Tucson’s fat-tire fanatics are pushing Saguaro National Park to reopen its Cactus Forest Trail to mountain bikes.
In 1991, under pressure from the local
biking community, the National Park Service opened the 2.5-mile
route to mountain bikers. The trail — the first in a national
park to allow mountain bikes — was jointly maintained by the
Park Service and local bike groups for more than ten yeas.
But bikes were banned last April, after a whistleblower
informed the watchdog group, Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility, that the park hadn’t done the proper
environmental studies before allowing bikes on the trail.
“To our surprise, the park responded by saying,
‘You’re right, we’ll shut it down,’”
says Jeff Ruch, PEER’s executive director.
mountain bikers have hundreds of miles of trails to choose from in
southern Arizona, the Cactus Forest Trail is one of the
region’s few nontechnical routes suitable for beginners, says
Mark Flint, advocacy director of the Sonoran Desert Mountain
Bicyclists: “A lot of people call it a girlfriend or
boyfriend trail, because you can take your girlfriend or boyfriend
out there and introduce them to mountain biking.”
first, park officials had said the trail might stay closed for more
than three years while they studied the issue, outraging local
cyclists. But the environmental review was subsequently sped up,
and will be completed this fall.