IMBA Alert: Potential New Trail Access in Allegheny National Forest Needs Your Action

IMBA news release


The Bradford Ranger District of the Allegheny National Forest in Northwest Pennsylvania has completed a favorable environmental assessment (EA) of a proposal to reopen 12.5 miles of trail to mountain biking that was closed to bikers in 1994. Local IMBA Chapters Northern Allegheny Mountain Bike Association and the Western New York Mountain Bike Association need your help by submitting comments in favor of mountain biking on these trails.

What to DO

Support Alternative 2—Proposed Action for 12.5 miles of trails on the Allegheny National Recreation Area be open to bikes—as the EA states that there are no findings of significant impact to the environment, quality of the trail and trail experience.

How to Engage Successfully

Don’t delay! Please send your comments today. The deadline is January 25.

Let the Allegheny National Forest know that you support:

  • Allowing shared use on approximately 12.5 miles of trail in the Tracy Ridge Recreation Area. This proposal only changes the permitted use of existing trails–no ground disturbance activities are authorized in this planning effort.

  • Changing the Trail Management Objectives for these 12.5 miles of trail from Designed Use Hiker Pedestrian, Trail Class 2 to Designed Use Bicycle Use, Trail Class 2.

  • Amending the Forest Plan by removing the bike prohibition on the Tracy Ridge trail (Forest Plan, p. 31). This is a site-specific amendment that does not affect other areas of the Forest.

  • Recession of a 1994 Forest Order that prohibits bicycle use on Tracy Ridge trails. That order will be replaced with a new order that reflects the shared use proposal. (Bikes will still remain prohibited on nearly 22 miles of trails in the area.)

The Proposed Action will result in increased use of trails and the Tracy Ridge campground that have been “underutilized” in recent years. The trails present a unique backcountry experience that many mountain bikers are actively seeking. A recent study of IMBA members indicated that nearly 90% of members prefer a cross-country singletrack experience. Furthermore, the 2016 Outdoor Foundation Participation Study shows an overall increase in mountain biking participation over the last three years.

IMBA members believe strongly in sustainable and quality trail experiences. This belief resulted in more than 700,000 hours of volunteer stewardship performed by IMBA members on public lands across the country in 2016.

The Proposed Action satisfies the goals of the 2007 Forest Plan to “provide a diverse range of high quality, sustainable recreation opportunities consistent with public demand and resource capability emphasizing locally popular recreation sites and special features,” “respond to changing social needs,” and “support a wide variety of recreation opportunities” (Forest Plan, p.13).

See Audrey Taylor & Richard L. Knight, Wildlife Responses to Recreation and Associated Visitor Perceptions, Ecological Applications, Vol. 13, Issue 4, 951-963 (2003) noting a general lack of difference between wildlife responses to hikers and bicyclers, and finding that all recreationalists underestimate the distances at which wildlife is sensitive to human presence.

Email Comments: comments-eastern-allegheny-bradford [at] fs [dot] fed [dot] us

Email Subject: “Tracy Ridge Project”

Mail written comments to:

Tracy Ridge Shared Use Trails District
Ranger Rich Hatfield, Bradford Ranger District
29 Forest Drive
Bradford, PA 16701

Additional Information

Warren Times Observer story

WNYMBA story

Additional Tracy Ridge News