Update: COVID-19 and Massanutten’s Western Slope Trails

Update: COVID-19 and Massanutten’s Western Slope Trails

March 27, 2020 Updates 2

Help us manage the increased trail visitation – Do Your Part in the Parking Lot

In response to COVID-19, the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition is taking all necessary precautions to ensure our volunteers, event participants, group rides, and broader community remain safe and healthy during these strange and uncertain times. Please read our previous post about COVID-19 for a list of postponements, cancellations, and changes to our daily activities.

The nature of the Western Slope as private property allows for our rapid trail-building success and the creation of a top-level trail destination. It also allows us to push the limits for bicycle optimized trail. Yet, as private property, Massanutten Resort has final say regarding ANY decisions concerning the Western Slope Trails. 

We encourage and ask all Western Slope Trail Visitors to do your part to ensure Massanutten Resort will not reach a point where they must evaluate closing the Western Slope trails due to overcrowding. WHAT Can you DO? 

  • Follow the Rules to Support our Trails: Ensure you have a trail pass. All proceeds from trail passes go directly to the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition and help us improve the Western Slope Trails. Obtain a Trail Pass Today
  • Parking: 
    • Try to space out parked cars as best as possible.
    • Don’t park next to a car that is currently occupied. Instead, park next to a car where the occupants are not in the parking lot and already out on the trails.
  • Park and Go: Spend as little time in the parking lot as possible. We are confident the Western Slope Trail system can handle our recent influx of trail visitors and know there are enough miles of trail for proper social distancing. Our primary concern is overcrowding in the parking lot while people start or begin their trail adventure.
  • Don’t Linger: Please do not “hang out” in the parking lot after your ride with a group of people. Once you finish your ride, try to quickly pack up and head home. Set a good example and don’t let the parking lot turn into a place that could be perceived as a dangerous situation.
  • Visit at Less Popular Times: Go at times when others are not there. Avoid times when lots of people are out.  Aim for times of the day when the parking lot may be less crowded, such as the early morning or later at night. 
  • Be Prepared to Leave: If the Western Slope Parking Lot appears too crowded when you arrive, be prepared to leave. Come back later or try someplace new rather than put each other at risk.
  • Think about riding Elsewhere: Where you might ask? Well, in the George Washington National Forest of course. While campgrounds and some day-use areas are closed, trails remain open. 
  • Share the Trail (Yield): Be aware of hikers who are either parking at the lower lot or parking at the overlook on top of the mountain. Much of the increase in trail visitors consists of people hiking. Remember that people on bikes should ALWAYS yield to people on foot.
  • Drive at a Considerate Speed: We drive through the small community of Keezletown on our way to the Western Slope Parking Lot. Please drive slowly! The bike on your car gives away your destination and we want to be good neighbors and be considerate of the families and people living in and around Keezletown.

Massanutten’s Western Slope Trails are a special and cherished destination for our trails community. They provide a relatively dense network of trails with a centralized parking area that is closer to many people’s homes than trails in the National Forest. We have a wonderfully collaborative, decade-plus working relationship with Massanutten Resort. This unique relationship has allowed the Coalition to continuously build and develop bicycle optimized trails on the Western Slope. 

Our Western Slope “Trails Lab” has provided us with an invaluable and unique opportunity to host weekly volunteer work parties and break ground and construct over a dozen trails over the past decade. Despite our best efforts, we have yet to replicate this rapid pace of innovative trail building in the George Washington National Forest. Given the shared and public nature of the National Forest, timelines (rightfully) are longer for environmental review and approval of projects. 

The nature of the Western Slope as private property allows for our rapid trail-building success and the creation of a top-level trail destination. It also allows us to push the limits for bicycle optimized trail. Yet, as private property, Massanutten Resort has final say regarding ANY decisions concerning the Western Slope Trails.

Other Recommendations:

Practice excellent hygiene  

  • Before, during and after spending time outdoors, follow CDC guidelines to protect yourself from COVID-19, including washing your hands often and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth. 
  • Follow general precautions that you would do any place that you aren’t familiar with:
    • Avoid touching surfaces and touching your face while out. “Do not touch park benches, pull-up bars, park bathroom sinks and buttons for crosswalks with your hands (or wear gloves and wash your hands).” 
    • Carry hand sanitizer with you in case you accidentally do touch something that hasn’t been disinfected. 
    • Avoid drinking from public water fountains, given other people’s noses and mouths get close to them. 
    • Wash your hands when you get home.

 

2 Responses

  1. Chris M. says:

    All of these are valid and good reminders. We as a mountain bike community should realize and respect what a great resource the Western Slope is, and how easily we, as a community, can embrace and value it or jeopardize it. We need to understand that we’re on private property, and with that said should take steps that keep us all healthy and safe and enhance our relationship with the land owners. Thanks SVBC for posting this!

  2. Thank you for encouraging trail users to buy their day passes on the LuvTrails App. This option has several advantages: 1) Trail users don’t have to physically handle paper forms at the trailhead/parking lot where lots of people touch the entry form box; 2) trail users buy the pass at home or long before they enter the trails and don’t spend unnecessary time in the parking area; 3) if all trail users pick this option the SVBC admin office doesn’t have to physically handle potentially contaminated entry forms and checks/dollar notes; 4) we all help to cut down on unnecessary paper use; and 5) it removes one more excuse for trail users not to buy a pass, because it is so easy to do now. Thanks for the support.

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