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Draper Journal

Bicyclists beware! Muddy trails are off limits

Mar 27, 2019 09:03AM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton

By Mimi Darley Dutton | [email protected] 

Brandon Cutler, an avid biker and sophomore at Corner Canyon High School, wants to get the message out to the community about how residents can preserve the city’s trails, particularly how not to damage those trails after snow and rainstorms. 

Cutler was a member of the CCHS mountain biking team as a freshman, and though he’s pursued other sports as a sophomore, he still enjoys Draper’s many mountain biking trails. And the lessons he learned from Corner Canyon’s mountain biking coach, Whitney Pogue, still resonate with him. 

“I think a lot of people are unaware, both adults and high school riders, about the damage they do to trails when they ride on them when they’re muddy. They don’t realize they’re putting huge ruts into the trails. Later, when the trails dry up, it leaves huge ruts and it can affect the way future riders or runners run or ride on the trails because they’ve been rutted out. A huge thing to mountain biking is the flow and smoothness of the trail, so it can be especially dangerous when you’re going downhill and you’re riding through unstable terrain. It can throw off your balance or mess up your style of riding,” Cutler said. 

Coach Pogue’s husband, Jamie Pogue, serves as the volunteer chairman of the Draper City Parks, Trails and Recreation committee. The committee is made up of volunteers and city employees who meet monthly to work on issues relating to Draper’s open space. 

“We’ve had a lot of moisture this winter with lots of snowpack, and we got pretty saturated underneath that snowpack,” Jamie said. “When it melts, the tendency is for everyone to get out on the trails. We just ask that they be careful and use good judgment. We say if it’s sticking to their wheels or their heels, turn around. We’ve tried in the past to close trails and gates, but it would take several hours to open and close because we have so many gates. Unfortunately, people go up and see no signs and gates so they think it’s open. The responsibility is on the user to use good judgment.” 

Greg Hilbig is Draper City’s trails and open space division manager. Hilbig said that because of this year’s plentiful snow and rain, the trails are saturated and will take a lot longer to dry out, especially at higher elevations and in shaded areas. 

He echoed the sentiment that if it’s sticking to your wheels or your heels, you need to turn around. Hilbig advised that riding frozen trails is okay, but you must start early enough to be finished before they become soft. 

“You can and will be ticketed for using a muddy trail even if there is no gate or chain closing it,” he said. 

Jamie said a lot of time and money goes into maintaining Draper’s trails and developing a better trail system. 

“But every year, we have to take some of those resources to fix the trails. So instead of using resources to build more trails, we have to go back and fix trails. Just a tire mark or a footprint causes a pool the next time it rains, then we have to go up and fix those,” he said. 

Trails out toward the suspension bridge, such as Rattler, the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, Gasoline, North Ghost Falls and Aquaduct and some of the northern trails that are south-facing and more sandy usually dry out first. Bikers are able to ride those quicker than the other trails. 

“We just try to get people to be on board and help to watch out for our trails,” Jamie said.  “We need to be stewards of this, have responsibility and ownership of it.”