Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Bike to Work Week Live-Blog

In honor of Bike to Work Week, I pledge to at least try to bike to work this week and report the results, experiences, and my thoughts here.

Day 1: 
Perfect weather, a little crisp in the morning. This is going to be awesome. I got to hear the rushing of water in our local creeks and saw a groundhog and a killdeer. Biking lets you take in sights, sounds, and smells that driving muffles or eliminates. The trail was wet in many places, but not muddy. Along with the water on my pants, my fears of showing up at the lab with bikers butt evaporate quickly.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Año Nuevo State Park, California

Año Nuevo State Park in California is a great place to explore the coast and see wildlife. The main attraction, if you are there at the right time of year, is the elephant seals. There are multiple places along the trail to see elephant seals and these are subject to closure and trail reroutings if seals get too close.

In addition to female and young "weener" male elephant seals, we saw sea lions, rabbits, large colorful snails, pelicans, seagulls, lots of "evidence" of coyotes, and more.

A typical stroll to see the seals will be 3-4 miles round trip on trails ranging from dirt to sand, and boardwalk. Educational signage and very informative rangers are located throughout the park.

Año Nuevo Island is visible from several spots along the trail and has an interesting history and some interesting abandoned buildings.



Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Fossil Flats Trail - Devil's Den State Park

The Fossil Flats Trail at Devil's Den State Park is primarily a mountain biking trail though hikers are welcome. It has three connected loops that allow users to choose from a range of distances and difficulties. The trailhead sign lists these distances as 3, 4, and 5 miles for the Outlaw, Sawmill, and Racers Hill loops respectively. I found these distances to be rough estimates at best, especially given that Racers Hill Loop adds closer to 2 miles to the total.

The trailhead is located near the parking for the walk-in campsite, not far from the bridge and trailhead for Yellow Rock.

The map below doesn't (yet) show all the loops, but it is only missing a short section of the Outlaw loop and some connections that cross the creek. From the trailhead, I went north on the trail which begins as a wide dirt path that may have once been an old road. The wide path continues straight for awhile and a thinner path (single-track) repeatedly forks off and crosses it. Eventually the smaller trail leaves the road for good and winds through some pretty woods with lots of cedar along the creek. There are lots of dry and wet stream crossings so be prepared to get a little wet.

I found the end of the Sawmill Trail, where it overlaps with some others, to be a little confusing or tricky to follow, but just keep the creek on your right until you cross it at the campsite near your car.

This trail is scenic, but not as awesome as nearby Yellow Rock or Devil's Den trails. If you are looking to hike, I recommend doing those first, though on nice weekends, Fossil Flats can be a lot less busy.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Razorback Greenway Vs. The River Trail

As we approach the Grand Opening of the Razorback Greenway (most of which has been done for some time) I thought I'd write-up a comparison of Arkansas' two premier paved trails. I want to confess upfront that one reason for writing this is that I hope it helps spur some friendly competition between the two most populated metropolitan areas of the state to keep improving their trail and active transportation systems. Cities often boast about their trail systems when trying to lure companies and which of these trail systems is the best might be a deciding factor in where some companies decide to locate in the future.

My analysis below looks at length, connectivity, and how much of the trail is actually physically separated from roads (you know, like a trail rather than a bike lane or bike route). I've included interactive maps of both at the end so you can perform your own research.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

North Twin - Lake Wedington National Recreation Area

Updated 4/10/15. Info here based on two trips.

Today I made an all too familiar mistake by biting off more than I could chew on a hike. I thought I'd be doing 7-10 miles on a cool, cloudy, spring day and ended up doing 11 miles on a super sunny 80 degree day. Hopefully this sunburned neck, battered feet, and sore hips will make me wiser next time. 

The Lake Wedington Recreation Area is located 13 miles west of Fayetteville on Hwy 16. The lake offers swimming and fishing and the fee area has cabins, picnic sites, restrooms, and campsites. There are two short sections of trail along the lakeshore that are mostly flat. The much more strenuous North Twin Trail is 8.5 miles one-way and located outside the fee area.

I'll have a much more detailed description in my next book, but this is a great trail. It has great views, interesting rock features, and a spring. You can break it into more manageable pieces since it crosses forest roads several times. The northernmost 3 miles can be turned into a loop using the road, saving you some miles and time, and prevents having to backtrack.