Springtime at Great Glen Trails

The Trail system is closed and we still have quite a few inches of snow left, but we are busy getting ready for summer. The majority of the preparation is done by Susan with a list of springtime duties that takes a few weeks to finish. Getting ready for summer operations requires the removal of what was put up for winter; signs, fencing, tubes and bridges. The most time consuming job is the removal of the snow fence she puts up before winter which takes about 3 days to take down. This fencing helps capture the snow blown from the wind and keeps it on the trail, so it has no use during the summer.

A small stream runs across the base of the tubing hill and is covered by our homemade bridge system. The snow accumulates on the bridges so folks aren’t swimming in the winter. The split rail fencing along the trails takes the brunt of winter weather and needs to be repaired. This usually takes 1-3 days. Every few years we do a more thorough job repairing the split rail and last year I helped Susan with this project. We straightened crooked poles, replaced broken poles, which usually rot out underground, and realigned the rails. The tubes for the tubing hill need to be deflated and stored, managing 50 tubes doesn’t sound like much but that job takes about a day to complete. Then there is signage! Removing the ones specific for Nordic skiing in the winter, replacing any weathered or damaged trail signs and trail maps. This season we replaced and added new signs to the trails located in the woods behind the lodge. These are in the process of being painted and will soon be hung in their appropriate locations. At times the winds can become very strong and the snow very heavy which causes trees to break. Susan will do her best to walk the trails and clean up what she can with the chainsaw. Any thing Susan can’t handle alone will be done by a Trail Crew. Once all the snow has melted which isn’t until May, the trails need to dry out. We don’t allow biking until then because it’s too soft and causes damage to the trails. Tony, part of our summer trails crew, then drives out with a rake attached to the front of a truck and just like a snowplow, it cleans up any debris left over from winter. After the whole system is raked he attaches three big rollers, like a giant rolling pin to the rear of the vehicle which will smooth and compact the carriage roads. He also rebuilds the water bars necessary to guide the water off the trails to prevent washouts. This process is completed almost everyday throughout the summer so our trails are in tip top shape. Both the Great Angel Station and the Caddiddlehopper Cabin are cleaned out and checked for repairs.

To keep our Trails Tracker Scavenger hunt new and different we added Denny the Deer and Bonnie the Beaver and we will give all of them new homes along the trails, happy hunting!

Inside the base lodge, Great Glen Trails gets a make over every spring and fall. In the fall Nate transforms the gift shop on the main floor to the Nordic shop and sets up ski, snowshoe gear and clothing with rentals downstairs, this is all reversed in the spring and everything is moved downstairs. We received 17 new kayaks yesterday and we will be getting our shipment of new bikes soon. Every year we purchase new rental equipment for both our summer and winter rental fleets. All equipment goes on sale at the end of each season.

Great Glen Trails will be open Memorial Day Weekend, Thursday through Monday for bike rentals and paddling trips. -Meg

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