Ontario County Park Black Trail
The past 2 years, Peter Landre, project manager for the trails at Ontario County Park (OCP) and a cadre of GROC volunteers were diligently planning and organizing the building of a 4.5 mile new trail. The trail was to be sited in a remote section of the park on the western edge of the property that was originally scoped out by Rick Williams for potential expansion and was included in the Park’s trail management plan. The challenges posed by this project included a large elevation change, steep slopes, rocky/dense soils and the amount of effort and time it would take to build a trail in a remote area of the park.
Peter started “desktop” scouting and planning for the BLACK Trail 2 years ago and broke the project into 3 phases based on using Ontario County’s excellent online GIS mapping resource, ONCOR (see map). Several scouting trips to mark and refine the trail corridor were performed in the fall of 2014 by Peter, Jon Brown, Matt Hanggi and Greg Radak. Peter also worked closely with the OCP Park Manager Anthony Robarge who was very supportive and helpful in all phases of the project including early “test rides”.
Phase 1, descending about a mile down from the top of the park, was worked on late last fall (’14) and was all done by hand, averaging about 10’-50’ per hour per person depending on the complexity of the benching and turns. Phase 2 is sited on a very interesting and mostly flat and open bench and measures about a mile. This section, opened this spring, was also worked on by hand and went more quickly due to less benching. Phase 3, measuring about 2.5 mile, was the largest and most difficult area to complete due to the length, remoteness and complexity of the benching. As a result, a mini-excavator was used to clear and bench the trail, followed by several people who raked, finished benched and “naturalized” the corridor. Using the machine and “hand-grooming”, the crew averaged 500’ per hour of completed trail and the entire Phase 3 area trail was completed in two weeks and about 200 volunteer hours.
GROC is very appreciative of Park Manager Anthony Robarge and Ontario County for agreeing to rent and run the equipment to build the Phase 3 trail. This is GROC’s first experience building a trail in the region with machine assistance and I cannot imagine having completed this project this season without using this approach. One of the volunteers, Greg Radak, even built a custom removable plate attachment for the excavator bucket to improve the speed and ease of clearing and benching.
I am sure that many decisions for how long and where the trails lines should go would have been dramatically different if we had to build the trail by hand. Using machine assistance allowed Peter and the volunteers to design an amazing new trail section that is nearly five miles long and a great trail addition to what is already a wonderful trail system. The Black Trail not only adds miles, it also incorporates about 700 feet of vertical climbing in elevation if you ride the trail as a full loop.
This has been a huge effort by Peter, Anthony, Greg, Matt, Jon and many others putting in a ton of hours. In the last 2 seasons Peter and volunteers have put in over 1000 hours at OCP. The Black Trail is officially open but needs to be burned in, so get out and ride. You are in for a treat and some serious leg burn!