the late 80s and early 90s Mt bikers have been given a really poor image... So with all that, I make sure to be EXTRA careful about all the trail rules while riding... Foot Traffic (human or horse) always get the right of way, and if a bike is coming uphill they have the right of way over a bike heading downhill... But bikes shouldn't be on the AT soooooo.
I'm also a cyclist, been cycling to work for over 20 years and been on about 4 long distance trips. Nothing bugs me more than cyclist that rides too fast on a multi-use trail or that don't stop a lights on the road. And I don't even want to get started on those idiots that do the Critical-Mass rides.

Mos bikers don't give right-of-way as you mentioned above, also they expect cars to break for them and when crossing intersections. This is a pet peeve for me since I spend much more time on a bike than a car. Most cyclist (not all) that I've met are elitist pigs wearing spandex.

Plodderman
10-14-2008, 16:31
I have hiked thru the Smokies and had a great time. Not sure of the section but ran into two groups of horses and riders and man did the trail stink. Going around one mountain the ground was wet and man could you smell the waste, so I had to dodge a little bit. All in all tho the trial seems to accomadate both and the riders where very polite.

WalkingStick75
10-14-2008, 18:02
As a previous horse owner, trail rider and an avid backpacker I think (know) the needs of the two groups are just too different to think the same camp areas can be shared. As a backpacker I am sleeping shortly after it is dark and I'm up early. On a trail ride we sit around a campfire, sometimes have a cold drink and sleep in a bit. Horses need someplace to run a picket line (tie line for the horses at night), a good water source and some grass to eat. Most shelters do not have enough water for a horse or enough grass area. I also hate to say this but most horse people (MOST not ALL) are not as courteous as 99% of backpackers that I have met over the years.

The goals and needs of the two groups are just too different. IMO :)

splash1986
10-14-2008, 20:51
My worst experience with horses was on the Eagle Rock Loop Trail in Arkansas a couple years ago. Our second day out we got to a designated campsite (beautiful spot on the Little Missouri River), and a group on horseback was resting and eating lunch there. They had every right to be there, as that section of this trail was hiker/equestrian accessable. My problem was that they had their horses tethered in the designated tenting sights, which were the only spots to set up in the area. Needless to say, the horses were leaving droppings all over the tent site we had planned on using. Then when they left, they made no attempt to clean the spot, and also left beer cans, litter, etc.(Which we packed out the next day.) We did what we could to clear the dung out to set up our tents, and it really wasn't that big a deal, but I did find this to be a bit inconsiderate on their part.

sliderule
10-14-2008, 23:50
Horses need someplace to run a picket line (tie line for the horses at night), a good water source and some grass to eat. Most shelters do not have enough water for a horse or enough grass area.



NPS regulations prohibit grazing.

Tipi Walter
10-15-2008, 07:57
With all the other areas and Trails in the GSMNP, it's difficult to understand why they allow horses up the AT. But, you know the NP's philosophy, 'Multi-use' or no use. That includes, ATV's, Jeeps, Horses, Ox-Carts, Snow-mobiles, Water-ski's, cell-phones, PRC-25's, TV's, Plastic-hotels, Plastic kids toys, Land Rovers, and just about anything else that 'serves' the public. [email protected]

I think the 'multi-use access policy' of the NPS is a sad joke and reflects the strong tourism lobby of the automobile addicts and the rolling couch potatoes. But by the year 2040 our population will be close to 440 million and this multi-use policy will either have to be changed or we will have to allow our parks to be overrun by "ox-cars, ATVs, Jeeps, horses, water-ski's", etc etc etc. The simple solution to "habitat destruction" is to turn current parks into wilderness areas and this solution was even considered with the Smokies back several years ago. The Gatlinburg city-honchos wailed "Unfair!" and of course the NPS loves the bumper-to-bumper traffic in Cades Cove and obviously supports continued high air pollution from in-park autos as they have done little to close the roads. My question is, who's in charge??


Well horses are a non-native species. Just like ATVs. Llamas are the only true native pack animal of the Americas. Though they left the North American continent 15,000 (?) years ago. Their feet (pads) don't do near the damage that horses hooves do. But, then, they are a bit slower and not near as strong as a horse.

Now that I'm on the subject, what is the horse's natural range? Mid-East? North Africa? Just curious.

Uh, horses are native to North America and were here from 54 million years ago to about 10,000 years ago. They ranged over the entire continent, in other words:
http://www.discoverseaz.com/History/Horse.html
If anything, I'd say the European immigrants and/or Vikings that came over the Atlantic to North America were the real non-native species.

The solution to bothersome horses on trails is to leave some unwieldly blowdowns periodically placed on foottrails, barriers to make their ride nearly impossible. Of course, many of them carry chainsaws . . .

There are two kinds of horsemen: Day Riders and Overnighters. The day riders are a level below in my mind, and they tear up the trail without actually sleeping out in the small areas they have disfigured. The overnighters seem to have earned a bit more moral high-ground by enduring harsher conditions for longer periods of time. Just my perverted sense of things.

Tipi Walter
10-15-2008, 08:19
In addition, there are two kinds of foot trails: One's that are cut specifically for foot travel, and converted trails from old blasted out logging roads and cuts. The picture shows three muleskinners using an old logging road-converted-to-foot-trail. There are many trails that are great for horses, and these old dynamited logging cuts qualify.

On the other hand, newly cut foot paths get quickly destroyed by horse useage.

Plodderman
12-03-2008, 18:22
Ran across horses on the trail and the riders were pleasant but man the horses sure left a mess. I dodged it for a few miles.

weary
12-03-2008, 18:58
Yea......Horses. I think it would be interesting to hear some of your positions on Horses up The AT in the Smokies. I think there are concerns related to the usage and damage factors and the relationship of hikers and riders.

I certainly believe, personally, that multi-use of our National Parks is fair use, to a point. When damage and abnormal wear and tear result from the wrong vehicle (4 wheelers, snow mobiles, horses) being in areas of conservation, or where natural appearance is high concern, and usage less of a concern, then multi-use options become less applicable. The rules in SMNP apparantly allow horses to traverse The AT up on the Ridge Line. Would't it be in the interest of the Park itself, and the Hiking Public, to restrict Horse movement on The AT? Your opinions, please, fellow Users.
Among the compromises that lead to the creation with one of the greatest National Parks in the whole National Park system, was the requirement that existing horse use be allowed to continue.

I personally would have wished that such a compromise hadn't been necessary. But it was. Our decision now is whether the presence of horse poop and horse erosion, warrants a big fight to abrogate, an ancient compromise and thus make future such compromises more difficult.

I think not. But what do I know?

Weary

Marta
12-03-2008, 19:24
The horses on the Trail don't bother me, but it's kind of a problem to share campsites with them sometimes. The owners picket the horses in good, flat campsites, then don't clean up the mess. Some horses chew the bark off the trees.

But, hey, if the world was completely composed of responsible people, it sure would be a different place!

Lone Wolf
12-03-2008, 21:39
horses on the AT are a non-issue. carry on

weary
12-04-2008, 00:30
horses on the AT are a non-issue. carry on.
Wow. Lone Wolf many thanks for allowing us to carry on. But what am I supposed to carry on, and on to what?

CaptChaos
12-04-2008, 01:01
I have gone over all of the post and I will not go on a rant here since most of you know my feelings with horses on the AT, the Smokies and the local National Park where I live, Mammoth Cave National Park.


What I have observed over the last 11 years is a person is on the horse to keep from walking and I am sure, to be fair, to get more of the trip in a shorter time. But lets be honest here. If they are on the horse to get somewhere do you really think that putting the horse in a restricted area at the shelter that the person who has been riding all day is really going to work to bring water to a 1000 pound animal?

It's not going to happen. I am not saying that all would not do the work with the horse but doing all of the work to get the water and then drag it to the horse vs taking the horse to the water source and letting them get their fill, what do you think???

I've seen it, been there got the shirt and then when the horse and rider left their presence was still there for me to enjoy until I moved on and you know what I mean by leaving their mark, (in more ways than one).

There is no easy answer here. I do my part to leave no trace, pick up my trash and attempt to keep my waste out of sight and not on the trail. If the horse people could do this as well then maybe it would not be an issue for me.

John

Joey
12-05-2008, 23:06
If you want to see the disgusting results of what horses and their riders can do to a pretty area. Just hike from Fontana along Lakeshore to Eagle Creek and you almost need four legs to make it through the muck and other crap. Beer cans were all over the place and where they tied the horses to trees, they damaged some of them really bad. I talked with one of the rangers at the Sugarlands and I was told that it was a VERY VERY political subject and that they could do NOTHING about the problems that have been brought to their attention. I too have owned horses and love them dearly. But they need to be restricted in the GSMNP and stay completely off of the AT. The rangers also need to get off the roadways acting like State Troopers and get into the backcountry and start handing out fines to some of these knotheads that do not follow regulations.