Southern CT

Central CT Autumn Chapter Report

Luis Moreria and John Sokoloski CCT NEMBA members who helped to open up an old trail at West Rock Ridge State Park Hamden, CT. Their mighty chainsaws cleared the path to complete the loop.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

(Image shows Luis Moreria and John Sokoloski CCT NEMBA members who helped to open up an old trail at West Rock Ridge State Park Hamden, CT. Their mighty chainsaws cleared the path to complete the loop.)

 

Autumn is the best time to ride in Southern New England, and it came early this year.

 

As I write this in mid-late September, we’re being treated to a spell of unseasonably cool and dry air. In a place where summer will often assert itself until mid-October the respite from heat, humidity, and bugs was a treat indeed. This, combined with virus-mandated leisure time, has kept the trails unusually busy. Mountain bikers have been conducting themselves responsibly on the crowded trails. Thanks to all of you for doing that. 

The biggest news since last report is the completion and opening of Paulik Hill Bike Park in Tolland, CT. This was a cooperative venture with the Quiet Corner Chapter, spearheaded by Jon Petersen, CCT NEMBA board member. It’s a trail system with bike park features such as roll overs, hucks, and skinnies for different ability levels. It’s been very popular and is getting rave reviews. Thanks to the many of you who donated funds for this project. 

The new Dividend Pond trails have also become very popular, especially with new riders and families. This is exactly what we hoped would happen and it’s great to see people enjoying the fruits of our labor. By the time this issue is distributed the new informational kiosks, built by a local Eagle Scout, should be in place. 

 

Most of our time since last report has been spent clearing trails of storm damage.

 

Hurricane Isaias cut a destructive path through central Connecticut in early August. Most areas were rendered unrideable, but they didn’t remain that way for long. The weekend after the storm mountain bikers were out in force clearing the trails in socially distant fashion and as a result some were rideable again by Sunday afternoon. Thanks to everyone who helped, and special thanks to Luis Moreira who put in over 40 hours clearing in the Middletown Cromwell area.  

 

Many of the downed trees were turned into features.

 

Three new skinnies were built at River Highlands, bringing that area’s total to seven. Luis and I built a teeter at Dividend Pond in mid-September. It was our first attempt at building such a feature and it came out well and is small enough to pivot quickly, but large enough to stay in one place. 

Lastly, I was given an award from Bike Walk CT for my trail stewardship and ride leading activities. I couldn’t have done it without the help of many, many people- too many to list. Thanks to all of you.  Although I’m not in this for notoriety, it was requested that we share the picture in this report. I guess it’s ok just this one time. 


Ride on-

Glenn Vernes, Prez

Salmon River/Grayville Forest Management Plan Feedback

Thursday, December 3, 2020

**Immediate Action Needed**

 

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has provided NEMBA with a draft Forest Management Plan for the Salmon River State Forest that will have significant impact on the future policies for trail access and trail management in Connecticut State Forests. This plan proposes specific action to be taken on the Grayville Trail System, including trail closures. The plan will also serve as a precedent for the other trail systems in Salmon River and the State Forests throughout Connecticut.

 

In addition to the input NEMBA will be providing, DEEP has expressed interest in receiving direct input from the trail community, including mountain bikers, and the surrounding community - this is where WE NEED YOUR HELP TO ENSURE WE DON’T LOSE ACCESS TO OUR TRAILS.

 

Please provide responses by December 10th!

 

Send responses to:

 

NEMBA is collecting all responses and will send a single document to DEEP as part of a formal response to the plan.

 

Response Guidance:

 
  • A link to the complete plan is below, along with excerpts from the plan that are specific to mountain biking and trail access. We encourage you to review the details and provide your thoughts on why preserving access is important to you.
     

  • Option 1 - Use this template to create your response, and paste into an email to the address above.

 
  • Option 2- Create your own response leveraging the following suggested topics, and send to the address above.

    • Do you support maintaining (or expanding) the current number of trails

    • Do you support the proposed trail closures and eradication of existing trails

    • Do you support creating an active management plan between DEEP and NEMBA to maintain and improve the trails leveraging trained NEMBA resources to assist with storm damage/downed trees, trail maintenance, etc.

    • Why the trail system is important to your health and well-being

    • How many years you’ve used the trail system and frequency of use

    • Note what activities you use the trail system for (biking, hiking, snowshoeing, etc)

    • Do you use the system with your family

    • Do you visit local businesses and/or come from outside of Hebron

     
    • Please respond with a positive tone. NEMBA and DEEP have been in active dialogues throughout 2020 regarding the future of the Grayville Trails, including hosting a ride with the DEEP Deputy Director on the trail system.

     
    • Our goal is to preserve access to the trails that generations have come to enjoy, and establish a partnership with DEEP to actively maintain the trails for future generations. DEEP has expressed interest in expanding the resulting model throughout CT State Forests, so it’s critical we all work towards a positive and mutually agreeable outcome!
     

    Thank you for your support,

    Brett Severson

    Chapter President, SECT NEMBA

     
    Click For Draft Plan: Salmon River Forest Management Plan
     

    Plan highlights specific to trail access and mountain biking:

     

    (Page 15) Section E. Extensive Areas of Concern

    Trails/Signs & Unauthorized/Illegal Activity

     

    As stated, the Airline State Park Trail is the only authorized trail in the Blackledge Block. However, this block of forestland is home to an extensive network of unauthorized mountain bike trails. This unauthorized trail system is found in the eastern most section of the block, traversing compartments 10 and 11. Trail construction has included cutting herbaceous plants out of intended pathways, cutting downed trees out of trails and installing narrow wooden bridges in order to cross streams. Section 23- 4-1 (b) of the general regulations of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection states “No person shall deface, destroy, alter, remove or otherwise injure in any manner any structures buildings, vegetation, earth or rock material, trees, or fuelwood, nor shall any wildlife be molested or disturbed except as authorized by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.” This trail network was constructed in direct disregard for this section of the general regulations by significantly altering vegetation, earth, rock material and trees in this area of state forestland. The trail system is mostly present in upland forestland with dry, stony soils. However, these trails traverse wet areas and steep slopes that are rutted and eroded. Wet areas tend to have the widest trails as hikers and cyclists search for the driest route around the wet area. In wet areas the impact of these trails is most severe and has resulted in rutting, soil compaction and erosion. On steep slopes trails were constructed with no regard to how water would drain off the trail, resulting in water running directly down the trail, increasing soil erosion. These developed, multi-use trails also conflict with the DEEP’s mission to conserve fisheries, wildlife and their habitats. Recreational trails fragment and degrade habitat by creating a constant disturbance to wildlife as well as creating avenues for non-native invasive plant infestations, which reduce biodiversity. According to the publication Trails for People and Wildlife (2019) published by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, trails can negatively impact wildlife within 400 feet of each side of a trail. Negative impacts include direct stress to wildlife such as changing the animal’s heart rate, temperature or stress hormones as well as causing them to change their foraging locations, reducing the area available for them to raise their young and putting them at increased risk of predation. Using the 400 feet on each side of a trail as a trails corridor of influence on the local wildlife, within compartments 10 and 11 of the Blackledge Block there is only seven percent of the total land area not being disturbed by recreational traffic. Multi-use trails used by mountain bikers and dog walkers can also negatively impact those engaged in fish and wildlife based recreation such as hunting and wildlife viewing, especially those seeking a more solitary outdoor experience. Trails can be a great way to help the public see the beauty of their public forestland, however, the authorization and construction of such trails needs to be well planned in order to maximize recreational opportunities while minimizing negative impacts. The current unauthorized trail network is excessively extensive across the land and was constructed with no considerations to its negative impact on soils, vegetation, wildlife and wildlife based recreation. Actions need to be taken to stop this illegal use.

     

    (Page 41) Recreational Site Improvement

    Educational signage outlined in the “Road Construction, Gates & Signs” section of this plan will be posted as a short term initiative aimed at managing high recreational use areas within this block of land, most notably in compartments 10 and 11. However, the recreational pressure in these two compartments of the forest is such that a sustainable recreation plan will need to be created and implemented as the long term solution to the recreational issues, outlined in section E “Extensive Areas of Concern” of this plan. The parks, forestry and wildlife divisions of DEEP will partner to create and implement this plan during the early years of this management plans lifespan. The overarching goals of a sustainable recreation plan for the area are as follows:

    Create a designated trail head with a kiosk where all applicable notices can be posted for recreationalists to view.

    Divert the primary access point away from the end of Grayville Road to reduce and minimize neighborhood disturbances.

    Stop the creation of additional trails that are constructed with no regard to DEEP general regulations or sustainable recreation.

    Reduce trail density to minimize recreational pressure on wildlife.

    Designate authorized trails and close non-authorized trails.

    Take measures to stabilize authorized trails. Stabilization measures will include avoiding sensitive

    wet and riparian areas, reducing steep grades by installing additional switchback turns, constructing bridges over unavoidable wet areas and/or streams and putting in water bars to divert water off trail to prevent erosion and sedimentation.

    Create a plan to maintain the authorized trail system and enforce violations.

     

    Southern CT

    Northern CT

    Dividend Pond, Rocky Hill

    8 Old Forge Rd
    Rocky Hill  Connecticut  06067
    United States

    Easy

    70%

    Moderate

    25%

    Difficult

    5%

    Description

    Dividend Pond Trail System - Taken from SIngleTracks Magazine

    The biggest news since the spring 2020 issue is the completion and opening of the Dividend Pond trail system. Located just over the Cromwell line in Rocky Hill it’s the newest riding area in CT.

    It’s geared toward families and people new to the sport, but the flowy nature of the trails, and some very unique features including a double gravity cavity, make it fun for all levels of rider.

    Huge kudos to Luis Moreira, who secured permission and did the majority of the building. Here is Luis’ report-

    Over the course of the winter, we obtained permission from the town of Rocky Hill to build the first bike-specific trail system in that community.

    Located within the southern area of Dividend Pond Park is a brand-new singletrack loop, just under 2 miles long.

    This loop is a great way for beginners to get their tires dirty and fun for intermediate riders alike. 

    We were able to utilize the contours of the terrain to create a unique trail in a 30-acre parcel of land. 

    The soil is reminiscent of the sandy glacial dirt found at River Highlands, therefore draining exceptionally well after rain. 

    There are twists and turns, logs to hop over, natural berms and wall rides, and even a skinny! 

    At a short 1.5 miles away from River Highlands -an easy 10-minute ride on residential road- this new riding area will be a nice peripheral extension for those opting for a 12+ mile ride. 

    There are plans to add another section or two of trail in the future.  Stay tuned.  At the time of this writing, the loop is already packing down nicely but could use more tires. 

    Finally, we would like to thank all of those who volunteered on this project and for the town's blessing for the ”Div Pond” project.  Hope to see you on the trails.

    -Luis Moreira Read more about Dividend Pond, Rocky Hill

    Local Shops

    Central Wheel

    Pedal Power

    Central CT NEMBA Sunday Ride Series

    Event Date

    Repeats every week every Sunday until Sun Sep 26 2021 .
    3/21/21 (All day)

    Central CT NEMBA Sunday Ride Series.

    Central CT NEMBA will be holding a series of Sunday Rides at various locations around Connecticut.

    A notice for every ride may be posted to our Central CT NEMBA Facebook Page.

    The rides will start at 9:00 or 10:00.  Rides will be 2-3 hours long on average.   Bad weather will cancel.

    These are intermediate level trail rides.  Bring your helmet and a mountain bike in good working condition.

    Due to continuing Covid concerns I am limiting these rides to the first 8 people who show up.

    Try to arrive early enough so that we can get the ride started on time.

      Save time by signing NEMBA's 2021 Ride Waiver ahead of time.

    Questions? To sign up, or for this week's ride location contact me, John Puziss, through Facebook Messenger as I don't check my email every day.

     

      Read more about Central CT NEMBA Sunday Ride Series

    Chapter

    State

    Connecticut

    Ride Level

    Intermediate

    Ride Style

    XC

    Ride Leader Name

    John Puziss

    Southern CT

    Larkin Trail State Park, Naugatuck

    816 Church St #684
    Naugatuck  Connecticut  06770
    United States

    Easy

    70%

    Moderate

    30%

    Description

    The Larkin Trail State Park is a Rail Trail in the towns of Middlebury, Naugatuck, Oxford and Southbury. It's a dirt trail, a former railbed, a littlr over 10 miles long and as such it offers a perfect riding surface for new riders and families with kids on small bikes. There are also a number of singletrack trails leading off the rail trail that more experienced riders will enjoy exploring.

    A good description of the rail trail can be found on the DEEP's website

    The Larkin Trail is a wide dirt trail with low grades, with some short sections of singletrack.

    Larkin is a fun trail and the views are good.

    The directions at the top of this page lead you to the Eastern end of the trail in the Whittemore Glen State Park Scenic Preserve.

    There are a number of other parking areas which are listed on the DEEP's website. Read more about Larkin Trail State Park, Naugatuck

    Links to Relevant Resources

    Submit Comments to Support Connecticut Mountain Biking

    Friday, December 15, 2017

    Action Alert – Mountain Bikers should Submit Comments Supporting Mountain Biking and More Trail Access to Connecticut’s Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP)

     

    Comments must be submitted by Friday, December 28th.

     

    Email comments to:

    Mail comments to: DEEP SCORP c/o Doug Jann, Environmental Analyst, Bureau of Outdoor Recreation, 79 Elm Street Hartford, CT 06106.

    Connecticut’s Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) provides a five-year plan and vision for outdoor recreation. As such, it’s important for mountain biking to be highlighted and promoted in the plan where it is severely lacking at this time. We urge NEMBA members and riders at large to send in comments supporting mountain biking and increased multi-use trail development and access for bikes.

    In order to help you submit comments, we are providing a few bullet points you can copy and paste into your response or incorporate into your own words:

    1) Increase and improve on the quality of the singletrack trail inventory in the Connecticut state park system. Trail-based recreation needs a larger inventory of quality multi-use trails throughout the state. Increased funding for trail development is important. However, it is equally important to increase the partnerships with trail advocacy organizations, such as NEMBA, to create and maintain new multi-use singletrack trail opportunities.

    2) Increase the multi-use singletrack trail connectivity between DEEP Forests and Parks, municipal and private land trusts properties, and water company lands. i.e.: Burlington area trails can be used to interconnect different singletrack trail networks.

    3) Create and expand long distance commuter trails that connect different communities and multi-use trail systems to promote environmentally friendly commuting and expand upon economical impacts from trail users. Trails, such as the Airline Trail, Hop River Trail, Richard Goodwin Trail are important connectors to build upon.

    4) Increase accessibility for mountain biking on multi-use trails through improved parking lots and trail marking/mapping for trail systems. Modernize and increase wayfinding technology by creating supporting mobile map apps and improving signage and maps. Work on signage that works for all trail users.

    5) Increase promotion of outdoor recreation, outdoor events and partner organizations on DEEP’s website to increase local trail use and trail use tourism. Work with NEMBA to identify trail systems that are mountain biking friendly and to promote multi-use trail development across town lines. Read more about Submit Comments to Support Connecticut Mountain Biking

    Southern CT

    Mooween State Park, Lebanon

    Red Cedar Lake Rd
    Lebanon  Connecticut  06249
    United States

    860-526-2336

    Easy

    30%

    Moderate

    50%

    Difficult

    20%

    Description

    Mooween State Park in Lebanon, CT is home to southeast Connecticut’s newest trail system.  Set on the shores of Red Cedar Lake, the former summer camp for boys provides a variety of terrain for riders of all abilities. Throughout the fall and winter of 2016, a dedicated crew of trail builders roughed in and sculpted a network of nearly 10 miles of singletrack trails.  Existing double track, park roads and the new flowing beginner and intermediate level trails wind through stone walls and the old abandoned summer camp.  Along the way are opportunities to play on advanced technical features including giant boulders, steep rollers, log skinnies and 3 foot hucks. 
     
    There are currently a few small parking areas to access the trails from.  A 10+ car parking area is planned for the future.
    The “Boat Launch” (166 Camp Mooween Rd, Lebanon CT) – DO NOT BLOCK THE GATE  From the parking area ride across the dam.  Take the first left up a small rise on the double track.  The trail crosses the double track about 100 feet after the turn. The loop is bi-directional but flows more naturally ridden clockwise.  The builders suggest you take a left onto the Red Trail.
    The “Scott Hill Rd Gate” (299 Scott Hill Rd, Lebanon CT) – There is room for several cars at this pull off.  Ride down the park road along the lake, about 2/3 of a mile.  Just before you get to the dam make a right onto the double track up the small rise.  The Red Trail will be on your left.
    The “Galvanized Gate” (167 Scott Hill Rd, Lebanon CT) – Only room for a couple cars here.  Ride up the double track a little way.  The Yellow Trail crosses almost immediately.  The loop is bi-directional but flows more naturally ridden clockwise, so turn left onto the trail.
     
    Hunting is allowed at Mooween State Park.  During hunting season (mid-September to December 31) please avoid riding during the week and on Saturdays.  There is no hunting on state lands on Sundays. 
      Read more about Mooween State Park, Lebanon

    Local Shops

    Wayfarer Bicycle

    Links to Relevant Resources

    Local Eats

    2 Brothers Pizza, Salem

    The Plum Tomato, Colchester

    Connecticut's NEMBA Chapters respond to Hartford Courant Article

    Thursday, September 22, 2016

    Below is a Letter to the Editor to the Hartford Courant regarding their September 21, 2016 article "Illegal ATV Trails in State Forests a Growing Problem" written by NEMBA and its five Connecticut NEMBA chapters.

    ---------------------

    Hartford Courant
    Letters to the Editor
    285 Broad St.
    Hartford, CT 06115

    September 22, 2016

    Dear Editors of the Hartford Courant,

    Below is a response written by five Connecticut chapters of the New England Mountain Bike Association regarding Gregory Hladky's September 21, 2016 article, "Illegal ATV Trails in State Forests a Growing Problem." We hope that you publish it in its entirety.

    Mountain bikers can be part of the solution

    We thank Gregory Hladky for reporting on some of the important issues facing our state forests and public lands in Connecticut, “Illegal ATV Trails in State Forests a Growing Problem.” Indeed, there is a delicate balance between preserving and protecting habitat and providing public access for recreation, and illegal trail use and trail building are serious issues.

    The New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) works closely with the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) to steward public trails and improve the quality of trail experience for non-motorized recreation. We have five active NEMBA chapters in Connecticut whose volunteers dedicate 1000’s of hours to maintain trails and educate and assist all trail users. When issues arise that relate to mountain biking, we work closely with local land managers to find solutions. NEMBA opposes unauthorized trail building and works in partnership with DEEP to create legal and sustainable trails. Like hiking, mountain biking is a sustainable and legitimate form of recreation in Connecticut’s state forests and parks.

    Unauthorized trail construction is a significant problem but it is nothing new -- probably over half of the state’s trail inventory are legacy trails that were created by informal use. Enforcement is important to help prevent illegal trail building, but perhaps even more important is the need for DEEP to partner with non-motorized trail organizations, such as NEMBA, to improve the quality and quantity of recreational trails so that the general public doesn’t take matters into their own hands. We need both the stick and the carrot.

    It is our experience that increasing the amount of legitimate trail use reduces the amount of illegal trail use, and we look forward to increasing our partnership with local land managers to improve and protect the trails for everyone.

    Philip Keyes
    Executive Director
    New England Mountain Bike Association
    www.nemba.org
    800-576-3622

    Cory Stiff
    President
    Southeastern CT NEMBA

    Glenn Vernes
    President
    Central CT NEMBA

    Jon Regan
    President
    Northwest CT NEMBA

    Ryan Tucker
    President
    Fairfield County NEMBA

    Stacey Jimenez
    President
    Quiet Corner NEMBA

    Southern CT

    Millers Pond, Durham

    344 Foot Hills Rd
    Durham  Connecticut  06422
    United States

    Easy

    10%

    Moderate

    40%

    Difficult

    50%

    Description

    Located in Durham and Haddam Millers Pond is alomst unique in that nearly every trail was built by and for mountain bikers. It's also unusual in that there are very few mellow trails. Expect to be challenged here.
    For more information, go to the Fairfield County NEMBA webpage. Read more about Millers Pond, Durham

    Local Shops

    Ridgefield Bicycle

    Links to Relevant Resources

    Pages