Mt. Rogers High Country Horse Trail Management: Backcountry Blight or Reduced Impact Strategy??
You Decide

June 2000: The Forest Service relocates the Virginia Highlands Trail right through one of the finest backcountry campsites on Cabin Ridge.

June 2000: Another view of campsite desecration. Why did they not move the trail 50 meters to the south??

June 1998: What it looked like before a horse trail was plowed through the campsite.

A few days after this web page was posted, the Forest Service's Tim Eling responded to an email.

He says: "Thank you for brining to our attention the problems associated with the relocation of the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail on Cabin Ridge. I am sorry that we disturbed a favorite recreation area of yours. As you know, the section of the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail near Cabin Ridge was in terrible shape & needed to be relocated onto a better grade. The location for the relocation was picked for a variety of reasons. The relocation had to stay on a suitable grade, avoid wet areas, & avoid sensitive plants. We also tried to minimize the visibility of this new trail from nearby Wilburn Ridge. We wanted a trail that would blend in with the surrounding forest. As you know, we often apply crushed stone on horse trails in order to harden them to withstand heavy use & minimize erosion. One of the main reasons the location for the relocation was picked was to help blend in with the forest and not be too much out in the open. I think the particular location you mention (the place you camp) was picked for this reason. Also, keep in mind that by relocating the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail, we were able to close and obliterate the old eroded section of trail and return it to a more natural condition. I want to mention that we have an inventory of all the campsites in the Mount Rogers high country. There are 125 campsites across the 20,000 acre area. We often close and obliterate certain campsites in order to avoid a proliferation of campsites.

I also want to point out that the bottom 2 pictures you displayed that are titled June 2000 are shots of sections of the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail that have not been repaired yet. We will get to the very bad section of this trail that stretches from Cabin Ridge to Brier Ridge soon. This section is one of the worst sections in the high country and must be dealt with soon. After repairing, we will apply crushed stone in order to "harden" the trail.

I hope that you can still find areas to camp on Cabin Ridge. I agree that it is one of the beautiful spots in the high country. I myself have camped out there & climbed on the big rock in the woods to the south. I appreciate your comments. Feedback from trail users is a critical way we get information on our management actions. If you have any further comments or questions, please do not hesitate to e-mail, write, or call me."

Sincerely, Tim Eling

We think that running a horse trail a bit closer to the woods to reduce its visual impact is a bit like planting trees along an interstate highway to make it seem more natural. But you decide.

June 2000: Recipe for erosion. Without a hard gravel surface, what will this horse trail look like in five years?

June 2000: The Virginia Highlands Horse trail along the south flank of Mt. Rogers. If you build a trail through a creekbed without proper drainage, this is what you get.