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Tyler State Park, Tyler, TX

ADA trail
Handicap accessible nature trail.
Trail construction
New trail construction.
New and old trail
New trail and closed section covered in duff
Old trail hidden
Old section of fall-line trail, now hidden.

We had the opportunity to hold a IMBA Trail Building school at Tyler State Park on October 20-22nd. Our thanks to Steve and Jeanie Patterson, Rick Meyers, and Andy Goldbloom for organizing and hosting the event. It was a resounding success, with over 30 participants representing a variety of land managers, citizen trail groups, and private business.

Friday's presentation of sustainable trail design and construction methods enabled us to share some of the techniques the TCC has found to work everywhere and have excellent discussions about what makes a trail desirable for different users and the benefits of multi-use trails. After the slideshow we put the sustainable design methods into practice as we split into groups and gained some experience using inclinometers to measure the grade of the hillsides and proposed trails.

On Saturday and Sunday 100 yards of new benchcut trail was constructed to eliminate a badly eroded fall-line section of trail. Several hundred yards of handicap accessible nature trail was also constructed. The crews then restored 200 yards of closed trail to its original contours, tilled the trail tread and covered the old trail tread with duff, leaving it indistinguishable from the surrounding forest floor. (see pictures).

The workshop portion was a resounding success, with over 15 people responsible for developing trails elsewhere in Texas heading back to their land with a firm grasp on how to lay out and construct trails. The trail work that was done was also a success, however it only began the work that is needed at Tyler to make the current trail system sustainable.

The "mountain bike" trails at Tyler will be problematic in the near future if steps are not taken to correct some of the erosion issues. We have serious concerns about the sustainability of large sections of the trail tread. There are many parts of the trail that descend down the fall-line or near to it and show unacceptable amounts of erosion for only having been in use for a few years. Our prediction is that these sections, if not remediated, will result in 1-3 foot deep trenches within the next decade. However, there are also some beautiful sustainable sections of trail and the terrain in Tyler is incredibly well-suited to construction of sustainable trail. Trails are easy to lay out here due to the burn program reducing the underbrush, the ground is easy to work with when compared to many other places we have visited, and most importantly there appears to be a consensus between the park manager, the resources staff, and the users that the current eroded trails need to be converted into sustainable trails. A trails master plan would provide the vision of what Tyler's trail system could look like in 5 years.

Thank You,
Jen & Rich Edwards

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