What is Going On With The Chiang Mai Trails
What is Going On With The Chiang Mai Trails?
Why Are The Trails Closed?
Since early 2019, Doi Suthep-Pui National Park has closed off several mountain biking trails much to the confusion of local riders. So what exactly is going on? Well back in December 2018 a group of motorbikers were filmed by an riding up a historical path used since ancient times by pilgrims wanting to get to Doi Suthep. Both Thai netizens and foreigners on the path itself condemned the riders for their inappropriate actions and once the video found its way to the Sangachaiwong page on Facebook the news picked up on the story and as a result the park decided to close off the majority of popular trails not only to motorbikers, but to mountain bikers.
What Are The Implications of The Closed Trails?
Not only this, the staff have clamped down on the 100 THB fee to enter the National Park insisting on Songteaws (red trucks) stopping at the office at the base of the mountain for visitors to pay the 100 THB fee for foreigners or 20 THB for Thai Nationals. Whilst this policy has technically always been in place, enforcement has up to now been very lax. There have been stories of rangers patrolling the trails stopping mountain bikers and demanding the see the ticket however of those people caught, other than a telling off for being on closed trails and not having a ticket, no further action was taken.
What Trails Are Closed?
As of March 2019, closed trails include; Bamboo Trail, ATV, Crazy Dust, North Ridge, Buddha Footprint and Gees House trail. Essentially all of the most popular trails. The only trails not closed are those used day to day by villagers, farmers, park staff and tourists as well as a number of trails lesser known to most people and not so frequently used. The North ridge is also closed to fix damaged trees towards the summit. For anyone who has visited, large chunks have been hacked out of the pine trees as these chunks are used for firelighting. This practice is illegal as it doesn’t take long for the tree to fall or simply die. A very pleasant park ranger showed a friend and I what they are doing to fix the trees which was nice to see, and there was various signage in Thai and English for anyone interested in seeing this restoration project.
So When Can I Ride The Trails Again?
Well the simple answer to this question is, I don’t know. Various meetings are taking place as of March 2019 but it will no doubt be a quick fix to get them open to mountain bikers. With the annual burning season upon us the National Park no doubt has their hands full tackling forest fires and so it is unlikely the needs of the mountain biking community is the highest of priories for them. That said, mountain bikers can be a valuable resource for the National Park as trails can form a natural fire break. Responsible riders also pick up a lot of garbage left behind by others and also can report on any foul play in the park so people should be working together for a solution.
I will update this blog as and when there is an update!