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Lake Tahoe boasts 255 miles of mountain bike trails. These trails have been built to be fun and challenging, but were also designed to enable emergency vehicle access and protect the environment. When building these trails, the Forest Service considers environmental sustainability and the protection of historical resources. They build strong, sound features that will endure and take rider experience into account.

These trails can be a great way to explore the national forests and get out into nature. Many people who use the trails are weekend bikers, just there for the day. Others are professionals who want to practice and push themselves further. Whoever you are, these trails can be a fulfilling day of adventure. However, one wrong turn onto an illegal trail could land you in the hospital.

Officers with the U.S. Forest Service are growing concerned with the increasing number of illegal trails in the Lake Tahoe area. Officer Heck notes, “These are big trails with lots of jumps.” It would be easy for a rider to get hurt on a trail that is too difficult for them. Earlier this year a mountain biker crashed on one such trail and had to be airlifted to a local hospital with spinal cord and head injuries. These trails are sometimes very difficult to get to for emergency vehicles and riders take the risk that they will not receive medical treatment in a timely manner.

Fines for creating an illegal trail can be up to $5,000 and six months in jail. The builders will also have to pay to repair the damage done to the forest. So far this season only three illegal trails have been decommissioned. Regulation takes money and it is taxpayer dollars that are paying to take down these illegal trails.

With great increases in technology and equipment, mountain bikers yearn to push themselves and their bikes to new limits. Mountain biking has become more popular in recent years and th level of activity this year especially is significant. It makes sense that people would choose to enjoy a relatively free activity in these tough times.

Biking can be a very enjoyable pastime, but it is also dangerous and can turn into a nightmare in no time. Just remember to consider the following:

1) The forest belongs to everybody.

2) The National Forest Service is looking out for your best interest and safety.

3) Illegal trails can get you hurt, cost taxpayers a lot of money, and damage the environment.

4) If you are caught building an illegal trail you can be fined and jailed.

5) Always wear a helmet! Hopefully one that is CSPC or DOT approved.

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