Mountain Biking

From CPP: Mountain trails face stress from cyclists and climate change – Mountain Xpress

By Jack Igelman, originally published by Carolina Public Press. Carolina Public Press is an independent, in-depth and investigative nonprofit news service for North Carolina.

Editor’s note: This article is part 4 of the five-part in-depth series Fraught Forests from Carolina Public Press, which examines the challenges of climate change for Western North Carolina’s mountain forests.

Big views, technical obstacles and thrilling descents are the calling cards of Western North Carolina’s extensive mountain biking trail system and why it’s known as one of the East Coast’s most revered destinations.

But climate change threatens to alter how mountain bikers play in the forest.

Nationwide, and in WNC, mountain biking is among the fastest-growing outdoor recreational activities.

The surge of trail ridership in the last decade has led to an assortment of complications, particularly at popular trail hubs within the area’s two national forests: Pisgah and Nantahala.

Scarce parking, muddy trails and crowded routes are some of the issues topping the list.

That’s presented new challenges to recreation workers, such as Lisa Jennings, recreation manager of Pisgah National Forest’s Grandfather Ranger District, to rethink how to manage trails.