Sunday, September 29, 2013

Forest Service decides on management for Cave Run trails

U.S. Forest Service officials have announced new management direction for trails in the Cave Run Lake area of the Daniel Boone National Forest.

Under the new direction, horse and mountain bike users will each have their own designated trail system. All of these trails will be open to hikers. The separated use is intended to enhance the quality of experience for all users. Equestrian use will be designated near existing horse camps and trails. Bike use will be zoned where trails, both existing and newly constructed, can access nearby campgrounds.

“In an effort to meet recreational demand and enhance tourism in our local communities, we are striving to provide a sustainable trail system that all visitors can enjoy,” said District Ranger Dave Manner.

Much of the existing trail system was originally designed for hiking over 40 years ago. Since that time, equestrian and mountain bike use in the area has steadily increased. The additional use has impacted the trail surface, vegetation, water quality and soil conditions in the area. As a result, the recreation experience of trail users has suffered.

Forest managers began working with trail users several years ago to look for alternative ways to manage the system. The complex geology, highly erodible soils, year-round precipitation and mixed ownership have made trail development and maintenance challenging.

A large portion of the area west and south of Cave Run Lake, including the Caney Loop Trail and Murder Branch, will be designated for horseback riding and hiking only. A portion of the area west of Cave Run Lake will be designated for mountain biking and hiking.

In addition, new mountain bike loop trails are planned for construction north of the lake and 28 miles of currently closed Forest Service roads will be opened to connect loop trails and expand horseback and mountain bike riding opportunities.

Amenities such as signs, horse resting areas, and trail head and parking areas will be improved and/or constructed.

The new management direction will be implemented over several years. The first priority will be to designate the trails for mountain biking and horseback riding. Trail and trailhead signs will be installed, and maps and web page information will be updated.

During the second phase of implementation, seasonal and cross-country horse travel will be restricted to minimize impacts and reduce maintenance. Implementation of the new trails and improvements will occur as necessary resources become available, including funding and volunteers.

Further information regarding the trail management decision can be found on the Daniel Boone National Forest website.

Hiking in the Smokies

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