Project Updates

4/28/14:  Bridge building is now complete and this week we hope to install signage and paint blue blazes along the routes.  Thanks to all our volunteers that have helped us get these last pieces pulled together.

Two 8-ft bridges and one 16-ft bridge were needed along new or rehabbed sections of the New Hope Creek - South Trail.

Two 8-ft bridges and one 16-ft bridge were needed along new or rehabbed sections of the New Hope Creek – South Trail.

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4/4/14: New trail and existing trail restoration work for Phase II is now complete!  See the new map (click for PDF below), which will be posted at all access points ASAP!  There are several small tasks left to complete such as installing signage, removing signage, bridge building, etc.  We hope to take care of these over the next few weeks.

Final Korstian Trail Project Map

3/31/14:  We are nearing completion of trail building for Phase II.  It’s been a series of fits and starts to get the work done in between wet weather periods, but as of last Friday, the new section of the Laurel Hill trail was tied into the old.  I think everyone will be impressed with the views as it overlooks a beautiful tributary to New Hope Creek and follows under the shade of impressive, old white oaks.  A new map will be available soon, and we will continue working on signage and bridge building too.

Along the new section of the Laurel Hill trail, the tributary is down slope to the right.

Along the new section of the Laurel Hill trail, the tributary is down slope to the right.

 

2/27/14:  Great weather this week allowed Stewart to get back on the trail project and the NCSSM students to work wonders on that badly eroded area I noted last time.  Check it out (click to enlarge):

Final_product

We took lots of measurements and are excited to monitor the area to gauge long-term impacts.  Right now, the area is taped off to allow the materials to set-up, weather some upcoming wet weather, and to give us time to figure out the best place to direct folks.  PLEASE DO YOU PART BY STAYING OUT OF THIS SITE!  MANY THANKS!!!

2/21/14:  I know we are all sick of hearing about the weather, but it is still impeding progress.  Stewart has not been able to work for several weeks.  I took some pictures of the new trail Tuesday after the snowstorm, and it was wet and slick – in part due to the soil but also because it has not yet had a significant period to set up.  Keep your fingers crossed for drier days!

In other news, we are excited to start an erosion control project with the help of students from the NC School of Science and Math on a perennially problematic area that occurs at the convergence of what is now the old bluff trail and a minor drainage that runs into New Hope Creek.  It is severely cutting back into the bank, and we will be attempting to stabilize it with a cedar structure and rocks.  You will see signs posted to avoid the area while we are working there.  We will also be installing stepping stones to encourage folks to walk around what will be the newly restored area.  More to come on this!

The severely eroding area that is continuing to cut back up the slope.

The severely eroding area that is continuing to cut back up the slope.

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Snowy weather created slick, muddy conditions on the new trail.

1/24/14:  Weather has slowed our progress a little bit this month, but you would hardly know it given how swiftly Stewart works.  The new Slick Hill Trail is almost complete, and the connector to the New Hope Creek South Trail is in place.  Rehab on existing trail has also been done and has made an amazing difference; the trail tread is almost completely smooth.  We hope to schedule some volunteer efforts soon for some sign installations and closure work and then a couple bridges.  More on that soon, but until then stay warm!  I almost froze our student assistants out there today :).

Intersection of the new Slick Hill Trail (foreground), the new Creek Connector Trail (left), and rehabbed portion of existing trail.

Intersection of the new Slick Hill Trail (foreground), the new Creek Connector Trail (left), and rehabbed portion of existing trail.

Existing trail along a steep slope rehabbed and shaped so water properly sheds off the edge (right-side).

Existing trail along a steep slope rehabbed and shaped so water properly sheds off the edge (right-side).

Claire and Will accompany me to learn about the project and check out all of Stewart's great work!

Claire and Will accompany me to learn about the project and check out all of Stewart’s great work!

1/3/14:  Work to divert water entering the trail from the road has been completed by installing two small rolling grade dips with associated water turnouts.  A small section of new trail has also been created and clearly demonstrates how well designed trails will naturally shed water, which helps ensure that they remain in good condition for long periods of time.

The beginning of the Slick Hill Foot Trail has been modified to include two rolling grade dips such as the one pictured above in which a small earthern berm is created to divert water into turnouts.  These structures prevent water from cascading down the length of the trail and causing erosion.

The beginning of the Slick Hill Foot Trail has been modified to include two rolling grade dips such as the one pictured above in which a small earthern berm is created to divert water into turnouts. These structures prevent water from cascading down the length of the trail and causing erosion.

This new section of trail heads west along a natural contour of the land, which allows water to be shed off its edge instead of running down (and eroding) the middle of the trail.

This new section of trail heads west along a natural contour of the land, which allows water to shed off its edge (in photo above, the right side of the trail) instead of running down (and eroding) the middle of the trail.

12/18/13:  Phase II will begin this week with work on the trail leading from the end of the Slick Hill FT.   The first push will be to deal with water entering the trail from the road and to eliminate the multiple, co-extending trails that lead down to the creek by creating a single, direct path that works with the land’s contour to properly shed water. Click here: Phase II Design for a rough sketch and outline of Phase II.

9/10/13:  Phase II is anticipated to begin November 2013.  We are working around our contractor’s availability, but the timing will work out such that we have some student help around when it begins.  In the meantime, the final map for Phase I can be downloaded here: Tempmap_Korstian_Gates2526_11Feb13

6/4/13:  Planning for the design of Phase II is ongoing.  It is an iterative process that involves balancing our natural resource goals with available funding and the impacts of the project on our recreational users.  But having said that, I think we are narrowing in on a final design, which we hope to confirm in the field within the next few days.  I’ll keep you posted…

4/16/13:  PHASE I OFFICIALLY COMPLETE!  Yesterday, we finished closure on approximately 300 feet of road.  Hopefully, over time, the forest will reclaim it.

Road closed

4/10/13:  It’s been a while since I updated, but we’ve still been working – tidying up loose ends and putting the final touches on the closure of the old bluff trail.  Today, with the help of students from Durham Academy we finished!  It’s taken over 350 person-hours to close an estimated 3,000 square feet.  This has been a tremendous effort and lots of thanks go out to all our Boy Scouts and their parents that did the bulk of the closure work.

The Phase II design is still being finalized, but the plan is get this work done by spring.  I’ll keep providing updates, but until then, you can help us by staying out of areas we’ve signed, fenced off, or placed debris on.  These are the critical spots in which we’re hoping the ecosystem can recover from heavy human and dog traffic. 

Thanks to everyone that has supported this project to-date; we could not have done it alone!!!

Students from Durham Academy work to spread leaves over woody debris they placed.

Students from Durham Academy work to spread leaves over woody debris they placed.

The Durham Academy crew put the finishing touches on the closure of the old bluff trail.

The Durham Academy crew put the finishing touches on the closure of the old bluff trail.

3/18/13:  As of last Thursday, we completed a new fence along the bluff spur to help protect the lower slope and finished another boardwalk over a wet area.  We’ve continued working on sign and map box installations to enhance our communication about changes in the area, but we’ve still got some work to do.

We’ll be out and about in the woods over the next few weekends to help spread the message, but you can help us by staying out of areas we’ve signed, fenced off, or placed debris on.  These are the critical spots in which we’re hoping the ecosystem can recover from heavy human and dog traffic.  But don’t worry, you still have access to the main attractions; you just might have a new way of getting to and from them!

Plans to commence Phase II are underway with final design decisions being made this week.  More on that to come…

The new fence along the Rhodo Bluff Spur will hopefully encourage folks to stay on the trail and protect the slope.

The new fence along the Rhodo Bluff Spur will hopefully encourage folks to stay on the trail and protect the slope.

A couple last minute volunteers helped us finish the 2nd boardwalk.

A couple last minute volunteers helped us finish the 2nd boardwalk.

3/11/13:  We had an extremely productive weekend!  On Friday afternoon, 6 volunteers plus a couple Duke Forest Staff members began construction of a 35′ boardwalk.  It took us a long time to haul all the materials down the new Rhodo Bluff Trail and to the new High & Dry Trail so we didn’t quite finish up.  But the following day, we had 21 scouts and 8 parents out with us so we made short work of nailing on the decking.

With our scouts, we were also able to move large amounts of debris onto the slope that is now closed off.  At the same time, our contractor was working on finishing up the platform; it looks great and provides easy access to the bluff overlook.

Today, we were able to install some new signage asking people to stay off the slope we are working so hard to protect and hope that this new communication (where there has been none before) will be effective.

Our mighty volunteers unload and stack debris collected from other parts of the Forest.

Our mighty volunteers unload and stack debris collected from other parts of the Forest.

Scouts overlook the Rhododendron Bluff where they have just used debris to fill in some eroded areas.

Scouts overlook the Rhododendron Bluff where they have just used debris to fill in some eroded areas.

The freshly constructed observation platform not only provides easy access to the bluff overlook, it also deters users from tromping straight down the eroding and sensitive steep slope area between the rocks and the creek.

The freshly constructed observation platform not only provides easy access to the bluff overlook, it also helps communicate to users that tromping straight down the eroding and sensitive steep slope is not safe for you or the environment!

The new sign states that access up or down the slope is not allowed in order to protect it from foot traffic that would otherwise contribute to vegetation and soil loss.

The new sign communicates that foot traffic is not allowed up or down the steep slope in order to prevent vegetation and soil loss.

3/6/13:  The platform is almost complete with finishing touches on handrails and a couple steps expected this week.  Our contract, Stewart, and his helper, Alex, have done a tremendous job of designing and building in this otherwise tricky terrain!  So many thanks to them!

Last Friday, we built our 3rd and longest bridge with a terrific group of volunteers, and this week, we’ll build 2 boardwalks over some wet spots along our new High & Dry Trail (to remedy that contradiction of course :)) .  On Saturday, we’ll have a large group of boy scouts out all day to help us continue closure and begin rehab of the old bluff trail.

We know recreational users are seeing lots of changes out there, and we appreciate everyone’s support in following the signs, staying on the authorized trails, and keeping dogs on a leash.  These three actions are critical in supporting the re-vegetation of currently denuded areas and stopping the erosion of steep slopes.

Bluff observation platform... under construction.

Bluff observation platform… under construction.

Bluff observation platform... nearly complete.

Bluff observation platform… nearly complete.

2/28/13:  Yesterday, work began on the Rhododendron Bluffs Observation Platform!  Tomorrow, we will build our 3rd bridge along the Rhododendron Bluff Spur and by the end of next week, we should be able to complete a low boardwalk across a wet section of the new High & Dry Trail.  Keep you fingers crossed for good weather!

Our contractor, Stewart, sent us this photo that he captioned, "A nice office".

Our contractor, Stewart, sent us this photo that he captioned, “A nice office”.

2/18/13:  We had some hardy boy scouts and members of the public out this past Saturday morning in the cold and wet to continue work on the project.  While the weather was a hindrance, it didn’t stop the boy scouts from completing work on a closed section of trail, and it didn’t deter our public volunteers from installing new trail name signs.  Thanks to everyone for their efforts and dedication to this project; we couldn’t get it all done without you!

Another request for volunteers will go out today as we need to build our 3rd bridge and also a low boardwalk over a wet area.  We hope to have both completed by the 2nd week in March.  More to come on the installation of the platform at the high bluff rocks and Phase II!

Volunteers and staff work on installing 7 new trail name signs.

Volunteers and staff work on installing 7 new trail name signs.

signinstall2

2/11/13:  The trail building portion of Phase I is now complete!  If you were out in the Korstian Division over the past weekend, you may have already enjoyed the new trails.  A map showing the new layout is now available [click here to download: New trail map], and copies will be placed at Gate 26.  These will also go out as inserts in the recreation map packages that we sell.  Our energies will now focus on closing areas that will no longer be used such as the old trail to the Rhododendron Bluffs.  In the meantime, our contractor will be working to install a series of platforms and steps at the top of the high bluff rocks where the new Rhodo Bluff Spur will bring you.  This work will likely start the week of February 17th.

The entrance to the new Rhodo Bluff Trail is marked.  Eventually, the road continuing down to the old bluff access will be closed.

The entrance to the new Rhodo Bluff Trail is marked. Eventually, the road continuing down to the old bluff access will be closed.

2/6/13:  Our contractor is rapidly nearing completion of the trail building portion of Phase I.  The new high water trail will likely be completed by the end of the week, as well as the top end of the new trail to the bluffs.  As soon as the work is completed, we will get signage out there directing folks where to go.  This also means that additional existing areas, e.g. the current trail that cuts directly down the bluff trail will continue to get closed.  This past weekend, we had our first of five sessions with local boy scout volunteers.  They were a wonderful group and made lots of headway toward collecting and moving debris to use in closure areas; they also had lots of fun ripping out rebar and old water bars that are no longer functional.  Thanks to all of them for their hard work!

Our excellent work crew included local boy scouts and their parents, as well as Forest Staff.

Our excellent work crew included local boy scouts and their parents, as well as Forest Staff.

The handiwork of our volunteer crew - another portion of the eroded, existing bluff trail is covered with debris.

The handiwork of our volunteer crew – another portion of the eroded, existing bluff trail is covered with debris.

1/30/13:  Progress continues to made along the new approach to the Rhododendron Bluffs and the spur that will take you to the rocks overlooking the creek.  You will start to see some signage redirecting traffic as we open up small parts of the new trail and start removing and rehabbing the old trail.  After the spur to the Bluffs is finished, the new high water trail will be created before finishing the top of the new bluffs trail (this is due to the logistics associated with moving the equipment around).

Signage redirecting traffic as new sections are opened.

Signage redirecting traffic as new sections are opened.

1/22/13:  On Saturday, we built two bridges along what will be the new approach to the Rhododendron Bluffs.  We also began blazing trails with blue dots but might reevaluate how easy those are to see in the woods.  This week, our contractor will likely bring the new bluff trail up to the intersection with the old.

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With the help of some experienced volunteers, we were able to construct both bridges simultaneously.

Our hardy bridge building crew...

Our hardy bridge building crew…

1/14/13: Our contractor, Stewart, worked through the weekend and has created a total of 640 feet of new trail!  Things are progressing very well, but we may get slowed down by wet weather part of this week.  Our first public volunteer day will be this Saturday to build bridge #1.  A total of 3 will be needed.

A new trail to the Rhododendron Bluffs takes shape.

A new trail to the Rhododendron Bluffs takes shape.

1/10/13:  Yesterday, the first section of new trail was laid down.  It is a minor reroute of the eastern end of the trail that connects the Concrete Bridge Road inside of Gate 25 with the Laurel Hill Road inside and west of Gate 26.  Work also began on the new trail access to the Rhododendron Bluffs.

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This is the newly built section of the Gate 25 to 26 trail (looking west from the Laurel Hill Forest Road).

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The circle shows the location of the newly built section of the Gate 25 to 26 trail while the arrow indicates work on the new access trail to the Rhododendron Bluffs.

1/9/13:  Stewart Bryan of Native Trails, Inc. began work today on new trail sections.  These will not be open until they are completely finished and marked with blue blazes.  We ask for your cooperation in following all signs while the project is underway.  A new map for the area will be available at the gates and online upon completion of Phase 1 of the project.

We are very excited to get this project started and so far, the weather and soil conditions are perfect for trail building!

Announcement signs were posted on December 20th to let recreation users know about the project and why it was happening.

Announcement signs were posted on December 20th to let recreational users know about the upcoming project and why it was happening.

Stewart begins work on a small section of new trail that will line up the approach from the trail connecting the Gate 25 and 26 roads with the new approach to the Rhododendron Bluffs on the opposite side of the Gate 26 road.

Stewart begins work on a small section of new trail that will line up the approach from the trail connecting the Gate 25 and 26 roads with the new approach to the Rhododendron Bluffs on the opposite side of the Gate 26 road.

4 Responses to Project Updates

  1. Sara says:

    The link to the new trail map above did not work. I was hiking this weekend and had a difficult time determining what areas to stay off of. Is there a map of the trail as it stands after Phase I?

  2. Fred White says:

    Looking at all these pictures of such remarkable progress caused me to recall all of the ineffective work that the crew and numberless boy scouts and I performed in the past to try to solve the many problems in the approach to the bluff. My goodness you all have done a most outstanding job here. I congratulate you all and sort of hang my head in shame for all the ineffective efforts in the past years. Please keep up the good work! I look forward to our next walk on the new trails.

    Fred White

    • Duke Forest says:

      Hi Fred,

      Thanks for your note! We too are excited about the progress that has been made. Now if the weather will just cooperate, we can carry on with Phase II.

      – Sara

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