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Mary McMillan: Harmony on Harmony Ridge, four-legged horses meet two-wheeled bikes on the trail

Mary McMillan
Other Voices

We don’t want to label this “old meets new” because many users, including the owner of the Harmony Ridge Deli, Bernadette Bezy, do both. The story here is how a centuries-old mode of transportation along the Pioneer Corridor – the horse – travels in harmony with a more recent development – the mountain bike.

The Harmony Ridge Deli is conveniently located along the Emigrant Trail on Highway 20, about 10 miles east of Nevada City. It’s been a favorite stopping place for a century and a half, first for immigrants traveling across the Sierra Nevada to California, then for transcontinental railroad crews. Today, it is a haven for equestrians and bikers enjoying the beauty and challenge of the Tahoe National Forest and is a place to pause, enjoy a freshly made sandwich, and savor the experience.

But there is also the potential for conflict – sometimes when bicyclists meet horses on the narrow, multi-use trails, conflicts can arise. Thus a recent collision of members from the Gold Country Trails Council (GCTC) http://www.goldcountrytrailscouncil.org/ Trail Patrol and Norcal Mountain Biking (MTB) https://www.mtbnorcal.org/ at the Harmony Market check-out counter couldn’t have been more emblematic.



Both organizations strive to make the beautiful trails in the Tahoe National Forest accessible and friendly to all users. The Mission Statements and visions for both organizations are almost identical: “GCTC is an organization committed to develop, maintain, and advocate for safe integrated trails for equestrians and other non-motorized users” while MTB Norcal “[shares] our passion for this community with others both on and off the trail [and seeks] to bring awareness and financial support to those organizations responsible for designing and maintaining our world class NorCal trail network.” When conflicts arise, its usually a result of misunderstanding protocols devised to reduce risk of injury to users of the trails and to keep horses, people and dogs, safe.

‘Wheels yield to heels’



The GCTC Trail Patrol member wear recognizable vests while riding in the Yuba District of the Tahoe National Forest. They are specially trained volunteers who are responsible for greeting fellow enthusiasts, educating riders and providing useful information about responsible trail use on public lands. Most trail patrollers carry GPS route applications and have helped numerous other users understand where they are and what conditions to expect up ahead on the trail. They are also on the front line meeting other users of the trails.

There are many potential impacts to wildlife, vegetation and other resources that can occur as result of inappropriate trail use and all users need to work together to minimize the impacts. The Tahoe National Forest does not have enough Yuba River District staff to adequately cover all the areas on a given day. As a result, the education level on nature appreciation, and trail sharing has gone down. To turn this around and protect use opportunities, the Yuba River Ranger District has developed the Volunteer Trail Ranger Program in collaboration with users of the trails.

By working together, organizations like GCTC and MTB Norcal help educate their users to reduce risk of accident and/or injury while ensuring everyone has a maximum experience. The Tahoe National Forest trails are a legacy treasure in the Mother Lode community for bikers, hikers and horseback riders and together, we maintain Harmony on Harmony Ridge!

 

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