Under the order, mountain bikes must remain on National Forest system trails and are prohibited from cross-country travel in the following areas: Schnebly Hill; Airport Mesa; Carroll Canyon; Schuerman Mountain; and Cathedral Rock.
Impacts from unauthorized routes used by mountain bikers initially prompted the restriction, as unplanned trails can increase erosion and damage to fragile soils, and archaeological and watershed resources near Oak Creek.
The order, first implemented in 2013, restricts mountain bikes from being used off of official National Forest system trails, and more than 220 miles of official trail remain open to mountain biking. The Forest Service has added more than 50 miles of new trail to the official system over the past five years, most of which is open to mountain biking.
“We aim to have a trail system that balances protection of the areas unique and sensitive resources and the public demand for trail activities such as hiking and biking,” said Nicole Branton, district ranger for the Red Rock Ranger District. “The restriction is focused on keeping bikes on trails in the most sensitive areas. With the growing popularity of mountain biking around Sedona, bike use has to be environmentally sustainable.”
Biking makes up approximately 20 percent of National Forest trail use around Sedona and is growing rapidly as the areas trails are marketed by local Chambers of Commerce and other businesses. Total area trail use is estimated at over 1 million trail users annually. Recent Forest Service counts showed over 100,000 trail users on the Bell Rock Pathway and 80,000 users on Cathedral Trail in the last 12 months.
The Verde Valley Cyclists Coalition, the International Mountain Bike Association, and the Friends of the Forest continue to help to educate bike users, encourage responsible trail use, monitor off-trail impacts, and assist Forest Service with volunteer trail maintenance and construction activities.
In 2013, the Red Rock Ranger District hosted a series of public meetings to plan for a long-term sustainable trail system. In 2014 the district conducted public scoping on a list of specific new trails proposed to be added to the trail system. A decision on these trail additions is expected soon. For more information about this order, Red Rock trails or how to volunteer on trail projects visitwww.coconinonationalforest.us or call the Red Rock Ranger District at (928) 203-2900.