|Lone Peak Wilderness Area, one of the great treasures of the central Wasatch Range|
As it turns out, I took a day of vacation and climbed the Pfeifferhorn yesterday with my son. The Pfeifferhorn lies in the Lone Peak Wilderness Area, the largest wilderness area in the Wasatch Mountains. In addition, the terrain between the Pfeifferhorn and Lone Peak is remarkably rugged and the most difficult terrain to access in the central Wasatch.
|Looking west toward Lone Peak from the Pfeifferhorn reveals the most rugged and difficult-to-access terrain in the central Wasatch.|
Mountain bikes are no threat in this area. I suppose those with large lung capacity could ride up to Red Pine Lake or perhaps up the Dry Creek drainage (at left), but for the most part, this is tough country and hard to access by bike.
The same can't be said, however, for other wilderness areas.
I've been mountain biking now for more than 25 years. If you like to laugh at those old fully rigid mountain bikes with road-frame angles, you know what my first mountain bike looked like. I consider preservation of mountain bike access to existing trails that are open for riding to be very important. I have lived in or regularly visit places (e.g., Seattle, Boulder) where trails have been closed to mountain bikes or where access is severely restricted. I feel fortunate that so many trails along the Wasatch Front and Back are open for riding.
I am, however, staunchly opposed to mountain bike access in wilderness areas. I don't see such access as consistent with the Wilderness ethos. I think the Wasatch Crest trail is a great mountain bike trail, but I don't particularly like hiking there due to the overwhelming number of mountain bikes. Passage of the Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Act opens up the possibility of mountain bike travel in, for example, the Mount Olympus Wilderness via the Desolation Trail, portions of which were originally built for motorcycles.
Please share your thoughts. I admit my perspective is strongly skewed by my experiences along the Wasatch Front where the mountains have a remarkably high intensity of usage. Perhaps some arguments could be made for mountain bike access in some larger wilderness areas with lower intensity usage.