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, 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.
Since most people expressed a willingness to donate funds, Bayfield Area Trails plans to follow-up with a request for donations once we have finalized our 2021 work plans. Also, due to the high level of interest, we will likely re-run the survey when the trail field season is in full swing this summer.
We are interested in your thoughts. Click the button below to provide feedback on the report.
Starting on Saturday December 5th, volunteers began efforts to restore the view of Bayfield’s Historic Iron Bridge at the Gil Larsen Trailhead on Washington Ave. This phase of the work is now complete thanks to the help of 12 community volunteers who dedicated 60 hours of time cutting and clearing trees and brush.
This sets the stage for restoring the creek bottom with native species. The cut stumps will be carefully treated by mid-December with an herbicide. The first round of planting and continued invasive species control will occur in Spring/Summer of 2021.
Over the last four months, the City Parks and Recreation Committee, in coordination with the Tree Board and Landmark Conservancy, has led development of this Plan to Restore and Maintain the Viewshed in the long-term by planting low and slow-growing shrubs and trees that will “frame” the view corridor. Bay Area Environmental Consultants provided technical input on this plan as part of a contracted Erosion Control and Restoration Plan for the Big Ravine. Copies of these plans are also linked on the Bayfield Area Trails website News page.
For more information contact: Kate Kitchell firstname.lastname@example.org or Matt Carrier email@example.com.