Free Bicycle Chain Recycling
About BN
Our Services


Join Our Mailing List
For Email Marketing you can trust

International Mountain Bicycling Association

Bike Ban Looms Over Iconic Continental Divide Trail

Boulder, Colorado

Mountain bikers may find some of the nation's best singletrack off-limits if the Forest Service pushes through with a new directive. The agency wants to limit or prohibit bike access on the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), which runs the length of the country, from Montana to New Mexico.

The CDT includes the famous Monarch Crest, many sections of the Colorado Trail, well-known Steamboat Springs singletrack, important trails around Butte and Helena and much, much more.

Take Action

Your strong voice is essential to saving epic rides along the CDT. The Forest Service's proposal to restrict and prohibit mountain biking has been warmly embraced by some anti-bike groups, who are giving it their full support. All mountain bikers are urged to take action:

  • File Comments
    Formally file your comments with the Forest Service. IMBA's simple form takes seconds and will submit your official comments. The deadline is October 12.

  • Spread the Word
    Rally your friends and ask them to echo your support for bike access on this outstanding trail. We need thousands of comments to hold out hope for continued access, so please forward this to your riding friends across the country.

  • Help Maintain the CDT
    If you live or play near the CDT, consider organizing or attending trailwork days to help build and maintain this magnificent trail. Learn about volunteer opportunities near you.

  • Donate
    Can you imagine losing our longest shared-use trail? The IMBA Legal Fund needs your financial support.

Additional Information

Why is the Forest Service revising its management directive? The CDT is currently managed under guidelines from an outdated 1985 Comprehensive Plan and the agency believes it's time to update that document by clearing up any ambiguity regarding the purpose of the trail and its allowed uses. As part of this effort, the Forest Service is focusing on a hiking and horse-centric vision.

The CDT is a 3,100-mile shared-use route from Canada to Mexico, traversing some of the most scenic high-elevation terrain in the country. Mountain biking is permitted in most non-Wilderness areas and has occurred on some sections for 25 years. According to the Continental Divide Trail Alliance (CDTA), the trail is only 70 percent completed, with many existing miles in desperate need of repair and maintenance. CDTA estimates the cost to complete the CDT at $27 million.

IMBA believes a shared-use philosophy that includes bicycling is compatible with the intent and purpose of the CDT, and that mountain bikers can help overcome these significant hurdles impeding the trail's completion. With 40 million participants, mountain biking is the second most popular trail activity in the country (Outdoor Industry Foundation, 2007). This large constituency helps lobby for public lands funding and donates nearly one million volunteer hours each year to trail construction and maintenance. Mountain bikers can be valuable partners for the CDT.

Among long-distance trails, the CDT is unique in that has generally allowed mountain biking. Unlike the Pacific Crest Trail or Appalachian Trail, mountain bikes are largely welcome on non-Wilderness sections of the CDT. IMBA isn't asking for access to all 3,100 miles, but there are many non-Wilderness sections where non-motorized users can get along and mountain biking should continue.

The Forest Service has said it believes Congress intended the CDT to be for hiking and horse use only. Unfortunately, the agency is basing its proposed directive on a 1976 Study Report - written before modern mountain biking was established - and a similarly out-dated Comprehensive Plan of 1985. Not surprisingly, both documents focus primarily on providing experiences for the "hiker and horseman." But neither suggests the trail should be limited to these two uses, and in many instances encourages non-motorized activities.

In fact, the 1976 CDT Study Report states, "The primary purpose of this trail (CDT) is to provide a continuous, appealing trail route, designed for the hiker and horseman, but compatible with other land uses."

In 1983, Congress amended the National Trails Act to clarify potentially acceptable uses on the CDT and other National Scenic Trails. Bicycling is listed alongside various forms of hiking, backpacking and horse use (16 USC 1246(j)).

This congressional statute is clear and should supercede internal agency documents. IMBA does not believe bicycling should be discouraged or prohibited on the CDT. More than two decades of bicycling on the CDT has shown that this activity does not substantially interfere with the nature and purposes of the trail and that all users can get along.

Today, the environmental and social science of trail recreation is better developed and many backcountry trails are shared by hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers. A growing scientific consensus has shown that impacts of mountain biking are similar to hiking and less than horse or OHV use (Marion and Wimpey, 2007).

The IMBA / Forest Service Memorandum of Understanding states mountain bicycling should be managed distinctly from motorized travel. It also says mountain bicycling is appropriate in areas listed as "primitive" on the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum. These areas comprise a significant percentage of the CDNST.

Proposed Forest Service Directive Language on Mountain Biking

The proposed directive contains the following sections that discourage our quiet, low-impact, human-powered activity:

7. Bicycle (mountain bike) use may only be allowed on a trail segment of the CDNST where the following conditions are met (16 U.S.C. 1246(c)): a. An affirmative determination has been made that bicycle use would not substantially interfere with the nature and purposes of the CDNST, and b. Bicycles must also be allowed by the overall management direction for the land management plan area.

8. Where bicycle (mountain bike) use is allowed on the CDNST, consider establishing bicycle use prohibitions and restrictions (36 CFR part 261) to mitigate the effects of such use on the nature and purposes of the CDNST. Management practices and actions that would promote or result in increased bicycle use on the CDNST should not occur. (72 FR 32276)

Read the proposed directive in its entirety.

Visit the Forest Service's CDT website with additional policy resources.

If you have any additional questions regarding the directive, please email IMBA's Advocacy Team.

Mailing Your Comments

If you would rather write your own letter of support for continued shared-use management on the CDT, please use the following address:

Greg Warren, CDNST Administrator
P.O. Box 25127
Lakewood, CO 80225-0127

Or via email:

The Importance of Elected Officials

Every comment counts and the support of town councils, county commissioners, tourism and parks boards and other elected officials is extremely important.

Please consider asking your representatives, both local and national, to support equal treatment of mountain biking on the CDT.

Find your U.S. Senator

Find your U.S. Representative


International Mountain Bicycling Association

More from International Mountain Bicycling Association:
IMBA Signs Breakthrough Agreement with National Park Service
IMBA Singletrack Update - May 2005
West Virginia Governor Proclaims June as Mountain Bike Month
Mountain Bike Groups Release Proposal for Mount Hood National Forest
Seven 2005 Kona/IMBA Freeride Grants Awarded
IMBA Singletrack Update - July 2005
Ten 2005 NORBA/IMBA Trail Tune-Up Grants Awarded
New Transportation Bill Promises More Trails
Congress Backs Take a Kid MTB-ing Initiative
Bush Rides IMBA-Built Singletrack in Idaho
CLIF Bar and IMBA Award $6,000 in Grants
IMBA Publishes New Freeride Guide with Support From Rocky Mountain Bicycles
IMBA Summit/World Mountain Bike Conference Headed to Whistler in 2006
U.S. Senate Endorses Kids on Bikes Program -- 80 Events Scheduled for Oct.1 Celebration
IMBA Singletrack Update - November 2005
IMBA Singletrack Update - December 2005
Virginia, Scotland Earn Top Marks in 2005 IMBA Report Card
IMBA and NPS Announce Twelve Mountain Bike Projects for 2006
IMBA California Campaign: March 2006 eNewsletter
Special Pricing for IMBA Summit/World Mountain Bike Conference Ends March 31
IMBA Singletrack News: April 2006
Seven 2006 Kona/IMBA Freeride Grants Awarded
Additional Montana National Forests Will Close More Than 400 Miles of Singletrack to Bicycles
IMBA California News
Precedent Threatens Backcountry Singletrack
IMBA Singletrack News September, 2006
IMBA at Interbike
IMBA Singletrack News: October 2006
IMBA California eNews: November 2006
Help Improve Mountain Biking in California National Forests
California Singletrack eNews
Oregon Earns 'A' Mark, Scotland Honored Again in 2006 IMBA Report Card
California Singletrack eNews: Jan. 07
IMBA California eNews
IMBA Supports Bicycle-Friendly Virginia Wilderness Bill
Recreation Forums to Set Course for Mountain Biking, Other Outdoor Activities
New IMBA Book Promises Great Riding
IMBA California eNews
IMBA April California eNews
IMBA April Singletrack eNews
IMBA Is Looking for a Few Good Women
IMBA California eNews, May 2007
Help Reopen Marin County Singletrack
Help Save Bike Access to the Continental Divide Trail
IMBA to Address Wilderness Issue at Outdoor Retailer
Bike Ban Looms Over Iconic Continental Divide Trail
IMBA California eNews, August, 2007
IMBA and Partners Announce 2008 World Summit in Park City
Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crews Seek New Team
IMBA California eNews for October
IMBA Singletrack eNews, December 2007
IMBA Club and Rep eNews: January 2008
IMBA California Singletrack eNews, January 2008
California eNews, February 2008
Help Approve New Singletrack at Mammoth Cave National Park
California Singletrack eNews, March 2008
IMBA California Singletrack eNews
National Park Service Director Bomar to Speak at IMBA World Summit
California eNews, July 2008
California Singletrack eNews, August 2008
Interbike Renews Support for IMBA
IMBA California Singletrack eNews, Sept. 2008
Support the Future of Downieville Trails
IMBA California October News
IMBA California Singletrack eNews
Expected Rule Change Would Benefit Bicycling in National Parks
IMBA California Singletrack eNews
Early Bird Registration Opens for the National Bike Summit, March 10-12
January IMBA California Singletrack eNews
California Singletrack eNews Feb 09
March California eNews
April IMBA California Singletrack News
May California Singletrack eNews
Support Historic Opportunity for NEW Mountain Bike Access in Marin County, California
IMBA Announces Historic Opportunity for New Mountain Bike Access in Marin County, California
June Pacific Coast Singletrack eNews
July California Singletrack eNews
IMBA California August Singletrack eNews
October California eNews
IMBA California eNews
December IMBA California eNews
IMBA Pacific Region eNews



Featured Archived News

Help Wanted
Trade Events

Search Archives

 ©2022 Bicycle Newswire | tel:1-866-690-NEWS | Email | Privacy | RSS Feed