Trail Apples and Tire Ruts

                The Hansville Greenway, like most Kitsap County parks, is open to horseback and mountain bike riders as well as hikers, runners and dog-walkers. Anyone who has encountered a mountain of “trail apples” knows people ride horses on the Greenway. Trail apples is a classy term for horse poop.

                It’s fair to grumble when a pile of trail apples blocks some of the more narrow trails. No one wants to hike in someone’s bathroom. But consider this: horse manure is not considered hazardous or toxic. Birds and insects feast on the waste that provides valuable minerals for butterflies, moths and dragonflies.

                Unlike dog poop, horse droppings break down in about two weeks and don’t stink. American Trails, a national nonprofit that advances the development of high-quality trails and greenways for the benefit of people and communities, advises riders to leave horse droppings on trails where it will benefit nature while it decomposes. Only in parking areas should riders scatter horse manure or even take it home.

                Mountain bikers ride sparingly on the Hansville Greenway. USA Cycling, the national governing body for the sport of cycling, recognizes that sharing hiking and nature trails increases pressure on vulnerable environments.

                It reminds cyclists that it’s easier to harm a trail than to repair or restore it. With the start of fall and the rainy season, it’s important for cyclists to stay off muddy trails where deep ruts can form.

                The Hansville Greenway supports fragile ecosystems that riders can destroy by riding around puddles, skidding into trail sides and creating shortcuts. USA Cycling advises mountain bikers have fun on trails and leave no trace they were there—no trash, no ruts, no unsanctioned trails.

–Cynthia Taggart