The commenting tool map that the USFS has developed and shared with the public is a very good trip planning tool, especially since it shows much info that is not readily available elsewhere. The trailhead locations are very useful on remote parts of the Front. Knowing actual trail locations (the green lines) vs. the historically mapped USGS locations is extremely helpful. Having a web friendly tool to show boundaries, allowable trail uses, and detailed locations is invaluable. Please expand the use of this map in several ways. First, keep it active and make it a prominent link on the HLCNF web pages. Second, add a layer that allows users to access trail maintenance reports for all of the numbered trails in the inventory as the reports become available. USFS trail managers and possibly also their trail maintenance partners such as IMBA Chapters, the Backcountry Horsemen and NOHVCC would update the site as the trails are maintained. Third, add information about trail status (bear activity, fires, damage reports, reroute projects etc.) to another map layer. Fourth, Expand this map to all of the HLCNF. Fifth, make the map downloadable so that it works on a cell phone even when there is no cell service. A good example of how this could work is at www.mtbproject.com. Thanks for sharing the map in it’s current form. It is VERY HELPFUL for all trail users.
Obtain and record Easements for all numbered USFS trails that cross private land before they enter the National Forest. File legal actions against recalcitrant landowners like the murderer who has blocked access to Falls Creek.
Create a USFS pamphlet similar to the Little Belts/Highwoods MTB rides flyer that details potential MTB rides in the Front.
Work with the Blackfeet Indian tribe to identify and highlight potential rides on the reservation.
Specific Trail Improvements
North Fork of Birch Creek Trail – Install bicyclist oriented trailhead signage directing riders toward the North Fork and away from the South Fork trail. Perform trail tread maintenance in a few excessively rough areas along the route. Nearly the full length of this drainage was burned last fall so extra blowdown control will be needed for many years.
Crown Mtn – Petty Ford Creek Loop – Install signage that better identifies the trailhead locations on each end of this loop. Nice trail along Petty Creek but upper end of the Petty Creek trail is VERY rough. Otherwise, this is a fairly good bicycling loop.
Clarey Coulee Trail 171 – Very nice lower end of trail. Maintain north half of trail 171, which would be the best part of Trail 171 if maintained. Especially reestablish the historic trail alignment on north end of this trail before it drops down to lower trail. The current alignment is too steep for good bicycling. Mark connection that loops to the lower, parallel trail just east of Clarey.
Smith Creek – Welcome Pass – Mark portion of trail that twice crosses Smith Creek near junction with Ford Creek trail.. This is currently difficult to follow, even with a topo map.
Badger Creek- Work with the tribe to develop a trailhead and signed access to this very good bicycle riding area.
Jones Creek – From USFS comment reply “One alternative with exceptional scenery in this same general region is the Jones Creek valley. Improvements to the upper parts of the Jones Creek and West Fork Jones Creek trails would be required. Perhaps the mountain biking community could partner with the Forest Service to accomplish those trail improvements?” This drainage is too short to go to a lot of effort to re-establish/extend this otherwise very nice bicycling trail. However, YES, we do want to partner with USFS to help make similar trail improvements.
South Fork Teton, Trail 168 – This trail is long enough and has a reasonable enough grade to make a good bicycling trail if the tread weren’t so rough. Consider rehabilitating or rerouting rough sections of this trail. This is also true for the southern end of the South Fork Teton Blacktail National Recreation Trail.
Trail along east side of Volcano Reef from Blackleaf to S Fork Dupuyer Creek is a good bicycle adventure trail. Occasionally hard to find and follow. Some directional signage (trail numbers?) would help. Can the USFS produce a map that shows this route? Perhaps using a similar format to www.mtbproject.com type maps that allow users to navigate using cell phones?
Scoutana Ranch Trail 258 – this is a very good bicycling trail except that it is effectively blocked by a new fence after about 2 miles from the north end. A short reroute around the private land is needed to keep this trail continuous. Motorcyclists should be encouraged to use this trail since it is apparently lightly used. They would help keep it from getting even more overgrown. The trail forks just south of fence line on north end. Add signage directing trail users onto proper fork or block the wrong fork with downed timber.
The Middle Fork of the Teton Trail 108 is a good bicycling trail. Include this trail in a map highlighting potential rides in the Teton River Drainage. Alternatively, add bicycle friendly signage at the trailhead.
Trail Development Suggestions
Create a new trail similar to the Bear Trap Gulch – Trout Creek Canyon trail near Helena that takes advantage of existing forest roads and adds a MTB specific downhill trail. Consider starting such a trail at Teton Pass Ski Area, then down to the Teton River.
Identify several zones that correspond with easy access roads, campgrounds, or locations with outstanding scenic resources, that could be easily promoted as desirable non-motorized trail recreation zones. The Teton River Drainage is a good example of this type of area.