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  1. #1
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    Default Mountain Bike Traffic

    I've dug up many threads on the topic and there doesn't seem to be a consensus on what the mountain bike traffic is like on the CT. I understand the areas between Breckenridge and Kenosha Pass and the Monarch Pass area are popular with the mountain bikers but I want to know what your experience was during your hike. How often did you see mountain bikers and did you find more often you were the one yielding or they were? I'm not looking to be persuaded, just curious what other's experiences were and what to expect on my hike this summer.

    Thanks!

  2. #2

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    Our experience with mountain bikers was very positive. The only time we saw a large number was the Saturday we hiked from Jefferson Creek over Georgia Pass and on to Swan Creek campground. There was a sponsored event by Yeti, so about 100 cyclists began passing us around Georgia Pass.

    Otherwise, we met bikers in groups of 1-3, rarely more and they were spread out all the way to Durango. Not once did we meet a biker in a Wilderness Area where they are forbidden. All of our conversations with them were pleasant and a few times, they gave us water.

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    Registered User lonehiker's Avatar
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    It is rare on the CT for bikers to yield to hikers. Furthermore, if you don't yield to them, they will simply ride around you widening the trail in the process. Guess I shouldn't target the CT as this is typical of bikers on any trail. I'm not saying that they aren't cordial when you speak to them simply that they don't, apparently, understand trail etiquette.
    Lonehiker

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    Quote Originally Posted by lonehiker View Post
    It is rare on the CT for bikers to yield to hikers. Furthermore, if you don't yield to them, they will simply ride around you widening the trail in the process. Guess I shouldn't target the CT as this is typical of bikers on any trail. I'm not saying that they aren't cordial when you speak to them simply that they don't, apparently, understand trail etiquette.
    I have to agree. It is very rare for a mountain biker to yield for hikers even though thats the rule most places, especially coming down grades where they can get some real speed going. In CA, on multi use trails there is signage all over the place using pictures, as apparently literacy is an issue on these trails, bikes yield to hikers and horses, hikers yield to horses. But that doesn't seem to help much.

    Of major concern are the growing instances of mountain bikers I see on the AT and access trails. There has been a big push by these bike groups to gain access to long distance trails like the AT, PCT, CT, etc. The AT fortunately is designated by Congress (back when it actually worked and did things for citizens) as a "Footpath" in its description. That will make it difficult for bikers to gain access. The PCT is a different issue and illegal riding is becoming a pretty serious issue. This group along with the ATV types around here are very vocal in their insistence if the State does not provide them a place to ride, they will ride where they want to. They erroneously cite taxes being used to pay for trails like the AT and here in CT the Connecticut Forest and Parks Association that has some 780 miles of blue blazed trails around the State, and in that "tax" they have the legal rights of use. Oy

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    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lonehiker View Post
    It is rare on the CT for bikers to yield to hikers. Furthermore, if you don't yield to them, they will simply ride around you widening the trail in the process. Guess I shouldn't target the CT as this is typical of bikers on any trail. I'm not saying that they aren't cordial when you speak to them simply that they don't, apparently, understand trail etiquette.
    What "trail etiquette" are you referring to? I think it is silly for a mountain biker to yield to a hiker, and as a hiker, I always step out of the way for 1-2 seconds to let them pass. Even though it is supposedly my "right" on the trail, why make a biker or a group of bikers dismount when all you have to do is very briefly step one step to the side for 1-2 seconds?

    The hundreds/thousands of M-bikers I've crossed paths with were all courteous, never any conflict whatsoever on CO trails. And they all seem to be grouped in concentrated, bike-friendly spots, like those already mentioned.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Onda Road Again View Post
    I've dug up many threads on the topic and there doesn't seem to be a consensus on what the mountain bike traffic is like on the CT. I understand the areas between Breckenridge and Kenosha Pass and the Monarch Pass area are popular with the mountain bikers but I want to know what your experience was during your hike. How often did you see mountain bikers and did you find more often you were the one yielding or they were? I'm not looking to be persuaded, just curious what other's experiences were and what to expect on my hike this summer.

    Thanks!

    Out of the 485 miles, I'd say that there was about 30 with an unpleasant level of bike activity. For the other 450 miles, bicycles were uncommon.

    Mostly I prefer to step off the path to make way for the bikes to pass, as it's easy for a hiker to do, but technically, it's the biker's responsibility to stop and yield for the hiker.

    There were about 1 or 2 percent of bikers who rode like idiots and attained such high speeds that they were "outriding" the trail. These guys were going so fast that they couldn't see what was around the next bend and I almost had a collision with one of them. The rest were responsible trail users.

    Personally, I found the motorbikes to be most annoying due to the damage they do to the trail and the noise But, happily, there was only about 30 miles where I saw any motorbikes at all.

  7. #7

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    From Molas Pass to Bolam Pass, near Silverton, is popular with mountain bikers, as I was told by a couple bikers I talked to on the Saturday I hiked that section. I saw about 2 dozen bikers that day. I yielded to all of them. The only alarming encounter was when I was hiking a straight stretch with a slight downgrade and heard a yell behind me, "BIKERS," and had to move in a hurry to get out of the way of a couple bikers moving fast.
    Last edited by map man; 02-14-2015 at 12:21.

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    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    I think it is about attitude. Those more inclined to be grumpy about mountain bikers, or in general, will probably have a less than positive experience. If you go with the the attitude it is a shared trail and that most people in general will try to do the right thing, you will have a better time.

    there are always knuckleheads (not slowing down and whizzing by when behind you is poor form), but overall it is probably going to be a fine experience with any encounter.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mags View Post
    I think it is about attitude. Those more inclined to be grumpy about mountain bikers, or in general, will probably have a less than positive experience. If you go with the the attitude it is a shared trail and that most people in general will try to do the right thing, you will have a better time.

    there are always knuckleheads (not slowing down and whizzing by when behind you is poor form), but overall it is probably going to be a fine experience with any encounter.
    I encountered perhaps 20 mountain bikers on my hike of the CT in 2013. If I saw bikes approaching or heard a signal as they overtook, I would step off the trail as a courtesy. All but 3 were very courteous encounters. On these occasions a mountain biker overtook me without any warning (no bell, no shout out). All of these occurred as I was hiking downhill on a narrow section of trail where the bikers could not have passed me. I asked one why he didn't ring a bell or shout out, and the reply was that "most hikers have earbuds in and couldn't hear anyway". I wondered how these folks would have been able to avoid me if I hadn't jumped out of the way when I heard their approach as they came within a few yards. I consider the failure to signal one is overtaking a hiker rude and inconsiderate. The fact that two of these folks were "advanced middle age" was a surprise as this is the lack of consideration for others often noted in teenagers.

    Speaking of teenagers, I noted the following in my journal. This behavior was particularly egregious since the young man in question was accompanied by his father.

    "There was a brief climb out of Bear Creek valley to a point where a lot of mountain bikers were resting. .... There was also a teenage jerk who shortly afterward careened past at high speed then nearly hit two hikers climbing our way and a couple of uphill bikers. The bikers were incensed and gave the fool a sounding out."

    Fortunately, the vast majority of mountain bikers are courteous and the vast majority of encounters are cordial. I believe most of the offenders are associated with rented mountain bike gear where the companies that rent the gear fail to reinforce with the renters the basic rules of the road (bikers yield to hikers, and both bikers and hikers yield to horses).
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mags View Post
    I think it is about attitude. Those more inclined to be grumpy about mountain bikers, or in general, will probably have a less than positive experience. If you go with the the attitude it is a shared trail and that most people in general will try to do the right thing, you will have a better time.

    there are always knuckleheads (not slowing down and whizzing by when behind you is poor form), but overall it is probably going to be a fine experience with any encounter.
    From the responses sounds like there's a few bad apples in the bunch just like there is with hikers or any other outdoor group. Like Mags said, I think how you approach it is important. I've been trying to not worry about the mountain bikers but since I don't do a lot of hiking on shared trails it's all new to me and I'm worried about the few that are careless as they pass. I just got to work on taking a positive attitude about it towards the trail and shrug off the idiots that are considerate of others.

    Thanks again everyone!

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    Mountain bikes were a non-issue for me on my thru hike last summer. I believe that the first bikes I encountered were on the Ten Mile Range between Breckenridge and Copper Mountain. There were only a couple of riders and they were courteous. There was one mountain bike on Searle Pass. There were several mountain bikes south of Monarch Pass on the final leg of the Collegiate West (this is a very popular mountain bike path), some bikes near Marshall Pass, and then one guy camped out near Celebration Lake.

    Motorcycles were even less of an issue in terms of encounters but I did see quite a bit of trail damage in places where they are permitted. The Colorado Trail Foundation has been trying to separate the CT from motorized trails for some time and I suspect that they will continue to make progress on this in the future. The recent Collegiate West reroutes moved a significant amount of trail away from motorized trails onto single track.

    Anyway, both mountain bikes and motorized use were big concerns for me prior to hiking the CT and they were nearly non-issues. I wouldn't worry about it at all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Onda Road Again View Post
    From the responses sounds like there's a few bad apples in the bunch just like there is with hikers or any other outdoor group. Like Mags said, I think how you approach it is important. I've been trying to not worry about the mountain bikers but since I don't do a lot of hiking on shared trails it's all new to me and I'm worried about the few that are careless as they pass. I just got to work on taking a positive attitude about it towards the trail and shrug off the idiots that are considerate of others.

    Thanks again everyone!
    ***are NOT considerate of others***

  13. #13

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    I encountered tons of mountain bikers last year. Really not an issue to step aside and let them pass. The only issue was when they come from behind and you don't hear them until the last second, it is startling. Also encountered a few motorcycles, but you can hear them coming.

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    At one point, I wanted to plaster a sign on my back "deaf hiker" so I could pretend not to hear them! - That being said, I had absolutely no bad encounters with them. Often many of them would stop and talk to us, ask about our hike. They were all very courteous, and often stopped to let us find a safe place to get out of the way. There are a few areas where there are many bikes, and it just got a bit annoying. The bikes also tend to erode the trail in some areas so the trail is a narrow V ditch and hard to walk on.

  15. #15

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    The CT is a multi use trail. It was not constructed with federal funds for a particular interest group. It was constructed by volunteers with donated money, and to this day it is maintained and financed the same way. A lot of those volunteers were and are mountain bikers and equestrians. There are always a few bad apples, but as someone who goes out annually on the CT and works on the problems, I can tell you that the bikers don't seem to be any worse than other user group when it comes to damage and respect for others. Multi use requires mutual respect from all the users, not just mountain bikers.

    Having said all that, the Monarch Crest segment in the vicinity of Marshall Pass is a problem. A daily shuttle service puts many bikes on the trail there and they enjoy an exhilarating mostly downhill ride back to Poncha Springs. Luckily it is restricted to a relatively short piece of the trail.
    Last edited by bearcreek; 02-15-2015 at 08:50.

  16. #16
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    One small little additional aspect of all this: I've hiked the sections from Break to Denver multiple times and there is definitely a correlation between weekdays and weekends for bike traffic, so everything else being equal, if you happened to start a SOBO, say, on a Monday, you'd hit the higher bike-traffic areas mostly on a weekday, depending on your speed. Though, on second thought, you might hit the high-bike traffic of sections 6-7 on the next weekend....

    Anyway, definitely much higher bike traffic on weekends, FWIW.

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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    One small little additional aspect of all this: I've hiked the sections from Break to Denver multiple times and there is definitely a correlation between weekdays and weekends for bike traffic, so everything else being equal, if you happened to start a SOBO, say, on a Monday, you'd hit the higher bike-traffic areas mostly on a weekday, depending on your speed. Though, on second thought, you might hit the high-bike traffic of sections 6-7 on the next weekend....

    Anyway, definitely much higher bike traffic on weekends, FWIW.
    We plan on starting in Waterton Canyon on Sunday July 5th (we're under the assumption this will be a very busy day being the July 4th holiday weekend). We're planing roughly 17 mpd which would put us in Breckenridge early Saturday morning, then we're going to take a zero Sunday since this will be our first long distance hike so we'll hike section 7 the following Monday. Other than our first day the majority of the hiking through that area will be weekdays, we'll just have to see what the holiday traffic is like.

    Thanks everyone!

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    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Onda Road Again View Post
    We plan on starting in Waterton Canyon on Sunday July 5th (we're under the assumption this will be a very busy day being the July 4th holiday weekend). We're planing roughly 17 mpd which would put us in Breckenridge early Saturday morning, then we're going to take a zero Sunday since this will be our first long distance hike so we'll hike section 7 the following Monday. Other than our first day the majority of the hiking through that area will be weekdays, we'll just have to see what the holiday traffic is like.

    Thanks everyone!
    that sounds perfect; Even though Waterton canyon will be crowded that 6.5 miles are on a wide road, no worries, then you might have some bike traffic until late afternoon over your next 10 miles on Sunday, but by the time you get to the heavy Buffalo Creek area, it will be a weekday all the way to Breck Sat. morning.

    Since July 4th is on a Saturday this year, I wonder what day most folks get a day off, the Friday before or the Monday after? No worries in any case (yeah, I'm way over-analyzing this, bikes will be no problem, really)

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    Quote Originally Posted by lonehiker View Post
    It is rare on the CT for bikers to yield to hikers. Furthermore, if you don't yield to them, they will simply ride around you widening the trail in the process. Guess I shouldn't target the CT as this is typical of bikers on any trail. I'm not saying that they aren't cordial when you speak to them simply that they don't, apparently, understand trail etiquette.

    I also agree as a Colorado native. Few of them are rude, but almost none of them will yield to hikers. Occasionally you'll get an annoyed look if you don't yield to them, or if your dog is in the way, etc.

    Personally I find it annoying hiking on a high-use bike trail; you're always looking over your shoulder for the next one to come whizzing by. I try to avoid these trails but they are prevalent especially around the front range.

    As far as the CT you should find most bikers are courteous, just don't expect them to yield.

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    Courtesy, attitude, ego... They all come into play. I had dozens of mountain bike encounters when I hiked the CT in 2010. All except one was positive, or a non-event. To me it's as simple as calling out, "on your left," which my parents taught me and my brothers to do when skiing past someone. I know the bikes are moving faster than me... I gladly step aside. My one unfortuante experience occurred when a mountain biker came up on me quickly but gave no notice. The trail was quite narrow. He blasted me verbally as he zoomed by, perhaps an inch to spare. I suggested loudly that it was inappropriate for him to speak about his mother that way... A-hem.
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