I had the pleasure of spending this past winter working on a project called the Mountwood Flow Trail, located in Mountwood Park just east of Parkersburg, WV on Route 50. Mountwood Park typically has narrow winding singletrack with lots of up and down undulation in them. Perfect XC spot! They wanted a more downward optimized trail out of this new project. Keywords were blended with the parks typical trail characteristics, ride-able for most users, bi-directional, and flowing. When the bid document says “we just want to best trail possible”, you know its going to be a good project.
The location would be spurring off of Gary’s Grind (which now creates a great start to this trail), wrapping around the face of the hill, and ending up at the bottom of the hill near a parking lot and pavillions. The site had great micro-topography and some really stellar positive control points: like historical oil casks and views of large boulder cascades.
I was there to provide help in design and the machine work to get this trail started. All the hard work will be done by the local volunteers: lopping, raking, compacting, re-naturalizing, and of course, flow testing. I implemented a new bucket into the project to help create some sections with a more natural feeling bench cut, and a technique to leave more roots intact. I focused on blending sections of more conventional earthen features with natural trail tread while undulating the trails rhythm to match that building style and the terrain. There is a feeling I get while riding the lower bits of the last descent (north end) on the North Fork Mountain Trail, and that’s what I was trying to find for this trail. It’s a feeling of carving edges of single track like butter. Flow in the curves, with lots of lateral bike body separation. From the preliminary testing, I think it worked! But I’ll have to let you be the judge of that for yourself. Finish work should be wrapped up this spring and riding by summer. Go try it out.
And remember, Flow is a feeling not a type of trail.