Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Byrom Park

The Scoop: The Patricia Ann Byrom Forest Preserve Park

After a quick Blackrock Gap jaunt Saturday morning, I headed to Byrom Park to do some trail work and get the scoop on what is sure to be a great addition to the county park system and a climbing park for trail runners.

Climbing park?

Byrom park is 612 acres cut right into the base of the Blue Ridge, and the trails start with an aggressive gravel road climb out of the parking lot. We rode a gator up the “draft” trails on Saturday and my quads were twitching with excitement. At present, the plan is to have one of the loop trails totaling 5-6 miles completed by August 19th, which is when the park will open officially. The next phase will be to finish clearing and then open a larger concentric loop and connect a trail that currently goes to nowhere (Shel Silverstein part II) back to the entrance (old logging roads have been converted to trails to deer stands as the property was leased to a hunting club).

Bears? You bet, with the plentiful berries around and the clear evidence that one had been using a wood trail intersection marker as a scratching post.

Blaze? The current “blazing” is letters on foam, which are temporary markings from the county-sponsored “Bioblitz” (a summary is available here). The recommendation relevant to trail building that came from this exercise was to “[p]lan trails and recreation areas so that there is minimal disturbance to the few identified unusual species (ex. American chestnut, American elm, Big-toothed aspen), groups (ex. ferns, orchids), geology, and habitats (ex. seeps, wetlands, and streams especially where streams and old logging roads intersect or adjoin (along trails A and E)).”  I'm sure the first trail will be blazed at opening, and its would be a true joy to get the first runs on it with the CAT group.  

So what is in store for the future of Byrom Park? Why should I be so excited?

1. SNP Connection: The property has a thin corridor that makes it contiguous with Shenandoah National Park. It is a mere 8 miles by road away from the turn that goes to Sugar Hollow on 810 (just keep going right at the store). The county is going to apply for a trail connection, which is complicated as it will require (1) the approval to build a trail leading out of Byrom, (2) a trail built from the SNP side, and (3) the federal government paperwork mill.   By my cursory map-gazing, this puts a possible connector trail to Loft Mountain/Big Flat Mountain? I could be wrong here, any insight from the more map-able is welcome.

2. Mountain Running:  This will be a mountain running playground, and its unlikely to receive the same pummeling as Preddy Creek as the grades are quite steep.  Your calves and quads will thank you when you knock out >3-4k elevation in a 5-6 mile run. 

3. The work continues!: Tucker Rollins who has been organizing the volunteer trail work, and has a passion for the park and its potential, will be hosting monthly workdays again September throughout the winter.  In addition, he would be more than happy to schedule a workday for us sometime.  Anyone game for August 6th?

-Mike