Shawnee National Forest
Pro Mountain Bike Designation
I wanted to write this followup to clear up confusion and address some factors of my much larger position article that I last published.
I’m not Anti-Equestrian
I have spoken to mountain bikers as well as hikers who feel that all equestrian use in the Shawnee National Forest should be prohibited. While I respect everyone to have their own opinion, I personally don’t agree with them all. Equestrians, in my opinion, have every right to be here as much as hikers, mountain bikers and other users. If this was the other way around and equestrians were being threatened from being able to continue riding in the forest, I’d advocate for them as well. I’ve met many of you who ride horses and 98% of you have been very polite and friendly. Many have even said they are fans and I wholeheartedly appreciate that. So if my words have confused folk and you think I am anti-horse, I’m not.
I’m for Trail Designation not a Free-For-All
Mountain bikers have no reason to be riding through natural areas just like horse riders don’t need to be there. If we damage these natural areas to greatly, they will be gone for good. With that being said, obviously, mountain biking needs designation or trails specifically for them. This will keep it safe from biking activities harming horse activities and vice-versa. However, mountain bikers should have a fair amount of riding miles next the amount of miles as horseback riders and hikers have. It’s fair. And regardless of regulation, activism and advocacy is how regulation is changed to be modernized for the society in which we thrive to evolve. But to answer that, I don’t think bikes should have the run on any horse trails just the same as I don’t think horseback riders should be able to ride on bike trails. This is why horseback riders can enjoy the wilderness areas bike free (or supposed to be) and cyclists can enjoy Tunnel Hill bike free (or suppose to be, again).
FEAR MONGERING: I Apologize but I have a point
A user commented that me saying that horseback riders can harm hikers and bikers was offended and felt that I was trying to spread fear. I do want to apologize for that because again, I don’t want to make it seem like I am intentionally picking on horseback riders. However, I said it as a scenario in defense of what was said to me. There are so many claims of mountain bikers harming horseback riders in the Shawnee National Forest but I cannot find any evidence as such. If horseback people hated mountain bikers as much as it appears they do, they would had reported such incidents and such incidents would had made it to the public view. Photos and videos would also be present. None of the is there. To me, the very thought of all these so-called reports is as valid as the folks who say bears, mountain lions and wolves exist in the Shawnee National Forest-sure, everyone has heard or seen something, but there is no evidence, like Big-Foot. So that is why I put out my scenario thinking that horses are dangerous to pretty much fight fire with fire and show that it’s offensive to say something like that without actual evidence. But again, I’ll apologize as it was out of class to do it.
ATVs and Jeeps
A user had mentioned this to me in response to my article. My advocacy is about mountain biking not ATVs and Jeeps. Jeep’n Shawnee seems to be the organization advocating for jeeps in Shawnee National Forest. They’ve seemed to do a lot of good for the forest and have been stewards of the forest. I truly applaud them and it is my hope that an organization can be evolved or newly created to represent mountain bikers specifically for this type of thing. As for ATVs, such vehicles are unlicensed and uninsured and therefore IMO have no place in the forest-mainly being of insurance. The damage that ATVs also cause is significantly greater than anything a horse, mountain bike or pair of feet can do altogether. Therefore, I have no official position on ATV use in the forest.
A Story to End this Update
A few years back, I was filming a longer hike in the eastern portion of the Shawnee National Forest. I met a group of hikers who were re-blazing a trail for an upcoming event. They were volunteers and they had permission from the Forest Service for the re-blazing activities. They have correct blazes, aluminum nails and they attached the blazes in a manner where the trees could still grow without the blazes growing into the tree and harming it. Yeah, there is a whole procedure on how blazes are supposed to be put up! Anyways, I was astonished by this act and wanted to promote them and their organization. They deserved it for coming and making a pretty difficult trail easier to follow. But they declined to be interviewed and the reason for it was and I quite “I don’t want to get a nasty email from horseback riders”. I won’t name the person, the organization, the event or the area they were in to respect their wishes. But that is what they were afraid of, horseback riders hating on them for that. To me, that very story, is a reason for rebranding! You never hear something like that about hikers or mountain bikers… To me, horseback riders shouldn’t have to have that said about them and I imagine many of you who ride horses would have been as happy as I was that they were re-blazing, it helps you, too! To me folks, that is reason to change attitudes and work with groups who want to better the forest and enjoy the forest as much as you do, safely and in cooperation.
And if you are going to continue to truly say that you represent all users, then why not actually do it while there is a chance for all of us to work together instead of against one and other.
I was also told that I should be careful. That I could lose a lot of fans because of my position. Does this mean I should change the position because someone doesn’t agree? Are you unfollowing me for my decision? Are you following me for my decision? Please feel free to comment! Let’s work together on this issue!
Shawn J. Gossman
Shawn is the founder and host of the YouTube Channel, Hiking with Shawn as well as Hiking with Shawn LLC. Shawn hikes, backpacks and visits various forested areas in the Shawnee National Forest, local state parks and other areas promoting outdoor recreational activities to obtain video to show to locals and non-locals alike. Please support Shawn’s efforts by sharing this post and leaving a comment below.