New House Bill Could Allow Mountain Bikes in A.T. Wilderness Areas

by Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Updated 1/21/18

A federal piece of legislation — H.R. 1349 — could soon be considered by House congressional members. The bill proposes to open designated Wilderness Areas to mountain bikes and other forms of mechanical transport, breaking dramatically from the legislation passed as part of the Wilderness Act.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) is strongly opposed to this bill because of its potential conflict with the purpose of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) as a world-premiere, footpath-only recreation experience. Bikes in the 25 Wilderness Areas along the Trail could drastically impact the hiking experience, as well as create significant additional work for our volunteers who maintain the upkeep of the A.T.'s treadway.


Why does the ATC object?

  • When Congress established the National Trails System Act nearly 50 years ago, the A.T. was designated solely for foot-travel to preserve and honor the pleasures of walking. That distinction has been significant in the A.T.’s appeal to travelers from around the world and the overall experience more than three million people enjoyed last year.
  • How the A.T. might be affected by H.R. 1349 is of grave concern and puts the overall A.T. experience at risk. Could allowances for mountain bikes in Wilderness Areas overrule the vision and congressional intent to keep the A.T. open only for foot travel? Could some sections of the A.T. be required to allow bikes? And if so, what kind of management challenges would that pose? If passed, court challenges are anticipated to sort out these and many other questions. 
  • Click HERE to learn more about ATC’s position.

What about mountain bikes on trails?

While bicycles are incompatible with the nature and purposes of the Appalachian Trail and the Wilderness Act, ATC supports mountain biking and other sustainable forms of outdoor recreation on America’s public lands, but not in federally designated Wilderness Areas.

We work collaboratively with groups like the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) in defining new trail choices. Notably, IMBA does not support bikes in Wilderness Areas. Read IMBA's testimony HERE.


What can you do?


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H.R. 1349 In the News