Monday, June 29, 2020

Trail Markings Upgrade at Nicholdale

An arrow helps out novice hikers who don't understand the offset blazes
Nichols Trail was originally called the 'Perimeter Trail' because it followed the boundaries of the Land Trust's Nicholdale Farm property. Although the route is good for maximizing the size of the loop, and to check the boundaries of the property, it does have several spots where the trail splits, often in meadow areas, with mowed paths going in multiple directions and Nichols Trail taking a sharp turn. "Which way should I go?" Although people could usually figure it out, the many junctions could lead to decision fatigue, especially for newer hikers who aren't familiar with standard offset blazes. And also when vines crawl up the trees and cover blazes.

A bunch of signs and arrows have been added to help with that problem, along with a marked 4x4 post in a long stretch of meadow, some trail alignment tweaking in one spot, clearing, and freshening of the blazes. It should be a lot easier for people to follow the trail now.

This spot was always confusing
The first spot to get a custom sign was near the parking area where Nichols Trail splits from the main meadow path (the one that heads straight for the Scout camp). Before the sign was there, it wasn't entirely obvious that you were supposed to veer off to the left. The trail was also shifted a bit here so that the mowing tractor could go directly down the trail. If we can get everyone to follow the same tread for awhile, instead of meandering around the meadow, it will be easier for people to see which way they should go. A string trimmer was therefore used to create a faux tread.

Offset blazes tell hikers to watch out for a right turn
In addition to the signs and arrows, a few new double blazes were added in the grassy areas. This will only help the people who understand that the upper blaze indicates the direction of a turn. Everyone else will just have to look in every direction for the next blaze.

New arrow in a confusing spot
In a couple open spots where the trail might go in a multiple directions, the new arrows were twisted at just the right angle to show you which way to go.

Blazed 4x4 post off in the distance
The 4x4 post was a job to carry down the trail and install. The soil was so dry it was like flour all the way down to 2.5 feet. This was an area that people generally did just keep going straight and hoped for the best, but now the blazed post provides comfort to the hiker, letting them know they are on the right track. Also, some years the guys on the mowing tractor create a number of mowed paths in this area and it's not always clear which one you're supposed to be on. This should help. 

Blaze obscured by vines
One problem we have at Nicholdale in the more open areas is vines growing up the trees and covering up the blazes. It happens quick. And sometimes the bushes get too taller and likewise cover up the blazes, or the tree branches dip down and get in the way. Blazes covered with vegetation are no use to anyone. This is where it would be a big help to have a Trail Monitor to alert us when there is a problem. Or for a routine trail user to carry a set of pruners and clip those vines before they become a problem (some are poison ivy though, so watch out).

Blaze uncovered

1 comment:

  1. Nice job with all the recent signs, blazes, clearing, etc. The trail improvements makes it a pleasant, easy to walk, loop around the property.