Tuesday, November 30, 2021

South Rockdale Community Park

Continuing my tend of riding far-away trails with relatively few miles...

This time, it was South Rockdale Community Park. I say "this time", but what I mean is "earlier this month". This was a while back. I don't remember exactly what made me want to check out that specific trail, but whatever the motivation was, that's where I ended up.

Pretty decent facilities:

South Rockdale Community Park Lot 
	South Rockdale Community Park Kiosk 
	South Rockdale Community Park Playground 
	South Rockdale Community Park Pavilion

The pavilion had bathrooms.

The trails themselves were interesting. I'd seen online that there were only a few miles of trail at the park, but it turned out that the Rockdale River Trail (paved trail) led right through the park...

Path Trails

...and it tied into the Arabia Mountain Trail. Interesting! There were also hiking trails, and even a horse trail. Even more interesting! None of that showed up online.

Sometimes, you just have to get out there to find stuff, I guess.

There were 3 bike trails - beginner, intermediate, and expert. Well, technically there were 2 expert trails. Stacked loop, easy to follow, lets go!

The trails were very well designed and built.

Beginner Trail

I actually exclaimed out loud "This trail is amazing!" heading back toward the lot on the downhill section of the Beginner Trail. I kind-of surprised myself when I said it, like it escaped from my subconscious. The trail just flowed really well, and there were a lot of quick turns and drops.

I'm starting to get a sense of the kind of trail that I'll be riding when I see one of these Sorba Atlanta signs.


It seems like all of their trails are pretty consistent.

Back in the woods, inside of the Beginner Trail loop, there were all of these weird structures.

Boy Scout Shelter

In the direction I was riding, I couldn't tell what they were because I could only see the backs of them. It turned out they were shelters of some kind, maybe for Boy Scouts? They were three sided, with the fourth side open. Looked like you could set them up as sleeping quarters, and put a tarp across the open side if you wanted. There were like 4 of them, I think.

I crossed a horse trail several times. There were even spots in the lot for horse trailers. The trail didn't look like it had been ridden in a while though.

Horse Trail

On the east side of the park, the horse trail just led directly up to a fence. It looked like maybe it used to keep going, but got fenced off recently.

The Intermediate Loop was stacked on top of the Beginner Loop. It was slightly more challenging than the Beginner Loop, but mainly it was just longer. I didn't run into anyone else while I was riding, but later I saw a guy on that loop through the woods.

It's always interesting to find old junk like this way back in the woods.

Trash or Artifact

Trash or artifact? And, there's no way somebody just dragged that through the woods. They'd have dumped it out of the back of a truck or something, so there must have been a road back there at some point. I don't know where your mind goes when you see trash in the woods, but that's where my mind goes.

The Expert Trails were quite a bit north of the rest. You had to jump on the Rockdale River Trail for a bit to get to them.

Rockdale River Trail

Along the way, there was a trail off to the right, that led to a bridge...

Pork Belly Bridge

The bridge wasn't over the river though, it was just over a little feeder creek, and the bridge appeared to be a lot more elaborate than necessary to get across the creek. Maybe it wasn't but it struck me as though it was. It reminded me of going to New York City in the late 90's to visit a friend. There was a bridge across some river that was built specifically for pedestrian traffic, and the whole deck of the bridge had to slide up and down on piers to allow ships under it. An elaborate walking drawbridge. There were many other bridges crossing the same river, and (in his estimation) no specific need for a bridge right there. He declared it to be the most obvious pork belly project that he'd yet seen in the city. This bridge struck me in the same way.

You can't really see it in the photo, but past the pier in the distance, the bridge splits left and right. To the right is an observation deck, that doesn't really give you a good view of anything. To the right, it leads back to the trail.

On that same spur trail, past the bridge, there's a right of way, where you can get an actual good look at the South River.

South River

I think that's the South River. Maybe it's the Rockdale River.

At any rate, I continued north on pavement for a while, before eventually turning around and finding that I'd passed the trails that I was looking for, having ridden past them while on that spur trail with the bridge.

They were definitely Expert Trails - steep, and very rocky. Perfect examples, though, of building technical trails by finding chunky terrain and running a trail through it, rather than placing a trail badly and just letting it erode to make it chunky. There were inner and outer loops, and the outer loop was just a longer version of the inner. Just all that much more steep rocky slabs and chunk.

On my second lap, I ran into this dog.

Dog Buddy

Super sweet dog. Came right to me and gave me kisses. I gave her some water, but she didn't seem super thirsty or hungry. She was wearing a vest, and she was very well behaved, so I don't think she was a stray. I expected her owners to show up at any minute, but they never did. I eventually called the number on her tag, but it was disconnected. She followed me for a while, but then seemed determined to head back to the right of way, rather than continue on the trail. I figured maybe she lived nearby, like that dog that followed me all around Clark Creek that one time. Later, looking at maps of the area, it didn't look like anyone lived "nearby", but I guess that's relative.

I rode a few laps, but didn't see her again, and she didn't seem like she specifically wanted me to follow her when she left, so I don't know. Random dog.

The right-of-way north of the Expert Trails looked like it might be fun to climb, so I climbed it and rode it as far west as it looked like people tend to go.

DeCastro Gasline

Coming back down was a blast too. Later, on Strava, it turned out that a few people have climbed it, but so few that I had the 6th fastest time. I actually know the guy with the top spot too. Small world!

There was a white-blazed trail near the top, that led north. My GPS showed a bunch of trails in the area too, though none of the ones I'd ridden earlier. Looking at maps later, it appears that the whole corridor of the Rockdale River Trail is lined with preserves of various types - Arabia and Panola Mountains, Klondike Park, and others that I forget the names of now. Trails everywhere. No idea which are open to what, but it's definitely fuel for future Adventure.

I ended up heading out because it was starting getting dark, rather than from being tired. Not sure how many miles I'd ridden, but it didn't seem like a ton.

On the way back, I ran through a gas station, and there were like 10 people hanging out in the parking lot, each with a Doberman, Rottweiler, or German Shepherd. The dogs were all well behaved, but it seemed odd that they were all just hanging out there.

Of course, I should have known:

Dog Raining

There was a dog training center next door, and they were all just heading home at the same time. In the end, it made sense, but it was certainly an unusual thing to see.

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