Tom Pfeifle Trails at Raider Park
RAPID CITY, S.D. – Hundreds of hikers and a few renegade mountain bikers, traipse across trails throughout the Black Hills. With recent thunderstorms, one thing they can’t avoid is a little or in some places a lot of mud.
It’s important to remember to leave hiking, biking, and ATV trails in as good of condition as when you found them, especially after it rains, as muddy trail sections can have more severe consequences than embarrassing gooey mud stains on your clothes.
Using trails when they are muddy severely accelerates the erosion of a trail as mud sticks from shoes or tires from one part of the trail to another turning them into uncomfortable slogs. The track of a tire can become a path for rainwater to follow. When that happens, the trail begins to resemble a long canyon with steep sides, making it uncomfortable for walking and difficult to ride, especially as it dries. Dried rutted trails can be hazardous, particularly for mountain bikers.
“It’s basically personal responsibility. If you know it rains the night before and you’re going to go out hiking or biking the next day, you probably should stay off the trails. If you’re making footprints, you know, if you’re getting mud on your shoes, mud on your tires, throwing mud, you probably should turn around and not be on there,” said Scott Anderson, Rapid City Parks Division Manager.
Anderson said that city trails are monitored for damage and damaged trails are repaired by the city’s trail crew.
So remember if it sticks to your heels or wheels it’s time to turn around.
Anderson said the city offers an alternative to muddy trails – the city bike path.
“If you can’t get out on the on the dirt trails and really need to get some exercise, you need to get out on the bike path, it’s wonderful. It’s about nine miles of concrete and you have some offshoots and all the exercise you want and open pretty much all the time we even plow it in the wintertime,” he said.