Conservation - 2010 Gunpowder Trail Work

Report on Jones Road Work: Phase 1; cut back and remove old hand rails
23 Sep 2010

Volunteers: Tony Allred, Larry Zeafla, Laura Zeafla, Rick Kulawiec, Kara Brown & Chip Walsh

The Park guys had been out and sawed up the newer and lower, cross-trail, log. They left it in 4 – 5 foot chunks, as I had requested they leave it small enough for a team to move yet big enough to serve as an obstruction. I thought we might use them to block off the side trail from the top of the hill. Ranger Chapell had encouraged blocking off this maverick trail. We decided not to try to block the trail, and I am not sure the logs would have had the desired affect anyway.

We trimmed back all the shiggy that had overgrown the trail and steps that the club had installed in 2004 (I think). Upon inspecting the original paddlers trail from just north of the footbridge to the river, we decided not to trim it. The trail here is sunken and leads to a newly enlarged ravine that needs to be crossed to get to the river. The more heavily walked trail that bears off to the right/west is in much better shape and is a more likely candidate for improvement than the old paddlers trail. We expect to go back this winter and look at the lay of the land when there is no foliage, and then to select the highest ground for routing of the path. The old paddlers’ path is an unlikely candidate, so why trim it up?

We removed the handrails from the out-of-use footbridges downriver/east of the existing paths. The decks of these footbridges are in good enough shape to reuse. A team of six or so could lift these and walk them to a new position. They would need to be anchored, but would keep your feet out of the mud, or maybe bridge a ravine. This was just something to note as we plan the trail improvements.

We wrapped up, ate lunch, and quit the site after working about three hours.

Phase 2 will occur over the winter, when we will survey and plan the improvements for phase 3. Once we cut the shiggy away from the trail down the hill, it became evident that the trail is mislocated, since it runs straight down the hill in a small hollow. Located as it is, surface runoff has nowhere to go but down the trail, which is why a ravine forming and is eroding the trail. For proper drainage, trail-building guidelines call for trails to have a grade no more than half the grade of the hill. The trail at Jones Road is at pretty much the same grade as the hill. Unless we get creative and improve the trail so that run-off has somewhere to go other than the ravine, the ravine will continue to grow. One reason we didn’t move the timber to block the side trail is that the side trail might be an option if it is decided the trail needs to be moved. But, I am getting ahead of phase 2. It will be interesting to get a professional trail technician’s opinion and formulate an improvement plan.

~~Chip Walsh