For quite some time I have been following Ted Stroll and his efforts to get mountain bikes on National Scenic Trails and in Wilderness Areas. And every time Ted or the Sustainable Trails Coalition makes a claim, I have been checking them out. And after researching the claims, almost all the time I find out that Ted is exaggerating, misrepresenting or outright fabricating the claim. Check out my other blog on this subject, “The Sustainable Trails Coalition: Just Making Up Stuff”
|Screen shot of the Frontlines Podcast webpage|
Ted continues his streak of misleading claims in a recent interview on the Frontlines Podcast with Brent Hillier. In the interview Ted talks about the Maah Daah Hey Trail in North Dakota. You can listen to the podcast here: http://frontlinesmtb.com/2017/10/27/ep-26-bikes-in-wilderness-part-3-interview-with-ted-stroll-of-the-sustainable-trails-coalition/
Here’s what Ted said
“The Maah Daah Hey is cut off for mountain biking at the north and south extremes because those areas are wilderness. And in the northern cut off, the wilderness is something like, I can’t remember, it’s a half-mile long, or something like that, but to get around it, you're not even allowed to walk your bicycle in a Wilderness Area under Federal Regulations, people have to drive their car 20 or 30 miles out of their way on these gravel roads to avoid this half mile stretch. It is just a crazy situation.”
So, let’s fact check Ted’s statement. Ted says the Maah Daah Hey Trail goes through the Wilderness for “a half-mile long, or something like that.” Take a look at the map I have provided from the National Park Service. It clearly says the section through the Wilderness is 1.8 miles long. I could see if the section in the wilderness was .7 or .8 miles long, that would be "something like a half mile long," but this is 1.8 miles. It’s closer to 2 miles than it is 1/2 mile.
Then Ted says
“People have to drive their car 20 or 30 miles out of their way on these gravel roads to avoid this half mile stretch.” Here is a quote on about the alternative route which is on the Maah Daah Hey Trail Association website: “Some riders will by-pass the Park exiting the MDHT on to Forest Service Road 825 near the intersection of the Long-X Trail traveling south and east 5 miles to US Highway 85, then south 1 mile to Forest Service Road 824, then 5 miles west to Bennett Trailhead.”
Let’s see, you go 5 miles on FS825, then a mile on Hwy 85, then 5 miles on FS824 to the Bennett Trailhead. That sounds like only 11 miles to me, not 20 or 30 miles.
If you take that 11 mile bypass, you would missing out on 12 miles of Maah Daah Hey Trail, which is a shame. But it’s not nearly as bad as Ted Stroll is making it out to be. The Maah Daah Hey website even says “Some riders will just avoid the Park by starting from Bennett Trailhead.” In fact, there are only five miles of the Maah Daah Hey Trail north of the bypass.
The Maah Daah Hey Trail Association website goes on to say about the northern unit “MDHTA has worked for a number of years to acquire an easement for a by-pass trail but without success.”
|MTB Project Rates the Buffalo Gap Trail as a 5 star Mountain Biking Trail|
And in the southern Theodore Roosevelt National Park Unit, all you have to do is take the Buffalo Gap Trail to bypass the Wilderness. The Buffalo Gap Trail Trail is rated a 5 star mountain biking trail by MTB Project. It is actually 7 miles longer than taking the Maah Daah Hey Trail through the southern unit. So, mountain bikers will be encountering many miles of wonderful trail which will not have very many hikers on it, because the hikers will be taking the Trail through the park.
Also, you may have noticed that Ted Stoll made another pitch on the Frontlines Podcast for people to send money to the Sustainable Trails Coalition. Given all the fibs Ted Stroll has been telling, I’d say a better use of the money would be donating to the Maah Daah Hey Trail Association so they can purchase an easement around the Wilderness Area in the Northern Unit.