NEMBA Trail Care Round Up 2006
Despite the soggy early spring and summer, the spirit of NEMBA's volunteers isn't dampened when it comes to building new trails and stewarding public open spaces. Trail work is at the core of NEMBA's mission, and it's one of the most important ways we support public trail systems and state agencies. Calling it "trail work" makes it sound arduous and unappealing, but most people that come to NEMBA trail care events find that it's actually quite fun and rewarding, even addicting. There is nothing quite like riding on a trail that you built, a trail that will be around forever. It's a great feeling we hope that every NEMBA member can experience.
Even more important, most of our park system are under-funded and staffed, and it's rare that a park has sufficient personnel to focus on trail building and trail upkeep. NEMBA has a great track record in securing funding and designing projects that fill this void, and it is key to our mission to be a resource for our land management agencies.
With 18 chapters around New England, NEMBA has the capacity to make a difference on the trails you like to ride. If you'd like to see us work in more places, get involved with your local chapter to make things happen.
Here's a brief round up of a few places that NEMBA has worked this season. We hope you'll come out for some of our other events this fall. A trail is a terrible thing to waist!
Blackstone Valley NEMBA
Building Challenging Trail at Hale Woods
More than a dozen volunteers found themselves deep in the Hale Woods on April 23rd to complete a new trail on Strawberry Hill, located on the Western edge of Hale near the Powissett Woods border. Full of twisty turns, switchbacks, big rock rollers, high speed jumps and steep descents, riders will love this new trail that offers a challenging connection between the Hale trails in Westwood and the Powissett trails (Trustees of the Reservation) in Dover.
Fairly difficult, this 1/2 mile trail challenges riders with a little bit of almost every trail type and rewards them with the best Northerly view in both park's trail systems. Although everyone put in a very long and difficult work day, the boys from Vietnam fame — Dave Riding, David Mitchell and Don Johnson— deserve extra kudos for bringing a touch of what they have graced us with in Vietnam. With their help we crated a rock-buttressed sandy/clay berm providing firm footing to an off-camber downhill turn. Even after the torrential May and June rains their work survived without any need for touch up. All the volunteers were rewarded with cool refreshing beverages and free passes to both parks (which do normally require a $15 annual tag). This new trail coupled with all the other trails put in on the South side of Powissett Road over the past 2 years easily provide for two to three hours of fun and challenging riding. For the fall, we have another whole section South of Hartford Street (no passes required) to be built … and ridden! —Jack Maxwell
Vietnam's Tuesday Night Trailbuilders
Vietnam's Tuesday Night Trail builders have been going full bore on NEMBA's property in Milford, Mass. Their focus has been improvements on Dirty Little Secret which has gotten a lot of use over the past year. Rented Mule, the first drop in the loop was reworked with new whoops on the approach to buffer speed, and a new transition and hip jump were added that greatly improved the flow of this Technical Trail Feature.
The trail, Frame twister, received a brand new approach that includes a new small drop and berm than improves the entrance into the Frame Twister, as well as improvements to the transition at the bottom of the drop. The trail is now set up to carry more speed, if the rider chooses to do so.
The crew continues to improve the trail worked on during the NEMBA / IMBA Trail School in the Blind Faith area. The transitions at the half pipe will also receive an upgrade, and once the improvements to Dirty Little Secret have been completed, they'll begin a new trail project near the NEMBA plaque (aka "One NEMBA Square"). —John Vosburg
New Bog Bridge at Collis P. Huntington
The Rock and Roll trail, designed to be sustainable and highly technical, is in the last stages of construction. On Tuesday, June 13, twelve volunteers led by Dave Herde and Paula Burton turned out to help build the last of three boardwalks. Hat City Cyclists donated the $1000 needed for materials for the boardwalks, and while the trail has been officially opened since last fall, the final touches of the construction phrase have continued this spring. Besides building the wooden boardwalk, CT NEMBA volunteers constructed a section of corduroy over a muddy area, and painted the white blazes requested by the land manager, Nate Hale.
While only a little over a mile long, the trail traverses a variety of habitats such as open woods, open fields, and dense mountain laurel. Also, incorporated into the design are natural obstacles that are fun to ride: rollers, rock drop offs, quick turns, and rock gardens. We hope you enjoy them! CT NEMBA will be having more trail care days to finish two other water crossings, and you're invited to come lend a hand. —Paula Burton
Trailwork at the Res
A few CT NEMBA members have been helping spruce up the West Hartford Reservoir. Led by Don Myers, they have cleared some pretty hefty winter blowdowns, and their latest project was to create a rock bridge across two streams and channel the water through PVC drain pipes. The pipes are working great to prevent mud and siltation from getting into the streams.
Greater Boston NEMBA
New Trail Construction at Great Brook Farm State Park
Despite a murky National Trails Day, GB NEMBA completed phase I of building a new trail up the backside of Indian Hill at Great Brook Farm. Of concern to the land manager was a fall line trail that ascends the hill that has become a vertical trench. The new trail is designed to stay within sustainable grades, yet provide a more enjoyable climb (and descent). Fifteen volunteers came out to work on the project, bench cutting the trail down to prime mineral soils and clearing the rest of the new trails corridor. The following weekend, crew leader, Steve Richardson led a second crew to continue the trail building ascent, and a final day will be scheduled for later this summer to complete the trail.
Lynn Woods Partnership with Dieselbikes
Greater Boston NEMBA has partnered with Frank DiBennedetto of Dieselbikes to improve mountain biking at Lynn Woods. On April 22, twenty-three volunteers built 1600 feet of technical singletrack on the hill above the ballfield. The trail uses a number of the natural rock formations, and the crew installed four stone walkways to reduce the possibility of erosion in a few key areas. According to Frank DiBennedetto, "This trail includes MANY technical rock features such as kickers, rollers and has a natural direction of flow. Yes, I said FLOW! This is probability the first trail in Lynn Woods that you can say has real FLOW." Getting up the Ballfield trails has always been difficult since the hill is so steep, and late May the crew worked to create a more direct trail to access the area.
In June, DiBennetto and crew focused on building a trail that bypasses the housing development to access the Wolf Pits instead of doubling back. While still unable to connect directly to the old Bow Ridge Trail that was severed by the development, the new trail at least provides another nice descent.
Middlesex Fells Reservation
For National Trails Day, GB NEMBA re-routed a severely eroded trail and replaced an unsafe, creaky bridge across a brook. Located near Gate 18 and the old firehouse, the work was a total success. Despite incessant heavy rains, about 20 volunteers braved the weather showing up in rain suits and work gloves. By the end of the day, the eroded trail was realigned with a smoother line down the side slopes of the gully, a new 24-foot bridge was completed and in place, and a number of new trees were planted on the closed trail.
GB NEMBA has held three trail care days in the spring, and plans three more for later this summer. One of the fall dates will concentrate on rerouting a badly eroded trail near Middle Road. The other two projects are yet to be determined. Come on out and lend a hand. —Terry Kennedy & Tom Grimble
Merrimack Valley NEMBA
Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsboro State Forest
This year's rains and the flooding in the Merrimack Valley have been historic, but it didn't stop Merrimack Valley NEMBA. In fact, all the water has helped highlight some of the problem areas at the Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsboro State Park, and MV NEMBA has used the opportunity to install additional drainage features and to adjust the pitch of the affected trails.
In April they held a successful trail day with about a dozen people, to build nearly a half mile of new trail to the Gumpus Trail. Gumpus is now the finest of the singletrack trail at Lowell-Dracut, and it features lots of twists and turns, and has exceptional "flow." Creating the new trail also involved building three new boardwalks, and now there is two new miles of singletrack beckoning to be ridden. As the summer progresses, MV NEMBA will continue to address trail maintenance issues and trail improvements, and invites you to help them out. —Norman Blanchette
North Shore NEMBA
North Shore NEMBA completed 4 Trail Care Days this spring. The first was a reroute and short boardwalk in an area on the west side of Harold Parker SF that had been slowly deteriorating. Our final day was routine drainage maintenance and a short reroute at Bradley Palmer SP.
The two remaining days were great projects to work on, creative trail building. At Harold Parker, a NEMBA Trail School worked on one section of new trail on Saturday, which includes some technical trail features. On Sunday, we completed the rest of the trail, which adds an upper loop above the "Terry Trail" with some testing climbs and fun descents. All told the new singletrack is .8 mi added to the good selection around Salem Pond.
On National Trails Day, we moved to Bradley Palmer SP and Willowdale Mill Reservation, a property of Essex County Greenbelt Association. The area has some great hilly terrain but limited singletrack. We were able to layout a trail which some say is the longest continuous downhill singletrack in the area. It's also a joy to climb. Despite a drenching rain, one of many this spring, the crew got the job done, including a short boardwalk. One week later, the North Shore Classic mountain bike race used the new .6 mi. trail as part of the course. Even with yet another heavy rain the night before, the trail held up beautifully to a large number of riders that saw deep mud elsewhere in the park. Needless to say, the trail is now fully broken in.
North Shore NEMBA has more trailwork in the works, including a installing a boardwalk at the Charles Ward Reservation (The Trustees of Reservations), as well as more maintenance work at Harold Parker. —Dan Streeter
Southeast Mass NEMBA
SE MA NEMBA spent Father's Day building another great bridge over a low-lying muddy area. After fortifying themselves with coffee and donuts, a group of 12 dedicated volunteers from NEMBA, the Friends of Wompatuck, and DCR Supervisor, Steve Gammon, and a couple of his employees made quick work of cutting and nailing together a 210-foot boardwalk-style bridge snaking over some of the wettest trail in the park. Amazingly enough, the group was done and headed back to the visitor center for pizza in less than 2.5 hours - probably the quickest bridge ever built! —Steve Cobble
Dan Cook led a spring trail care at Ft. Rock in Exeter, NH that involved the clean up and removal of blow downs and the re-routing of a small section of the yellow trail. High winds had left lots of branches littering the trails and there were some good sized trees that had fallen over the winter. The Exeter Conservation Commission also allowed us to re-route a section of the yellow trail after reviewing the perennially muddy trails with us. This particular section, though small, was tricky in that from one direction was a downhill with a gradual right turn and through the use of transplanting some small spruce trees we were able to break up the old line and steer the trail users away from this muddy spot. Thus far, the feedback has been good, and many don't even realize that the trail has been re-routed. The best trail work sometimes looks like it has been there forever! —Dan Cook, Seacoast NH NEMBA-Ft Rock Trail Ambassador
Wachusett NEMBA held two Merlin Trail Care Days this spring at Leominster State Forest, with two more coming up this fall at Leominster State Forest. At the first event, they built a railing on one side of an existing bridge Wachusett NEMBA had installed a few years ago. Since the bridge was fairly high off the ground and was frequently used by hikers, the handrail adds a bit of safety and security to those using the bridge.
For National Trails Day in June, the rains descended, but even so a couple of volunteers celebrated the event by removing blowdowns on about five miles of trails.
Wachusett NEMBA recently spent some time walking Leominster State Forest and assessing the trails with the Department of Conservation & Recreation's Trail Manager. The DCR wishes us to focus on taking better care of the existing trails and deal with various erosion issues before we consider proposing future new trails.
These projects are going to require extra help and we are hoping to increase attendance and publish plans at an earlier date to accomplish this. It has taken a couple of years to get some site reviews and we are looking forward to improving the area where it is most needed but can's do it with the same few people that typically show up. Please join us this fall and rain or shine we will be there. —Jim Wrightson
White Mountains NEMBA
Re-routes the Red Tail Trail
The White Mountains chapter had 16 men, women and children show up for their spring trail maintenance event held on May 7th. They rerouted a section of the Red Tail Trail to bypass a section of eroded skidder path. This work required moving a large fallen hemlock, which was turned into a bench and logride that was pictured in last issue's Log Ride Initiative article. The group also built and rock armored some rolling grade dips and built a couple of bermed corners. —Rob Adair