Drains, Grade Dips, and Armoring…
Welcome to our trail crew – SCA Trail Corps Gabrielle, Miranda, Chad, Ryan, and Alexis. Follow our summer journey as we build mountain bike trails with the Cleveland Metroparks! If you want to get to know us a little better take a look back at our first Welcome Blog and you will find bios about each one of us as well as a little more history on the Cleveland Metroparks! You can continue to follow our crew and our adventures through August 15th 2014.
These past couple weeks in the Cleveland Metroparks have been very exciting for the five of us. We began our service by creating connector bikes trails in the Bedford Reservation. That first day we had already been thanked by numerous visitors, which was a wonderful way to start our work.
Since then, we’ve been maintaining mountain bike trails in the Mill Stream Reservation. Recent rains made the trails noticeably muddy; our boots sloshed and slid with every swing of our shovels. Mud is unexpectedly heavy and difficult to maneuver, but the rains turned out to be an unexpected saving grace by allowing us to pinpoint trouble spots along the trails in need of drainage structures and rock armoring.
We created smooth drains that hugged the trails at an angle, so that water would run off into the woods to be absorbed by the less compacted soil nearby. Where the trails were too flat for drains, rock armoring was put in place by digging into the seemingly endless mass of black dirt until we reached the mineral rich clay layer below. Upon this sturdy soil we placed large flat rocks that were cemented in place with more rich soil. Afterwards, leaf litter and sticks are thrown about the sides of the trails to limit the width and decrease the impact of people walking outside the designated areas. When all is said and done, rock armoring and drains aren’t really noticeable to the layperson. To be honest, when hiking past our work at the end of the day, we often couldn’t locate most of the structures. You mightn’t guess we spent half the day digging over 20 drains in one mile of trail. You mightn’t guess that there used to be a giant mud pit under that study rock. But we did. And there was. And it rocked.
Along the way, we’ve seen all sorts of wildlife. The enthusiastic Jumping Zebra Spider pops up under most leaf piles beside gold and red mottled salamanders. Mule Deer and chipmunks love to prance past in meadows hidden by scattered tree cover.
We’ve consistently used the various tools that we were introduced to during SCA training, and, we could probably say with little doubt, we’re pretty awesome wielders of the fabled McLeod.
When not on the trails, we like to visit the local Countryside Farmers’ market. Cuyahoga National Forest lease land to private farmers through the Countryside Initiative so that the region’s agriculture and environment are top notch.
Stay tuned for next weeks adventures of Hinckley Reservation!