Trail Work

May Field Trips: Palmer Woods Work Bee, Arcadia Grit & Gravel

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Your May challenge? Hit Palmer Woods. And help, if you can.

Palmer Woods is rolling into its first full season in action, and we want to challenge you to get out and see if for yourself. The new trail is a the product of grassroots support and advocacy from Leelanau Conservancy, pushed by Bike Leelanau and bike-lovers all over Leelanau County. The first phase of construction has already given us one of the most unique places to ride in the state!

Flowtrack Mountain Bike designed the trail and opened things up for riding last fall. Closed for winter, spring has given Palmer Woods its first chance to impress locals and riders visiting our region. We want to make sure everyone gets to experience the trail in prime shape. That’s why the Conservancy, Bike Leelanau, and Suttons Bay Bikes are hosting a trail day on Thursday, May 16. We’ll be looking to address trail debris, clear face-slappers, and make some minor repairs from a long, soggy winter and spring.

At the same time, volunteers from the Leelanau Conservancy will be tackling a spreading nuisance. Garlic mustard is an invasive species that’s been a huge problem in the area, and they’re calling on as many hands as they can muster to stop the spread at Palmer Woods. They’re looking for at least a dozen willing, strong-armed people who aren’t afraid to get dirty. That effort will run in conjunction with the bike work bee, which means Palmer Woods will be swarming with do-gooders. Make sure you bring your bike, too; there’s a very high chance a bike ride will break out after the trail work!

This weekend is also a great chance to go explore Arcadia. The Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy manages Arcadia Dunes and has worked hard to developed the trail into one of the most fun, exciting, and flowing mountain bike trails in the area. This Saturday, Endoman Promotions hosts the Arcadia Grit & Gravel, a half gravel race, half mountain bike race that puts riders on 10 miles of dirt roads before tossing them into 11 miles of singletrack goodness. It’s one of the most unique events in the state, and one of the most beautiful. The race weekend always seems trillium in peak bloom; riders blur past hillsides and ravines covered in a blanket of brilliant white flowers over a vibrant green undergrowth.

A portion of the proceeds from the race go to GTRLC, helping preserve both the Arcadia Dunes and the many other ambitious conservation projects Glen and the gang have cooking. For riders in northern Michigan, who are so spoiled to have trails like the Traverse City Trail Network, Palmer Woods, Cadillac Pathway, and Glacial Hills right in their backyard, races like Arcadia Grit & Gravel are the perfect excuse for a field trip!

Mud, Sweat and Beer Trail Day: Thanks For All Your Help!

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It was a busy weekend on the trails! From our trail day to course marking we got a lot done thanks to a lot of hardworking people!

Mud, Sweat and Beers is just days away, and that meant this past weekend was crunch time to clean up and clearly mark the 2019 route. Tom and the crew have put countless hours of thought and planning into crafting a course that offers just a bit of everything, but without some rakes on the ground, it’s all just imagination and theory.

Sunday was all about getting things done. The short section of private land that links the Holiday Village neighborhood to the Vasa Pathway always needs a bit of work, but after a long winter and with a few twists added, it needed more attention than usual. Luckily, we had a few folks raise their hands and hit the woods with us. We spent a few hours raking and clearing from the pavement to the power lines, offering riders a safe, fast trail to link up the opening few miles of the race to the real meat and potatoes of the 2019 course.

And that’s where McLain Race Team took over. They had nearly their entire team out marking the course, putting up pink Stout and blue Pale Ale arrows, taping tight corners, and adding a racer’s perspective the the course that we’ll all really benefit from on Saturday. Board member Steve Mentzer and a dozen other riders handled one section, while the Ernsts and another crew split off to cover more ground.

Of course, it wasn’t all work. Sunday was one of the last nice, sunny days in the forecast leading into race week, which meant it was the last chance to recon the course. The Norte crew had dozens of kids riding the Stout and Pale Ale course, putting in some impressive times and showing everyone how to really rail the singletrack. There were all sorts of groups soaking up the sun and making notes on important sections trail that might play a big role in on Saturday.

Thanks to everyone who dedicated their free time to helping us get things primped and primed, and to everyone who went out and made all that hard work worth it! DIg what we’re doing? Make sure you re-up or join NMMBA and help support more work just like this all season long.

How You Can Save The Day, Every Day, In Just Five Seconds...

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This one goes for anyone on the trails. And that’s any trail. Please, pick up a stick.

While we host a number of trail days, most of the trail work that make the woods fun to bike, run, walk, and explore happens by our own trail volunteers. They spend hours each week heading deep into the forest to make structural changes or clear big, dangerous issues. Clearing downed trees, carefully pruning face slappers, fixing damage to trail, marking and recording future trail plans…they have a lot to do, and they squeeze all of it into daily life. They’re already sacrificing saddle time (which is dramatic enough), but they’re also missing time with family, friends, even work time to make sure we have a place to ride!

Can’t make that commitment? You don’t have to. You can join NMMBA, and you can trade those five hour work days for about five seconds per ride. How? Pick up a stick.

No, seriously. Picking up sticks, gel and snack wrappers, or any trail debris that you can address with your strong, bare hands is a huge help to our trail volunteers. Especially this spring, strong winds and a few weeks of ice and rain have brought down a lot of sticks, limbs and branches. If you can kick those clear, you’ll not only save our volunteers a ton of time, but you might also save one of your pals, too. Those sticks are rear derailleur killers, and if everyone can help out, we might be able to save a few of our friends a very long, sad, and expensive walk back to the parking lot.

Get out and ride! With the Cadillac Pathway almost completely clear and 90% of the unmarked trails in Traverse City ready to roll, this is a great week to sneak out and put in a few miles. Take a hot second each time to pick up a stick or two, pocket any stray wrappers, and let’s get things in pristine shape for the rest of spring and summer.

Updates From The Traverse City Trail Network

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This past weekend was a glorious preview of weather we hope to see consistently by the end of the month, and it gave us a nice head start on our spring trail work.

One of the first items on our to-do list is to get started on our spring trail design for Mud, Sweat and Beers. We’re back to help design the perfect course for May 4’s annual fundraiser to support Mt. Holiday, and we don’t have to tell you just how much this events means to Traverse City. MSB is more than just a fundraiser to support TC’s non-profit ski hill on the east side, but it also serves as family reunion, Opening Day, and the first big party of spring. For many, it’s the first race since Iceman Cometh the previous fall, and the first chance to catch up with all our riding buddies and racing rivals.

It’s also very popular as the first race ever for many new mountain bikers, and we work hard to ensure a course that’s accessible and safe for all, but challenging even for the fastest and most experienced racers. The balance of Vasa Pathway, unmarked singletrack, and connecting bits of trail is the perfect way to highlight the diverse riding experiences we offer, but also the ideal way to balance a course the works for everyone. We want the person completing their first Pale Ale and the Stout winner to both leave Mt. Holiday feeling tired, tested, and thoroughly happy with their day in the woods!

Our trail crew made the very most of the warm weather by getting to work on a new section of singletrack that will make its debut at Mud, Sweat and Beers. It was also a really good opportunity for us to take a look at just how much snow is still out in the woods. The open areas are remarkably clear, but anything heavily wooded or groomed is still covered with that hard packed-snow-turned-ice. A few more days of warm weather would have given us hope for spotty riding as soon as the 14th, but with cold temps this week mean it could be nearly the end of the month before we see 100% dirt.

Because of that variability, our TC Trail Network and indeed all of our trails have to be a bit flexible when it comes to schedule trail days. While Glacial Hills is good to go for their first Spring Clean-Up on April 20, Cadillac, TCTN, and Bike Leelanau will be a bit more short notice. If you’re interested in helping out, make sure you follow us on Facebook and join our newsletter to get the trail days in your inbox!