Sunday, July 29, 2018

Charleston, Central, and Haw Creek Parks

Earlier this month I got on multi-park kick. That is to say that it seemed like a good idea to ride the trail system at one park, take roads over to another park, ride there, take roads over to another park, ride there, etc. This is sort of what you do on rides like the CFiTT or the Huracan, and I guess I felt like I was missing that vibe or something. Whatever the reason, that's what I felt like doing, and Cumming seemed like the place to do it because I hadn't ridden up there in years.

First up, Charleston Park.

Charleston Park Sign

I'd never ridden there at all. Ever. When I lived up there, the park was little more than an elaborate boat ramp.

Charleston Park Boat Ramp

I remember there being some chicken-egg controversy about building the trails. The only good place for them was on the other side of a creek, which required a bridge, but the county didn't want to build the bridge, because nothing currently existed on the other side of the creek to bridge to. Apparently they resolved the issue though, because the bridge, and trails, now exist.

Bridge to Nowhere

The system is a double-stacked loop - Inner Loop and Outer Loop.

There were at least 3 other riders out there while I was riding, and a half dozen people hiking too. It seemed like a popular place.

I wasn't a big fan of the Inner Loop. I'd have to ride there a lot to get a good feel for it. It seemed very difficult to carry speed. I felt like I was riding the brakes, hanging a u-turn and grunting up the next climb, over and over. I'm sure if I rode there a lot, I'd get the flow, but for a casual ride, it was a little frustrating.

The Outer Loop couldn't be more opposite. It was fast and flowy, with long lines of sight.

Charleston Park Singletrack

It was a pleasure to ride. If I lived there, I'd probably ride out, do multiple laps of the outer loop and ride back in.

There are also 2 picnic areas back there, one of which has a nice view of the lake, and boat ramp.

Charleston Park Trail Lower Picnic Area Charleson Park Trail Lower Picnic Area Lake View Charleston Park Upper Picnic Area

The only problem I had out there was that someone had dragged a downed sapling across the trail to the lower picnic area and I managed to catch some part of my bike on it and drag it along with me until crashing into another sapling and getting tangled up in both. It beat me up, and pissed me off, but I wasn't injured per-se.

The only other thing that sucked was that virtually every switchback was cross-cut. If I'm GPS'ing a trail (which I was that day), I like to map those, but I gave up after having to stop every 100 yards to map another one. The sheer number of them was unbelievable.

Next up, Central Park.

Actually, next up was the ride over to Central Park.

On the Road

Since switching to 1x11, I hadn't ridden much on the road, except between Blankets and Rope Mill. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great. I did find myself spun out, wishing for bigger gears, but not often. It felt inefficient at times, but I never felt like I was crawling.

I hadn't ridden at Central Park in probably 8 years. I used to take my kids to the playground there when they were little, but I didn't even ride there a lot when I lived there.

When I got there, I was surprised to see that the kiosk was missing, and even more surprised to see that the trail itself was missing.

Central Park

If you know exactly where it used to be, then you can kind-of make out the dent in the backslope. If not, you'd never know it was ever there.

The only solid indicator of its former existence is this little chunk of asphalt that once helped you get over the curb.

Central Park Trail Artifact

Behind it, no evidence remained.

It looked like the trail had mostly been abandoned, or otherwise absorbed into the disc golf course. I don't know when this happened, or what prompted the decision, but I do remember that the trail was mostly out-in-the-open with no canopy to protect it. I can imagine that would have eventually caused some erosion problems. Who knows, though? I didn't ride there enough to observe any such decline.

So, that was a little anti-climactic, but I still had Haw Creek ahead of me, and I'd heard that some work had been done out there recently.

It's a bit of a hike to get to Haw Creek though. I think it's about 5 miles away from Central Park, directly through the semi-recently renovated downtown.

Downtown Cumming

That's a 5-story courthouse and, across the street, to the right, a 3 story jail. Equivalent in size to the same in Cobb County, which has 3 times the population. They're either experiencing a massive crime wave, or expecting one in the near future. Either way, yikes!

I passed Alan's Flooring on the way over too. If you own a rental property in Cumming that needs new carpet, I highly recommend Alan's Flooring.

After an eternity on surface streets, I finally made it to Haw Creek, and ripped several laps. I recognized a couple of reroutes, and some intermediate options that hadn't been there way back.

There was also a pump track.

Haw Creek Pumptrack

Which I just couldn't get the flow of. It seemed like it required 2 manuals that I kept coming up short on. It could have just been that I was a little tired though. I have no idea how many miles I'd put in at that point.

There was a group of at least 20 riders hanging around a pavilion near the lot when I rode through the first time. I never saw them on the trail though. So, either we just managed to miss each other, or they were finishing up as I was heading out.

The ride back to Charleston Park was difficult. Rather than backtrack through Cumming, I took Samples and Buford Dam Roads, which are both very hilly, and murder if you hit them at the end of your ride. On top of that, my tires felt like they were velcro'ed to the blacktop.


I made it back though, and grabbed some Mexican food at whatever that place is off of exit 15 on the way home.

Mole Chicken Enchiladas.



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