The Sandy Ridge Trail system has continued to get better and evolve since its inception. Each year trails are maintained, improved and hardened to hold up to the use it receives as the most popular trail destination in the Pacific Northwest.
This year the parking lot was revamped and expanded to nearly double its previous size. With over 125,000 riders visiting the trail system yearly, the expanded parking capacity has been a welcome addition, eliminating previous parking congestion.
A new addition to the trail system has been in the planning stages for sometime as well.
According to the BLM Winter-Spring 2018 Project update, the new Johnny Royal Trail will be approximately 2 miles long. Starting just above the bridge where Upper Hide and Seek and Two Turn Tables converge, the new trail will provide an additional exit route to the parking area and spread out rider traffic from lower Hide and Seek. Originally set to begin construction in the spring, work on the new trail is finally underway and will help greatly with lowering user conflicts from the overly utilized Hide and Seek.
Enough of the new trail is now in the ground for us to get a picture of the riding experience the new trail will provide.
Walking the trail in progress, it continues the flow trail experience Sandy Ridge is known for, but the difficulty level has been ramped up to provide challenge for advanced riders — an experience that Sandy Ridge has lacked to date.
Taking after the new Enticer Jump Trail in Redding and the latest addition to the Mountain of the Rogue Trail System in Rogue River (Freewheel), it looks like it to be a black diamond, or more likely, a double black diamond rated trail.
Double black diamond trails are designed to be ridden by advanced riders only. Most bike parks and trails feature a skills filter, or what’s commonly called a “squirrel catcher” to let the user know right off what they’re in for. Usually they’re a small to medium size gap jump that requires higher skill or level of commitment.
It’s far to early to say how the final trail experience will play out, but the faces of some the jumps are considerably larger than anything the trail system has to date, including a step up jump that has a face almost 6 feet in height.
As a work in progress, the trail is clearly and obviously closed to riding. Not that you’d want to ride it – while the features are laid out, a lot of moisture is going to be needed before the jumps can be properly compacted and shaped. They’ll likely need to be adjusted after that for flow.
If I was to take a guess, I’d project a spring opening date.
Maintenance of jumps with lips is regularly required, which means a water source will be needed to keep the jumps faces shaped properly. According to our contacts with IMBA Trail Solutions (the builders) a pump system from the creek is being considered, with water caches above the line.
According to the lead trail steward for the Northwest Trail Alliance, the plan is to maintain the trail as part of the overall SRT system, but for the moment the plan is to watch how the trail beds in over time.
Because of the nature of these types of trails, walking the new trail is highly discouraged in order to facilitate the work. If you do wander down the trail to check it out, the build team asks that riders specifically to avoid walking on features, which will need time to settle and compact.
We’ll update this post as more information becomes available.