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Looking for current information on the status of the Great Western Trail

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  • The great western cattle trail

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    10-12-2012, 05:53 PM
  #31
Yearling
They have done that a lot in Utah. In fact a lot of the Topo maps are all based on 1978-1980 surveys and are obsolete compared to what you can find on Google Earth which are based on recent sattelite photos.

In 2000 while riding in the strawberry area, They had a track excavator take 5 miles of road out. The road had been closed for 10+ years. But ATVs frequently went around the signs and rode along the road. So heavy equipement literally ripped the road to pieces. It was very unpleasant to ride a horse down what remained. I remember thinking at the time, " What a horrible mess the Forest Service just created".

Winter snow, summer rains, the passing of natural game and herds of cows and sheep have turned what was a very rough mess into a reasonible trail that we still ride. And it didn't take long. They accomplished what they set out to do. Stop the ATVs from driving along that route.

This is that same road, 12 years later.

The trees are missing where the road was. The ground has erroded off what once was a flat track, into what you see as slope. The rough up and downs have erroded into a level trail. I can't guess how many cow and sheep hooves have beat it down to what you see. It still shows on the National Geographic Topo maps I print out as current road.

In fact the 9 riders I had out from South Carolina in August commented. That as they watched their GPS as we rode, that we were riding on what their GPS's showed as roads, That were nothing more than trails.

Another example that used to be a road. You can see the flat road bed with only a single track now in use


Other examples are the canyon that I hunt. The Forest Service closed that road in 1983. I remember as a kid riding with my dad up that road in our pickup truck with a camper on the back and actually seeing a cadilac pull a boat up that canyon. Once the road was closed. Mother nature took over and has washed the road out entirely. In fact in 2008 it totally flash flooded and took out 4-6 feet of earth down the entire canyon. It was really tough to even get the horses up what was left of the canyon. The rancher who ownes the grazing permits, brought a track-hoe in and did a little work to remove some ledges and at least make it horse and cow friendly so he could herd his cattle up the canyon to graze.

You can see how high the old road bed was vs what has erroded off. The old road bed is higher than my friends hips sitting on a 16H horse.


Here the Forest did nothing other than let nature take it's course.

In many areas I've fine with what they have done. Closing down some roads has returned much of Utah to a more natural state. But I don't approve of their more recent actions as they get more agressive in closing more used roads. It is one thing to close down a old loggin road. It is something else to close down a county road that has been main tavel route for those who live in the area.
     
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    10-12-2012, 08:22 PM
  #32
Weanling
The problem with what the USFS has done in Arizona, is that they won't even allow many of the trails to be maintained, even in areas that are not Wilderness or Primitive. You can't even negotiate on a horse the trail up Mt Baldy anymore. Fallen trees are so thick you just can't get up it. They won't let anyone go up with any kind of power saw to clear the trail, and it's just USFS land. I know of one ranch whose land was landlocked by USFS land, except for one lane that had been in existence since long before the USFS acquired the surrounding land. The USFS could not lock the man out of his ranch, but they forbade him from improving the road. He could not even grade it.

Down in the Blue Wilderness Area, there are some absolutely wonderful trails, but these last few years some of them have become impassable, due to erosion and fallen trees. Again, they won't allow folks to maintain them, even the ranchers. And these are designated, named trails you can find on the topos. Some of them are in the Boy Scouts registry as sanctioned trails, like Steeple Creek Trail.

Still, I don't complain all too much about the Blue, because I like to get back in there where nobody else goes! I'm hoping to get back in there next month for a day or two. I'll try to get a couple good pics.
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    10-13-2012, 11:40 AM
  #33
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by thenrie    
The problem with what the USFS has done in Arizona, is that they won't even allow many of the trails to be maintained, even in areas that are not Wilderness or Primitive. You can't even negotiate on a horse the trail up Mt Baldy anymore. Fallen trees are so thick you just can't get up it. They won't let anyone go up with any kind of power saw to clear the trail, and it's just USFS land. I know of one ranch whose land was landlocked by USFS land, except for one lane that had been in existence since long before the USFS acquired the surrounding land. The USFS could not lock the man out of his ranch, but they forbade him from improving the road. He could not even grade it.

Down in the Blue Wilderness Area, there are some absolutely wonderful trails, but these last few years some of them have become impassable, due to erosion and fallen trees. Again, they won't allow folks to maintain them, even the ranchers. And these are designated, named trails you can find on the topos. Some of them are in the Boy Scouts registry as sanctioned trails, like Steeple Creek Trail.

Still, I don't complain all too much about the Blue, because I like to get back in there where nobody else goes! I'm hoping to get back in there next month for a day or two. I'll try to get a couple good pics.
I believe that is quite deliberate on their part. If those in charge of the USFS came right out and stated they plan to shut down thousands of miles of trails there would be a huge pushback by the public. Instead they've chosen a path that will take a bit longer but ends up with the same results with the added benefit of being slow enough most the public doesn't see what's happening. Around here it only takes 1-2 years to become annoying for horse and bicycle. After 3-4 years it will reach the point not worth going down due to brush and downed timber. Hikers will go for another couple years before they give up. So in less than 10yrs a trail can go from heavy use to completely back to nature.
     
    10-13-2012, 12:44 PM
  #34
Trained
Showdown at the H2O Corral

Spotted owl could be game-changer in Tombstone water war

When I worked for a bit for the US Forest Service in 1980, it believed in multiple use. It has now gone way over into preservationist mode. Sad, IMHO.
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    10-28-2012, 08:28 PM
  #35
Weanling
Took a couple days down on the Dry Blue in eastern AZ. Had a great time with my dad and nephew. I rode my Dad's little QH cutter. He's only about 13.5 hands, but he'll out-walk and out-last any horse I've ever had him around. He's a grandson of Doc Olena. He's great on the trails and never hesitates to go where I ask him to go. Dad rode a Halflinger and nephew was on a QH Ap. Had a great time.

As a side note, with respect to the trail dog thread, I've about decided our mule, "Honey", is about the best trail dog one could ask for. We let her run loose and had a ball watching her antics. She ran around us, bucking and farting, and having a ball charging around through the brush and up and down banks. Funny mule. Gentle as she can be.
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    10-28-2012, 10:58 PM
  #36
Yearling
I frequently ride in an area where I let a horse run loose. It's great fun to see them enjoy the freedom

BTW, Saw this sign the other day on a ride
     
    10-30-2012, 11:51 AM
  #37
Weanling
Where is that? Looks like up near Logan or Cache Valley.
     
    10-30-2012, 08:15 PM
  #38
Yearling
Foot hills above Layton
     
    11-06-2012, 03:13 AM
  #39
Foal
Thenrie, have you ever tried riding in the Mt Rogers area? It is rough country....mountain after mountain and many miles of trails. And it's in VA:)
     
    11-08-2012, 12:00 AM
  #40
Weanling
I believe Mt Rogers is a bit south of me. I'll check it out. I'm going to need to put some mountain miles on my horse to get her rounded out. Thanks.
     

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