We had good weather and a good turnout for the Spring ’21 Buffalo River Trail work session. Our goal for the week was construction of 1/4 mile of new trail to complete the 28-mile segment east of US-65 that was started in 2005. The work site was near Little Rocky Creek, north of Marshall and between Red Bluff and South Maumee roads.
The fun began Friday March 26 with 4 of us setting flags to mark the exact route and then clearing a corridor – raking away all organic matter to expose the soil in a 3- foot-wide path and then digging out all vegetation and small rocks to create a walkable path. This continued Saturday and Sunday with about 10 people.
One of the notable features of this route is “The Ditch” where the trail would have to drop steeply 15-20′ to cross a small creek below a waterfall and then climb steeply up the other side. It was apparent all along that a lot of stone steps would have to be constructed here and I wondered if we would even be able to finish within the week. A few of our more-experienced trail builders looked at it from all angles and decided on a good crossing point and a plan for the approaches from either side. Some strong backs gathered large rocks and piled them near the crossing area for later use as steps.
On Monday constructing the trail tread. In most areas that requires a bit of digging and moving the soil to create a 24″ tread that is smooth and almost level side-to-side, with just a bit of slope for drainage. We watch for opportunities to use large rocks as natural steps and to use undulations in the terrain to aid drainage. We were joined by BNR Trails Foreman Daniel Jackson and BNR Archaeologist Suika Rivett. Daniel’s #1 priority was to begin construction of the steps in The Ditch, while Suika inspected some of the soil that was being excavated along the route.
Tuesday was the big day, with Luke and Janet Parsch getting Ken Smith out to the work area and 3 more Highlands Chapter members joining us for the day. Daniel Jackson had the park’s utility vehicle on-hand to drive Ken down an old road to within 100 yards of the work site. I think it was the first time in 3.5 years Ken had been out on the trail and he seemed excited. He was able to walk through most of the work area and pointed-out more than once that the work was not up to standards. Also on-hand Tuesday was a documentary film crew shooting a short segment of a film to commemorate next year’s 50th anniversary of the BNR. To cap it off, BNR Superintendent Mark Foust hiked-in to the work site to see how things were progressing and joined us for lunch in The Ditch.
Luke posted his pictures from the day at https://www.flickr.com/photos/15 3966631@N05/albums/72157718 839867362.
The first and last few are from their trip to and from the BRT. The crew for Wednesday shrank to 9, with 2 leaving at noon. Tread construction was substantially finished that day but work continued on stairs in The Ditch and in 2 other locations.
The only work left on Thursday was to finish the last 2 or 3 steps in The Ditch, do a bit of fine-tuning on other steps, and blaze the trail. Three of our crew worked to finish the new trail while 3 others cleared brush from the trail upriver – from Red Bluff Road down to the work site. By noon, we had all met up and the work was completed.
It was a great week, with some very important work being finished at long last. This 28-mile extension of the BRT is now officially open and Ken’s Krew can start thinking about the next extension – the 30 miles between Pruitt and the Richland Valley.