Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Adopt, or Kidnap, a Trail

I'm sure you've all seen the "Adopt A Highway" signs. This program allows companies, corporations, or even regular citizens to "adopt" a section of roadway to subsidize the costs of keeping it clean. It's a way for business to do a little "feel good" spending, and I guess it helps keep the roads free of trash. Similar programs are out there for trails too.

But, from what I understand, just like adopting a real live human, there's paperwork and applications involved. Rather than going through all that, I've kidnapped a trail. Essentially, I've taken it upon myself to groom and cultivate the trails out at Norwood Pond. (READ MORE)

As far as actual acreage, there's not a lot out there, maybe 100 acres? And as far as mileage goes, by hitting some of the smaller loops within loops, and doubling back a bit, I think you can get about 4-5 miles of trail running or riding. But, it's a great little area and it can be used to connect so many other trail systems.

(I don't know why the quality of the video is so crappy...)

I started hitting the trails last year and I thought they were "okay." Then, something happened, and I figured that if I wanted the trails to be great, someone (me), would have to take action. Sometimes that action has been at the end of a chainsaw, other times at the end of a rake, and even one time at the business end of a commercial grade leaf blower.

I've been grooming, trimming and otherwise trying to make the area fun.

I think I've made some good progress, but the two biggest obstacles I face are ticks and thorns. In terms of the ticks, this is one of the worst areas I've ever seen. A few times this summer I'd come home and spend more time de-ticking the dogs than I would actually trail running... I'm talking more than 50 ticks per dog! My mindset has been to trim back some of the growth on the edge of the trails and to clean up some of the leafy ground cover to reduce the chance of the ticks hitching a ride. Time will tell how that goes but I'm optimistic.

The other problem is the brambles and thorn vines. In a few areas, I couldn't believe how thick and tangled the vines got, and when I'd trim them back, it would seem like they'd grow a few feet overnight. I've done my best to cut some of these bastards down at the bottom of their stalks, but they are persistent. And so am I.

All that being said, while walking back in the trails, I've found some old loops that just needed some loving, and there are some fun sections.

Looking long term, I'd like to make sure the trail is in good shape all the way from behind the North Shore Music Theater out to the the road that heads over to Greenwood Ave. There IS a trail there, but the last time I was out there, it was hard to find in some spots. However, that's next on my radar.

Oddly enough, I'm not alone in my trail work. Another local guy, who claims to have been maintaining the trails for 20yrs has been out there. He's uses his chainsaw to cut some down trees when they've fallen across the trail, and I think he's the one who built one of the little bridges out there. I guess it's both a little good and a little bad to have someone else out there. It's good so that I don't do all the work, but a couple of the downed trees would have been fine as natural obstacles. Oh well, there are still enough challenges to keep it fun.

I carried out a huge bag of trash recently and I've got some broken glass to clean up next. And I walk the dogs out there just about every day... I ALWAYS carry a little hand trimmer to keep an eye on the thorny vines.

Anyway, let me know if you want a little tour, or if you want to help keep these trails alive!

This "bridge" is a bit skethcy. I'll ride it in the summer, but not a chance when that water is ice cold.
This bridge is also a bit sketchy, and for the small mud puddle it spans, it's a bit overkill...
Trash=Gone (for now)

Okay, the trail that goes from behind the Northshore Music Theater and ultimately takes you to either up behind Maestranzi Brothers or over towards Beaver Pond Road has been cleared and groomed a bit. (Click on "view details" below or go here)

I was unable to clearly see how to get to Beaver Pond Road though... The trails end up behind some homes, and there was a clear "trail" for a while, but once it came up to a tree stand, there was nothing I could follow... does anyone know how to get from the woods to the road (and, how about doing a little bit of grooming to make it clear?)? 

From there, you can easily take the road and end up on trails behind Endicott College or Beverly Commons (Greenwood Ave), and from there, beyond...