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Mountain bikers seek to thwart ban from Colorado Trail
Local mountain bikers have joined a growing opposition to a plan to ban bikes from a section of the Colorado Trail in the Rio Grande National Forest.
The plan to reroute a section of the trail, also part of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, is meant to provide safety to hikers and prevent trail erosion, according to a study by the U.S. Forest Service.
Members of Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates, a Colorado Springs-based mountain biking group, and the International Mountain Bicycling Association are among those fighting to open the 31.2-mile section of singletrack trail to bikes.
Officials have spent two years working on a plan to get hikers off a section of the trail that uses gravel roads open to vehicles as well as hikers, cyclists and horse riders.
The proposed singletrack from Lujan Pass to La Garita Wilderness is the best of four options studied, Forest Service officials said.
"A biker coming around a corner at high speed can come upon a hiker before either party is aware of the other," states the Forest Service review of the four proposed trails. "In general terms, bicycle use on the CDNST is not consistent with the overall objectives" of the trail.
Mountain bikers ride many sections of the 3,100-mile trail that stretches from Canada to New Mexico. The Forest Service's environmental assessment cites a daily hiker's month-long summertime tally of 236 hikers and 77 mountain bikers on the stretch of trail identified for rerouting.
The Colorado Trail Foundation and the Colorado Mountain Biking Association also are pushing the Forest Service to reconsider bike access on the new section of singletrack.
The International Mountain Bicycling Association is promoting approval of Forest Service "alternative route 3,' which would allow bikes on the new section of trail.
Submit your comments about proposed trail use. Comments will be gathered through Dec. 17.