Monday, December 21, 2020

Tahmore Trail Adjustments

Reroutes along the east half of Tahmore Trail (click map to enlarge)

Three sections of Tahmore Trail were shifted a bit this fall in the continuing effort to address problems with footing, erosion, trail alignment, and scenic value. Most of the western half of the loop was completely rerouted this past spring up to the top of so-called "Big Tahmore," and has proved popular with local hikers.  The latest trail changes occurred on the east half of the loop and were relatively minor. Here were the changes and why they were done:

Reroute #1 (see map above): This stretch had a short steep section that was eroding badly into a gully and was treacherous when covered with fresh oak leaves. The existing route went straight down the hill, so there was no way to redirect stormwater off of the trail, meaning the erosion would only get worse. It was also very close to a house, which only become a problem this year after the homeowners cut down a nice screening of hemlocks and dumped the branches over the stone wall onto the Land Trust property alongside the trail. So the trail was steep, eroding, and now a bit of an eyesore.  

View from the old route

Same view from the new route, further from the house

So the trail was pulled away from the home and now hugs the hillside, where there are some interesting rock features to catch the eye. The trail is still relatively steep, but not quite as bad. Two rock steps were installed in the steepest spot. And the trail cuts across the slope and bends around the hillside in such a way that stormwater can be directed off of the trail in several locations, preventing the trail from become a big gully. This reroute required a lot of 'side-hilling' (digging the trail into the side of the hill). 

The reroute allows stormwater to escape from the trail

Reroute #2: This was an easy reroute that simply straightened out the trail. It was always a curious curve ("why are you taking me to the right when the trail ends up to the left?"). The new route takes hikers more directly along their way, and away from the other part of the loop so that hikers on different parts of the trail are less likely to see each other. 

Reroute #2 was a simple straightening

Reroute #3: This reroute addressed two problems. First, if you were following the trail clockwise, the section heading west down to the red trail had a steep section that was slick when covered with leaves or snow. Second, people not familiar with the trail kept accidentally turning right onto the red trail because that was the more obvious tread. To follow Tahmore Trail, you actually would turn left immediately after a big tree on your left that blocked your view. People not used to following blazes kept missing it.

Reroute #3: Less steep, and prevents
people from accidentally turning right on red

So instead of going straight down the hill, the new route first jogs to the right and cuts gradually across the slope, then bends back to the left and drops more steeply. The new alignment directs hikers straight through the red junction (no more left turn). And the remaining steep section is shorter and not quite as steep as before. Some drainage work was also done that may help, since after a storm a river of water flows down Tahmore Trail at the bottom of the notch. 

What's left for Tahmore? The steep hillside above the cattle pasture isn't horrible, but it still needs the leaves to be removed in the fall. Some additional improvements may be warranted there. 

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