Mazur also sees the event, now in its 14th year, as a way to educate those different users about trail etiquette in order to keep them safe.
Mazur, a local trail building veteran for the past 40 years, recalled a Folsom Lake incident a few years ago where a group of motorcyclists spooked a pair of horse riders when they rode by them. The rider, Jeri Sust, was thrown from her horse Toby, who eventually had to be euthanized due to its severe injuries.
“It happens every day,” Mazur said. “Mostly with people who are not involved with their sport groups.”
And that is the reason for United Trails Day, when volunteers from the Bicyclists of Nevada County, Gold Country Trails Council, and the Nevada County Woods Riders come together to support each other’s desire to use the more than 500 miles of trails within the Tahoe National Forest.
“We started it because the trail users were fighting over use of the trails,” Mazur said, stating that this is the only group in the country that he is aware of, that brings hikers, bicyclists, motorcyclists, equestrians, and the National Forest Service together. “I thought, let’s all work together to share, let’s make this a unified trail work day.”
Mazur recalled bicyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders all doing their own thing instead of coordinating work days. The bike riders and motorcyclists didn’t realize that when they cut branches for a trail, they actually have to cut them higher up the tree in order for equestrian riders to utilize the trail safely.
“Everyone was doing their own thing and accomplishing less,” Mazur said.
Federal guidelines for trail etiquette say that equestrian riders always have the right of way whether another trail user is hiking on foot, riding a bicycle or any type of motorized vehicle. The horse and rider should always be yielded to. Motorized vehicle riders should at the least stop, but is recommended that they shut off their engines.
“If you see a horse person, you get off, you turn the motorcycle off, and you talk to the riders as they go by, because horse riders always have the right of way,” Mazur said. “Horses are animals of flight. If something scares them, they are running for their lives.”
Laura Duncan, president of the Gold Country Trails Council, was one of the approximately 30 volunteers who put in work on Saturday as part of United Trails Day, at an area near the scenic overlook off Highway 20 by the White Cloud campground.
“In this area, we pretty much all ride the same trails,” Duncan said. “Most of us live in this area because we really appreciate the natural beauty of the public lands that make up a large part of the county. We work to make sure that these lands are here for future generations to enjoy.”
This year the volunteers, mostly women in their mid to late 60s, worked on maintaining a quarter-mile-long portion of switchbacks along the Pioneer Trail located about 200 feet away from Highway 20.
For Tahoe National Forest trail manager Paul Hart, who works with the different trail riding organizations, identifying which tasks to tackle is important, as well as taking into account the number of volunteers as well as their age ranges before setting the site to work on.
Shovels, picks, rakes, and other hand tools typically used by fire line firefighters were provided by Hart and the forest service for the event. He recalled having to strap chainsaws to motorcycles during previous trail building events when accessing an area off the beaten path.
“When you do volunteer work, you want to do something that is achievable,” Hart said. “You want it to be fun, get a project done, and get everybody to work together.”
Next year’s United Trails Day has already been scheduled for Oct. 10, and organizers are hoping to get some younger volunteers involved so that they can get more work done.
Those looking to get involved can visit www.goldcountrytrailscouncil.org
To see the original article in The Union newspaper, CLICK HERE.