“Man, I would love to have a Great Trails Workshop here.” That is what Wes Beam OHV Ranger, Pisgah National Forest told NOHVCC Program Director, Marc Hildesheim. “We just don’t have the funding.”
Nearly a year later NOHVCC heard from Fox Factory that it was creating the Trail Trust Program (www.trailtrust.com) to provide funding for worthy projects. Marc remembered the conversation with Wes and said, “I think I know how we can get a Workshop to the Pisgah.”
Fast forward a few months and NOHVCC staff is in North Carolina hosting a Workshop thanks to Trail Trust providing 100% of the funding. Day one is complete – this is how it went.
15 OHV enthusiasts and managers from Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee gathered early at the trailhead to the Brown Mountain OHV Area on the Pisgah National Forest on April 6, 2022. After introductions, all participants engaged in a discussion about the trailhead, the trail system, signs, maps, and the trails themselves. Several participants had an in-depth knowledge of the area as they had been riding on and maintaining the trails for many years. John Shields with the Smoky Mountain OHV Club has truly been involved since the beginning saying, “I helped put the very first trails in here.” NOHVCC North Carolina State Partner, Bill Blythe likewise first visited the riding area decades ago.
There were also some folks who are new to OHV recreation – and the area. Hunter Campbell, Recreation Technician, has recently joined the staff at the Pisgah and seems eager to learn and help make sure the area meets the needs of local enthusiasts while ensuring the sustainability of resources for future generations.
After the initial discussion about the trail system were complete, all participants loaded up into ROVs or threw a leg over their motorcycle to examine some cool features of the system and to look for potential problem areas that could use some management to ensure maximum sustainability – and fun!
The trails themselves were challenging and featured rocks, boulders, and sand. Participants were given an opportunity to explain how they might manage drainage while providing an opportunity to include a trail to a distinctive rock feature and an amazing view. They didn’t disappoint as nearly everyone engaged and came up with unique hypothetical ways to take advantage of the WOW factor provided by the formation and the vista.
After riding a bit further, everyone stopped to discuss trail hardening techniques utilized on the trails. While labor intensive, trail hardening can be necessary, particularly in areas where reroutes are not feasible. NOHVCC’s staff actually encountered a style of hardening we hadn’t seen before!
Next up on the trail was a four-foot culvert that adequately moved water from one side of the trail to the other and a discussion about how the approach to the culvert might be improved to better drain water off the trail.
Before packing it in for the day NOHVCC staff led conversations about effective signing techniques, rolling dips (and other drainage techniques), trail management objectives, and myriad other issues, mitigation methods and possibilities.
On Day two, participants will learn more about trail layout and design – and will be given an opportunity to flag potential trails in small groups. After flagging routes each group will discuss how and why they came up with their design and all participants will provide input. Stay tuned for coverage of day two tomorrow.
Great Trails Workshops focus on the design, layout, construction, maintenance, and management of sustainable OHV trails. Hands-on field training is emphasized. Participants include trail managers; trail construction and maintenance supervisors and crews; engineering staff involved in trail planning, design, maintenance, and construction; trail contractors; OHV club trail volunteers; and other interested stakeholders.
For more information about Great Trails Workshops click here.