Biking Trails

Biking Trails

Edwards, Becky
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Unrest among national forest user groups isn’t reserved for cold-weather enthusiasts. Mountain bikers across southwest Montana are cranking mad, and for good reason. A proposed forest service policy could potentially close many fat-tired cyclists’ favorite trails, as early as this summer. The Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Bitterroot-Lolo, and Gallatin national forests are all proposing dramatic bicycle restrictions that could dramatically affect the complexion of mountain biking across western Montana. Among the classic trails in danger are Emerald Lake, Blackmore, Porcupine, and Lionshead in the Gallatin NF; Italian Peaks and Snowcrest in the Beaverhead NF; Whitefish Divide and Blue Joint in the Bitterroot NF; and large portions of the Continental Divide Trail.

The International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA), as well as several local Montanans, such as Belgrade resident Corey Biggers and Missoula resident Aaron Teasdale, are spearheading an effort to educate not only mountain bikers but Montana residents in general about public land issues and responsible bicycle access. For more information and to make your voice heard about the possible restrictions, visit

On a happier note for bikers, the Department of Fish, Wildlife &Parks has proposed developing another 6.5 miles of new trails within the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. This area is rapidly becoming a favorite early- and late-season cycling destination, due to its relatively warm temperatures and lack of significant snowfall. The proposed Sheep Gulch Trail would open the western side of the park to bikers and hikers, connecting the visitor’s center area to Highway 2 near the scenic Jefferson River.

Book Release
Montana Singletrack: The Mountain Biker’s Guide to Montana

Thank goodness for desktop publishing. Bozeman-based Beartooth Publishing, producer of some of the best trail maps around, recently went where no major publishing house has gone before and produced the first statewide guidebook to mountain biking in Montana. If you’re a biker, consider yourself lucky—Montana Singletrack is everything a guidebook should be: simple, accurate, well-structured, and small enough to fit in a backpack. It’s also extremely well-designed, using color-coding and a clear, consistent layout for increased readability. A ride overview list and map, along with geographical section tabs, make it easy to quickly locate a specific area or trail. Elevation profiles and surface/difficulty ratings allow you to pick the most suitable ride for your skill level and amount of ambition. And each ride includes a customized topo map so you won’t get lost while exploring a new trail. Stunning photos of inimitable Montana landscapes add to the visual appeal of the book. Meticulously researched and impeccably organized, Montana Singletrack is sure to set the standard for future guidebooks. Pick one up around town at bike shops, outdoor stores, and bookstores. $17;

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