Bike and horse riders to cooperate; signage key to health of Casper Mountain trails

CASPER, Wyo. — For the last several years, the Central Wyoming Trails Alliance have been working to improve the public multi-use trails on Casper Mountain.

There are now “over 7 miles of single track multi-use trail” on the mountain, the trails alliance says.

Ensuring that these trails stay in good condition for as long as possible depends upon users, particularly equestrians and mountain bikers, accessing the trails in mindful ways.

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Nina DeVore with the Wyoming Range Riders equestrian group attended a Natrona County Parks Board meeting on Thursday, Sept. 12. She came to address a social media post from the Central Wyoming Trails Alliance which suggested horse riders were responsible for some damage to the trails.

“I believe it is premature to close the trails to the horseback riding community,” DeVore said, adding that she thinks most horse riders are conscientious of how they use trails and that some of those who are not simply don’t know any better. “Clear and concise signage would be a great start.”

DeVore said that some horse riders, particularly large church groups, might not be aware that they shouldn’t ride trails when they are wet and shouldn’t cut too many corners.

“I feel a very good connection to the mountain and all it has to offer,” she said, adding that her group frequently utilizes the trails. “I’m very aware of our horse droppings.”

After they complete rides, DeVore says they go back over the trails with pitchforks and scatter droppings in Beartrap Meadow. She said that educating different user groups on trail etiquette would help keep the trails system in good shape.

Bruce Lamberson with the CWTA said he didn’t make the social media post DeVore was referring to, but nevertheless apologized for it during the meeting.

He said that the CWTA’s board of directors has good representation from mountain biking and running groups.

“We’re weak on equestrian,” Lamberson said.

DeVore signaled a willingness to work more closely with the CWTA and Lamberson said they were open to such participation.

“We’re proud of the trails we’ve made,” he said. “We just like to keep the trails people on the trails.”

Lamberson also revealed a new sign that will be put up in a parking lot near Skunk Hollow. The sign features maps of the trails on the mountain.

“We have installed signs at all these numbered spots [on the map],” he said. “We’re trying to get clear signage for the usage. “

Parks Board member Roy Buck agreed that signage was crucial to ensuring the trails system is well used and well maintained.

“It really looks great,” he said. “It has been a long time coming. It’s a culture thing. [With] good signage and leadership, people get it.”

“Our goal is to have consistent signage throughout all of our Parks administered trails. We’re not just going to put up random signage. You put it in enough places and people get it.”

He added that he would like to see cooperation between various user groups.

County Commissioner Brook Kaufman was also in attendance at the meeting and said she hopes to see signage in Natrona County Parks coordinated with the Casper Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s “way-finding” project “so that things look uniform in our community.”

She said that the county is working to set up one-on-one meetings with various user groups to get their input into signage projects.

DeVore said that in addition to signage meant to keep people on trails and ensure they know what responsible trails use looks like, it would be helpful for safety as well.

She pointed to blind spots on the trails where horse riders and mountain bikers could potentially collide if they aren’t aware. DeVore also said it might be a good idea to post signage during events like bike races to let horse riders know they may want to avoid the area.

Board member Dave North acknowledged that horses can cause problems if riders are uneducated.

“I do understand there are times and places that horses can be a problem,” he said. “Most people don’t go out and tear stuff up just to tear it up. The education is going to be a big thing.”

Citizen Tracy Lamont said that while the social media post may not have been the best way for horse riders and mountain bikers to express concerns, it was good to see them talking in person and signaling a willingness to cooperate.

“A good controversy always brings solutions,” he said.

Lamont also suggested the county consider implementing some kind of bike registration program to raise funds for trails maintenance and other projects.

North also said that cooperation was key and it was good to see the different user groups communicating.

“Sometimes that adversity brings out the best in people,” he said. “I really appreciate the civility that everybody had tonight. It makes getting things done a whole lot easier. It’s a whole lot cheaper to maintain stuff than tear it down. We need everybody’s eyes.”

In response to one citizen’s question, Buck said that grant writing has been explored in the past as a means to secure funding for trails and other parks projects. Since the county doesn’t have a full-time grant writer, he said securing grants hadn’t been particularly successful.

“I think having a person at least partially dedicated to grant writing would be helpful,” Buck said.

DeVore, Lamont and other citizens in attendance said it was good to see Kaufman and Commissioner Jim Milne in attendance at the Parks Board meeting.

“I think it is so important that [the commissioners] are engaged,” DeVore said.

The trails alliance shares maps of the following seven trails on Casper Mountain online:

  • Eadsville Trail: “From the ‘Lower Lot’ look for blue reflective trail blazes leaving the parking lot between ‘Strube’s Loop’ and the warming hut. The flagship trail at the Casper Mountain Nordic Center, it is an intermediate single track loop of intermediate difficulty and is approximately 3.5 miles long. Named after the old Eadsville mining town on Casper Mountain, it was the first trail built by the Central Wyoming Trails Alliance.”
  • North 40: “One of the first trails built decades ago, this is fun and curvy trail extends off the the top of the Eadsville trail and is about two miles long. Recently the CWTA has added single track to get off the nordic ski trails, re-routing it slightly.”
  • Copper Trail and Jacobson’s Cut-off: “Marked with orange trail blazes they are good ways to make a shorter loop option from the Eadsville trail.”
  • Ridge: “One of the original trails built on Casper Mountain, before the CWTA was founded. It gives another cut-off option connecting the middle of Copper to the North side of the Eadsville.”
  • Spillway: “Another one of the original trails in the area it is a steep, rocky hill that runs parallel to the North side of Eadsville for a short distance from where it intersects with Copper to where it intersects with Ridge.”
  • Dungeon: “Another of the first trails on the mountain, it this is a fun and steep trail with bermed corners winding through tight trees. From the top of Eadsville it will split off on the north side of the slash pile down following single track before meeting up with a ski trail. From there it heads back up toward the single track getting on a small section of trail known as ‘Troll Trail’ before meeting back with Eadsville.”
  • Maze Loop: “From the ‘Upper Lot’ look for the red reflective trail blazes on either side of the parking lot exit on the south side of the groomed nordic trails. The newest addition to our trail network it was built with the beginner in mind, however it’s still a very fun loop for riders of all skill levels.”