Published Date Written by Marty Basch
As the song goes, signs, signs, everywhere there's signs.
Mount Washington Valley mountain biking received a tremendous boost Sunday — fittingly National Trails Day — as New England Mountain Bike Association's White Mountains chapter volunteers in conjunction with a team of White Mountain National Forest Saco District employees added a truckload of sorely needed signs to the Moat Mountain trail network.
"The sign project involves installation of approximately 30 signposts and almost 50 trail signs at intersections in the Moat Mountain trail network," said North Conway's Rob Adair, White Mountain chapter president.
The 12-mile network includes cycling for all levels of abilities on trails like Upper Stony Ridge, Lower Stony Ridge, Stony Ridge Link, Electric Loop, Ultimate Single Track, Railroad Grade, Fireline Trail, High School Loop, Mineral Site Trail and Tent Boulder Trail.
The network, east of the Moats, is bounded by the Moat Mountain Trail to the north. West Side Road to the east and Passaconaway Road to the south.
Adair, and other chapter officers like vice president Chris Joosen and secretary Paula Churchill were among some 16 people who fanned out with shovels, mattocks, rock bars and other backcountry tools to install the signs affixed to six-foot long posts. Jana Johnson and Karen Clarey of of the Forest's Saco Ranger District were on hand to demonstrate the proper way to install a signpost and oversee the project.
Volunteers dug holes between 18- and 24-inches deep, inserted the posts and tamped down alternate layers of dirt and rock to secure them. Signs were then affixed to the posts.
"Jana deserves a huge amount of credit for this trail system from inventorying all the trails and writing the White Mountain National Forest scoping reports to scoring the Recreational Trails Program grant for the trail signs and figuring out the logistics of installing them," said Adair. "We would not have such a great trail system in place without her efforts."
The decision to add the Moat trails to the White Mountain National Forest trail system was decided two years ago.
"Having the trail network signed makes it clear to the trail user not only where they are in the network, but that these are legitimate trails constructed with mountain biking as the primary use," said Johnson.
The trailhead for the network is the Mineral Site trailhead, located at the end of High Street off Passaconaway Road.
The signs are just like the White Mountain National Forest's hiking signs. U.S. Forest Service is in the upper left corner, New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) in the upper right.
"Combined with Peter Minnich's trail map, this will allow visitors and locals to easily navigate the network," said Adair.
Johnson said the sign project further exemplifies the partnership between the Forest Service and NEMBA. The Forest Service received the RTP grant from the state to purchase the signs, and NEMBA contributed the labor to set the posts and mount the signs.
"The signage in the Moats, in conjunction with the mountain bike trail map, will help trail users make sense of what has been perceived by many new users to be a confusing trail network," Johnson said. "There are multiple road crossings of Forest roads, over a dozen trail junctions, and remnants of past activity in the Forest that can look an awful lot like a trail junction—the signs and map should clear up this confusion for trail users."
The NEMBA chapter's been busy of late. Last year they rerouted a few fall line sections of the Tent Boulder Trail, constructing about a half mile of a switchback contour trail. In 2011, volunteers amassed some 400 hours just in the Forest.
Following Irene's wrath, the chapter also worked to reinforce a number of damaged stream crossings, placing rock armoring by the bottom for stability.
"We have also worked on sections of the Upper Stony Ridge Trail on Whitehorse Ledge and have more work planned to harden the trail tread on another spot," Adair said.
The chapter also got the okay from the Conway Conservation Commission to expand the North Conway pump track—near Sticks and Stones—and build one geared to children. New signs for the pump track and Sticks and Stones were donated by Rob Zimmerman.
Signed, sealed and delivered.