Forest Service Issues Decision on Continental Divide Trail

For Immediate Release: 11-19-09
Contact Mark Eller
IMBA Communications Director
303-545-9011 ext. 115

After delaying its decision for more than a year, the U.S. Forest Service unveiled its approach to managing the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDNST) this fall. The plan states that mountain biking is an acceptable use of the trail, and emphasizes that forest service offices should formulate strategies appropriate for their districts.

Steve Sherwood, Director of the Rocky Mountain Region’s Recreation, Heritage, and Wilderness programs further explains, “An important feature of the new directive is that, while it establishes hiking and horseback riding as the primary uses of the trail, it clearly allows for other shared, non-motorized and human-powered uses — including mountain biking. The directive charges the local land managers with making the decision on which uses will be allowed based on an analysis of the local conditions. These decisions will be made under the auspices of NEPA and will allow for full public involvement.”

“As far as I am concerned, this is a very positive outcome that promotes shared use of the trail,” Sherwood continues. “We had a lot of push back on the issue of shared use beyond hiking and horseback riding and we still have strong advocates each way both within the agency and externally, but people need to understand that the CDNST is a 3,100-mile trail that can and needs to accommodate multiple uses.”

Was the decision a success for mountain bikers? “I’m optimistic about our prospects for keeping the Monarch Crest section open to bikes,” says Dave Wiens, president of Gunnison Trails. “It’s such an important trail for mountain bikers, and with the good relationship our club has established with the Gunnison Ranger District I believe we will be able to work together on a successful shared-used strategy.”

The amendment’s focus on district-by-district management strategies makes it imperative for mountain bike clubs to work closely with their foresters. “The decision provides a basis for Forest Service offices that are willing to maintain or even expand access for mountain bikers,” says IMBA Government Affairs Director Jenn Dice. “However, it also states that hiking and equestrian uses are the original intention for creating the trail, so mountain bikers are going to have to continue making a case for shared-use arrangements that allow citizens to get the maximum recreation value out of this wonderful national resource.”



  1. This is great!
    Thanks Dave!- This is a big win for everyone! Keep up the good work!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: