Thursday, December 23, 2010

TM Report: West Rock Ridge State Park

Date of Activity: Dec. 23, 2010
Location: West Rock Ridge State Park
Condition of Trails(s): Icy patches, but mostly dry, with some heavily eroded sections
Trail Ambassador Name: Tom Ebersold

Observations:  I advise against parking your vehicle at the parking area for the West Rock Nature Center, or at the main entrance. There were two piles of broken window glass at the nature center parking lot by the Rt. 15 overpass. I have cleaned up piles of broken window glass by the main entrance and the state reported a couple of smash and grabs in that area this summer. The best place to park is the Lake Wintergreen parking area where I have never seen broken glass and the state did not report any problems this summer.

This was my first trail maintenance session on the Red Trail south of the main entrance in 2010. The section of trail is showing definite signs of erosion in the past year. The trail is well-designed and engineered, but some of those features are failing, as both drainage ditches and culverts are filling with leaves and dirt, and water is flowing down the trail, instead of being captured by the ditches and then fed under the trail to the other side. The state did a project this year to replace two culverts and dug a drainage ditch about 200 feet long, so that area was drier. The long-term need is to clean out all the culverts, and dig a drainage ditch on the high side of the trail to collect the water.  The other project would be to create drainage channels across the trail where there are no culverts to channel water across the trail, instead of down it.

At the southern junction of the Red Trail with the White-Red Diamond Trail, there is a trail section that I have tried several times to close down, but someone keeps removing the branches I place on the trail. If you are headed north on the Red Trail, you come to a junction where the Red Trail bears left and joins the White-Red Diamond Trail, which seems odd because the trail ahead looks wide and clear. If you continue another 100 yards, the reason why I try to block off this trail is apparent. A section of trail about 50 feet long has utterly collapsed, leaving a hole that is 20 feet deep. Unless someone is prepared to build a retaining wall and replace all that rock and dirt, this trail should be abandoned. Just beyond this point, the branches I placed on the trail to block it off have remained in place. Very odd.

Encounters: On a dreary, raw December afternoon in a lightly-used section of the park, it was not surprising that I did not encounter anyone.

Trail Ambassador Email:  bikehikekayak {at} sbcglobal {dot} net
Town: Hamden
Trail(s) Walked: Red Trail, from the main entrance to the southern junction with the White-Red Diamond Trail
How did you use the trail: Trail maintenance
What was the time of day: 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Duration (Hours): 3 hours
Distance (Miles): 2 miles
Work Performed: I concentrated on removing a tree that was completely blocking the trail. The Y-shaped top of the tree had two sections about 8-inches in diameter. With my handsaw, I was able to cut one of the two sections of the trunk and roll it out of the way. Now people can ride around the other section without having to dismount. For those technical bikers who think I should have left it and created a ramp across it, I disagree for several reasons. The biggest reason is that the Red Trail in this area is non-technical doubletrack that the state will drive a vehicle on for maintenance purposes. The other reason is that the tree fell in such a way that a ramp was not feasible or practical. I will return and cut the other section on a future visit. I also cleaned out the opening to about six culverts, which need a more thorough cleaning, but I did not have the tools for this type of work.

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