Multi-day MTB camping

11:05 p.m. on May 26, 2007 (EDT)

I am currently interested in planning a mountain biking camping trip and have found that locating the sort of trail I am looking for is very difficult. There will be a team of us going out, but the gist is not to go to a developed camp where we can ride different trails for a few days, but rather to be able to set loose in a national forest for about 2 days ride out, 2 days at or chosen camp location, and the ride back. We are all skilled riders and campers with great experience in wilderness/camping/etc situations, and therefore heavily developed trail isn't quite as necessary. I thought perhaps a very long back county horse trail may suffice, but I have been unsuccesful in locating something appropriate. We are willing to travel most anywhere in the US, but the closer to the southeast would be preferable. Any information someone could offer would be great. Thanks.

- Steve

9:31 p.m. on May 27, 2007 (EDT)
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For this, I ought to contact my niece, who is a professional mountain biker plus she and her husband do a lot of bikepacking, though mostly in slick-rock country.

First thing is to forget about the horse trails. MTB and horses don't mix, and the horsey set, ummm, excuse me, "equestrian set", has a lot more clout with the land managers than bikers. You would think equestrians would get their horses used to all sorts of things on the trail, but a lot of them have "pure bred" horses rather the kind of cowponies and Indian ponies I grew up on. These horses will spook at almost anything, but especially fast-moving bikers. Around here in the SFBay Area (birthplace of the MTB, in case you didn't know), the horsey set has not only gotten bikers barred from "their" trails, but also hikers in some cases.

Also, be sure you check with the USFS office covering the area where you think about going (or BLM, though there aren't many of these in the Southeast). Many of the trails in these areas are closed to bikes.

Having said that, when I was living in Mississippi, I became aware that a lot of the forested areas in all the SouthEastern states are owned by the big lumber and pulp companies. Many of them having been seeking to improve their public image by designating areas for public recreation (sometimes free, but often for a small fee). We went canoeing on lumber company rivers (well, ok, the rivers are "public" and often under jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers), camping on the riverbanks on the company private property (they designated the general areas). Same for hiking in some of the areas.

If you were willing to head west, the Great Basin has a number of designated bike trails. That's SlickRock Central. Moab (Utah) is a major center of back-country biking (Brian, time to jump in here). There are a number of areas in Nevada, as well.

1:39 p.m. on May 29, 2007 (EDT)
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To build on Bills comments, I agree, avoid specified horse trails like broken glass. In like fashion it's illegal to ride a bicycle (or horse) on the Appalachian trail - that stretch of land is reserved for human feet and human feet alone.

Now, on the plus side, here in Pennsylvania (and perhaps in other states as well) the "state forests" are pretty much wide open - and old logging roads (which cris-cross them) make for great mountain biking (especially true if you're carrying a load on the bike OR towing a single wheel trailer). Micheaux (I think I've spelled it correctly) is in central PA right along the Maryland border - consists of two state parks connected by a state forest - so it's pretty wide open.

Also - designated ATV trails can be a load of fun on a mountain bike - just avoid the weekends and - for the most part - you'll avoid the ATV guys and gals.

In many cases, acceptance will be influenced somewhat by the size of your "team" - large groups are seldom welcomed by local trail users - for obvious reasons (trail damage, numerous fire rings, toilet pits, trash) - however - attitude of your team members can be very influential as well.

There are also prime mountain biking areas in West Virginia (I MTB camped around Davis W.Va. some years back (in fact, I was driving home when OJ was found not guilty - so it has been quite a while) - it was fantastic - the one bike shop in town had quite a bit of information, trail maps, that sort of thing).

You might want to check out the dirt rag website - they used to have pretty good mountian biking information -

3:56 p.m. on May 29, 2007 (EDT)
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One of my biking pals did a multi-day trip in Oregon a couple years ago. I don't recall the specifics, but it sounded like a lot of time on Forest Service roads with occasional stretches of singletrack. I think he started somewhere near Bend.

1:25 a.m. on May 30, 2007 (EDT)
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There are many poor roads in Serbia and Croatia, and I hear the dollar's not that bad...Iceland ought to be good for biking also, and much safer from traffic.

7:54 a.m. on May 31, 2007 (EDT)
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Calamity - sheese - the guy posted "most anywhere in the US, but the closer to the southeast " - last I heard that geographic region included neither Serbia, Croatia nor Iceland.

Of course, Serbia would offer an interesting challange - bunny hopping your mountain bike through abandoned mine fields.

Why not give that a try pal?


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