Daveniz wrote:So, How'd Trail Day Go?!
I'll let Jeff give you the details, but we had a big turnout (enough to cover ALL the trails, I believe), but there was enough chili for all (kudos, Mary Ann-- I vote we eat at park HQ from now on, since snow appears to be a tradition as well). Thanks for the warm welcome despite the cold weather.
Since we were talking about the Grinder the other day, here are some thoughts based on what I saw, and comments from others.
1. The original concept: "It's the Grinder, it's 15 miles, like it or lump it," isn't working. Not enough people do the full distance, so most are bailing out (usually around the 7-mile mark?) and riding back to the trailhead using Hess Road. This does not sound like a satisfying experience.
2. Meanwhile, the remaining 8 miles are not getting ridden, and are overgrowing from lack of use.
3. Some of the toughest sections are at the beginning of the ride. Towards, the end, around the 14-mile mark, there's some nice flowing segments.
4. None of the bailouts are marked, since they're unofficial. Some of them lead across private property, so riders are turning up in peoples' backyards. Not good.
The devil is in the details, of course, but here are some general principles that could improve the Grinder:
1. Make it officially a stacked-loop trail. Use crossovers to create options to return *using the trail, not Hess Road*.
2. Use signage to designate options, distances, difficulty. Close all bandit bailouts, mark with "no traspassing" signs (when you do that, add an arrow on the trail that says "Return to Trailhead - X miles")
3. Create loops of, say, 9, 12 and 15 miles. For example, cutting across from the 7-mile mark to 13, makes a 9-mile loop.
4. Emphasize *flow* on the initial loop: remove awkward lines, unnecessary obstacles. Place benches at scenic points, encourage users to take a break, hang in there, enjoy the experience. That way, even 9 miles of the revised trail will be about the same effort as 7 miles of the old.
5. Emphasize *skill* on the middle loop: introduce more log crossings, rock features, challenging lines.
6. Emphasize *stamina* in the outer loop: keep the skill level about the same-- the question is, can you handle another 3 miles of this?
It should *all* have flow and sustainability, but these qualities will be most important on the inner loop, which will always get the most usage.