On July 22 and 23, 2006, BikeTexas Trail Doctors traveled to The Woodlands, north of Houston, to teach a sustainable trail design course for a group of 30 Master Naturalists. The training was organized by Robert Collins in conjunction with the Montgomery County Nature Preserve and Environmental Education Program.
Mr. Collins is heavily involved with the Spring Creek Greenway project, which aims to link several miles of green space along a corridor between Montgomery and Harris Counties. The parcel of property on which the applied module of the training took place is part of a Legacy Land Trust acquisition. Representatives from various trail user groups were present – primarily hikers, a small handful of mountain bikers and some representatives from the Sierra Club.
The classroom part of the training took place early Saturday morning and was followed by a practice session using the clinometer to lay out trail in the afternoon. Unfortunately, the July afternoon heat was strong, but the students soldiered on and became more familiar with using the tool to design a flag line following guidelines described in class. Sunday morning, bright and early, the class showed up ready to work and cleared a trail where Susan and Ryan had placed a flag line the week prior.
The land already had a trail on it that had been cut in prior to the Trail Docs’ arrival. However, at one point the trail fed out onto a gravel road, and hikers had to walk on a road with traffic for about 500 feet in order to return to the parking lot. Although the underbrush parallel to the road was very thick and full of greenbrier and other brambles, with the right tools and a lot of sweat, the class built a very nice trail that blended well into the natural environment.
In addition to learning some new skills, the participants also learned a bit more about mountain bikers that altered their perceptions from what they had learned in the popular media. (For example, mountain bikers are just a bunch of “young irresponsible rebels that tear up the environment and ruin the nature experience for other people.” Of course, nothing is farther from the truth!)
Ryan and Susan enjoyed working with the naturalists’ group and forming new friendships. The class participants also had a good time and were already planning their next trail work party while wrapping up the training session. The Spring Creek Greenway Project will provide many new opportunities for outdoor recreation and preservation of the natural environment, and the BikeTexas Trail Doctors are pleased to have been involved with such a worthwhile endeavor.