Thursday, July 26, 2012

Haw Creek

I can't remember exactly when it was, but a while back somebody posted on either Facebook or the Sorba forum about a new park off Echols Road in Cumming and the guy from Sorba Rambo said something like "Oh yeah, we're working with Forsyth Parks and Rec to get a beginner-level trail built there." Something like that.

Echols Road is like 2 miles from my house, so you can imagine that I'd be excited about this new development, independent of how many miles of trail are going in, or how difficult they are.

A month and a half ago I saw them start work on the parking lot. A few weeks back I noticed a trail head on Samples Road. A week or so ago I read a headline that the park was open. My older daughter's friend Madison mentioned that her brother has been riding his bike there already. It was time to give it a spin myself.

A few days ago I spun a lap of the park on my road bike to get some GPS data, which is already up on my trails site, and then yesterday I took the Iz over to see how she how she could shred.

.  The Iz

And shred she did. On fire road...

 Haw Creek Fire Road

On singletrack...

 Haw Creek Shred

And on everything in between.

She did not, however, shred two sections of the trail. This one...

 Haw Creek Gnar

...which, riding into it, appeared to her to be just a big pile of rock instead of a trail. And also, there's a short little drop across a ravine that didn't look rideable to her either. Other than that though, she cleaned the trail.


My kids are small. Me and Kathryn are small and we made even smaller kids. Iz is 12 but most 9 year olds are taller than her. Sophie's 9 but she's as tall as the average 7 year old. As such, they struggle with technical trail features. They can ride 20 miles of greenway, no problem, and of course, Mosquito Flats but that's about it. The innumerable roots of Mt. Adams are even a bit much for them. It's difficult for them to get in a satisfying ride on dirt. Blankets is fun, but driving all the way over to ride a bunch of 1 mile flat laps just doesn't do it for them any more. They'd love Chehaw (in Albany) and Santos (in Florida) but that's how far we'd need to drive to find something long and fun that they could handle. There just hasn't been that next-step trail until now.

The Haw Creek trail is exactly what I've been looking for. It's about 3 miles long and twisty, but also wide and non-technical and with enough climbing to challenge a kid without breaking them off halfway around. Given its location, in the middle of 3 neighborhoods, right next to two elementary schools and a middle school, it's the perfect trail for the setting.

I also like that it's road-bike friendly enough that I can use it to get between Samples and Echols Road on my way to James Burgess.

This is a fairly representative shot of the trail.

 Haw Creek Singletrack

Wide, twisty, shallow grade, but not flat.


And it's nice that the property itself got some attention too. Word on the street was that squatters were occupying an old, crumbling house up near the front of the property and towards the back... cockfights. I've got a little of that duality re. squatters. Having squatters for neighbors can be bad for your property value, but you know, folks might just be down on their luck and the squatting itself may not present a problem, per-se. Cockfights though... What the heck?! I didn't even know people did that any more.

No chance of either now though. If there were homes or other structures on the property, I think I know what happened to them:

 The Great Rubble of Haw Creek

I also heard that at the grand opening, most of the neighbors were all "Yay!" but at least one of them wrote letters about how pissed she was that there weren't ball fields and playgrounds.

Given the hydrology of the area, I can only imagine how expensive ball fields would be to build. There are 3 playgrounds though, with stuff to climb on and over:

 Haw Creek Playground

There just aren't monkey bars and swings. Who knows, maybe next year there will be. I'm pretty happy with the park.

Me and Iz spun one lap. She could handle the trail but the elevation was a new challenge for her. Ha! Yeah, use those gears kid.

Next time, we're riding three laps. Maybe we'll bring Sophie along too.

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