BRADFORD, PA – July 20, 2016 – The Allegheny National Forest is proposing to convert approximately 12-1/2 miles of the 34-mile Tracy Ridge Hiking Trail System as a shared use for hiking and biking. The remaining miles would remain as hiking-only. Bradford District Ranger Rich Hatfield said the proposal responds to the need to provide more recreational opportunities to bicyclists, which is becoming a growing activity in northwestern Pennsylvania and on the forest.
The shared use proposal is the result of discussions with local mountain bike clubs and was carefully crafted to minimize user conflicts and to keep bikes off of the North Country Scenic Trail, which is a hiking-only trail on the Allegheny National Forest. Hatfield said that the Bradford Ranger District cannot maintain all of the existing trail miles and that partners are a critical part of how we do business. He said that opening up a portion of the Tracy Ridge system to bikes will tap into another group of trail stewards and potential volunteers.
Although the forest has approximately 150 miles of hiking-only trails, bicyclists must use trails designed for other uses such as snowmobiles, ATVs and cross-country skiing. However, that began changing in 2010, when the Pennsylvania Kinzua Pathways (PKP) saw the need to develop a sustainable mountain bike trail system in the area. They proposed developing a 46-mile mountain bike trail at Jakes Rocks on the ANF. The successful collaboration will soon see results when the first 10 miles of the trail will open in mid-August. Hatfield said the Tracy Ridge proposal would complement Jakes Rocks because it would provide additional biking opportunities for beginner and intermediate trail riders. “Tracy Ridge is level and gentle, and I envision families staying at the adjacent Tracy Ridge Campground, bringing their bikes along and enjoying these trails,” said Hatfield.
This project proposal is the first phase of the planning process. “I am interested in hearing your concerns, issues or your suggestions regarding this project,” said Hatfield. “Your comments will help determine whether we need to refine the proposed action or develop alternative ways to accomplish our objectives.” Information about this project can be found at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=49767.