Greetings Bayfield Area Trails Enthusiasts!
As we watch the golden glow of autumn blow away, it's time to reflect on the successes of our field season and to give thanks to everyone who helped to make them happen! What an incredible year it has been! Read the month-by-month progress below.
Click pictures for a larger view. Click underlined text to learn more about a project.
The trail building season began with our annual Fundamentals of Trail Construction and Maintenance Training, followed by the exciting construction of Hemlock Heights in the Big Ravine under the skillful leadership of our favorite trail builder Will Krift. Hemlock Heights connects the Gil Larsen Trail in the bottom of the Big Ravine with the Ravine's west side trails network, thereby opening up a whole new variety of loops. If you haven't explored this new trail yet, it's not too late; and...if you like a cardio workout, Hemlock Heights is the trail for you!
Gracie's Trail that connects from Betzold Rd. to Fire Tower Hill Rd. was also constructed. We are grateful to Drew Froeliger for generously allowing Grace's Trail across his property and we hope this leads to other private land crossings in our trails network. In June, steps were also added to steep sections of the Pine Bluff Trail to reduce erosion and make them more easily passable during slick periods.
On October 15th, a whirlwind of equipment and raking crews distributed and spread 20 cubic yards of gravel on the low muddy sections of the East Rim Trail.
As leaves fall and the tick populations decline, we have resumed efforts on the Pike's Creek Hatchery Connector project again. Thanks to adventurous field reconnaissance done during the spring, there is an initial proposed route to connect the Hatchery Trail to the Jerry Jolly Trails at Mt. Ashwabay with a non-motorized trail. We are initiating coordination and seeking permits and easements from the DNR, with the goal of pursuing grants for trail construction in 2022-2023.
Bayfield Area Trails is working with the Town of Bayfield and Landmark Conservancy to possibly purchase 10 acres of wetland at the headwaters of the Big Ravine Preserve on the north side of Meyers-Olson Rd. This would permanently protect the wetlands habitat and the Big Ravine watershed as well as provide a lovely opportunity for a trail for watching birds, beavers, and other wildlife in the wetlands.
Our last coordinated project for the season will be to rebuild the rock steps along the Gil Larsen Trail above the waterfall. Upon looking at this location we concluded that the rock work was more critical than replacing the boardwalk. So, we will be assembling a small crew to work with Will Krift. While on location, we will also do some final trail stabilization and drainage work on the lower end of the School Trail before the snow hits.
We will start planning a virtual meeting to talk about the future of Bayfield Area Trails, including seeking participants in our new Trails and Communications subcommittees. We will also discuss initial thoughts for 2022 projects. Please keep your eyes peeled for an invitation to this meeting in January or February.
As you can see, we made lots of headway on our 2021 - 2022 priorities. This could not have been accomplished without the truly remarkable participation and enthusiasm of our Bayfield Area Trails Stewards. The greatest reward is seeing how many people love these trails! Although we haven't had a chance to add up all of the hours from this year's season, you can be sure that it was hundreds of hours plus donations of equipment and creative ideas.
At the risk of forgetting someone...a HUGE ROUND OF APPLAUSE AND THANKS TO OUR 50+ VOLUNTEERS:
And...we must not forget the folks who are working behind the scenes on project support, including accounting for funds and paying bills. Thanks to the City of Bayfield staff, Parks and Recreation Committee, and City Council. We also greatly appreciate the support from the Town of Bayfield staff and elected officials!
Thanks to everyone who has brought Bayfield Area Trails to Life! Happy Trails!
The section of the Brownstone Trail south of Blue Wing Bay Road is easier travel now, thanks to a Bayfield County Health Department grant to the Town of Bayfield. We also owe a debt of gratitude to Anthony Jennings, Kathleen Russell, Tim and Cari Logemann, Heidi Zimmer of Wild Rice Retreat, and Landmark Conservancy for their donations. Bayfield Area Trails volunteers were able to cross a number of items off the To Do list due to great participation over seven days and Will Krift's fantastic leadership. Special kudos to Rex Dollinger (and Ollie) for the use of his trailer, tools, and extra support.
The main goal of the recent work was to make a steep unstable section of the trail more user friendly for walkers of all skill levels, as well as for "wheeled" users including bikes and strollers. Bayfield Area Trails Committee Chair Kate Kitchell explains the other purpose; “We hope this will keep trail users on the proper trail right-of-way, rather than crossing private property along the old railroad grade.” New signs will be installed by Landmark Conservancy to provide clear direction for trail users.
Additional thanks go to the Town of Bayfield for funding the boardwalk materials, Rich Ryan for assembling and delivering the six new sections of boardwalk, and Bayfield Area Trails volunteers Kris Wegerson and John Ipsen who served as on-site coordinators.
The Northland students were supported by Bayfield Area Trails volunteers Gene Lemmenes and Bob Wood who served as on-site coordinators, and a Brownstone neighbor, Bob Plucinak, who spread gravel with his tractor on the trail adjoining the Waterford condominiums. On the Brownstone section north of Blue Wing Bay Road, the student crew worked with Rex Dollinger as on-site coordinator and Jim Moeller who made things a little easier by shuttling gravel with his ATV with dump trailer.
What kinds of issues? “We have extreme terrain, roots and rocks, and ground hornets.” Will said. “What isn’t there on this project?” Sam Hughes, who with his wife Lizzie, is the new owner of Blue Vista Farm, showed up early on a recent morning with a “monster chain saw” to help remove a tree that posed a risk to the new trail. “The tree was dead and the trunk was split and it was going to fall,” Will said.
“There’s also a lot of construction necessary to get to where we can put in a dirt tread,” Will said. Constructed elements include steps, hand rails, crib wall, and a bridge. The stairs and crib wall are anchored with sections of rebar that have to be driven five feet into the (very dry) ground with a sledge hammer.
Many thanks to the City of Bayfield, the Bayfield School District, the funders, Trails Anonymous, Blue Vista Farm, CAMBA, and the BATS volunteers for making Nan’s dream come true!
“Every time I work with Will, I learn something new,” Gene Lemmenes piped up. “This time we discovered how handy a come along and rock net can be for moving the really big rocks.”
The trail enables access from the Gil Larsen Trailhead on Washington Avenue to the West Rim Trail, and on to Martin Road that connects to Betzold Road and the orchards area, including the Erickson Orchard. It also connects the West Rim trails to the East Rim trails via the Gil Larsen and Pine Bluff Trails. The Hemlock Heights Trail can be accessed from above via the West Rim trailhead located at the parking lot adjacent to the Bayfield school’s baseball field which, by the way, must have the most beautiful view of any ballpark in the world!
Hemlock Heights is the latest addition to the new trails network on City of Bayfield park lands that includes the Iron Bridge, Sweeny Switchback, Gil Larsen extension, and Pine Bluff trails. Kate Kitchell, Parks and Recreation Committee Chair is grateful for the City’s sponsorship. “We couldn’t have done all of these exciting trail additions without the incredible support from the City of Bayfield staff, Council, and committees.”
The Hemlock Heights Trail work was funded by a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Recreational Trails Program grant with matching grant funds from the Apostle Islands Area Community Fund, and donations from the Bayfield Chamber and Visitor Bureau. A huge round of applause to the funders, the volunteers and Will.
Next up? Beginning in mid-August, plans are to construct a connecting trail between the parking lot on the east side of Bayfield High School to the Gil Larsen Trail. It is hoped that the new “school” trail will facilitate safe and easy access for students to the Big Ravine for outdoor education and recreation.
Please contact us if you are interested in becoming a volunteer.
In case you missed it, click the images below to take a look at this year's volunteer training presentations including information on the Bayfield Area Trails 2021 Volunteer Program and the Fundamentals of Trail Construction and Maintenance.
Please contact us if you are interested in being a volunteer.
Overheard at the beginning of the Gil Larsen Trail on Saturday morning May 1st:
Right on the heels of the planting project came the installation of four new interpretive signs at the Gil Larsen Trailhead on Sunday May 2nd. Thanks to Bob Durfey, Neil Howk, and Gene Lemmenes for digging, assembling, and setting up the signs that will now be enjoyed by visitors and residents for years to come. The visitor will first encounter a sign about the historic apple shed and the William Knight house. After climbing the steps, there are three more signs filled with information about Big Ravine trails, cultural history, and natural features.
Neil Howk remarked “It has been rewarding to be a part of this project from start to finish. I hope that the information presented on the signs will help everyone to appreciate how special the Big Ravine Preserve is.”
Thanks to the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program for funding these new signs.