New Trail Update

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khighfield
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New Trail Update

We will shortly be appointing the contractor to build this trail, with a view to starting trail marking in October. It will be a while before we start construction, but at least we're starting, finally.

I've sent out a memo to interested persons, since we need to ensure that other stakeholders in the area are OK with our plans. Memo is HERE

khighfield
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We have awarded the design and construction contract to S&S Trails (Ryan Spates and Susan Stormer), with Progressive Trail Designs as sub-contractor. This is the same team that built the Double Lake extension.

Ryan and Susan will be at the Huntsville Race on 2nd October and then staying on at the park to mark the new trail over the following week.

khighfield
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New trail marking will now commence Nov 1st - Ryan and Susan had another project running late and then I was out of town.

khighfield
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We're off! Spent a nice day out in the woods on Tuesday with Ryan and Susan along with TPW and FS staff to identify the key points. As of this evening, they've got about 4 miles of trail corridor marked.

If you want to walk some of it, the start point is on the conventional (clockwise) loop of the park. When you exit the second boardwalk across the upper reaches of the lake, the new trail will branch off to the left - look for the pink ribbons on the trees.

TXARClub
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Kevin et al,

We saw a lot of pink flagging during the Huntsville Hammer Adventure Race last weekend. We were bush-wacking to find several checkpoint in the area. Can't wait for the trails to be added, we think it's going to be awesome.

On behalf of Houston Fit Adventure Racing and the AR community a big THANKS!

khighfield
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Yes, that's the new trail flagging you saw. Hope none of your folks messed with the flags - I had the contractor on the phone yesterday morning wondering what happened to his flags / tape on the first section leaving the park. He hasn't GPS'd it yet.

khighfield
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S&S Trails completed the new trail flagging and GPS recording last week. Just trying to get the map compiled so we can go walk all of it to see how it looks before we submit it to the Forest Service to start the review process. I'll post the map when I get it sorted.

CBRsteve
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This is very exciting, it will be great once those trails are expanded given us other options for long single track systems around Houston!

Kevin, how does one go about getting involved in future trail design and planning?

MStrawn
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Kevin, can you give us an idea of what the new trail will be like? Do you consider it more difficult or easier than the current trails in Huntsville?

Jdbellow
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^Yeah, it sounds like it'll be pretty great, the elevation is tremendous, but is there anything to expect/look forward to with this trail (other than the fact that it is an amazing new MTB trail added on to existing amazing trails) lol :wink:

Jdbellow
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^Yeah, it sounds like it'll be pretty great, the elevation is tremendous, but is there anything to expect/look forward to with this trail (other than the fact that it is an amazing new MTB trail added on to existing amazing trails) lol :wink:

khighfield
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I walked about 9 miles of it yesterday. Looks like the total mileage will be 13+, if we can afford to build that much. It's hard to visualize the finished product, but it will be fast and flowing with whoopedy-do's up and down the hillsides. I'm pushing the contractor with the vision that this will be THE trail you want to come back to. It will probably be less technical than Huntsville proper simply because we wont have fall-line trails with the resulting erosion and exposed roots, but it WILL be fun. Sorry if some of you are looking for technical features - those can't really be included in trails on National Forest Land. I hope to have the map completed in the next week or so. Ran out of time yesterday.

We've already got a small team assisting with the planning phase, but we'll be looking for volunteer help when the work begins. There's a very large bridge that needs to be built, along with several boardwalks and armored sections at low points.

Jdbellow
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honestly, the excess of roots at Huntsville can get kind of annoying so i feel like a trail like that would make Huntsville the place to go.
I'm really anticipating this trail, it's hopefully a testament of future TX mountain biking, thanks! :D

khighfield
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Here's the complete map of the corridor marked by S&S Trails. It comes out at 13.34 miles Still have to go through all the inspections and approvals, so the final product may be a bit different.


HSP Expansion - GPS Capture 11 & 25 Dec 2011 by kchighfield, on Flickr[/url]

hendryschaulz515
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khighfield wrote:
We will shortly be appointing the contractor to build this trail, with a view to starting trail marking in October. It will be a while before we start construction, but at least we're starting, finally.

I've sent out a memo to interested persons, since we need to ensure that other stakeholders in the area are OK with our plans. Memo is HERE

that's great....

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khighfield
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I haven't posted anything in quite some time.  The current situation with the other trails in the forest being closed has diverted the attention of Forest Service personnel, but I did speak to the district ranger last week, and we still hope to get the approvals done over the summer so we can start building in late Fall.  Once we get Double Lake re-opened, I'll be getting the approval stuff rolling in earnest.

khighfield
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I haven't posted anything in quite some time.  The current situation with the other trails in the forest being closed has diverted the attention of Forest Service personnel, but I did speak to the district ranger last week, and we still hope to get the approvals done over the summer so we can start building in late Fall.  Once we get Double Lake re-opened, I'll be getting the approval stuff rolling in earnest.

khighfield
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Another long delay in news, but things have been happening over the last couple of months. We were out in the woods today to mark a new 1,000' section which will replace the connector inside HSP - some TPWD staff didn't like it, which was disappointing. However, the new connections will be good. I'm meeting with the District Ranger on Thursday to review a couple of water crossings, following which, I hope that the NEPA reviews will proceed (that's NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT).

Still hopeful to commence construction in December / January.

khighfield
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Here's an update on the trail map. Notes in a following post.......


HSP Expansion - Oct 14 2012 by kchighfield, on Flickr

khighfield
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Further to the updated trail map above, we have some progress to report, after quite a few meetings over the last few weeks. Key points -
- the section of trail inside the park has been abandoned due to restrictions imposed by TPW region 4 Cultural Resources and Wildlife folks;
- we've marked a new connection from the same point at the end of the boardwalk, and all the new trail will be on Compartment 57 of the Sam Houston National Forest - see the map posted below (or in the next post);
- the return connection will be from the South Loop and onto the CCC Trail in the park;
- the bridges are working out much more expensive than we hoped and so we'll probably build the South Loop first and use Forest Road 286 as part of the loop. We'll obtain more funding to cover the bridges and trail on the North Loop;
- we finally got the go ahead to start the NEPA, which means our archeologist is doing his review soonest and once that part of the review is completed, the hardest part of the NEPA process is done;

We're still hopeful that we'll start building over the coming winter and meanwhile we'll be working on supplementing our funds with additional grants.

rafdog
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Thanks for the hard work, Kevin.

stalking_horse
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Very excited about this. Thanks for all you've done.
I am not the one doing the work, so I fully understand that my opinion can be disregarded, but at times when I ride Double Lake I feel like there are turns just for turns' sake -- in the eagerness to avoid fall lines, fast straightaways are eliminated. I hope that Huntsville has some wind-through-the-helmet, high speed sections. Just my two cents, but like I said, sitting here typing this at work doesn't entitle me to much of a say when I'm not out there making it happen.

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Very excited about this. Thanks for all you've done.
I am not the one doing the work, so I fully understand that my opinion can be disregarded, but at times when I ride Double Lake I feel like there are turns just for turns' sake -- in the eagerness to avoid fall lines, fast straightaways are eliminated. I hope that Huntsville has some wind-through-the-helmet, high speed sections. Just my two cents, but like I said, sitting here typing this at work doesn't entitle me to much of a say when I'm not out there making it happen.

khighfield
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stalking_horse wrote:
Very excited about this. Thanks for all you've done.
I am not the one doing the work, so I fully understand that my opinion can be disregarded, but at times when I ride Double Lake I feel like there are turns just for turns' sake -- in the eagerness to avoid fall lines, fast straightaways are eliminated. I hope that Huntsville has some wind-through-the-helmet, high speed sections. Just my two cents, but like I said, sitting here typing this at work doesn't entitle me to much of a say when I'm not out there making it happen.

Dang. You sound like a worse no-skills roadie than I am! Can't get much simpler than the trail at DL. Have you ridden all the new stuff? If you can't get a full speed work out on the new DL trail you really do need to stick to road riding! There's only one twisty section of DL I can think of - that's on the old section, right after the last road crossing, before getting into Homestretch proper - that little bit is un-necessarily twisty, but it's part of DL and has been there 20 years or so, so it's probably gonna stay put.

Bill in Houston
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Go ride Flintridge a few times, and then try DL again. ;)

stalking_horse wrote:
Very excited about this. Thanks for all you've done.
I am not the one doing the work, so I fully understand that my opinion can be disregarded, but at times when I ride Double Lake I feel like there are turns just for turns' sake -- in the eagerness to avoid fall lines, fast straightaways are eliminated. I hope that Huntsville has some wind-through-the-helmet, high speed sections. Just my two cents, but like I said, sitting here typing this at work doesn't entitle me to much of a say when I'm not out there making it happen.

CBRsteve
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Any update on the progress of the new trail development?

khighfield
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I'm pleased to report that our Archeologist is now doing his digging. I spoke to him yesterday and he's about half way through - no major finds so far (thank goodness) and he should be done by Sunday. I am hoping that this is the final element in the NEPA requirements and we will then (finally) have a solid timeline for construction. Best estimate is starting construction late Feb/ Early March. Construction won't take long - that's the easy part. The bureacracy emanating from the FS head office in Lufkin has been a real pain over the last few months. Once again, big thanks to our local District Ranger, Warren Oja, without whom, I doubt we'd ever get anything built.

thekarens
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Awesome news, thanks for the update!

chubs
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Do you do any work during the week say tuesdays or wednesdays?

khighfield
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There's no trail work going on at the moment. Once construction starts, the builders will welcome assistance - in fact we get credit for volunteer support of the trail builders. I'll be posting when the happy day comes that we stop doing paperwork and start building trail.

khighfield
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Things are rolling along. Optimistically, early April start to construction. A while ago I heard from a rider who was a resident of Elkins Lake subdivision. I'm afraid I can't find the message in my inbox. Can you e-mail me please.

pleepleus
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I can't wait for some new trail. I would also like to help with the building when the time comes.

I've been lurking this forum for over a year checking updates on the new trail. I live in Huntsville and ride the State Park a couple times a week. I also ride Lake Brian and Double Lake occasionally.

Stalking Horse, if you want fast straightaways you need to ride the CCC trail in the SP. Ride it clockwise, seems faster and the down hills are more fun.

stalking_horse
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"Stalking Horse, if you want fast straightaways you need to ride the CCC trail in the SP. Ride it clockwise, seems faster and the down hills are more fun." Thanks for the tip. I'll have to check it out. That's all I was getting at, not that Double Lake is not "simple" or that it's technical. Just that it's nice to be able to let it rip a little bit on the occasional sustained straightaway. Plenty of advanced trails have many such straightaways.

khighfield
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The cultural resources study, a.k.a. the archaeologists report should now be with the State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO). There are no show stoppers in the report -just a couple of minor reroutes. Am still hopeful to start construction in April, though it will be touch and go. Also, we had to accept that the only practicable way to get a 65' single span bridge built on FS property was to come up with a lot more cash, so we have submitted a supplementary grant for $100k to fund this - it will be quite a structure!

Due to the bridge (which is located on the northern tributary of Alligator Branch Creek), the plan is to build the Southern Loop and The Sack this Spring. If the bridge grant goes through, then as soon as we have that money available about November, then the remainder of the trail will be built pretty quickly after that. We are optimistic that the bridge grant will go through - TPW understand the importance of the bridge and also of the overall project; we are doubling the size of HSP, after all.

khighfield
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The approval process continues. The Archaeology report is being approved today. Some other evaluations are in progress. It is painful, but things are moving. I'm going to stop predicting when we'll start, but ever hopeful it won't be too much longer.

CBRsteve
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Really looking forward to the new trails Kevin. It will be great to be able to ride some actual trails close to home and get some decent elevation in the process.

Once trail building actually starts, will we be able to get PayDirt hours for any volunteering we do to help build the trails?

khighfield
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Steve: Of course your hours will be Paydirt eligible.

khighfield
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Update: At the moment, just waiting on a letter from TPW with the Memorandum of Understanding for the access from the Federal Land into the park. Then Scoping Letter, then a waiting period. Don't ask me when we'll start building. Eventually is the answer.

khighfield
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Some good news to report: The TPW Commission yesterday approved the 2013 recreational trail grant recommendations, which means that we will get our additional $100k to cover the cost of the large bridge we need. Here's a link to the press release - http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/releases/?req=20130523a

Incidentally - the Sam Houston National Forest also got a lot more funding in this same round - $200k for the equestrian trail and $476k for the mulit-use trail (motorized trail). With our $100k, that's $3/4m! All of this is working in cooperation with the Sam Houston Trails Coalition, of which GHORBA is a founding member.

We are still waiting to finalize the MOU between TPW and the USFS. Looking forward realistically, I think we'll be building the whole thing this coming Fall. Patience fellow riders, patience!!

Jjjkkklll
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Had my first visit to Huntsville the other day. Wonderful track. Any news on the trail additions I see you've been working so hard for?

Seems like great progress thus far by the way. Congrats

RainRider
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I'm headed to Huntsville SP this weekend to start breaking ground on this new trail. You ghorba goons take too long.

I'll be out there early tomorrow morning with tools and I'm going to start clearing trail. Thanks to the map above I'll be able to find the spot where the intended trail is going in. I'll try to follow the map as much as possible, but I may throw in a few ideas of my own. Jumps. Skinnies.

Can't wait to get this trail built up and shred it in the RAIN!!

HOORAH.

khighfield
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Oh boy, it's been a while since I posted. Gubberment boorocracy moves at a glacial pace. The required MOU from TPWD to allow access between Fed and State land was finally issued in June. Now working on the FS to act upon it. Will see the SHNF District Ranger on Saturday at the SHTC meeting, so hope he will report some progress.

Rain Rider has quite the sense of humor.

khighfield
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I shudder to post good news here - in case it should go pear-shaped again. But, the district ranger told us yesterday that he is shooting for final construction approval to be issued by Sept 30th. Refreshing news after a lot of bureaucratic frustration. Keep your fingers crossed.

RainRider
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I've already started working on it. HOORAH. It took longer than I thought because instead of just clearing single track I'm digging out a large rut, like a bobsled run. This is so it will fill with water when it rains making Rain Rides more enjoyable and technically challenging. I plan on getting back out there one day this weekend and making more progress.

HOORAH.

khighfield
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After a long break, I finally have some news. I spoke to the District Ranger today. The "Decision Memo" was delayed due to a combination of FS reorganization and the government shut down. He was working on the "Scoping Letter", which should be issued today. Latest estimate for issuing the "Decision Memo", which is the permit to allow construction to begin, is Jan 7th. I passed this along to our contractors - S&S Trails, who have us penciled in for starting construction in April 2014, though will try to get to us sooner.

khighfield
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I am very pleased to advise that the Decision Memo was signed yesterday, 21 February 2014, by Sam Houston District Ranger, Warren Oja. The DM is the final approval for construction to start.

S&S Trails are planning to commence construction in April (the soonest they can get to it, and also after an appeal period closes).

Meanwhile, Huntsville SP Manager Ray Black has advised the schedule for a major project inside the park to repair the lake dam wall. He advises construction of the access road (from I-45 to the dam along the SE border of the park) will commence in June to July and work on the dam will start after Labor Day in September. This work will cause the loss of the trail loop inside HSP and so we have a challenge to establish an alternative route within Compartment 57, where the new trail is located, as soon as possible, but in any case prior to the TMBRA race in October. Our plan is to establish a useable loop in the first phase of construction before S&S shut down work for the summer. Additionally, Cam Lockwood of "Trails Unlimited" is scheduling construction of a required 65' bridge for around June 24 - 26.

This is a great step forward and it has been a long time coming. As ever, I'd like to thank Warren Oja for his support and inestimable assistance on moving the project forward; I know that he continues to gather an ever increasing workload with ever decreasing staffing levels.

pleepleus
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Thanks for the update.

Sounds like we will be losing access to the south section of the CCC trail. Can the Chinquapin Trail be rerouted to the west section of the CCC? Then you can reconnect to the Chinquapin using the CCC cutoff trail and avoid the levee.

khighfield
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Whether you use CCC or Chinquapin, you still have to drop down below the dam and that section will be out for several months. We'll be able to do out and back, but the loop will be lost. I'd like to use this opportunity and do a whole bunch of re-routing on the trails inside HSP - they are a sandy mess due to poor design, but not getting much response from TPW. Others are welcome to send them comments about this.

khighfield
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Looks like our contractor, S&S Trails, will start construction in late April / Early May. Since we are under the gun to get a functioning loop completed before the Summer, we'll build the "South Loop" first and use FR286 as part of the loop. This means that while the construction inside the park is on going, we can use the Prairie Branch / CCC and Dogwood Trails to hook up with the new loop (Start Hill - Crossroads - FR286 - South Loop) to give about a 10 mile loop. Construction of the North Loop and The Sack will be in Fall 2014. Here's a link to a map I made showing trails inside the park with the new stuff. By the way - better get used to calling the new trail by its proper name: Northwest Cycling Club Trail. NWCC donated $20k "seed capital" for this project and the name commemorates this valuable donation. Thanks NWCC! Here's a link to an updated map - having trouble posting an actual image (sorry):

https://www.flickr.com/photos/28750895@N04/13672743484/

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Any Update? have they started building the NWCC? when will it be connected or rideable?

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S&S were scheduled to come and start some basic chainsaw work last Wednesday (5/25), but rain stopped play. The weather has also held them up on their current project in N. Texas. But, they'll be here soon. I hope!

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