I’m not usually one to rant, but on this day I can’t help myself. Today I ran the San Juan trail that connects San Juan Hot Springs to Blue Jay campground. Apparently this is a popular route for mountain bikers, especially the sort that like to go real fast, downhill. I've been running for 20 years and I’ve never run on a trail so rutted out. It’s virtually a ruined trail for runners.
I have no beef against mountain bikers. Many of my friends are mountain bikers. Hell, I even own a bike that I ride, timidly, down the slightest grade. But here’s the deal. Single track trails only have so much surface area. When bikes descend these delicate paths, particularly those made of loose, soft terrain like the San Juan trial, erosion ultimately sets in. Long, deep trenches form. These are three to five inch wide, foot deep trenches. Turn a corner, and poof, trail turns to trench! If you don’t go head over heels, your feet slide into a bone crunching rut.
So what is the answer? I suggest the San Juan Trail be allowed a break from mountain bikers. Call it a furlough, a hiatus, a recovery! Just some time off from the whirling dervishes. After all, aren’t there hundreds of other trails to ride out there? During this time I think some serious work should be done by the US Forest Service and California Parks and Recreation to determine how to keep trials like this from getting mutilated. Maybe they should rotate the use by mountain bikers of single track trails like San Juan to every other year. Then, maybe, they would have time to heal. Then again, maybe they’ll never have the time to heal.