Western: Ionia

For posting trail-specific conditions and problems

Re: Mid-State: Ionia

Postby bleve » August 9th, 2009, 3:03 pm

Just got back from camping at Ionia and was able to make one pass on the trails. The north loop is completely overgrown and there were places I wasn't sure if I was still on the trail. The south loop (which is probably more interesting) is mostly rideable, someone has done a nice job mowing most of the trail near the road but the open areas down by the rail corridor are overgrown. The area in the woods is unobstructed by weeds or fallen timber so that's still fun to ride.
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Re: Mid-State: Ionia

Postby cutty » August 20th, 2009, 8:22 am

Rode the chief yesterday for the first time in a couple years. The east loop is still mostly overgrown but fun to be riding through the meadow not knowing what's coming up. I used to to ride the east loop clockwise (as the map says to), now there are arrows off the bridge and a wrong way sign asking to ride this loop counter-clockwise. When did this change of direction take place? It was kinda cool to ride it backwards.
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Re: Mid-State: Ionia

Postby underdog » August 26th, 2009, 8:32 am

Rode the west loop on Sunday. It was fine and mowed down on the road side, but the northern side (near river) was terrible and cut up my shins pretty good.
Is there a trail day soon where I can help out? Guy used to do it, is he around still?
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Re: Mid-State: Ionia

Postby gtrowbridge » March 6th, 2010, 9:55 am

Took the dog out to the trail to start doing some reconnaissance on conditions yesterday.
Just walked the eastern loop as the snow is too deep to ride still. Snow shoes would have been helpful in most of it but it was a good cardio work out regardless. The parking lot is only half plowed.
Didn't find any trees down or anything that would require major trail work so far on this loop. Its still obvious there was no mowing happening on this loop last year.

I talked to the Ionia Rec Area manager about the trails and the area in general. He said that there had been talk about expanding the MTB trail system at Ionia, but he also said since the MMBA hasn't been able to show they can maintain what they have, that was very unlikely to be approved. I got the feeling it was just talk of expansion and no formal plan has been presented. When dealing with gov't a formal plan is really needed as we've seen with many of the South East trail endeavors (liability, sustainability, etc....see IMBA website).
Walking around on the trail system I see a lot of opportunities to add technical features to Ionia and increase its difficulty. Its really obvious because the snow has pushed much of the grass and brush down and you can see the contours of the land easily.

The manager also expressed his disappointment that he hasn't heard from anybody from the MMBA in about a year, and before that it, almost a year. Says he feels "forgotten" and that it seems nobody knows what to do with Ionia because it has "bounced around between the Central <Mid State> and Western chapters several times".

Last fall I talked to Rick Plite last year (then western chap president) who had contacted the trail coordinator Guy Buckingham. One idea that came out of that discussions was an "adopt a trail" program where individuals (or groups) would adopt a particular section of trail to maintain. Because there is so much grass out there (I tried mowing some of it last year) it takes a long time to get it all done so this might divide and conquer the job. The Ionia manager said they had bought a mower (DR. Self Propelled Weed whip sounded like), for the MMBA to use on the trails. I have talked to others on this forum and have pretty much agreed that at a minimum Ionia needs to be mowed 3 times a year. And that is a serious minimum. Incidentally mowing will keep the ticks off you that I have mentioned in previous posts here, because they like to hang out on tall grass and attach as you go by.

I stopped into Dan's Bike Shop in Ionia to find out what their history of involvement with the Rec Area has been since they are the closest bike shop. Talked to Gary who runs the place now. Apparently his family bought it from Dan...I don't know when. Anyway Gary didn't indicate they had much involvement with maintaining the Rec Area, although he did say when he goes out there, with or without friends he usually takes a saw or something just in case they find something. "Quiet" tools to secretly help maintain the trail. I inquired if he, or the shop, would be interested in any organized maintenance and he seem receptive to it.
If you haven't stopped into Dan's bike shop in Ionia you should. Neat old bike shop with creaky wood floors right on main street. Good people to just talk to.

Anyway now you know what I know. Gary from the bike shop gave me Guy's phone number and I hope to contact him in the next month or so to see if I can help out with the organization of Ionia prior to it overgrowing itself like it did last year. Hopefully I can free up more of my time to help with this as currently I am working out of state three weeks of every month and trying to stay off just unemployment as much as possible. I know a few of you have IM'ed me about maintaining the trails. I'm keeping that in mind and will let you know when I have new info. I haven't given up on Ionia, just am out of state most of the time trying to keep a roof over my head.

FYI: The rails have been removed from the tracks next to the Ionia rec area from Saranac all the way to Ionia and the stones graded out. Plus part of this future rail trail next to the Ionia Rec Area has been adopted by the DNR. There are several places where I see the rail trail already connects to the MTB trail, or could connect. So that could add some distance to the rides this summer. I think eventually the rail trail will be paved but probably a ways off.

Feel free to comment on this here or IM me with your comments so if we do get something going I can get the word out to you....or at least let you know what is going on. :)

Ride Ionia!
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Re: Mid-State: Ionia

Postby underdog » March 6th, 2010, 8:14 pm

I am a local rider and can help out for sure, you can email me to help out this spring.
Last edited by underdog on April 29th, 2010, 7:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mid-State: Ionia

Postby gtrowbridge » March 7th, 2010, 11:01 am

underdog wrote:I am a local rider and can help out for sure, you can email me at wildh34@hotmail.com to help out this spring.


Great!
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Re: Mid-State: Ionia

Postby jonw9 » March 7th, 2010, 11:18 am

I believe Ionia is part of the Western Chapter now.

I kind of have a soft spot for the place. I bought my first MTB from Dan's when he was at the old location, a Trek 6500, whose frame still hangs in my garage.

It was a great beginner trail, I liked the woods, and the fields on the way back to the lot were a change in scenery. I didn't have issues with ticks, but that was 15 years ago.

I guess there is a TC, and the equipment to mow and maintain, which sounds favorable.

It sounds like Ionia needs somebody to step-up and take action, and it looks like you just volunteered! ;)

I could be coerced to helping out sometime for old times sake, keep us informed of the plans and dates.
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Re: Mid-State: Ionia

Postby underdog » March 8th, 2010, 4:19 pm

I'm am more than able to HELP OUT, but I will not be in charge of it. I emailed Guy several times last year offering my help but no one ever called or emailed me.
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Re: Mid-State: Ionia

Postby gtrowbridge » March 8th, 2010, 7:29 pm

underdog wrote:I'm am more than able to HELP OUT, but I will not be in charge of it. I emailed Guy several times last year offering my help but no one ever called or emailed me.


Understood. That is where I am hoping to make a difference.
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Re: Mid-State: Ionia

Postby walkemst » March 10th, 2010, 12:02 pm

Myself and friend would be more then happy to help out with trail maintenance. I think the "adopt a portion" of the trail idea is a great idea and I would be interested!
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Re: Western: Ionia

Postby gtrowbridge » May 27th, 2010, 3:40 pm

Ionia is mowed!
Guy and I went out yesterday and spent 4 hours mowing. Then again this morning with the help of his wife.
The yellow loop (west loop) by the road is almost completely mowed as is brown loop (east loop).
What we couldn't get mowed has at least had the rose bushes hacked back and any other pokies.

The tree on the yellow loop rail road side that is over the trail is still there. We ran out of chainsaw chain life before we got to it. It is just after the short loop turn off of the yellow.
Be aware of it as I don't think anybody has gotten under it while still on their bike. Guy is going out there next week to take down the tree.

For those who have stated they would help, this was an impromptu trail day at the last minute because our two schedules happen to match. Don't worry we will organize others that you will be invited to.

All the stuff posted prior to this post is in the works/being talked about/etc....

If you are wondering why the trail is mowed only on one side. The theory is that if only one side is mowed riders will tend to hug that edge of the groove and widen the trail naturally.
Next time it is mowed the otherside will be mowed.
Hopefully this will widen the trail and make it more sustainable (ie less maintenance).

Ionia needs riders! That means you!
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Re: Western: Ionia

Postby gtrowbridge » June 17th, 2010, 7:32 am

More mowing done.
Just on the short/east/brown loop.
About half of it.
You can see the trail now. The grass had fallen over the trail like it always does this time of year. That's the problem with putting trails through meadows.
More mowing to come. Since the grass is so tall and thick its requiring some "big" equipment to put it in its place (John Deere X485 25hp tractor).

Also, for those that stop to remove loose rocks from the trail...please chuck the rocks at least 4 feet from the trail, preferably near a tree or bush. This make will keep it safer to mow out there and be a lot less damaging on the equipment (translation: make maintenance easier and less expensive). It will also make it faster since little to no "scouting" will have to be done prior to mowing a section. Thanks.

Up and coming news:
The bridges are going to be inspected/repaired/re-evaluated where necessary this summer.
We are planning on adding some log obstacles with bypasses this summer.
There is also some talk about incorporating some of the rail trail that passes by the trail into some of the loops for additional distance/interest etc...probably just short sprinting pieces.
In the hopefully not so far off future, looking to add more grade changes mainly to the yellow/west/big loop. The topography is there (you see it if you walk the trail), we just have to show the DNR that we can maintain what we have.

Stay tuned.
Ride Ionia!
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Re: Western: Ionia

Postby gtrowbridge » July 16th, 2010, 7:19 am

More mowing done. First part of the yellow loop needed it pretty bad. Trimmed back some of the shrubs along the bridge, and mowed more of the brown loop.
The brown loop is now totally mowed, albeit some parts only on one side.
Mowing only one side isn't working so in the future both sides of the trail will be mowed. This is due to the amazingly fast grass growing and shrubs. Mowing both sides is the most efficient way to keep the vegetation in check and allow maximum ridability.

Enjoy.

The tree is still down at chest level on the yellow loop. We are still working on clearing that. Politics, policies, training, etc....

Additionally, grass will be cleared from the rock gardens/walls/fences that the trail crosses so they are clearly visible in the future, and the best line through them can be had.
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Re: Western: Ionia

Postby underdog » July 18th, 2010, 9:51 am

I just logged on with all intentions of saying that the Ionia trail needs a big sign that says "CLOSED", but now I see a post just a couple days ago saying it's being
worked on. We never ride the Brown side, wish we would have this morning and I would like to say THANK YOU for mowing at least some of the trail. We stared on the yellow side which in our opinion is the fun one and it was beyond terrible. The weeds on 90% of the trail are 'at least' as high as your handle bars. It was just aweful. We just couldn't take it any long and after 1.5 miles into it we headed acroos to Riverside Drive and caught the trail heading back. When we got with 1/4 mile of the parking lot it appears some mowing may have happens a month ago or so. I am not sure why I continue to give this place a chance, it appear not much of anyone is using it and the lack of enough people to maintain is a big problem.
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Re: Western: Ionia

Postby gtrowbridge » July 18th, 2010, 6:41 pm

underdog wrote:I just logged on with all intentions of saying that the Ionia trail needs a big sign that says "CLOSED", but now I see a post just a couple days ago saying it's being
worked on. We never ride the Brown side, wish we would have this morning and I would like to say THANK YOU for mowing at least some of the trail. We stared on the yellow side which in our opinion is the fun one and it was beyond terrible. The weeds on 90% of the trail are 'at least' as high as your handle bars. It was just aweful. We just couldn't take it any long and after 1.5 miles into it we headed acroos to Riverside Drive and caught the trail heading back. When we got with 1/4 mile of the parking lot it appears some mowing may have happens a month ago or so. I am not sure why I continue to give this place a chance, it appear not much of anyone is using it and the lack of enough people to maintain is a big problem.


Yeah now that I am almost fully involved with the maintenance I'm hoping that it will get better, and eventually I'll be totally in charge as the TC. Actually one of the biggest problems is this trail goes through so much vegetation that it requires big equipment to maintain it, or an Army. This year has kinda been somewhat experimental to try and see what we can get the big equipment into and how much it can do, plus what techniques work and what doesn't. A 8 horse walk behind weed whacker is not enough power to keep the trail maintained. I'm using a 25 horse John Deere garden tractor. Most MTB trails go through mainly woods which are easy to up keep. This trail seems to be unique that over 50% of it goes through basically meadows. We also found out that mowing only one side with the hopes that riders naturally "widen" the trail, does not work. Just not enough riders to get that to happen. We are still playing "catch up" because the trail has been with no maintenance for so many years. I have to believe that getting on top of it will make it easier in the future.

Thanks for coming back anyway. If you check here first before you go out there you can figure out the status before making a wasted trip next time. I post within a day of when it was mowed or any other maintenance was done.

Did you make this a destination or did you hit some other trails on your way to/from Ionia? Its good for me to know who my market is. :)
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