December 30, 2012

Horse rider leaves southern end of Molalla River Rim Trail a muddy mess

Mossy trees in the Molalla River corridor
I am a firm believer that horses, where appropriate, should be allowed to carry people along Oregon’s trails. Not all trails, but many. Exceptions would include fragile areas where horse traffic damages trails and certain times of year, when wet conditions and the weight of a horse can tear up a trail. Unfortunately, I recently witnessed the damage a horse can do to a trail, obviously caused by a negligent rider who either couldn’t read or didn’t care. I’m willing to bet it was the latter.

My first day of exploring the trail system in the Molalla River corridor prompted me to first drive past all the trailheads leading into the area. At one, the Annie’s Cabin Trailhead, I noticed a horse trailer and a pickup. That day I entered the area from the Hardy Creek Trailhead and did not run into the horse and its rider. I did notice signage informing that no horseback riding was allowed on trails at that time.

On my third day of hiking in the area, I took the Annie’s Cabin Trailhead and hiked the Red Vole Trail (a logging road) until I reached the southern-most end of the Rim Trail. Because up until that point the trails had been logging roads, there was no damage. When the road turned to actual trail, however, the damage from horse hooves became increasingly evident.

Recent rains had saturated the area. Where the trail was at its steepest and, particularly near where creeks flowed, the trail had been chewed up to the point where I was walking through a mucky trail of mud. The next rain promised to take that mud and wash it down to the creek, eroding a trail that was already in poor shape.

Immediately, I thought of the volunteers who put a lot of time and effort into building these trails. What would they think of a horse doing so much damage to something that is obviously a passion.

To the person responsible for doing so much damage along the Molalla River corridor trail system – you were there Saturday, December 22, 2012. I know it was you. Unfortunately, I didn’t write down your license plate number. If you do know how to read, have a little more respect for other folks who use those trails.

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