We have created a YouTube Channel for Standing Boy Trails so we can create video updates through the next phases of the trails and facilities. We have also posted an end-of-year update, which is almost 40 minutes, but full of a lot of new plans and information. It is well worth your time! Please check it out and subscribe to our channel for future updates.
It’s been awhile, and part of that is because we have tried to have deference to the pandemic – both to those nonprofits that are providing economic assistance and health-care services directly related to the pandemic as well as those with fixed operating costs that are fighting to stay afloat. However, it’s long past time for an update and we are at a point where we have to reassert ourselves in the nonprofit space by fundraising to address insufficient parking and the amount of traffic on the green trails (both of which are awesome problems to have).
State Parks and Parking Pass – The property is back being managed by State Parks. It was a winding road to get here, but it has already proven to be the right move as State Parks is very comfortable managing trails and working with them has been fantastic. If you are so inclined, it would be great if you emailed Matt Bruner at firstname.lastname@example.org. Pretty sure those folks don’t get enough “thank you’s” for everything they put up with.
New signage and a pay station for daily use is coming, but please go ahead and buy a State Parks pass when your Lands Pass expires.
Also, hunting and fishing licenses as well as Lands Passes will continue to be honored until June 31, 2021. Please leave them (or a copy of them) on the dash of your vehicle.
Happily, State Parks taking back over does not alter the Trail System Master Plan. And, it does not mean there are any plans to build any of the facilities that were part of the State Parks Master Plan from a few years ago.
Trail Use – Even with limited parking and virtually no promotion, the trails are seeing an encouraging amount of use. We have counters on Primary Goods, The Bug, and Lonely Hunter. For example, on Sunday, September 20th, we had 153 hits on Primary Goods, 31 hits on The Bug, and 52 hits on Lonely Hunter. We are also seeing a steady amount of traffic during the week, and on many weekdays are getting close to half of the users we see on a weekend day.
That’s pretty good, but we’ll do a whole, whole lot better once we have sufficient parking so that we can promote the trails via social media and other outlets and the pandemic subsides so we can hold beginner clinics and similar events.
Trail Maintenance – Because the corridors are freshly cut, we were able to make it through the spring and summer on the backs of Keith Wills and few other dedicated volunteers. However, as the weather cools down and the ground gets more moisture in it, we are going to have to start having trail workdays again. We will do everything we can to make them safe, and we benefit greatly from the fact we’ll be outdoors. Please keep an eye on Instagram and Facebook for more information, and don’t count on others to show up and do the work. We need everyone’s help.
Parking – With lots of help from Hughston Homes, we have a quote to construct about 70 more spaces at a cost of $65,000. This new parking area is part of a Trailhead Master Plan (I’ll try to get it up on the website soon) and will be located between the existing parking area and Old River Road, just north of the overgrown, gated road that intersects the road to the parking area from the west.
We have approval from State Parks pending the normal environmental surveys, which unfortunately cannot take place until March because we need to wait for trillium to bloom. We have the environmental survey scheduled, and, pending successful fundraising, will start construction as soon as possible after the survey is completed.
Until then, please center on the wheel stops and remember that the road on the western side of the property is open during hunting season, which runs through February. There are a number of spots to park along that road.
The Trailhead Master Plan has changing stalls, picnic tables, etc. and we’ll get there eventually. But for right now, the emphasis will continue to be on trails and parking.
Road to Parking Area – It appears we are going to be able to get the road widened by six feet on the east side so we have a twenty-foot roadbed, which will hopefully be wide enough to let oncoming traffic by with ease but not so wide that it encourages people to drive too fast.
At the same time this happens (likely sometime in the Summer of 2021), it also appears we are going to be able to get a water pump (the kind they have at the ranges on Fort Benning) in the parking area and at a spot on the southern side of the property on Lonely Hunter.
Fingers crossed and I’ll hopefully be able to share more on this soon.
Gate – In the next few weeks we should get an automated gate installed at Old River Road. Appreciation goes to ACOM for this. The gate will open and close automatically (e.g., 5:00 AM and 9:00 PM). Additionally, we will be able to remotely open and close the gate so that we can close the trails when they become too wet. While this will be helpful as the trails attract more and more new users, we can see from the trail counters that compliance with trail closures by current users is awesome. Thank you!
Trail Construction – Currently under construction are segments 8, 9, and 12. This will turn Lonely Hunter into a full blue loop and help reduce the number of users on the green trails. These segments will be complete by Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, there is not a feasible way to open them incrementally like we did with Lonely Hunter. Please exercise discipline and stay off until they are complete.
In the late winter or early spring, the last little bit of segment 9 and segment 18 will be constructed. Segment 18 is meant to be the flagship gravity-oriented bike trail. Construction was pushed back until early next year so we could open that trail, which will have more sculpted dirt features than multi-use trails, into the drier summer and fall months.
After construction of these trails, our current funds will be depleted to what we need for normal operating expenses.
Fund-Raising Campaign – We will soon be launching a $200,000 fundraising campaign. In addition to the parking area, this sum will allow for the construction of some additional trail. The environmental surveys for these trails will be conducted in conjunction with the survey for the parking area.
First, we are going to turn Primary Goods into a loop, which will then allow us to run Primary Goods and Bimini directionally like Lonely Hunter. This will provide a better, less-congested user experience for everyone.
Second, we will better connect Bimini. Large portions of segment 4 suffered substantial tornado damage. We are not 100% sure how we are going to handle this yet, but we’ll get more of the planned-for mileage and have more single track and less gravel road.
Please be on the lookout for more information. To get this done in the current environment, we are going to have to have grass-roots fundraising efforts and donations.
Final Thoughts – It has been really heartening, especially with the current state of the world, to see how thankful and respectful people have been of the trails and property as a whole. Compliance with trails closures is outstanding, very little trash is showing up in the parking area, I’m not hearing lots of reports of people acting like jerks on the trails, etc. Thank you!
Making sure that continues is crucial, as I’m continuing to pursue some additional possibilities as far as management of the trail system, revenue, and similar matters. I’ll share more as soon it’s productive to do so.
Thanks for everyone’s support!
Things have been and are progressing with the project despite the rain and now, just as things have dried out completely, COVID-19. With regards to COVID-19, we are seeing a lot of new users looking to get out of their homes and get some exercise. We are reminding everyone to follow the latest guidelines on social distancing, and thus far it seems like compliance is good. If you are asked a question or help out what seem to be new users, please remind them to check Instagram or Facebook for trail status before venturing out the trails.
Because of COVID-19, we will be suspending most proactive fundraising until the virus has abated. Right now, charitable giving needs to be focused on those affected by COVID-19 and those nonprofits with fixed overhead who will be fighting for their continued existence in the months to come.
Looking at the Master Plan Map under “Trails”, segments 16, 15, and 14 are mostly complete (close to 3 miles). We had to reroute the first part of 16 because of the tornado, and environmental review is scheduled for the week of March 30th. This will allow the completion of the portion of section 16 closest to the parking lot in the weeks to come.
Segments 16, 15, and 14 are very quietly open as of this news update. These are intermediate trails and should be approached with caution. Until segment 13 is completed so that these segments may be ridden as a loop, we will ask
- cyclists to ride south on the gravel road to Hub P and return to the parking area on the trail, and
- hikers and runners to travel south on the trail and return to the parking area on the gravel road.
This will help abate the congestion associated with an “out-and-back” trail.
Work continues on segment 13 and soil conditions have allowed construction to resume on segment 8 as well. Segments 6 and 7 (about 1.5 miles) and segment 13 (about 4 miles) should all open in the coming months. Until they do, please stay off of them as using soft, newly-constructed trails before they are ready can create a lot of problems.
Once all of these segments are completed, we’ll have close to 15 miles. As of right now, we do not have funding for any additional mileage. Until the world starts to return to normal, our focus will be on maintaining the existing trails and encouraging people to use them responsibly.
[ First-time users please see prior post ]
You may have noticed that the trails have developed some lingering muddy spots over the past month and that they have been closed for a number of days after the last heavy rain. Here’s what’s going on.
New Trails and Their First Winter
As new trails moves through their first winter, it’s normal to have drainage issues that need to be addressed. Even though the trails were well designed and constructed and compacted with a machine, the trail will harden even more with a year or two of use. Also, we will rock armor some of the worst problem areas.
The weather has not helped us this past month. Columbus averages 4″ of rain in December. As of this post, the weather station closest to Standing Boy has recorded 8″, or double what we normally get in December.
Long term, the goal is to have a trail system that is ready to use 24 hours after rain absent extenuating circumstances such as multiple days of rain, multiple inches of rain, freeze/thaw or very cold conditions, etc. Hopefully, knowing the goal we are working towards will help you be patient with longer closures this first winter.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
To Get To the Trails: Using 1706 Old River Road in googlemaps will pretty much get you there. Go north on River Road, turn left on Old River Road, cross Standing Boy Creek, look for the sign, and turn down the next gravel road on your left. The parking area and kiosk will be obvious.
Current Trails: see “Trails” and “Current Trails” on this site
Hours: The trails are closed for hunting until 10:00 AM each day until January 15th.
Fee: You must have either a fishing license, hunting license, or land pass to be on any WMA. Use the Outdoors GA app to purchase.
DO NOT USE WET TRAILS! This applies to hikers, runners, and bikers – everyone. Trail closures are posted on Instagram and Facebook. If you encounter a puddle or muddy area, please go straight through the middle. Avoiding it widens the trails and will make it harder to fix.
For more info on wet trails, normal drainage issues with new trails, and the current status of the trails, see the post immediately preceding this one.
Stop at the Kiosk: In addition to the map, it has some basic rules of the trail and information on why it’s so important to not use the trails when they are wet.
Download and Use an App: This website is about getting the trails built. Use the typical resources (e.g., MTB Project or Trailforks apps for mountain biking) to see trail maps, etc. We’re not going to reinvent the wheel here.
Support the Trails: Please go to the “Donate” page and give so that we can build the rest of the trails.
Thanks and hope you have a great time on the trails!
Drainage Issues / Muddy Areas
If you have used the trail recently, you have seen the couple dozen active drainages that have created puddles or muddy spots in the trail. I am aware of these issues as is Trail Solutions. As a new trail moves through its first winter, it’s normal to have drainage issues that need to be addressed. Even though it was compacted with a machine, the trail will harden even more with a year or two of use and we will not have many of these issues going forward.
Importantly, there is no indication any of these issues have been caused by people using the trail when it has been closed. As best we can tell, compliance with trail closures has been excellent, which is awesome and very, very appreciated.
Long term, the goal is to have a trail system that is ready to use about 24 hours after rain absent extenuating circumstances such as multiple days of rain, multiple inches of rain, freeze/thaw or very cold conditions, etc. While we are going to close the trail for a slightly longer period after rain until we get the current issues resolved, hopefully knowing the goal we are working towards will help you be patient with longer closures this first winter.
Through this first winter, if it’s been more than 48 hours or so since a normal rain event and there are no extenuating circumstances, we are going to use the trail. We’ll monitor to make sure we are not creating additional issues, but as a general matter if the trail isn’t ready within 48 hours, the solution is to fix the problem areas, not wait a week for every foot of the trail to dry out. So, within reason, we are going to hike/run/ride 48 hours after normal rain events and rely on all of you to help with armoring and otherwise fixing the problem areas.
Most drainage issues were addressed in construction. For every drain that is active enough to be a problem, there are dozens that are just fine. In addition to generally solid trail construction, extraordinary drainage issues were anticipated in a number of areas. For example, at the very west end of the north side of Bimini, a good chuck of the trail has a bed of aggregate under it. But, it was impossible to anticipate every single issue. If we wanted a trail that never had wet spots, we’d need armor every single drainage, which would be cost prohibitive and, in the vast majority of cases, completely unnecessary. Trail Solutions has done and continues to do an outstanding job.
Puddles and wet areas will not be a significant issue every winter. No matter how well constructed, every new trail goes through a puppy phase. The entire trail will harden up after the first year, we’ll address the drainage issues we could not foresee in the initial construction, and while every winter will bring a few wet areas that need attention, this will not be as significant an issue after the first year or two. Just part of the process.
There are THREE MAIN THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP:
- Go straight through the middle of the puddles and muddy areas. Embrace this very limited-time opportunity to celebrate your inner child and make a big, muddy splash. If you don’t want to do this, then please don’t use the trails until we get the issue resolved. Going through rather than around prevents the trail from widening. We can fix the puddle or muddy area much more easily than the widened trail.
- Continue to comply with trail closures, even when they seem unreasonably long. Remember we are working toward a 24-hour closure (absent extraordinary circumstances) and be patient this first winter.
- Be on the lookout for opportunities to volunteer at trail work days. Once we formulate a detailed plan, we’ll hold workdays and post them on social media.
Quality Time Trail
Quality Time, the kids/skills loops to the left of the kiosk, has been completed for some time. However, it required a lot of lift and tilt construction (lots of borrow pits and movement of soil to create contours). While it was compacted with a machine, it’s impossible to get all the air out of the soil with just a machine – the trail needs to be used. Additionally, the soil in that area of the property is very, very clay heavy. While this will give the contours longevity, it means the trail may be quite tacky until everything firms up.
All this is to say that waiting longer is unlikely to be that helpful, so we are going to go ahead and open Quality Time. However, we will protect it more than the rest of the trail system, and there will be times when it is closed while the rest of the trail system is open.
We will monitor how things go and respond accordingly. Just like with the rest of the Trail, it is likely that a few areas will develop that require work (drains, armoring, etc.). The Trail Solutions crew will be here in January and February, and we’ll be watching closely in conjunction with them.
Construction of Other Trails
The green climb (segment 6 in the Master Plan) is complete and the crew is working on the green gravity descent back to the parking area (segment 7). There is a chance (but not a certainty or even a probability) it will be completed before the crew leaves for the holidays. However, please do not go exploring! We need to stay off until everything is complete.
The crew will be back in early-to-mid January to begin work on some of the blue trail. More on this to come, but we are going to need help fundraising to keep them here through the spring so they can finish Phase 2 (see other posts). We’ll make an organized fundraising push early in 2020, but 2019 donations are more than welcome. Please donate at https://standingboy.org/donate/.
I hope everyone is enjoying the trails. As we move forward, there will be more and more opportunities to help. Please be on the look out for these and be willing to pitch in.
See you on the trails!