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Thread: WALNUT CREEK TRAIL CLOSINGS EFFECTIVE 1/4/14 - 9/1/14

  1. #201
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    Someone rode a motorcycle out there??

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    I'm getting old so my memory may be failing, and I can't find any threads related to it by searching, but I recall that a guy in the neighborhood was coming out on a regular basis and riding the trails on his motocross bike. If I remember correctly, there was a dispute over the fact that no signs said he couldn't do it. Hopefully someone that was more intimately involved will remember and provide more details.

  3. #203
    Over the Hill and Going Down Fast el gringo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by June Bug View Post
    To clarify, that was 100% a City of Austin decision and had nothing to do with sustainability/fall line/erosion. The new trail was put in to address a very dangerous 4-way intersection where the section you referenced intersected the trail heading for the Wall; a high speed collision was just a matter of time.

    The original plans retained that as a side trail "challenge" feature, rerouting below the drop to merge into the new trail. We got thumbs down from the CoA on retaining that feature and they would not budge.
    Thanks for the clarification. Based on what had been previously published, I was left with the impression that the challenge feature was canned because of erosion:


    From the IMBA TCC:

    The IMBA TCC took the time to provide this detailed explanation of the rationale, considerations and approval process involved in the trail project. Once again, thanks to the TCC crew and all the great volunteers on this and every trail project:

    We analyzed five different potential trail projects with the Ridge Riders to be a part of the IMBA Trail Building School. After much deliberation and with input from the park manager, we identified the reroute / reclamation of the 4-way fall line intersection as the project providing the most learning potential for volunteers, and the most overall positive improvement to the Walnut Creek trail system. This project would allow us to demonstrate the proper method for shutting down a trail, and demonstrate proper bench cutting technique that utilizes all 5 of the IMBA essential elements for sustainable trail.

    After the Austin Ridge Riders went through the rigorous submission and review process with Austin City Parks & Recreation Leadership on the various trail project options, it was decided by Austin City Parks & Recreation Leadership that this project made the most sense as well. Austin City Parks & Recreation Leadership have ultimate responsibility, and final decision making power, for how this land is used, and it is a daunting process to balance the wants / desires of the parks users, safety concerns, erosion concerns, and maintenance challenges.

    The number one reason for closing down the fall line section of trail was due to the safety hazard it posed. This section is a steep, fast, dangerous 4-way intersection, making it difficult for someone coming down the steep fall line section to safely stop without colliding with another riding crossing on the lower path. Safety concerns in a highly trafficked public trail system are always a #1 priority, so in the end, this closure / reroute was the obvious choice.

    In addition to the safety hazard, because this section is on the fall line, and the grade is much steeper than the maximum grade guideline of 15%, this section of trail has eroded beyond repair, and will just continue to worsen over time. This section of trail has already rutted nearly 2' deep in sections, adding to the existing problems with trail widening as riders and hikers try to navigate around these deeply rutted sections.

    There was much deliberation about trying to incorporate the rock roll-down section of the fall line trail into the new design, as this was a very fun, technically challenging section for Advanced riders. However, due to the already significant erosion of the approach and exit, and the maintenance challenges that would be posed trying to salvage this section, the City of Austin Parks & Recreation leadership mandated this section be closed.

    To compensate for closing down a section very popular with advanced riders, the IMBA TCC spent a significant amount of time planning, designing, and tweaking the layout of the new trail reroute to be as fun and flowy a descent as possible. Something that could still be navigated by novice riders, but would also reward more advanced riders with a fun descent. On another plus side, the new reroute actually provided more new trail - a big win for our riding community considering there is currently a 'no net new trail' policy in place at Walnut Creek. The section that was closed was 160' long, while the new reroute is 425' long (necessary to sustainably drop the amount of elevation coming off the hill), providing an additional 265' of new and sustainable trail to our system. This means we now have a much longer descent (and thus longer climb too) added to the Walnut Creek trail system!

    We hope you understand and appreciate all the time and thought that went into trying to evolve and improve our much beloved Walnut Creek trail system.


    Over the Hill and Going Down Fast

  4. #204
    Over the Hill and Going Down Fast el gringo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TechniKal View Post
    So for the folks complaining that trail stewards aren't taking in enough public input, who do you define the public to be?
    I think DRC already said it:

    "OK, but the ARR is not a softball advocacy organization, or a LARP advocacy organization, or even a hybrid or BMX biking advocacy organization. It's a *mountain biking* advocacy organization. So yes, to a certain degree, I do expect you guys to be focusing on what's good for mountain bikers."


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    "Bicycling is a big part of the future. It has to be. There is something wrong with a society that drives a car to work out in a gym."
    - Bill Nye, the science guy


    Thanks REI for supporting Austin Ridge Riders Programs: http://www.austinridgeriders.com/
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  6. #206
    Mojo Riposte June Bug's Avatar
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    Clarification

    When the process of selecting a section of trail for the IMBA work day, two options were presented to the parks. The first, the deeply eroded Tar Branch crossing, was rejected because it is an historic crossing and they did not want to alter it or adversely impact it in any way.

    This four-way intersection was selected because it presented a danger to trail users where some type of high-speed collision was likely between someone getting up speed to make the Wall and someone coming down the steep section of trail from the rock outcrop. In the past we cleared out quite a bit of brush and vegetation from that intersection to get clearer sight lines, but that really did not address the underlying problem.

    As part of the process for selecting which area would be worked on, I prepared a map for the on-site review with the parks personnel. This map showed the proposed IMBA route, but kept the "challenge" feature (rock outcrop) as a side loop. In this proposal, rather than continue as eroded fall line at the base of the outcrop (and on to the intersection in question), the trail would simply transition to follow the hill contour and merge with the proposed IMBA route, thus ameliorating any continuing erosion issue on the re-route. This would allow remediation of the fall-line section below the rock outcrop and avoid the problematic intersection.

    It seemed very straightforward and every effort was made to retain the rock outcrop as a viable trail feature, but this side loop option retaining the rock outcrop was rejected by the CoA parks personnel. They didn't reject the side loop option retaining the feature because of erosion issues (this was clearly addressed in the proposed route which would transition to follow the hill contour); they rejected the feature because they didn't like it. It was a simple, straightforward NO. Even after discussion challenging this decision, NO.

    Was reclamation of the deeply eroded fall-line section above and below the four-way intersection an integral part of the overall project? Yes. Was erosion the reason the city rejected retaining the side loop with the rock outcrop feature? No.

    My point is, the city was presented with what I considered a viable option that they chose not to utilize.
    Last edited by June Bug; 02-11-2014 at 07:07 PM.

  7. #207
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    Quote Originally Posted by June Bug View Post
    It seemed very straightforward and every effort was made to retain the rock outcrop as a viable trail feature, but this side loop option retaining the rock outcrop was rejected by the CoA parks personnel. They didn't reject the side loop option retaining the feature because of erosion issues (this was clearly addressed in the proposed route which would transition to follow the hill contour); they rejected the feature because they didn't like it. It was a simple, straightforward NO. Even after discussion challenging this decision, NO.
    Very good information. Thanks. This is precisely the sort of info that I've been clamoring for-- an understanding of who's pushing what and why. Makes me feel a lot better to know that you guys fought for the ledge.

    Quote Originally Posted by jshowell View Post
    You referred to "features that are mostly rock-- like the climb out of Endo that you guys are proposing to reroute-- please explain how that is not sustainable". Perhaps the disconnect is in defining the adjective "sustainable". I've been riding that area for the past 10-15 years. During that time it has eroded. The topsoil has washed away over the years. The exposed limestone has been worn down by bicycle tires. With periodic rain washing away the pulverized surface, the rain water soaks into the freshly exposed limestone. That further softens the already crumbly limestone. It's a cyclical thing. Limestone is a naturally crumbly rock formation. Mountainbikes exacerbate the erosion of the exposed limestone. This same thing was happening at Forrest Ridge before it was closed.
    Forest Ridge was closed because it was (and is) BCP land, and the city has never approved mountain biking as a use of BCP land. They were just enforcing what was already the law.

    And I'm sorry, but limestone is crumbly. That's a fact of life around here, and the other fact of life is that if you want to build a trail that requires any skill level above beginner, you're going to have to deal with the limestone. Endo was an advanced feature when I first started riding Walnut, and it's still an advanced feature, but it is 100% rideable. People drop it on hard-tails, on rigids, etc. If you were to transport that same feature over to City Park, you would probably think, "wow, this is the most sustainable and easy feature in this whole park." Endo requires actual mountain biking skill, whereas you can fake your way through some of the other stuff in Walnut. Skill-wise, it's the most challenging drop in the park, but the climb out is only the third most difficult, in my opinion. I will admit that the Endo drop is a little out of context, and thus there probably needs to be a sign at the top of Endo specifying that it is an advanced feature, but it is 100% optional, after all. It isn't even really an offshoot of the main loop. You have to really be intending to ride Endo to get there. As far as erosion, let's not forget that, before a lot of these trails existed in the Hill Country, there were ranchers living on the land and running Jeeps up and down those same hills.

    And whoever made the point about the flood was spot-on. I live right on the part of the Greenbelt where the heaviest rain occurred last October (over a foot in 12 hours, between Mopac and Lost Creek), and the resulting flood caused the side creeks to cut 7-foot-deep gorges and pile up 6-foot-tall gravel bars overnight, both of which impacted the main trails. The main creek cut a bypass in the Lost Creek dam, the water sheeting down from the canyon rim removed all vegetation except older trees. So forgive me if I think it's a little silly to be splitting hairs about how much erosion is occurring in a 10-year period on a 2-foot wide, 100-foot long section of trail. If that same rain had occurred over Endo Valley, it would have been well and truly obliterated. Ultimately, Mother Nature decides what's sustainable or not.

    Quote Originally Posted by jshowell View Post
    An area of more significant degradation is the preceding descent from the bluff above. That entire area used to be limestone covered by loose topsoil. It used to be a very smooth rideable descent. Now it has become a series of loose marble steps and drop-offs. That descent is the perfect example of an area that was ignored while it was receiving heavy use. That descent shows us precisely what will happen if responsible measures are not taken to maintain the sustainability of the trails. I am as guilty as anyone of abusing the Endo Valley section of the trail. Now it is time for all of us to remediate that area.
    It is still very much a rideable descent. See, this is part of my concern. Do the people who are pushing to reroute this feature really care about it? Do they ride it actively? When they reroute it, in the back of their minds, are they thinking that they'd rather the new feature be something easier that they can clean consistently? This is part of my concern about showing up to work on stuff like that. I feel like, regardless of what I say, I'm probably going to be the dissenting opinion unless there are other technical riders out there who also care about Endo, and if it's already depressing to be having to shovel under something I love, it's even more depressing (and pretty maddening, frankly) to see other people who are happy to see it go. I mean, if Endo were part of the main loop, it would be a different story, but it isn't. It's always been an advanced option, and there are few things like it remaining in the park. If you guys start going after every single fall line, then pretty soon we're going to lose everything that makes Walnut interesting.

    And also, if speed is a concern, smoothing over the obstacles is not helping in that department. That just encourages more experienced riders to go faster.

    If you want to decrease traffic to Endo, there are ways to do that-- reroute just the entrance and make it somewhat non-obvious to get to and out of the flow of the existing trail-- perhaps even an unmarked offshoot of the Shady Springs loop or something like that. Or put a big skull and crossbones sign up there. I really don't think it's getting more than 5% of the traffic of the rest of the trails, if that. Almost every organized ride I've been on out there skips it.
    Last edited by drc; 02-12-2014 at 12:54 AM.

    DRC

  8. #208
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    Quote Originally Posted by TechniKal View Post
    I'm getting old so my memory may be failing, and I can't find any threads related to it by searching, but I recall that a guy in the neighborhood was coming out on a regular basis and riding the trails on his motocross bike. If I remember correctly, there was a dispute over the fact that no signs said he couldn't do it. Hopefully someone that was more intimately involved will remember and provide more details.
    I was out there this last summer and saw a guy coming off of the trail in to the parking lot on a dirt bike.

  9. #209
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    Quote Originally Posted by drc View Post
    If you want to decrease traffic to Endo, there are ways to do that-- reroute just the entrance and make it somewhat non-obvious to get to and out of the flow of the existing trail-- perhaps even an unmarked offshoot of the Shady Springs loop or something like that. Or put a big skull and crossbones sign up there. I really don't think it's getting more than 5% of the traffic of the rest of the trails, if that. Almost every organized ride I've been on out there skips it.
    They should put a skull & crossbones on lacerated liver. WOnder how many people have gone down that way before seeing what was there and gotten hurt. I"m suprised I've never seen any.

  10. #210
    Over the Hill and Going Down Fast el gringo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by texaskdog View Post
    They should put a skull & crossbones on lacerated liver. WOnder how many people have gone down that way before seeing what was there and gotten hurt. I"m suprised I've never seen any.
    Shhhhhhhhhhhh . . .


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  11. #211
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    June Bug - Thanks for the clarification above. Hearing the details is quite helpful and I am glad to know that an effort was made to save the feature.

    Can someone provide the same clarification concerning what is happening with Endo? As far as I've seen all we know is that it's "not sustainable" and the decision has been made to by pass it. If you can share the details around this decision it will go a long way to help those of us who are feeling a bit disenfranchised here.

  12. #212
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    Glad to help with respect to the Endo Valley reroute.

    The approved reroute will follow much more of the contour lines of the terrain, sweeping right to left (as you enter the Endo Trail off shoot) and taking advantage of the large turning radii of the contours. Then instead of descending down the eroded fall line(s), the trail will descend down the contour (bench cut) into the hill on the wooded side. To access the wooded side of the hill there will be a contoured switch back added to aid in both water shed as well as a more stable trail/tread surface. Once the closures occur with the new paved path, and the time changes we will be focusing on that project.

    If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

    Rich
    Walnut Creek Trail Steward
    ARR Trails Coordinator

  13. #213
    MoJo Mother Superior TheSarge's Avatar
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    Rich, thanks for the explanation of the reroute, but can you explain why the decision was made that we need a reroute? Once again, all I hear is that it's unsustainable. To DRC's point, we've been riding this feature for years and while it changes some over time it doesn't affect the main trail or the other users. It's a side trail that is obviously considered an advanced feature.

    I'm very interested to ride the new route you described, but I just want to understand why Endo has to go away.

  14. #214
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    Yes. Glad to help.

    First, just because individuals can ride something, does not mean it is well designed. In this case, there was really never any "design" placed into the decision as to the route. As part of the ARR mission we subscribe to IMBA guidelines where appropriate for the topography and trail materials. While Endi has existed for years, both the tread has widened, and trees, and other vegetation has been increasingly put as risk because if increase in exposure, because of usage. The point here is that if an alternate design that makes use of countour lines instead if fall lines, some nationally recognized guidlines are used, and the COA remains confident in our stewardship abilities, we continue to be allowed access to trail.

    Second, no matter what portion.of the trail is said to be "cycling" only, it is NOT the case. It is a multipurpose trail. The does not mean we design to lowest common denominator, but we have to at least consider multi user groups in design and maintenance decisions.

    Finally, as to the sustainable aspect. Perhaps a more readily understandable term would be "durable". Good and proper trail design should be able to hold up over time, not be subject to moderate to sever erosion, and have an aspect of easy repair when needed. Endo does not really meet any of those. Just because isbhas been there for a long time, and several riders have mastered it, does not make it durable or sustainable. A couple of case examples at WC: the first water crossing. It had been there a long time, several people had mastered riding through it. But we armored it last year to make it a more sustainable and durable crossing. Same thing with lacerated liver/spleen, and the log pile. All were done to improve the durability and sustaiablity of that part of the train and those features.

    I hope this helps, and if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me directly.

    Thanks,

    Rich
    Walnut Creek Trail Steward
    ARR Trails Coordinator
    Welcome to Austin Ridge Riders | Austin Ridge Riders

  15. #215
    MoJo Mother Superior TheSarge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Pig View Post
    First, just because individuals can ride something, does not mean it is well designed.
    Just because something is poorly designed does not mean that it should be bypassed. Sure, it has some erosion issues - I really hope you're not planning to do away with all the trails that have erosion issues. Widening of the trail? This trail is tiny compared with the majority of the rest of the park. Once again, because so few people ride it - and I doubt it has any hikers or dog walkers - it has widened much less than the main trails. And I'm sorry, but I can't get too worked up about some vegetation becoming increasingly at risk.

    As for being concerned about the other trail users - there are 3 other parallel paths down that same hill. Can't we have 1 route that isn't ADA compliant? It's OK for a dog walker to look at Endo and say "that doesn't look like a fun place to walk".

    I'm a fan of the majority of the changes that have happened at WC. Armoring the first crossing made it easier, but that is a main path and it was impassable after a rain - big win. Reworking RootDrop was a little disappointing but it had to be done because once again it is main path and it was difficult just to hike it - another big win. The changes at the log pile had me a bit concerned but it's clearly more sustainable and the feature didn't change as much as I expected - a win.

    I just don't understand why we have to make cool features go away if they aren't actually causing any problems. How about creating your bypass line and leaving open the old line? If you build something that is more interesting and fun then the old trail will be forgotten anyway - only old fuddy-duddies like me will be riding Endo.

    Really, Rich, I appreciate all y'all do out there. Just gotta question this one.

  16. #216
    MoJo Friar Big Pig's Avatar
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    Unfortunately not all changes to a trail are understood, agreeable, acceptable, supported, etc. by everyone. And that's okay, and that is one of the aspects of trail srewqrdship.

    Input is always appreciated, and encouraged, as is volunteer efforts.

    Thanks,

    Rich
    Walnut Creek Trail Steward
    ARR Trails Coordinator
    Welcome to Austin Ridge Riders | Austin Ridge Riders

  17. #217
    MoJo Mother Superior Disco Stu's Avatar
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    I read this recently and it had me thinking:
    Mountain Bikers, Has IMBA Lost it's Soul?

    Not a big fan of IMBA built trail or IMBA guidelines or rather valuing them above all else. It seems that "sustainability" is more important than fun and that's pretty lame. I'd hate to think what would happen if IMBA got it's paws on BCGB and tried to fix all the "issues".

    I think if you polled riders, they would not want the re-route of Endo.

    Trail building (The public stuff) in Austin is stuck in the early 90's----boring, uninteresting and not challenging. The goal seems to build everything very vanilla because of IMBA guidelines or to make it "safe". Do you think Brushy Creek gets built as it is today if it would have been officially been constructed using IMBA trail building methods? Not saying all the IMBA guidelines are bad---but valuing them above fun/flow/tech/etc defeats the purpose of building a trail in the first place. Austin has plenty of Beginner/lower Intermediate options. When will ARR start building some advanced stuff instead of trail that seems to go uphill in both directions?
    TheSarge and MrMentallo like this.

  18. #218
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    I'm offended.

  19. #219
    MoJo Friar Big Pig's Avatar
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    I don't disagee at all about your position regarding input. We need more it. We need more interest in trail building in a format other than Mojo discussions. Come to an ARR meeting and have a voice. Become a member and have a voice. Come to a trail workday and have a voice. Internet discussions are valuable and does constitute input. But doing it in person, as a part of a group, as part of a collective effort has the potential to be heard, and more importantly be acted upon.

    Don't think I am trying to say, "show up or shut up", as I am not. All I am asking is become engaged at the other levels. I think you would be amazed at the results if you become part of the process.

    Rich
    Walnut Creek Trail Steward
    ARR Trails Coordinator
    Welcome to Austin Ridge Riders | Austin Ridge Riders
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  20. #220
    OnPermanent Vacation jmhix's Avatar
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    You have to remember that the land owner/ manager has the final say. I know a land owner that complained that ARR built trail too difficult for the average rider and wasn't very happy, actually 2 land managers have said that.

    I've ridden trail built by IMBA that has good flow, and I suspect isn't very sustainable.

    And Can we just stop using the S word? I hate that word! It's over used and used incorrectly most of the time.

    And remember that IMBA is just a guide and not the law!




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