Sunday, December 09, 2007

Crownsville Area Trail Project

It's no secret that a few of us are working on a trail project in Anne Arundel County. We managed to get out there on Saturday to hike around the property. I was out there a few years ago with Dan and Rich from IMBA. Good news is that the land is still there...

Pat, Susan, Emma, Jack and I got there around 11:30am. That pic on the right is the field that is ripe for a gravel parking lot for the trail head. It's level, it drains well and I know where it is...

Immediately, you can see what this old hunk of land has been used for over the years. Guess. A dump. Oh, and illegal hunting. I got a few shots of some old and new deer stands out there. We quickly found tires, shelving, chairs, stoves, washing machines, old propane cylinders... Typical stuff. We'll get that out of there at some point.

The land is great. It's pretty dramatic. The ridges and hills are steep but not very big. I think the top to bottom is only about 70 feet. That's plenty for good, fun trails. It's similar to Schaeffer but more than Rosaryville.

There is a farm that is adjacent to the land. It's pretty obvious that the owners are running a four-wheeler back there on some county land which is a no-no. It also seems that they have run a fence across the county land and have put up a deer stand. We saw evidence of baiting as well. Another no-no even when hunting is legal.

We'll have a trail proposal together in the coming weeks. I'd look for a total of 1.5m or so. Not a lot at all. It will be fun thought and it should hook up with the north end of 500 acres of other park land. The county is waiting on the deed to the big plot of land. We hope that we'll be able to use this piece of land as a gateway for the trails as well as a demonstration of what we can do.

Here's a picture of a stand. Two, actually. The obvious one right in front and then another one in the bottom right in the frame. It's got snow on top. On the right edge of the picture, you can see the yellow sign that I posted a full-size pic of above. We saw this stand out there 2 years ago. It was intimated to us that these stands are 'constantly being torn down.' I'm not trying to call anyone out but this area is a bit of the typical hands-off, yee-ha land management that we see when nobody is using the land and caring for it. Sure we want to put in some sustainable trail and alter it, but at least we'll be sensitive to what is out there and do everything we can to not do permanent harm.

The picture on the right is typical of what is out there. As you get further in, it's gets steeper but there are a ton of these old watercourses that will allow us to ride out on the ridge and just go up and down, in and out, staying kinda close to the contours the whole way. It would be twisty like Schaeffer, for sure. Almost no scrub brush anywhere so sight lines are great. It's all second-growth forest. There are good sections of laurel and holly trees as well. Nice vistas and views, great terrain.

Here is another shot of a ravine that we'll be riding around. It will be amazing in the Fall, for sure. The view is pretty nice. This view is almost due West.

On then Northwest end of the property is an open field. It's just on the border of the county property. It looks like a field party area. There is a deer stand, a free-standing grill-thing and a bunch of totally torn up atv trails including a few small jumps. It's all torn up. It looks like there were fresh tracks in the snow so somebody was out there the day before or so. An entire hillside is getting knocked down about 70 feet from a non-seasonal water course that dumps straight into the South River and the Chesapeake. It's crazy. A huge scar. It's private property even though it is right on the border. There are two roads that lead down there, one from the north and one from the Northeast. Both are just torn all to Hell. There's a 8 foot deep road, about 20 feet wide for a 4 foot wide atv. And it's getting wider and deeper.

I hate to leave with these images but they were personally very striking to me. The pic on the right is on county land while the one on the bottom left is on private land but they are linked up. They are about 100 feet from each other on the same hillside. You can see the atv tracks on the right and some on the left picture. There's a jump in the background as well. Not very advanced, just a jump to flat landing. No doubles or anything fun or challenging.

The county expects us to get out there and shut down the access for the atvs and keep the hunters out. I don't know if we'll be able to do that but we'll see how it goes. We'll have to work closely with the locals to let them know what is going on and try to get them on bikes. As we all know, you can have just as much fun (if not more) on a mountain bike than on something with a throttle. At least that's my line and I'm sticking to it.

If things go well, me MAY be able to start building trail out there this Spring. I'll do what I can to keep everyone informed. Heh. Actually, I'll be beating down your door to get some help out there when we need it. I think that this could be a great little local spot in addition and in preparation for the 500 acre Crownsville land. After spending so much time working on the Patapsco Skills Park stuff, I need to pull something off to help improve my attitude...


At 2:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for providing a glimpse of trail-riding hope on a gloomy weekend. Very appropriate for this time of year.

As you know, I will do all I can to help as a resident of AA County, a bike shop owner and trail-riding enthusiast. This could be something BIG...!

At 10:02 AM, Blogger Big Daddy Mike said...

Thanks. You know you'll be involved!


At 4:30 PM, Blogger Darren said...

Looks good mike, be great to get locals on bikes. Keep us updated.

At 7:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info on what's going on in A.A. county. I hope to hear more when approval is given to build more trail. Rob


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