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Upper Paugussett is Closed

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Trail Building

Formal Trail work has begun on the Upper Gussy! The map above shows everywhere that I walked playing trail boss. It's tough trying to manage a project of this scale without some means of portable communication. Next time, I am bringing radios.

In just two short hours the ROW got cleared, the trail now makes a clean dogleg through the stone wall just before the Tunnel Of Love, which is no longer accessible, blasts through a stone wall and heads in the Play Ground unobstructed. On the other end, the trail makes a nice transition off the ROW onto to the bank and then blasts through the "wet area." I cleaned up the pine tree about 30 yards from here.

(Robin Thomson and Robert Butterworth moving stuff in the ROW)

(John Wilkins and Chip McClellan working on the "Wet Area" crossing)

To get a perspective of what this area looked like before:

Granted it's from the other direction but can see the randomness in the rocks that would make this a pretty challenging rock garden, however, this is a multi-use trail and the route must be conducive to both equestriennes and bikers. We found some flat rocks to start lining the tread way but ran out of time. A couple more these and we'll have a cool little crossing.

Paula took charge of the benching on the initial climb up from the Jeep road off of Sanford Rd. Below is the initial climb.

Closer shot of the first climb.

Below is a shot of Glenn, CT NEMBA's Treasurer smoothing out the treadway.

This is Pete Coleman who drove all the way from Maine to attend this Trail Building session - that is hard core!

Pete is working on the benching going into the first climbing turn. Hope to crib this turn sometime in the future.

Below is Peter Westerholm, author of the iBike Blog. Didn't think he was going to make it but as I was making my rounds, I ran into him benching after the first climbing turn.

Paula and Donnie working on the big bench straight-a-way.

Not bad for two hours worth of work. The next trail building session will be Saturday, April 5th, from 9 AM till Noon. Hope to do more benching and finish the stonewall breach that was started a few weeks ago but never finished.

March 29th Trails Workshop

The Upper Gussy Trails Workshop was a complete success. We had around 30 attendees from a wide range of groups including equestriennes from Newtown Bridal Lands Association (NBLA), a Boy Scout, Sandy Moy the Tarrywile Park Manager, one gentleman all the way from Maine, and of course quite a few mountain bikers. There was coffee, juice and bagels for breakfast first thing.

Laurie Gianotti kicked things off with an indepth presentation on Connecticut DEP's many programs centered around trails and trail building, including what's going on in the State, and want grants are available. DEP is also working on a State Wide GIS trails database. Sounds like if there is a trail out there isn't an official trail on any published map and you want to have it made into an official trail, all you need to do is present it to the DEP and go through the process of getting it on the map, and thus making it official. Going to do that this fall at Naugatuck State Forest in Hamden.

Following Laurie, Paula Burton gave her Trail Building presentation and workshop, which consisted of two practical exercises: one in trail design and the other in using Clinometers to determine slope.

Robert Butterworth then gave a presentation on tools and using them.

We concluded the session with three party subs from Subway that were devoured quickly.

(One of Heather's - Weekday Troutbrook Women's Rides - ridding buddy. Unfortunately I didn't get her name but the T-shirt is very fitting for the events planned for later.)

(in the back is Art Roti, President of CT NEMBA, with his three month old son, Lars.)

(Above: Rich, Chip, Tren and Donnie talking about what mountain bikers talk about - Bikes)

Using Clinometers:

(Paula is shown above showing Donnie how to use the Clinometer)

(Chip McClellan and Rob Butterworth are downslope using a Clinometer)

(Laurie enjoy some subway and Dee, the Exec VP for NBLA on the phone.)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Trail Building Schedule

April 5th, 2008

April 26th, 2008

May 3rd, 2008

May 24th, 2008

June 7th, 2008 (National Trails Day)

Contact me at for more information, and of course check back here for up to date information for each event.

Please address appropriately, bring gloves and water, and ensure that you have replant that includes Deet because these little buggers are out and about: Deer Tick

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Tree Work - Before and After

Here is some of Tom's handiwork.

The old downed tree along the Right Of Way (ROW)

That tree after. Going to roll some of those big pieces over to the stone wall and make a big up and over. There will also be a stone wall breach, there, too.

Blow downs that created the Tunnel of Love. In order to keep the trail on state land, it has to pass through this area. The Tunnel of Love is technically on the Town's ROW for Echo Valley Road that ends at the forest boundary. Additionally, immediately to the right of the Tunnel is a stone wall cut that I want to block with logs so as to prevent any motorized vehicles from entering the forest at this point. That's the beauty of the Tunnel, instant block, so it's imperative that the other opening is blocked as well.

After the saws! And the Tunnel of Love still rocks! Have to make sure that the stone wall after the breach that we need to block doesn't have any other access points that an ATV could use.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Stream Crossings 1 & 2

Above is a map of the first two stream crossings on the trail if you are coming from Sanford Road. I will deal with the wet area crossing that is closer to the ROW and south of this area in a future post. I was thinking about making the crossing where the loggers made a crossing years ago but Paula talked me out of it. Thus the trail will cross the two little streams that are drains for vernal pools and in the summer these streams barely run at all if I recall. These two crossings are in the original trail proposal that DEP approved.

Another future feature might be installing a bench at the point that overlooks the vernal pool to the east. Granted, in the summer it will be mosquito city but in the fall and spring it could be a pleasant stop along the trail for a guu shot or a cliff bar and some water.

The green track line on the map is from today's ride of the trail and it shows where we re-routed the trail last night. It's not a bad climb and it cuts out the switchback that Paula felt people would just cut off anyway. During today's ride, I cleared out the old ROW just north of there.

Below is a picture of the first stream crossing looking south. I am thinking that the bikes would hit the downed tree as a big up-and-over and the horses would just go around the tree. This tree will make an excellent skinny, too.

Here is the first stream crossing looking north towards the second crossing and further up the trail. The first stream crossing is about two feet wide so the armoring here will be minimal.

Below is the second stream crossing. We cleared out the tree that came down near it last night and opened up the entry point. On the south side of this crossing we'll need to bench leading up to the armoring point.

The second stream crossing is a little wider, probably three feet. The downed tree south of the crossing is a good control feature because it connects into all the blow down right next to the crossing. Some of which were cut up in last night's Trail Maintenance Session.

Wet Area Crossing

Coming up the Right of Way (ROW, portion of trail lined on both sides with stone walls), the trail will turn inwards and go through a considerable rocky portion which is where water seeps through from higher up, show by the light blue dashed line in the map above.

Below is the a good example of the wet area that is a few yards up from the crossing point. As you can see, thanks to the recent weather we had, the darkened area is where the water is collecting, however, it is not a free flowing stream.

(Click on the image for a bigger picture)

The trail will exit the ROW and we'll have to armor the section where the trail will cross over the wet area. The downed tree seen in the foreground will have to be cut to make an opening.

The terrain through this section is considerable rocky. The spot on the other side of the downed tree (facing south) will most likely be armored. Below is a broader view of the area.

The same care and attention to detail paid to regular, free flowing streams will also be applied here to prevent any muddying of this part of the trail.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Trail Maintenace - Tree Work

Paula got Henry Edmonds, a Master Sawyer, from AMC to come out cut some wood. We cleared out the section by the two stream crossings. We also rerouted a part of the trail. Paula's chain saw was on the fritz but it was good she was on hand because we also made the final decision on the stream crossings.

We also took care of a dead tree over looking the big Vernal Pool that might be a good location for a bench.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Latest Trail Map

Here is the latest trail map, including all the existing trails. The White Trail that connects the Blue Blazed to the Brody Road is shown below as a Connector Trail along with the other unmarked trails. Not included here are the hunters' trail that I have found over the years. Some of those trails even show up on the Town's GIS map, so technically they should be considered but I don't have a decent track for them yet.

I am now showing Upper Gussy Trail as one contiguous trail that overlays the Brody Road. This way you can get the full effect and distance of the trail.

You could split the 2.7 mile trail into three sections:
  1. Pond Brook Connector: 0.2 miles
  2. Brody Road Section: 0.4 miles
  3. Main Trail Section: 2.1 miles
I think if you were to ride it, you would start at Pond Brook, ride up the Brody Road to the start of the main trail, down to Sanford Rd, hook around back into Forest and take the Brody Road all the way back to the connector trail.

I am not sure how accurate the profile is below but the track starts at Pond Brook and ends at Sanford Road. Looking at the contours, I don't think there is even a 600 ft contour so I question the accuracy of this track.

Here is how it looks on Looks the same because it's the same track. I think I am going to have to bring another GPS to check the elevation.

Sunday, March 9, 2008


We had quite the turn out from all the participating groups on the Upper Gussy Trail. Representing Connecticut Forest and Parks was Rob Butterworth and Eric Bengston. Rob drove all the way down from Central CT. Representing NBLA was Cindy Miller and Tom Ramsdorf. The CTNEMBA contingent was Paula Burton and myself.

Wish I took pictures but there was so much going on there wasn't any time. We made some changes, widen some turns and talk about some branching or splitting the trail for bikes and horses. Many great ideas were passed around and shared. It was a totally cooperative experience from all three user groups.

It looks like we have a solution for crossing the low area between the ROW and the other side. The trail will now go most of the way down the ROW and then hit a little of the rock garden at the end because the water here goes under ground at this point. This will be tough to configure but it will be the driest!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Work Zone 3

Work Zone 3 presents a couple of different challenges. Coming from the north, the trail has to veer off the ROW before it hits the end of the State Forest. Where I would like to do that, the stone wall has already toppled over so not much work needs to be done there, however, there is an old, fallen three that needs to be cut up.

And then another stone wall has to be breached.

Here is the wall looking north.

Then there are the fallen trees that make up the Tunnel of Love. Ideally, I would like to be able to cut through these fallen trees and at the same time create a type of portal or gateway to this section of the trail without killing the Tunnel.

What ever happens, the logs will probably be used to block the opening in the stone wall that leads to the town section of the ROW to prevent ATVs from accessing the trail. Which means the only way to hit the Tunnel is if you were planning on bailing out at this point.

The Upper Gussy Trail is approved!

It's Official, got the letter from DEP today! There are some recommendations/conditions:

Date: March 3, 2008

To: Me and Paula(1)

From: Laurie Giannotti, Trails Coordinator, DEP

Subject: Proposed Trail Requests for Upper Paugussett State Forest and George Waldo State Park.

The DEP Trails Committee has reviewed the Proposed Trail Request from CT New England Mountain Biking Association for trails in the above referenced state forest and park. This request was reviewed and approved by the District with specific comments relating to trail location and management. These comments should be incorporated into the final project.

Both Trails: Any water crossings must be permitted in advance of construction by the DEP Park Supervisor Nate Hale 203-938-2285 or Gerard Milne 860-379-7085.

Upper Paugussett Trail:

  • The existing connector trail between the boat launch parking and the forest road (Brody road) has a crossing of Pond Brook that does not meet best management practices. There is a steep slope leading directly down to the brook that is eroding. This area may need a bridge or a re-route.
  • Mt. Biking should be restricted to dry or frozen conditions.
  • Contact Howard Kilpatrick, DEP deer management specialist 642-7239 to discuss recommendations on trail impacts to permit quotas.
  • A portion of the boat launch parking area will be delineated as a trailhead. Please coordinate this with the Park Supervisor, Nate Hale 203-938-2285 or Gerard Milne 860-379-7085.
I have sent Mark a Cooperative Trail Agreement form which the trail sponsor(s) must complete and return to me prior to construction. After DEP review and approval of this Agreement, copies will be forwarded to the sponsor, the Recreation Unit, and the District HQ for the files. An additional copy will be kept in the State Parks office in Hartford.

(1) Paula submitted a trail proposal for George C Waldo State Park, which is directly across the Housitonic River from Upper Paugussett State Forest for a new trail there.
Just need to find out what's going on with Deer Management. Just have to send in the Cooperative Trails Agreement and construction can begin in earnest!

The Play Ground

This post addresses areas (1) and (2) in the map above. This whole area, I call the Play Ground, for the lack of a better name, because of all the fun stuff there is to ride in here. Up-and-overs, rollers galore, and a huge potential to go large. Hope to add a few skinnies in various spots, too.

1. The number one thing I want to accomplish is benching the trail along ridge (left most blue colored section on the map above) and seen below in the picture.

On the map above I have also indicated (in red) where I want to crib the corners in order to create banked turns for mountain bikers so that they can keep up their momentum through here and create a quasi pump track effect.

2. The Stone Wall. I think the best course of action will be to open the existing wall breach of horses. The first two pictures below show the existing breach facing west.

Here is the view eastwards. What I would like to see happen is a four foot wide (wider if horses require it) opening with a log along the bottom to prevent ATVs I would also like to have posts along the edges of the breaches to keeps the rocks from falling into the opening.

Changing this opening will take the fun out of this up and over. Therefore, to make it more interesting for bikes, a couple yards to the north is another breach that once cleaned up will make a challenging obstacle for mountain bikers because it will encompass a roller and require some ramps built.

Below is a close up looking west.

Even closer. One approach would go up the exposed rock to the left of the marker and then do a 90 degree turn and go up and over perpendicularly to the wall. The other way might come in at an angle and that might be ramped so that it goes to the other side of the tree..