The Trails Foundation had its monthly board meeting last night, and we went over the general progression of steps for this next spring and summer in regards to South Shore and Skyline. Here are the next steps:

  1. General Information: if you haven’t already, make sure you’ve read all of the information on this page.
  2. Talk to Bellfree: come mid-March, we are going to confirm with Hans over at Bellfree a general starting date for the construction of the last 4 miles of the upper Skyline Trail. Much of this will be dependent upon weather and snow levels; we’ve got to make sure that the trail is clear and the storms are finished. Most likely it will be late April / early May when he is back up here to finish. March 2013
  3. How’s it holding up? We’re going to closely look at what has already been built on Skyline and see how it held up over the winter. Are we building long term, easy to maintain trails? Hopefully. We will base all future construction on the lessons from the first 3 miles of Skyline.  April 2013
  4. Pin Flag Upper Skyline: once the trail is clear, and before Hans shows back up, we need to get back out there and pin flag the route from  Snow Point out to Clark’s Grade. We’ve walked this route and there are pin flags in place in parts of the trail, but we’ll use our experience from this fall to refine the route and get it ready for construction. April 2013
  5. Walk Skyline Access Trails: while still being deliberated, these access trails will most likely be folded into the official Skyline Trail. While we can’t be certain until it’s actually pin flagged, the thought is that these trails will add at least another 8 miles of quality singletrack to the Skyline Trail, making it 15 miles long. The Access Trails include:
    • Upper Skyline Extension: with close investigation of the Skyline Decision Memo, we understand that if soil conditions allow, we can continue Skyline onward from Clark’s Grade another 1.5 miles to cross 2N10 near its junction with 2N11. Once weather permits we will be out walking this section and deciding if we can indeed keep the Skyline Trail going as far as possible along…the skyline.  April 2013
    • Lower Skyline: again, using the Decision Memo as a basis, the trail will run through the entirety of Forest Dream (albeit with a modified start). From the bottom of Forest Dream, we will be building new singletrack that roughly parallels 2N10 as it heads east back to 2N17. It’s quite possible that we can tie in to the bottom section of the non-system trail Trick or Treat. April 2013
    • East Skyline: this trail, currently known as Plumber’s, will be rerouted and renamed, providing both up and down access from the top of Clubview Drive to Skyline Corner (junction of 2N06 and 2N10). While this trail has traditionally been a downhill only trail, we are going to use IMBA’s recommendations and ensure that this is a blue rated trail that can be ridden uphill by normal people. This will most likely end up being the official start / finish of the Skyline Trail and will keep bike traffic off 2N10. Downhillers fear not; Pirates, Mad Dog and Fall Line will be reworked in the future to provide the downhill only trail link from the top down to Fern Trail. Pin flagging and construction will not happen on this trail until at least fall of 2013 due to the current Fuels Reduction Projects happening on this side of the mountain. While this might slow us down a bit, it also gives us the environmental assessments necessary to build new trails. If it weren’t for the ongoing fuels reduction, we would have to do much more work to get anything new built here. April 2013
  6. Mark the Trail Corridor for Access Trails: Once we’ve walked the routes, the next step is to use ribbon and tie it around trees along the route to mark the general route of new trails. This corridor will be roughly 100′ wide and will allow USFS biologists to walk the route and note any concerns before we pin flag. May 2013
  7. First Installment of Trail Signs: we have more than $3,000 of brown Carsonite trail signs on order that will be placed into the ground as soon as possible this spring. The trick right now is to make certain all of the names and locations are correct. May 2013
  8. Best Method of Trail Construction: once the trails are walked and the corridor is established, we will be able to best decide how to actually construct the trail. This will bring us back to the debate of hand crews versus machine built. Our options right now are limited by how quickly we want to spend our limited amount of money. Our choices include: Professional trail builders like Bellfree Construction, paid hand crews like the Union of Conservation Corps, renting or buying our own machine and employing an operator, or trying to get it all finished with volunteers. May 2013
  9. Finish Upper Skyline: Bellfree will continue their work, most likely in May 2013. After this we’ll use volunteers to finish the trail.
  10. Build Out Access Trails: fortunately, by this point we’ve got a good amount of experience. Pin flag, rough cut, finish trail, repeat. Keep going until we run out of time, money, motivation, volunteers, and support. If you’re planning on using these trails, or your business will benefit from these trails, you really need to help us out in some manner. May through October 2013

A note about the Skyline Loop: once the access trails are folded into the system completely, we’ll have solid singletrack going from the bottom of Fern Trail, up to Skyline Corner, all along the ridge, dropping down and ending at 2N17. In the future, we will work hard to find a way to continue the singletrack from this point back to the base of Snow Summit. There are several interesting options that involve both system and non-system trails. For now, though, the loop will be on the less traveled 2N17 and then connecting back to Towne Trail.

A note about trail names: things are going to get more confusing before they get more clear. Access trails, old trail names, how much of the trail is actually called Skyline, Skyline Trail versus Skyline Drive, what happens to Forest Dream when it becomes part of Skyline…we don’t have answers quite yet. We’re going to work through it slowly and step by step, making certain that it makes sense in the long term and we don’t make any short term mistakes.

Get Involved!

There will be many opportunities this spring, summer and fall to help out.  Start by joining us on our trail building days; it’s a great way to meet people and give back. Once a month weekend trail building sessions and every other week evening sessions will start this May, with the official schedule announced at our annual fundraiser, Pizza and Pizzazz. If you can’t make it to the trail building days, be sure to give back by joining the Trails Foundation. Every little bit makes a big difference.