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!
A lot has been happening at Dryer Road park on the trails. Even before the ground had thawed, we were in there designing and building awesome new trails. Volunteers have put in 334 hours, so far. The projects completed this spring include:
- Big Easy— a totally new trail that was created to be a less technical way up and down, extending from Kaleidoscope to the top of A-train. This offers access to novices, but is being enjoyed by all levels of riders.
- Eye of the Snake— a reroute of the lower section adds more length and interest, but also bypasses an eroded area.
- Owl’s Maze— we had to reroute the trail around a section that was badly eroded. We made a fairly technical turn that adds interest and challenge.
- More signs— Mary Lee’s famous hand-painted letters and symbols on hickory are strategically placed to keep riders oriented
- Updated trail map— thanks to Scott Page for a beautiful and extremely helpful new rendition of the trail map of the entire trail system. It incorporates all the additions and changes we have made in the years since the previous map was made. Available as letter-size paper maps at the kiosk and electronically via link to GROC’s site((place link here)). Of note, his app allows him to easily update it with any more changes as we keep improving our trail system.
- Current projects include a major reroute of Humpty Dumpty, which has eroded badly in the fall line sections. We have had two work parties already on it and more are being scheduled. By the time this article appears, we should have done further work on upper Juicy Bacon.
- Future Plans—many more trail projects are planned, as our volunteer workforce participation allows.
So, many thanks to all our hard-working volunteers, and special thanks to Brian Emelson, Victor Parks and Recreation Director, and Jeff Rader, who is head of operations and maintenance for the parks, for their continuing strong support. We urge all folks who use the trails to sign up for Trail Crew Meetup, so that they can keep informed as to the scheduling of all trail work parties. Please, join us. The trails need constant care.
Mark Rosenzweig and Mary Lee
GROC Project Managers for Dryer Road Park trails
Efforts are continuing to improve and expand the great trails at Ontario County Park (OCP) at Gannett Hill in cooperation with the Ontario County Parks Department. The twelve miles of shared use trails are well designed for great cross-country mountain biking and the shallow, dense hilltop soils create a fairly stable surface requiring less overall trail maintenance. That said, there are always areas that need attention to improve drainage, remove downed trees and maintain bridges. The latest effort this fall on Sept 21th included about 14 people who have all have spent a lot of time working down at OCP who came with tools and went right at it! It was too wet to stain the long red bridge on the Brown Trail so we had a majority of the people focus on de-berming and improving drainage on low spots on green, violet, purple and the brown trail. Park Caretaker Anthony Roberge joined several of us with a dump gator and moved about 6 loads of crusher-run gravel for hand placement on low and perennial wet spots at the beginning of green, lavender and the cross trail right below purple which is always wet and muddy. The gravel is not as nice looking as the natural surface, but it will work itself into the soil and we covered some of the stretches with some subsoil to help bind it together and create a more immediate natural looking surface. Anthony was a great help and we really appreciate the assistance and support of the park personnel. We plan to stain the bridge on the Brown Trail next and spend some time on red and yellow trails making improvements. We have started to scout a new trail to the west of the Brown Trail which would descend significant elevation to a cool “bench” or flat area and return back to the brown trail. Once marked and approved by Ontario County, we will again have a work party to “build” the sustainable single-track, shared use trail.
Peter Landre, Trail Coordinator
Here we are, into fall already. But, we don't want to put a fork into the riding season quite yet. Since the cool weather allows comfortable riding almost every day and we all enjoy seeing the leaves changing colors.
As the GROC project managers for Dryer Road Park, we want to give a status update. As outlined in an article that we posted on GROC's homepage (see ”So sad…”), the trails at DRP have suffered a lot of damage. The reasons for the damage are also described in that article.
From our position and as lovers of the trail system here,at times it seems overwhelming when we look at how much damage has occurred on so many trails. If we, the Project Managers and all the trail crew volunteers, had decided to do little or nothing to correct the damage, the result surely would be that the trails would soon become essentially unrideable and many of the trails could get to the point of having to be permanently closed. Although the Town of Victor fully and generously supports our volunteer efforts, they do not work on building or maintaining trails themselves and are not planing to do so even if we were to walk away. So, we chose to redouble our efforts and are well into a late summer– early fall push to fix and improve the trails. The really great news is that we have had some super work parties and the momentum seems to be growing.
Successes, so far:
- Multiple grade reversals and general trail repairs on VHT (Victor Hiking Trail) have made it smooth, more fun to ride and highly sustainable and they prevent water and sand from cascading down the trail.
- We even built a cool, flat "parking" area just outside the entry to VHT with a great view and plans for more improvements to make it a great rest spot.
- We built an extension of Tree Beard with tandem log-overs that allows the rider to be able to stay on single track between the Tree Beard and VHT, without having to exit onto the field. And, we made a separate short trail off Tree Beard, named Kat’s Cut. I want to thank and acknowledge Reece Kreilick and his scout troop, As part of his Eagle Scout project, joining us to make these trails.
- Improvements at the other end of Tree Beard (near the entry to Bone-A-Part) cleaned up a nasty, rooty chicane around two large trees, avoiding the need of a significant rerouting.
- A grade reversal at the top of Bones now diverts water, which was gouging the trail. Other improvements were made on Bones to improve the ride.
- Several deep troughs had developed on iPod. These were filled and the turns were slightly reshaped with new grade reversals added strategically placed to keep water from running down the sections.
- Above the drop on Bone-A-Part, a deep trough had developed. This area was regraded. On a separate return on Bone-A-Part, which had some exposed and dangerous routes, we were able to reshape and slightly berm the turn to create better flow, less brake dragging and much more fun.
- Jeff Rader, who supervises the parks department crew, brought us loads of dirt to the pump track and then Evan Brent and his volunteer crew reshaped the humps to make it more “pumpable”. We now actually are praying for rain to allow these repairs, as well as the others on the trails, to be packed down.
- Mary Lee has made a lot of new signs to mark the trails with bright white lettering
- Too many to even list! Almost every trail has moderate to severe damage that needs to be repaired. Moreover, some of the trails are getting close to the point of having to be permanently closed if we don't correct the problems that may soon make them unsustainable and too dangerous to ride.
- We will have to go trail by trail to fix and improve them all.
- Just as a tease, I want to let everyone know that flagging has been done by Kirk Bingaman on a proposed new trail, and we will be recruiting volunteers for work parties to make that trail happen
What you Can MUST do:
- Sign up for GROC Trail Crew Meetup, which shoots you an e-mail whenever a work party is scheduled. Of course, you have to attend work parties to be part of the solution. Currently only a very small fraction of the total number of riders participates in trail work. That is not only unfair, but will lead to burnout of these dedicated individuals, leaving no one to take care of the trails.
- Join IMBA and GROC. We must have strong and well-supported organizations at the local and national levels to fight for and maintain access to trails
- Don’t ride when the trails are wet
- Don’t skid your turns
GROC Project Managers of Dryer Road Park
Within the past year, Irondequoit Bay Park West has seen a number of improvements including the split-rail fencing at on the Blue trail, new maps in the kiosks, extensive work on the Red and Blue trails, and more. GROC Trail Crew’s newest endeavor is an extension of the Orange trail.
The Orange extension project will greatly enhance the current trail network by adding length to Orange and offer some very fun new singletrack. Also, of equal importance, it will allow us to take an unsustainable section offline. While no one wants to see trail go away, closures are sometimes important to protect users (safety) and the landscape (prevent erosion). When the time comes, and we close the section of trail that isn’t working well, please respect the trail closure and the need to heal the landscape of our beloved park.
In related news, I (Adam Reitz) have stepped up to be the new captain for Irondequoit Bay Park West. Most of you know me for the work I’ve done on the Red trail – and more recently leading crews to improve Blue – others know me from my dedication to educating young riders and future trail stewards as Singletrack Academy. I love building trail as much as I do riding it and am particularly passionate about IBPW. I was part of the group that got it legalized,
helped with the initial design and construction efforts, and am dedicated to the future vision of making it a first-class riding destination. I enjoy sharing my passion and knowledge of digging, and I look forward to working with everyone willing to step up to make great things happen!
Work on the Orange extension project has already begun and will take place on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings (until completed). Pitch in and join me, and the GROC Trail Crew, in our effort to enhance the IBPW trail network!
GROC Trail Crew Captain for IBPW
GROC Trail Crew held the annual Prune in June event this past Saturday morning on a beautiful cool sunny day. A Crew of 20 volunteers came armed with various shears, loppers, saws, and more to open up all the trails at Dryer Rd Park that were feeling a bit skinny with all of the brush growth this spring. The crew cleaned up almost every trail in Dryer Rd - no small task even for 20 people!
Trimming back the brush on A-Train
While everyone is excited to build great new trails, it is maintenance like this which ensures our existing trails stay usable and fun. No one likes to find a thorny branch hanging in their path! Keep an eye out for new trail work events focusing on fixing up the Pump Track, CMP, Humpty Dumpty, and other trails!
Thanks to all the volunteers that came out and helped!
Posted by EBB 2014-06-16