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Traversing Baileys Trail with City Council members

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Members of Athens City Council met with leaders of the Baileys Trail System project Wednesday at Chauncey-Dover Community Park, where the system’s Chauncey trailhead is located, to hike a newly constructed portion of the trail.

Councilmember Sam Crowl said his understanding of the trail was greatly enhanced by the hike.

“We’ve been calling this a mountain bike trail system for a long time … but it’s not just that,” Crowl said. “It’s trails. Whether you’re a birder, or a hiker, or a mountain biker or just want to get away into the hills. It’s for everybody.”

 

Hikers smiled as they walked the trails. According to a previous report by The New Political, constructors hope to have 30-40 miles of the trail completed within the year.

Construction of the Baileys — planned to be 88-miles of mountain biking optimized trails —  broke ground in September, according to a previous report by The New Political.

At the beginning of the meeting, hikers enjoyed hearty “Baileys cookies,” and some wore neon vests while traversing the wooded area so that hunters wouldn’t mistake them for game. Some hunters use the Baileys tract of land during hunting season.

Currently, to enter the trail, composed of soft clay soil, one must cross a creek by way of a wooden plank. Because of recent rains, hikers stepped carefully through the steep and muddy pathway, and trundled up a steep incline, with TNP reporters being woefully underdressed for a romp through the woods.

Jeremy Wimpey, a representative from Applied Trails Research, an outdoor recreation firm, said there are three crews are working on the trail, and he estimated there are 25 workers.

Wimpey said that community members have begun to use the trail. The trail builders also employ cyclists to test the trail’s quality. The portion of the trail stemming from the community park will be designed to accommodate entry-level cyclists and hikers.

On the Baileys Trail, hikers learned about the difficulties faced during the first phase of construction.

Because of the Baileys, Chauncey has received funding from nonprofit organizations to create a spacious trailhead that can accommodate a large number of visitors. 

The trail by the park is repurposed mining land. Jessie Powers, the Athens County planner, said that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources donated to Chauncey’s bike spur project, another trail project in the area, because they are repurposing the land.

One improvement to the park will include creating a proper entrance into its parking lot. There is no “legal access point” to the Chauncey-Dover Community Park, according to Powers. To enter the park, one must take a sharp turn from state Route 13 to West Bailey Road — next to railroad tracks — and drive on railroad property.

TNP reporters observed the construction underway at the Baileys. Contractors using small excavator equipment dug away in the distance and  workers raked at the newly-fallen leaves while the hiking party stopped to hear about the construction process.

A trail builder carves out new pathways on trail.

The section of the trail toured was a portion of the “green trail,” or a trail for beginners that included more gentle incline grades and a wider path than the more difficult planned additions to the trail that feature more difficult terrain and trail conditions.

Kees Van Weel, a Chauncey citizen and retired engineering technician at the Wayne National Forest, was walking his three dogs to the trail as the tour of the hike ended and began to express his displeasure with the project to the stakeholders involved with the planning and execution of the trail system.

“Thirteen years I’ve been walking along here, haven’t seen a mountain bike — one when there was roads and trails back up in here. Never saw anybody. Now you guys are in here making bicycle trails,” he said to the stakeholders present.

Van Weel frequently walks through the Baileys tract of land with his dogs. He does not believe that the trail will remain popular over time.

Athens City Councilmember Patrick McGee traversed and conversed the trail.

“We’ve seen too many things like this, expecting people to show up, and then in about five years the newness is gone and away you go,” he said. 

Van Weel also does not think the trail is well constructed. 

“I am not impressed with the trails that are being put in. I think they’re a disaster waiting to wash everything out,” he said. Due to the trails’ sloping sides, he thinks the trails will wash out during heavy rains. 

 

Wayne National Forest representatives walked the plank leading from the Baileys back into Chauncey-Dover Community Park.
On the trail, hikers could look through the trees to see the village of Chauncey.
A member of the Wayne National Forest addressed the hiking party before the group began their adventure.
The hikers embarked on their muddy journey by crossing a creek guarding the trail.
The hiking party traversing the trail, seen through the trees.
Leaders of the Baileys Trail project provided maps for other plans centered around the project, including a map of the Doanville trailhead.
Some hikers wore reflective vests so hunters would not mistake them for game.
The hiking party walked across the soft soil toward the rumbling trail building machines.

Cole Behrens contributed to this report.

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One Comment

  1. Rob Delach

    December 5, 2019 at 10:06 AM

    Great photos, excellent details about the project.
    My one critique is the Chauncey citizen who wandered into the hike at the end was given free reign to criticize the project without a reasoned response from anyone involved or knowledgable about the project. The fact is, that these trails have been carefully designed and are being built by some of the best trail building companies in the Eastern US. What Mr. Van Weel also fails to realize is the scope of this project, it is not just a few trails going in to the area, but a massive purpose built trail system that is unlike anything built east of the Mississippi. It has already received National attention, and it’s not even open for use yet.
    He seems rather concerned about losing his private place to walk his dogs, when it is publicly owned space owned by everyone.

    Reply

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