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Ride dirt, not mud – spring cometh

Cross-posted from The Weston Owl

Sign: Ride Dirt, Not Mud

If you live here in the Weston area, you know that False Spring arrived this week—this is generally the two or three days that give residents hope that snow blower season is over so they start ordering our zinnia seedlings and cleaning out flower beds. And then fairly immediately returns the dreamers to brisk winds and large ski gloves. It’s also the time that trail users need a reminder of good trail steward etiquette.

Of Weston’s almost-100 miles of trails, many of them lie in low areas or go through wetlands. The need for escape, the incredible beauty of the trails, plus the fact that everyone four years and older got a new mountain bike during the pandemic, has caused a massive increase in bicycle usage of Weston’s trails. For another Owl, the pandemic’s puppy explosion has caused similar issues of dog poop everywhere, but we’ll leave that to next time.

Spring rains and thawing make the trails vulnerable to damage. Riding on muddy trails leaves ruts, increases erosion, and can even leave the trail unsafe for others. Anyone who has twisted an ankle walking over a dried rut will know this. It also leads to costly and time-consuming trail maintenance. Weston Forest & Trail Association counts on volunteers and one part-time forester for trail maintenance on 2,000 acres of Weston land.

Unfortunately, some trails have not recovered from the love, even one year later, because they were ridden on while trails were mushy. Last year, one trail was closed entirely due to wetlands damage, and one was restricted to hikers only—those two are still scarred with ruts.

Sign on tree: "Walk Bike Thru Wetlands"

In case the large green signs are unreadable in the forest, here’s a quick review of Weston’s Conservation rules:

Sign on tree listing Weston trail rules

Weston has several active and respect-the-trails mountain-biking groups which use the trails, and Weston Forest & Trail Association has gratefully accepted their help to educate folks who are new trail riding. No one wants to see mountain biking severely restricted like it is in other towns—Lincoln allows bicycles on only a small percentage of the trails. There are several trails in Weston that never allow bicycles and those are marked as such. These rules apply to everyone who would use those trails.

The preservation of open space in the town of Weston means that Weston Forest & Trail Association and the Weston Conservation Commission, both volunteer-run organizations, need the help of all who enjoy the fields and woods. Walk the bicycles. Find dry trails. Leave no trace. See you outside!


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