Over the last two years a large roadway bridge was built off Camp 70 road outside Davis. The intersection with the Splashdam South Trail required a bit of repair. In coordination with Heart of the Highlands Tail and the National Youth Science Foundation, that repair took place this fall.
I’m proud to announce that Saturday was the final trail work day and public opening of the new Black Water View Trail. This project has been going on for several year from the start of its conception to its opening this weekend. It is a conglomeration of merging two previously existing trails (with some sustainable upgrades to get them dry) that total 2 miles, a use designation change, a recreational easement through private property, approximately 4,000 feet of new trail construction, a 300 foot undulation board walk through a wetland, and a 54 foot steel bridge across the Blackwater River. This major, multi-year project creates the only public,multi-user connection from the populated side of Canaan Valley to the Northwest side of the Blackwater River with over 13 miles of trail, that previously was only accessible by a 45 minute drive far around the valley or private access in Timberline Resort. That access not only allows for easier use of that trail system, but it creates another access point to the Dolly Sods for Backpacking from the Canaan Valley floor via Cabin Mountain Trail. Very, very cool is the least I can say.
How about a virtual tour of the process in navigational order from the Beall Trailhead to the New Bridge:
Sustainable upgrades last year on Hemlock Spur Trail, including some 300+ feet of french drain.
Forest Restoration of an unsustainable grade on Hemlock Spur
New Trail Construction (This fall)
300 ft of ground hugging, tree winding boardwalk through a wetland
New Trail Construction (Last Fall)
Bridge across the Blackwater
Trail is Open!
This project was administered by the Heart of the Highlands Trail in partnership with the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge and a private property owner. Please take a moment to learn a bit about the project details at their website, and be sure to respect the generous support of the private property owner by using the trail he has granted us access through and not the rest of his property. No off trail travel is permitted.
Good news, the Blackwater View Trail project is under construction again! Phase one of the build was completed last fall for the Heart of the Highlands Trail, and phase two in currently under construction. It is due to be completed this fall. Please be patient while under construction and refrain from accessing the site. Tune into our facebook or instagram for updates.
I want to extend a huge thanks to Dirt Artisans for having me be a part of the team this summer, to help build 9 miles of sweet single track in the Allegheny National Forest. This project is phase one in a master project, laying 9 miles of the eventual 42 miles of trail onto the beautiful, fern covered forest floor based around the Jakes Rocks Picnic Area above the Allegheny Reservoir.
Currently, I am at the Massanutten Western Slope roughing in a new trail off of the 2k Hours Trail. This project is being hosted by the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition, being funded completely from the trail passes sold, and is the first step in further developments to link the Western Slope to the new BIKE PARK on the Resort side. You can find out more at this website: http://svbcoalition.org/every-thursday-massanutten-trail-work-4000-hour-trail/
Help the club with the finish work every thursday at 5pm!
The Month of April also saw several miles of trail in the Thomas City Park reconstructed, with corridor brushing, new drainage structures, and benched trails getting a refresher to remove slough and restore outslope.
Thanks to New Historic Thomas, I was able to continue accessible trail improvements in the Thomas City Park this Spring. The goal of this project was to provide a lower grade access from the upper parking lot to the pavillion at the bottom of the park. The corridor of the existing trail was utilized and expanded on with two new switchbacks to achieve an easier gradient. Like the Riverside Trail project last fall, this trail was topped off with a compacted aggregate surface.
One of the most interesting and rewarding parts of working with Heart of the Highlands Trail the last three years has been making connections. When it comes to work on the ground (my role), so much effort has already been made and so much work has been invested that the sweat and dirt is the easy part.
Many partners become a link in a chain that only grows stronger as the process unfolds. It starts with an idea that gathers feedback. That transitions into a plan being developed. That plan requires in depth participation from land managers, planners, and regulatory oversight. Public feedback is gathered, and details start taking form. A detailed flagline is placed, materials gathered, and a work force assembled. Then a trail is finally shaped from the earth. It’s a dynamic and evolving process. That makes each connection with land managers, board members, staff, volunteers, trail users, and the public part of the succes.
One particular project we took on this year (one of more than a few), struck a major chord for me because it makes a major multi-use (yes bikes are important to me) connection from one side of the Blackwater River to the other in the interior of Canaan Valley. A complex project with multiple phases. That means two isolated trail systems will now be connected with sustainable trail. The Blackwater View Trail project we undertook this year has many components to achieve connectivity: use change designation, sustainable upgrades on existing trail, environmental assessments, recreational easements on private property, major bridge construction, and new trail construction.
This year, we were able to follow through with planning and implement use designation and sustainable upgrades on existing trail as well as the first phase in new trail construction. We completed the first half of the new construction component during the fall, with 539′ of road to trail conversion, 958′ of new trail construction, and 224′ of rolling elevated boardwalk getting us closer to making this connection. A similar amount of road to trail conversion and new construction remains to be finished this coming year, as well as placing a major pedestrian bridge across the Blackwater River.