Monday, November 24, 2014

Go Play in the Backyard!

Alas, he was a good boy!
Or, Tell Your Sister to Hang On Tight
I’ve mentioned the bigger-than-everyone-realizes news about the recent signing of the lease on 2,700 acres for off-road recreational development by my home county and three other adjacent counties.  Since then I’ve been able to do a little exploring and scouting.  I’ve got some better ideas about where trails could go, and a better handle on the condition of the land.
In short, it’s all been aggressively logged.  Prior to that the entire area has been primarily utilized for oil drilling operations and I’m sure before that it was logged even more aggressively than would be allowed in modern times.
There are a lot of old oil access roads and newer skid roads.  Those provide pretty good access to all corners of the property.  But bounding those roads is a Mordor-esque snarl of briars, scrub trees, and deadfall.  It’s a good thing it’s going into winter…
That said, there is unbelievable potential there for all kinds of trail recreation.  I’m not into downhill, but me and the boys recognized the potential of a swath of powerline cut with consecutive rock ledges that could be refined into a sick downhill course.
The first drop is about ten feet, and the second looks to be more like fifteen. 
There is a third bigger cliffband that may negate the whole affair.
Looking out over the Sand Lick valley you can see big cliffs with potential rock climbing, skid roads criss-crossing the hillsides, and valleys and ridges that would be amazing canvases for dozens of miles of singletrack trails.  ORVs are already using the heck out of the area.  The need to segregate uses is paramount, but the land lends itself to fairly easy compartmentalization.
We also found three big rocks on the west end of the area that would provide stunning views and fantastic mountain biking terrain.  The rocks are high above the motorized vehicle playground below.  It’s also the nearer end to the Red River Regional Bikeport.  It’s a measly sixteen miles from my front porch to the closest edge of the soon-to-be off-road park.  It’s only six from Jeaphre’s.
I’m trying to keep myself close to the initial planning process.  The local judge-exec has expressed his interest in having me help out and I fully intend to do my best to make this a world class asset for my community.

The other exciting thing about this future park is that it's big enough to possibly self-contain mountain bike or trail running races of substantial length.  And if not it borders National Forest on multiple sides.
I’ve made some progress on my own backyard trail.  A key switchback has been completed.  I wanted it finished before the ground started to harden under the heavy blanket of winter that seems to be descending upon us.  I’ve still got so much to do to have a nice flow trail loop, but once I do the work will have been worth it.
In the meantime I keep trail running and falling on my abused wrist.  I’m a ding-a-ling that way.

Across the way you can see a large cliffband and the network of logging roads

Tree rock outcroppings surrounded by thickets
Backyard trail work

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