The Why and How of the Harris Hill Extension off of East Overland Trail in Gerry, NY.
In 2004, the closest trail to my house was the 4 mile out and back of the East Overland Trail (Harris Hill Section) off of Route 50. It is only 12 minutes away from my door, so I was there 2 to 3 times per week, but being an out and back it’s thrill factor declined over time.
I would venture down to Allegany and E’ville (McCarty Hill Area) to get “premium rides” in, but that meant 30-45 minutes each way. Minutes I could be riding. It was during one of those trips down to E’ville I bumped into a few guys who were jabbering about how they had helped build the trail system. So I got selfish, I realized that these wonderful sections of single track were on State land. I wanted a better ride, closer to home, so I became a WNIMBY.
Brought Attention to Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell Park Management
I read in the paper this morning that Former Buffalo News Outdoors editor Michael Levy died this week.
Mike Levy was the journalist who helped bring attention to the don't-ask-don't-tell County management of Hunters Creek and other parks formally known as "land banks". Until the early 00's, going to these parks was technically trespassing, and some people were actually ticketed. Hunters Creek was one of the few places in Erie County where cyclists went to ride their bikes. But it was illegal and there was no way to officially manage it.
A lot of the credit for turning these land banks into parks goes to former Parks Commissioner Larry Jasinski and County Exec Giambra. However, Levy's articles "Posting Raises Concerns" and "Land Locked" brought a big spotlight on this issue and helped move it to resolution.
Following the comment period that ended last October, DEC has released the Final State Forest Management Plan. It is available at this link and the section that deals with trails management is at this link.
The initial draft was favorable for bicycles with some exceptions. The final version remains mostly unchanged from the draft with respect to bicycle access. Overall, this is GOOD NEWS.
The plan specifically states “Mountain bikes are permitted to travel on any existing road or trail on State Forests unless the road or trail is posted as closed for this use.” This is consistent with the recently promulgated Part 190 state regs formalizing bike access. The wording in the that stated that trails would have to be inspected prior to opening has been removed as we requested.
Our insurance company has "strongly suggested" that we tell you that Mountain Biking can be dangerous. If you're visiting this site it's very likely that you're already aware that if you insist on having a good time by riding your mountain bike, eventually you will almost certainly fall down and collect any number of boo-boos, dings and injuries, serious or otherwise, but we have to tell you anyway.
Mountain Biking is a potentially hazardous activity carrying a significant risk of bodily injury and even death. Mountain biking should only be undertaken if you have a complete awareness of these risks. You can reduce the level of risk by wearing a helmet and by riding within your own skill level.