SMBC representative Zack Greenfield, VVCC board member Lars Romig and avid community mountain Biker Tomas Robison joined the RRRD staff Friday May 18th for the inspection of Hangover trail. Hangover trail is one of Sedona’s mountain bike and hiking jewels and is held by both the community and visitors as a key attraction within the Sedona area scenic experience. The Forest Service staff converged on the actual non-system trailhead from both sides of Mitten Ridge to ensure a clear understanding of access to and from the trail. The land managers had watershed, soil and archeological specialist on this visit to contribute to the assessment and discussion of this trail.
Areas of concern discussed during the walk include:
- The presence of Peregrine Falcons nesting in the area. No specific conclusions were made.
- It was proposed that much of the area where Hangover is situated has been rated as unsuitable for trail construction. The fact that this rating is applicable to a large portion of the existing Sedona trail network was attributed to Sedona’s location within an erosion corridor. Selection and construction in Sedona is largely about picking the best options within many poor choices. Large sections of Hangover are situated upon slick rock formations, including most of the areas with elevation changes. This helped to address/mitigate many issues associated with its location.
- Due to the overwhelming visitor demand for forest access in Sedona, the district Ranger Heather Provencio stated that, we “must choose” trails. The idea that a holistic approach is taken as it relates to adoption of trails within and adjacent the Casner Canyon Research Natural Area was proposed. This prompted a discussion about master planning sections of the Sedona trail system in such a way to allow adoption of “significant trails” as there relative importance fits into a larger trail management plan.
- Damfino trail came under criticism for its’ poor construction in spots and proximity to the Oak Creek water shed. Concerns were raised that the increased traffic on Hangover, which would result if it is adopted, is anticipated to increase awareness/traffic on this non-system trail. The concern proposed is that this additional traffic could result in a negative impact on the areas traversed by Damfino.
- All forest service employees were in agreement that adoption of any trail is likely to increase traffic/use to the area and trails adjacent to that adopted trail. There was concern expressed about other trails adjacent Casner Canyon to include Damfino, Tomahawk, and others. A discussion ensued contrasting the implied use of Forest Service budget to maintain a trail such as Hangover. On one hand you have a trail that caters to an advanced/expert level mountain biker who may only represent a small amount of cyclist. The positive is that usage would be lower, thus impacts and required maintenance should also be lower. On the other hand the Forest Service wants to apply its limited budget and use of resources to the widest portion of public use. Focusing on a trail which appeals to a small portion of said public is not ideal. Multiple representatives of the MTB community made the following points during this discussion.
- Mountain bikers are only one user group of this trail. While use of this trail may represent a smaller portion of the mountain bike community, its use falls well into general ability levels for hikers and other user groups.
- This trail was created to cater to a specific need for trails with challenging and technical aspects. Removing this trail from the inventory creates the potential to incentivize illegal trail building and/or off trail travel in order to meet an unsatisfied need. Realizing and understanding this need is a proactive way to ensure that it can be managed effectively instead of reactively.
- It was proposed that private funding and community participation are potential ways to supply the required resources to manage and maintain this trail. Hangover is currently enjoyed by multiple user groups, and it provides a unique experience. It is considered a destination ride for advanced level cyclists, and helps to distinguish Sedona from other mountain biking locations as one of the premier riding locations in the Western US. We feel, given the benefits the city’s citizens and businesses receive as a part of this draw, it only makes sense to re-invest in it.
Overall there was good community and positive feeling while on the hike. The conclusions were positive as it regards the trail and participants universally agreed it has huge value as a hiking or biking adventure.
The SMBC will continue to stay abreast of developments related to Hangover and the Forest Service potential adoption. We have also extended open invitation for any of the rangers to make comment on this visit to the trail and speak from their perspective; which we will happily publish here on the site. Your support and membership is what makes it happen. Get a hold of us and get involved!
It’s all about the trails,