Kiosk at Lowell Davis Road Crossing
So instead of loading my bike into the fossil-fuel-mobile today and spending precious riding time driving to a ride, I decided I'd have another go at the section of the Airline Trail that I've been hearing so much about lately from down near the West Thompson Dam up to Douglas State Forest. Some of the my co-committee members on the Thompson Trails have been saying some positive things about the work that has been going on here.
Last time I rode this trail, I did it one way from Douglas to Thompson and swore I'd never do it again. I'm pretty sure it was at least 90% comprised of sandy whoop-dee-doos or a stream bed that had taken over the trail in an era long since past.
But I've been hearing a lot about grant money coming through and the revitalization of this section of the trail, so I broke my oath and decided to hit it again. And I have to say, I'm not sorry that I did.
It was about a two and a half mile road ride over the dam and up to the cemetery to get to the trail, which runs between Route 395 and Riverside Drive in this area.
As I jumped on I was immediately faced with a puddle that looked more like a small pond spanning the entirety of the trail. There was nothing to do but pedal through. Fortunately the bottom was firm and the water was relatively shallow. Two dry feet and a still clean drivetrain. Things were looking up.
Within a half mile the trail crosses over the on-ramp to 395 at Exit 98. It follows the old railroad bridge over the traffic. Bridge is just fine, but I wish it weren't such deep peastone across it. Makes for tough pedaling.
After crossing this bridge you are very soon after faced with another bridge, or lack thereof. Good to see it has barriers preventing unsuspecting traffic from plummeting to their deaths. Or at least plummeting to certain pain.
The go-around isn't fantastic, at least this time of year. It leads you through some super mucky, swampy terrain, but it is ridable.
After this, the trail falls into a nice groove for quite a while. Solid terrain, primarily hardpack soil or stone dust, but occasionally coarse gravel. The latter was, again, tough pedaling, but better than pedaling through the swamp that probably was there before. There were constant signs of a lot of work having been done, whether the makeup of the trail itself or the stacks and stacks of cleared timber and saplings lining the trail.
There were a few places where the trail was still a little rough, but there was almost always a solid path to follow. And the terrain was absolutely breathtaking. Old stone walls in various states of repair lining the trail. And streams accompanying the trail more often than not.
There are a couple more roads to cross over (Sunset Hill and Lowell Davis) before you cut under 395 and then break east from the highway. Not usually a big graffiti fan, but I loves me some Wile E. Coyote, which is who awaits you under the 395 underpass.
After going under Route 395, the trail crosses under Route 193 right next to Sweet Sue's Sugar Shack. Worth stopping in if you have some time and they are open.
The trail is pretty smooth sailing from this point forward. There are a couple of gravelly areas and a couple of places that were a little damp, but all in all 100% enjoyable.
New bridge with rocks on either side to keep ATVs out.
Swamp View Estates
Trees don't care much about signs of man.
Caution, barely a bridge
Pre-Columbian Cave Thingy
After nine fast, flat miles from my door, I was turning off the Airline onto the Tri-State climb. And then on to the Douglas State Forest, where a whole world of mountain biking awaits.
View from the Lean-To off the Midstate.
The ol' hole in the wall
Never mind about the coffee. It ain't there.
New bridge on the Midstate/Coffee House
Back on the Airline
New bridges, thanks to Friends of the Midstate Trail
Rope Swing Point
My favorite log crossing - NOT!
The return trip down the Airline was met with a cold rain. I blasted through and found Cori waiting for me at the end of the trail. She said it was hailing a mile up the road.
In the end, I have to say, I was very impressed with the condition of the Airline. A great way to get some extra miles in so close to home. I look forward to seeing the remaining touches finished up.
Here is the GPS track of the ride.