In 2020, Folsom Lake State Recreation Area saw a significant jump in the number of mountain bikers out on the trails. In addition to the added erosion of current multi-use trails, some of the mountain bikers have taken to vandalizing the park by creating new unauthorized trails and creating BMX courses.
There are two new unauthorized trails from the top of Mooney Ridge down to the access road. The hillside is too steep to support any trail. Even moderate rainfall can create deep erosion gullies on the loose granitic soils. The mountain bikers don’t care about the environment, they just want to thrill of going fast down the hill.
Folsom Lake Park Vandalism by Mountain Bikers
Not only are the new unauthorized trails too steep, some of the mountain bikers have taken shovels to dig out the dirt to create banked curves. This allows them to go faster. The mountain bikers think they own the public park. Their enjoyment is more important than the environmental destruction they are causing. Their recreation is leaving scars upon the public park around Folsom Lake.
Many shrill voices from the mountain bike community have defended their destruction by arguing that horses and hikers do as much damage. However, the new trails, many with hand hewn banked curves, are not the work of horses or hikers. They are completely the result of mountain bikers creating a new trail for their race courses.
Mountain Bikers Cut Their Own BMX Course at Folsom Lake
Just north of Folsom Lake, between Twin Rocks Rd. and Beeks Bight (Granite Bay Beach entrance), the mountain bikers have created a race course. They have dug up the earth to create jumps for their bikes. They have created an oval track to race around. They have banked the curves so they can go faster. No horses or hikers traverse through this meadow, only mountain bikers intent on destroying the landscape for their personal enjoyment.
I have been hiking and riding my mountain bike out at Folsom Lake on a regular basis since 2005. I have seen the multi-use trails expand from single track to widths to accommodate several bikes side by side. The erosion ruts have gotten deeper and new unauthorized trails, jumps, and banks have been cut by the mountain bikers. To the credit of the Folsom Lake SRA park staff, they have cut some new trails that are not as steep and vulnerable to erosion. They have also filled in some of the ruts on the trails that were over two feet deep.
Unfortunately, the park staff cannot keep up with all of the new damage from the increased number of mountain bike races and weekend warrior riders. Now we can add to the mix the new generation of battery propelled e-bikes. The e-bikes are heavier, which means the knobby mountain bike tires cut and scrape deeper into the soil when it is moist.
It is not uncommon to see ten or twenty mountain bike riders in a pack on the trails. Some are courteous to hikers, others just blow by you without a ring of a bell or a word of warning. For these people, hikers and horses are the invaders to their race track. They need to train for the next race. They need to go fast. They need a thrill of careening down a steep hill, regardless of who is at the bottom. The mountain bikers cutting new unauthorized trails down Mooney Ridge or digging a race course north of the lake are common vandals.
For more current and older photos of trail erosion from mountain biking see: Mountain Bikes Are Destroying The Trails at Folsom Lake.