Local horse-folk whine about cyclists

Custom-built mountain bike trails and jumps on equestrian routes in Auburn and Folsom have caused upset for several local horse-riders. The trails – built entirely by hand using rakes and shovels – have been appearing throughout the vast recreation areas around Folsom Lake.

Local equestrians report finding elaborate jumps, slopes and drop-offs, apparently created and installed by mountain bikers who are deprived of adequate off-road facilities elsewhere in the Sacramento area. The horse-riders, however, are unhappy about what they perceive to be the irreparable damage caused to the trails, as well as having to share trails with bikes. Rights-of-way on the trails vary from site to site, but usually favor equestrians. Cyclists are required to yield to both horses and pedestrians.

Sheila Larsen, who rides her horse on the Auburn State Recreation Area, claims she narrowly avoided a collision with mountain bikers recently: “Several cyclists came flying around the corner. Fortunately I was on a real steady horse but the horse and I could have gone down the hill and onto the highway.” Her encounter highlights the need for all trail-users to be aware of other traffic and obstacles.

Mountain bikers have been pushing for years for greater trail access, says Folsom Auburn Trail Riders Action Coalition president Craig Wilson. “We understand their frustration at years of asking for more access, but we do not allow our rides or trail work to go outside the limits placed by State Parks staff.”

Folsom-area equestrian enthusiast Paula Campbell expressed her anger at the way the trails are being manipulated by cyclists: “Horse people recognize that mountain bikers need an area to build the technical stuff they want to ride. But this is not the place.” Campbell did not offer any solutions as to how the trails could be shared, however, in order to serve the needs of both equestrians and mountain bike users.

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