Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Burns Park Trail Development

Here's who we can thank......

I reported a while back on the recent trail building activities at Burns Park. With a little help from Ryan Johnson at Competitive Cyclist , friend Tom Burks, and the CARVE boys, I was able to make contact with Bert Turner of Central Arkansas Master Naturalists , who is working with the NLR Parks Department on the trail building and rehab project. Bert and his crew are getting things done!

 Burns Park Trail Improvements

I was not even aware that CAMN existed, but I'm already very impressed after a quick look at their website. The naturalists are part of that largely invisible community of folks who go about the business of making things just a little bit better for the rest of us. To me, "making things better" can mean building a trail, picking up a single piece of litter, or performing a small act of kindness. These actions usually go unnoticed but should not be unappreciated. I'll let Bert tell you what's going on with the mountain bike trails at Burns Park with this from a recent e-mail:

It is Central Arkansas Master Naturalists and NLR Parks who are building about 6.2 miles of new multiuse trail in Burns Park. The new trail was laid out about 2 years ago by the IMBA trail design team. It has taken some time, but we are finally committed to finishing it. Much of it will replace existing trail that was designed and built wrong (down the fall line or on ridge crests) which has led to severe erosion and tough travel in many places. We will now have a stacked loop system built on the slopes of the ridges that will take advantage of the contour lines. There will also be a 0.3 mile gravel trail near the Scout trail head that will serve as the launch/finish point for trail events as well as provide ADA-access near the trail head.

We are working almost daily on the project although we have had several setbacks. Our hope is to finish up the new trail by May 7 which is Arkansas Trails Day. Arkansas Trails Day is a celebration of the vast trail systems we have in Arkansas and will be celebrated across the state. In central Arkansas the primary events will be in Burns Park culminating with a “Convergence” of all trail users (hikers, bikers, paddlers, riders, all in a variety of skill levels) at 4:00 pm at Victory Lake. We will have luminaries (Richard Davies, Dan Flowers, Rep Robert Moore, Buddy Villines, Patrick Hays, etc) speaking about trails and trail priorities in central Arkansas. If anyone considers themselves users or advocates for trails, they should certainly participate in Arkansas Trails Day and show their flag in front of the trail-funders at 4:00pm.

Yes, we can use help constructing the new trails. We are lopping the corridors (6’ wide by 10’ high), preparing the tread (24” wide, ~6% outslope), and generally sprucing up the new routes. Parks maintenance crews are using machines (same as those used by LoViT and other USFS trails) to help us speed up the work. We will still go behind the machines and groom the tread by hand. Anyone who is willing to help is welcome to come out, generally between 8 and 3 Mon-Fri, but if they know what they are doing they are welcome to help out on the weekends as well.

We have a long way to go, but we are making good progress. I think the mountain bike community, as well as hikers and equestrians, are really going to like the new trails. Much of the trail in Burns Park was put in back in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s when we didn’t know much about trail building. With the new knowledge and techniques we have, and with IMBA helping so much in the layout, I think we are going to have a spectacular multiuse trail system in Burns Park that will be readily available to the metro area. We are already seeing a lot of hikers, bikers, and equestrians coming in from long distances to use our trails—the word is spreading!

Once we have the trails in and blazed appropriately, we are going to permanently close some of the old trails. We simply can’t maintain those old sections and we don’t want anyone trying to reopen them. This effort is all part of a big plan in the park to make the trails safer and more user friendly. I’m sure you have noted that over the past two years we have eliminated 4 of the 8 road crossings (very dangerous crossings in at least two cases), eliminated sections of the trail that required travelling along the paved roadways, changed the slopes in some areas, and done many little reroutes. There is still more to come.
I would enjoy hiking around the trails with you to give you a better feel for all the things we are doing. (You can ride while I walk!)

Hope this helps and I look forward to seeing you out on the trails!


Good work, for sure!! The Arkansas Trails Day event could use our support and I plan to ride on down on May 7. Check out the good work and maybe lend a hand or write a letter to your congressman supporting trail funding. I plan to get out and meet Bert on the trail as soon as I am able, and I'll post a progress report.

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