Catherine Creek - Trail Scoping and Design

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Ryan Ojerio
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Catherine Creek - Trail Scoping and Design

Post by Ryan Ojerio » March 8th, 2013, 5:15 pm

I was out at Catherine Creek on Tuesday checking out the proposed route for the new Tracy Hill Loop (Ca3). It is a new trail developed by the Forest Service during the planning process that was finalized in 2011.

We'll be working with the Trailkeepers of Oregon to build the first section of the route starting just north of the powerlines. It will climb through the oak forest taking advantage of some parts of an old road grade. If you'd like to lend a hand building this trail with me on March 16/17, sign up at: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/vie ... c6MA#gid=0

I'll be leading crews there Saturday and Sunday. You can come for either day or both. On Saturday we'll be having a potluck at the Fisher Hill Campground. After the work party on Saturday, Cyndi Solitz will give a 20 min. presentation on how to ID invasive weeds and report them for rapid response.

The trail will wind up the side-hill adjacent to this old road grade.
Image
Catherine Creek - Ca3

As it climbs out of the valley it will curve around some nice big evergreens.
Image
Catherine Creek - Ca3

At the top of the Meadows the views are spectacular. Building a trail up there is a challenge since trails on such meadows tend to turn into ruts, then multiple braids. So we're not going to build anything up there now until we figure out the best route. For now I encourage folks to spread out and practice good off-trail etiquette.
Image
Catherine Creek - Ca3

This map shoes the conceptual layout, but it will likely be tweaked depending on conditions on the ground.

Image
CoyoteWall-CatherineCrk_Map

Here is a link to the map track with photos of the section we'll be working on next weekend (March 16/17)
http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=2041701
Washington Trails Association
Southwest Washington Regional Manager
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bobcat
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Re: Catherine Creek - Trail Scoping and Design

Post by bobcat » March 10th, 2013, 10:36 am

Thanks, Ryan, for your continued updates on the trail building in this area.

payslee

Re: Catherine Creek - Trail Scoping and Design

Post by payslee » March 12th, 2013, 8:36 am

Thanks for this update, Ryan.

My already mixed feelings about the official-fying of Catherine Creek were upped last weekend when I saw the condition of the meadow "trails" on Dog. I had already signed up for your work party on the 24th but wasn't sure I'd be able to bring myself to chop a tread into the meadow, especially knowing what it was likely to become.

I'm glad I'm you guys are also thinking along those lines. It is such a special place.

Looking forward to heading out in a couple of weeks.

-payslee

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Ryan Ojerio
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Re: Catherine Creek - Trail Scoping and Design

Post by Ryan Ojerio » March 12th, 2013, 11:19 am

Yes, putting a tread through a meadow is not an easy thing to do. With low traffic and folks spreading out across the meadow, the ground can recover every year. IMO the traffic levels at Catherine Creek have passed a tipping point where user trails are starting to appear. Unfortunately, it is human nature for them to appear in the least sustainable locations - straight along the fall-line. So the choice is either to let them appear naturally or design them to be as sustainable and aesthetically pleasing as possible.

I would encourage people to avoid walking on any path that not clearly a trail i.e. hard packed dirt. There are faint paths out there that are still green. Those are user-created paths that are killing the vegetation as the soil becomes more compacted and it will be harder for the meadow to recover if people continue to use them.
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Guy
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Re: Catherine Creek - Trail Scoping and Design

Post by Guy » March 12th, 2013, 4:31 pm

Hey Ryan, thanks for posting this map. So are these going to be the only "official trails" none of them seems to venture to the top of the hill, a natural destination (at least for me when I'm out there!) Also a couple of well used trails out there that don't show on this map, I'm thinking particularly of the one that runs along the East side of Catherine creek all the way from the power lines up to about 1600'. Are these going to be decommissioned or closed by the FS?

Also whats the difference between FS in open space & FS not in open space?

Thanks.
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Ryan Ojerio
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Re: Catherine Creek - Trail Scoping and Design

Post by Ryan Ojerio » March 12th, 2013, 5:06 pm

Hi Guy,

the "Open Space" refers to a land that had a special designation - prior to the Recreation Plan that was finished in 2011, management activities for the area were guided by the Catherine Creek/Major Creek Open Space Plan. That plan allowed off-trail hiking, but did not direct the Forest Service to build any trails.

When user-created trails started to appear on the landscape and with the threat of more to come, the agency realized the old plan wasn't relevant (or wasn't working) any more and thus the new Recreation Plan and the creation of an official trails system.

Off-trail travel is still permitted, but the Forest Service hopes to close and decommission trails that aren't part of the plan. I think it will be very challenging to keep user paths from developing where they lead to obvious points of interest. The Recreation Plan directs to Forest Service to consider prohibiting off-trail travel if user paths are degrading the natural resources (flora, fauna and cultural sites).

If we can design great official trails that provide the best bang for the buck out there, then that will do a lot to satisfy people's desire to hike out there. But if the trails are mediocre compared to striking off-trail, then the plan will fail to do what it was created for: to protect the resource by focusing impacts in a few areas.
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Guy
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Re: Catherine Creek - Trail Scoping and Design

Post by Guy » March 12th, 2013, 5:56 pm

Thanks for the explanation Ryan, so is there a plan to build an official trail to the top of the Hill or further North than the current Ca3 trail?
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Ryan Ojerio
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Re: Catherine Creek - Trail Scoping and Design

Post by Ryan Ojerio » March 13th, 2013, 11:17 am

Guy wrote:Thanks for the explanation Ryan, so is there a plan to build an official trail to the top of the Hill or further North than the current Ca3 trail?
I don't know of any such plans. For the foreseeable future I suspect that the Forest Service will wait and see. Perhaps someday another recreation plan will be needed to add more official trails.
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Re: Catherine Creek - Trail Scoping and Design

Post by Guy » March 13th, 2013, 8:06 pm

Thanks Ryan, Surprised the plan isn't going to make use of the old road that's already on the North half of Catherine Creek or make a bigger loop that encompasses the whole area. I guess I'll continue to be an "unofficial hiker" :^)..

Cheers.
hiking log & photos.
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