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!
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.
In October and November, I had the opportunity to write up a development plan to help direct some specific sustainable work on the trails around the Olson Tower Area. This work was hosted by the Friends of the Blackwater and funded by the National Forest Foundation grant. That grant will also be providing funding for work on those trails and on the sectinos of the Rail Trail from Douglass to Thomas. Coordination between the Friends of the Blackwater, the USFS, the Allegheny Trail Club, and other local agencies is making this part of the project possible. Volunteer hours is a large part of this grant, so if you are interested in learning more about volunteering or about the plan in place, contact the Friends of the Blackwater at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m a little late to the party with an update on construction. Building activities were wrapped up in early September, and the rest of the foot bridge work was completed in October. Hopefully you are one of the many folks that have been able to get out and enjoy the completed trail!
This trail, as noted during the last update is part of the Thomas Riverfront Development Plan. Stay updated and get involved with New Historic Thomas to see that plan realized. Next up is to complete Phase I of the plan.
We have started construction on a new section of trail for New Historic Thomas as part of phase 1 in the Thomas Riverfront Development Plan for the City of Thomas, WV. Trail users have caution. I know this is a popular location, partially on an existing alignment, for dog walking, running, and biking. We will be mid construction from July 25 through August 20. For information about the Riverfront Development plan or about New Historic Thomas, use the following links:
Now the cool part. Construction. I am very grateful for the opportunity to build this trail. This is partially on a route locals use already to access the gem of a trail system at the Thomas City Park. The development plan calls for this trail to be as accessible as possible for folks with a handicap. While friends like Eric Thompson are quite mobile and still doing some pretty rad adventures, “ADA” or “Accessible” trails is an extremly broad term. I’d rather say how accessible this trail is and let the user decide. It is a standard 48″ wide tread with an average running grade of 5% with no more than 6.8%. I’ll give a full report at the end, but that tells you a lot about it. It will have curves for days, and some really cool positive control points like a couple heritage trees with greater than 40″ diameter. Here’s a couple pictures of current construction to get you going:
We’ve got an exceptional amount of snow on the ground right now for the Appalachians, with piles on the side of the road up to my hip. I like to ski, but I’m dreaming of dirt. We briefly had a few days of warmer weather reaching into the 40’s where a lot of snow melted on the southern facing slopes, exposing bands of what I can only remember to be dirt. Those days of warm, just so happened to coincide with approval to start scouting out a new project for Heart of the Highlands Trail, a local non-profit that I contract to. Any chance I get to be involved in the trail building process really gets me excited. It’s gives me the reward of a great event, but with a reward that lasts with the trail.
So Lona and I have been post-holing, snowshoeing, and skiing all over the mountain, exploring a massive quantity of existing logging grades as well as all the spaces in between. Snow falling from twisted branches, as we bust through thickets of young birch growth. Clamoring over fallen tree tops, hoping that my skis don’t slip, we searched out, recorded, and more or less memorized the canvas of frozen soil that’s hidden under all our snow. We are building a case for why build the better route and not opt for the option more easily approved. Once you build your case, explain all your findings, and submit your report……its out of your hands. Either way it’s going to be a lot of hard work and a lot of fun. Our fingers and paws will be crossed until we get the final approval to dip the shovels in the dirt.