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jasonhilt

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Fort Harrison Trail Conditions - 2015
« on: April 05, 2015, 01:02:22 PM »
Thread is for posting trail conditions for 2015.
Please stay on topic as off topic posts may be deleted.



« Last Edit: January 04, 2016, 09:01:28 AM by jasonhilt »
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jasonhilt

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Re: Fort Harrison Trail Conditions - 2015
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2015, 04:33:29 PM »
Anyone that wants to see what the trails are like:

http://s243.photobucket.com/user/redmancsxt/library/Fort%20Ben%202015%20Damage

Most of the current damage is from hikers and runners.  There were some bike tracks but very few.

All the work we did putting the culverts in....destroyed.  Pictures only cover maybe a fifth of what is out there.  I don't have room on my camera to take pictures of all the areas.

I walked both LC and Schoen.  One tree down on Schoen that will need a chainsaw.

« Last Edit: June 23, 2015, 04:37:26 PM by jasonhilt »
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mtbikernate

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Re: Fort Harrison Trail Conditions - 2015
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2015, 12:17:14 PM »
I'm a frequent visitor for years to Ft Ben to ride and run.  The bike ruts seem to have a much deeper and greater impact to the trail than the foot traffic.  Since the 'Lawrence Creek Hiking Trail' was shut down, I'm afraid you will always get foot traffic on that side of the park until there is an alternative hiking trail to the Mt Bike singletrack.
I'd like to lend my back to the next trail (if early weekend) re-construction day for the first time, I love this local trail.


It doesn't matter WHAT the traffic is, it's setting back our attempts to fix the perpetually wet spots, to the point that the maintenance backlog out there is getting worse and worse. Based on what I've seen from the days I've been out there working when it's red, the walkers/runners are out in higher numbers, and most of the riders who are out there either aren't aware that we post conditions, are confused (like one guy I heard about who seemed to think that the green bicycle icons on the trailhead map in the Trail Guide were status indicators), and a smaller portion either don't care if riding in the mud hurts the trails, or don't think that riding in the mud is as big a deal as we make it.


I won't disagree that ridgeline trail would solve at least some of the problems we're having out there. At this point, though, I think we've got the seep problem mostly narrowed down to the Snake Creek climb.


The problems go beyond the seeps, though. A lot of the pictures show places that are problems for other reasons. Namely, surface drainage. It's been a wet year for us, with a short dry spell in the spring. That's going to highlight areas that needed work before. Snake Creek has been a big drain on our attention and labor, and other, smaller needs have taken a backseat. Folks getting out and using the trails before they've dried out sufficiently aren't helping.

jasonhilt

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Re: Fort Harrison Trail Conditions - 2015
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2015, 02:03:47 PM »
Quote
The bike ruts seem to have a much deeper and greater impact to the trail than the foot traffic.

It's hard to tell in the pictures, but almost all the traffic that has caused the damage has been from hikers/runners.  In some of the pictures you can see where they have been slipping and sliding on the trail to the point they have now pushed the dirt/mud up into a ridge in the middle of the trail.  Their foot prints also make little lakes that hold water.  There is damage to the trail where we never had issues before.  This is all due to people being on trail when it's too wet.

Looks like rain moving in so I'm not planning any work session tonight, as of 2 PM.
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DOH!

MikeHufhand

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Re: Fort Harrison Trail Conditions - 2015
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2015, 03:35:37 PM »


These shots are from my walk on LC last night.  Notice that there's both tire ruts and footprints holding water. Equal opportunity for problems from bikers, hikers and runners.

I did work on several areas, but we're still in a RED state of affairs unfortunately.  Lots of repair work to do.. 


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pmanderson

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Re: Fort Harrison Trail Conditions - 2015
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2015, 04:09:19 PM »

This photo taken near the entrance to Schoen Creek on Friday 2015-07-15


MikeHufhand

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Re: Fort Harrison Trail Conditions - 2015
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2015, 07:42:45 PM »
It's also very telling to compare a trail that has minimal impacts(very few people using it, ie. Camp Creek or Westwood) vs a trail that has high impacts(everybody's using it at all times, like LC) The high impact or heavy use trails are never allowed to dry out adequately while the low impact trails are allowed to dry out and do very well because of it.  Put simply, impacts at the wrong time  will not allow a trail to drain or dry out adequately.


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pmanderson

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Re: Fort Harrison Trail Conditions - 2015
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2015, 08:01:59 AM »
Let me add, and I could be wrong on this:
The traffic during the summer is more so than spring due to schools being out and youth/groups tend to go to The Fort during summer months. So heavy rains occurring in Summer are likely to result in trail damage like we've seen lately,
where most of the trail is in great riding condition, however the likely sloppy spots are taking exceptionally long to drain out due to damage caused by foot/tire traffic.


If this rain occurred on a Monday during the spring, those spots would have drained a lot better since there are fewer folks there.


I see the improvements on the trail all the time. Unfortunately this Summer (i usually call the 'dry' season) is dropping lots of frequent rain when there are lots of visitors to the park.

mtbikernate

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Re: Fort Harrison Trail Conditions - 2015
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2015, 07:31:54 PM »
There's a LOT going on at Fort Harrison that makes the trails difficult to keep in good shape this year.


First, we have trails that pass through areas with challenging drainage issues. The Snake Creek area is a real challenge because it has seeps on the slope. I'm going to suspect that there's a hardpan that forces those seeps out of the hillside any time there's a certain amount of moisture in the soil. Only core samples would tell us with any specificity. Additionally, the Snake Creek section of trail is on the northern aspect of a hill, meaning it gets no direct sunshine. Also, that valley is situated in such a way that it doesn't get much wind, especially when the leaves are out. Sun and wind help dry the trail. We have factors that make the trail there wet, and factors that KEEP it wet.


Because of that, we spend a LOT of time there trying to get it figured out. That takes away from time we could spend in other areas when we encounter something minor that could be addressed quickly.


The problems this year in particular started REALLY early in the year. Towards the end of the winter, we had a lot of freeze/thaw cycles and folks were not being respectful of them. The trails got HAMMERED on a few warm weekends immediately after a thaw, when they were especially sloppy. That set them up for problems later. We had a very short dry spell in the spring, but could not address all of the problem areas.


Then, it got super wet in June and that hasn't really let up. I haven't been to Ft. Harrison at all for quite some time because it's been too sloppy even to get good repairs addressed. The last major repairs I showed up to help with were almost entirely reversed within a few days. It sure sounds like people are continuing to go out there and walk or ride. It's a common mentality. If it's warm and sunny, the trails MUST be in great shape - which isn't always the case. It matters what the weather has been for the past week, or month prior. Doesn't it make sense that the wetter it has been, and the longer it's been wet, that the longer it will take for the trails/soil to dry out?


Your soil conservationist friend can probably get super technical about particle sizes and infiltration rates and soil chemistry and all kinds of stuff. That's fine and dandy, but details matter, and when it comes to trails, not all of the relevant ones are environmental.


The question of why permission for the new trails was granted is a HUGE one. The land manager has final say, really. If sustainability of the trails is a high priority for the land manager, then it's a high priority for us. Which is absolutely the case here. As much as people would like it to be otherwise, unless there's an unlimited budget, long-term sustainability of the trails is impacted by responsible use. The definition of responsible use of a particular trail is going to be pretty specific to that trail. There might be some regional trends, but it's a very local issue relating to the geology of the area, and its geography.


Rangeline is not terribly far away, but it's a very different place, so responsible use there is different from Ft. Harrison. As is Town Run. As is Southwestway. Shoot, at Southwestway it even varies on different trails within the same park. Responsible use on city/state park trails (which are more heavily developed) is different than on National Forest trails (like Nebo Ridge), which is going to be different than on trails in different regions (trails in Colorado will be different from those in North Carolina which will be different from those in Southern California).


We have the hand we've been dealt, so that's what we've got to work with. Our trails are not good when they're sloppy and heavily trafficked. It's been an especially wet year. We need to back off and give the trails some time to dry out with all the rain we've had.

Paul_Arlinghaus

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Re: Fort Harrison Trail Conditions - 2015
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2015, 04:37:51 PM »
HMBA does not have final say on the closing of any trails.  At Town Run it is Indy Parks that formally closes the trails.   The park is closed when the trails flood and occasionally when we need to protect the trail from damage, but under the authority of Indy Parks, not HMBA.


Same would be true for Fort Ben.  The trails could only be closed by the Park, not HMBA. HMBA's role is would only be to recommend closure and the Park would weigh the impact to all user groups.


We would not request closure because mountain bikers don't like to ride in mud. We would request the trail be closed when we feel that the volunteers who maintain  the trail could no longer keep up with the damage being caused in adverse weather conditions. 


This really isn't an mtb vs other user group issue, its a user vs trail volunteer issue.  Those who do not volunteer to maintain trails do not understand the damage caused by users in adverse conditions.  Those who work on trails see the trails very differently than those who are only focused on using them.


Other users groups could contact the Park Manager and express their opinions on the matter.


The application trail is built in very rocky areas and has no bearing on how to manage a trail in Indiana.


While hikers and runners may not mind using trails when muddy.  They do cause trail damage and it is the trail damage we are attempting to prevent.  There is a paved path and hiking only trails in the park.  The hiking only paths are less desirable to hike because the park has had to gravel armor much of them in order to allow use in any trail condition. 


Many trail runners and hiker prefer the mountain bike trails for the same reason that they are not able to handle use when muddy.  They are narrow trails with a dirt tread.  Trails can be built that can handle use when wet, but these trails are typically less fun when dry because the are gavel armored and built wide enough for the equipment required to haul gravel. 


There are even opportunities for more hiking only trails, but since there is no organized hiking trail builders, building new hiking trails is unlikely. 


Through out the whole process of getting the current trails approved, the hiking and trail running community was not engaged.  There is no trail running advocacy group in Indiana and the Hiking Advocacy group is primarily concerned about long distance hiking groups.


If hikers and trial runner want to be at the table, they need to do some of the hard work the mountain bike community has done to have an advocacy organization and a strong volunteer ethics. 


Hope some of that helps.
HMBA: Director of Trail Development / Secretary

mtbikernate

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Re: Fort Harrison Trail Conditions - 2015
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2015, 02:36:56 PM »
you're missing the point.


Very little of your park access fee dollars (and soon to be your MTB permit dollars) actually go directly back to those trails. It's never worked that way. The state cuts the DNR budget pretty much every year, so proportionally more of that budget has to pay salaries and basic facility maintenance.


Signs don't do much, and HMBA doesn't have carte blanche to install them everywhere, anyway. Some areas already have too many. Who here knows all the content of all the signs (as well as the kiosk) by the gravel lot near Lawrence Creek? Who stops to look at them every time they visit the trails?


A LOT of properties (federal, state, and local level management) have some sort of closure policies. Whether they're seasonal, regular rotating types, or based on conditions, closures are used to minimize user conflicts and/or user impacts during sensitive times. Just because IN DNR has not used such management tools in the past doesn't mean that they should not use them ever on a case by case basis.


If physically keeping people off the trails when they are sloppy helps the trails to dry out faster and keeps them in good shape longer, then how is that a net loss? I consider this year to be a net loss because the trails at Ft. Harrison are in terrible shape. Seems to me that if the park enforced closures based on conditions, which allowed the trails to dry faster, it would be a net gain.

jasonhilt

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Re: Fort Harrison Trail Conditions - 2015
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2015, 03:26:00 PM »
Quote
...anyone that visits the park regulary thought that the new setup would preclude them from using the trails that have always been available.
WHY would anyone want to use the trail in the shape it is in right now?  It's not even suitable for hiking unless you love hiking in a 30 foot, and I mean an actual 30 FOOT watery mud pit!

HMBA does the maintenance on the trail.  As far as I know, and I haven't seen them out there, the park staff doesn't do anything to maintain the MTB trail.

So in your opinion, indymtb, you think we should do nothing and just let the hikers keep hiking on a trail that is unsuitable for any kind of use?  Keep them open and continually watch as all our work and repairs get destroyed time after time like they have been this year? 

I really hope you come out Wednesday so you can finally realize what has happened on that trail and see the hours and hours of work that has been destroyed.  Maybe, just maybe, then you will understand why we must have a way to close sections when needed. 

Shin guards! We don't need no stinkin' shin guards!
DOH!

MikeHufhand

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Re: Fort Harrison Trail Conditions - 2015
« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2015, 03:36:38 PM »

I see everyones point here.   I agree with Indymtb because I am a hiker.  I also agree with HMBA's mission to close the trails so they can ride more instead of do repair work.  My question regarding snake creek...has a bypass been discussed or proposed to protect the trail?
Yes. A comprehensive proposal for new trails has been made. The ability to avoid Snake Creek is a small part of it. More armoring is on its way as well. 

It's not just just about riding more...it's about protecting the trails we fought long and hard to even have in existence. Join us!


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MikeHufhand

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Re: Fort Harrison Trail Conditions - 2015
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2015, 10:41:44 AM »
Pipedream is no longer a nightmare


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Jeff Blum

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Re: Fort Harrison Trail Conditions - 2015
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2015, 06:17:53 PM »
The entire system is GREEN.

The Snake Creek climb is perfect, except for that last spot we fixed after the log-over.  Bad soil in that spot is holding too much moisture.  I think we need a couple of buckets of gravel on that spot, the good dusty kind to change the consistency of the soil and get it to firm up.

 

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