Our Trail is Changing Fast!

Written by Pat Pitt

February 15, 2022

It’s for real now! You can see it without going onto it, at the Lamar entrances just south of the bridge over Walnut Creek (Fig 1). Heavy earth-moving equipment has been working there for several weeks, and there are now caliche construction “roads” that eventually will be the Lamar entrances to the North Walnut Creek, or Urban, Trail now at the beginning of construction after nearly 20 years. These roads usually are being used for work on weekdays until about 5:00 p.m., but frequently will occupy many hours outside the normal ones. So it may not be safe to park on them at any given time; watch for workmen’s vehicles.

Fig 1: Looking from the new Urban Trail east entrance off Lamar across to the new entrance on the west side (note heavy equipment).

Construction of the12-foot-wide concrete trail has started in earnest. Work will commence from these Lamar entrances along our “main” trail, running along and near the creek (Fig 2) and then up and across the highline ROW to our trailhead on Oakbrook. Except at our entrance this part of our trail is now “fenced” using the orange plastic fencing material typical of construction sites. Fig 2 shows this fencing near the point where the trail curves up as just described. By Public Works instruction, we are not to use the fenced part of trail as long as construction continues, in order to avoid disruption of work and to assure safety.

This is why Gary Brewer long ago planned and more recently expended a great deal of time and effort defining and constructing an “inner trail” that loops outside the main trail, to the west and north. This provides us an alternative to the main trail – of similar length and quality – which will allow us to continue using the park without impinging on the construction area. With the help of volunteers at Park Work Days the trail now is ready for use.

Gary drives his famous Kubota tractor into the trailhead. He’s done this an uncountable number of times to build and maintain our park. Thus his nickname: “The Kubota Kid”!

When entering from Oakbrook you will immediately note the orange fencing, which “directs” you to the left side of the “old” entrance trail, and from which you will see signs directing you to the two ends of the Inner Trail: the Upper and Lower entrances/exits. In case signage is missing just use the trees marked with white paint – see Fig 3 – to find the Lower Inner Trail, and look left to see the path that starts/ends the Upper Inner Trail. Taking either of these will eventually curve your progress up or down to the other, or you can take any of several trails that also connect these two and provide a shorter trip.

Progress is expected to be rapid, and work on our Oakbrook connection to the Urban Trail could begin by early in March. When this connection happens – the concrete trail will follow our current entrance path – orange fencing will be installed which will prevent us from taking our usual path to reach the inner trail entrances shown in Fig 3. When this happens, Gary will organize and install a culvert in the drainage ditch you see now on the left side of the entrance. It will be covered and packed to provide safe entry into the area shown.

Fig 3: Just inside Oakbrook entrance of Walnut Bluffs Trailhead

Once work starts on that connection it is expected to finish in a matter of a few weeks, weather permitting. This connector trail to provide ADA-compliant access to the actual Urban Trail (North Walnut Creek Trail) will be 8 feet wide, as contrasted with the 12-foot primary trail, with no signage at the connecting point off the circular path marking the end of that trail (the idea is not to promote heavy public usage of that section, hoping to minimize impact of traffic into the neighborhood). The main trail eventually will continue on under the IH35 bridge and connect with the existing Southern Walnut Creek Trail near Johnny Morris Road.

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