The giant salamander trail at ecdm re-opened today, and I got a chance to get out there and ride it. The trail provides an important connector and is fun to ride in both directions
My route took me from Skeggs point along Tafoni and then down fir and past the top or Resolution all the way to Methuselah. This section of Fir is pretty steep, a little rocky and outsloped in such a way as to make it reasonably challenged. On the original hydrology maps it is slated to be closed at some time in the future. I am not sure of the status of that now.
I headed down Methuselah finding some air off the water bars until I got to the northern end of GS trail.
This end of the trail was finished last fall and was covered with straw and much slashing to bring the width of the trail in the twenty foot corridor down to a pretty consistent three feet. The sign at this end says it is .9 miles to the other end.
From here the trail descends and winds and undulates with great flow over three fairly large bridges and two or three puncheons where it crosses significant headwaters if the el corte de madera creek. This section of trail is really sweet!
From there the trail climbs out of the creek at a Consistently overgraze pitch of probably 20%. MROSD staff did a nice job in a challenging alignment to encorporate grade reversals through this section. While not the fastest rider, I pride myself on my ability to clean short, steep and technically challenging sections. This one is both challenging an doable.
Towards the top of this section the trail was built two years ago, and already numerous small plants are sprouting in the slash beside the trail. It is my opinion, that in a few years the slashed sections should have substantial new vegetation and will not be a reminder of the cranes and front loaders that were in this corridor to remove an old and undersized culvert.
Eventually the climb becomes more gradual and you meander through the young redwood grove at the top of GS where it joins lower timberview. There a sign states that in the other direction the trail is 1.3 miles long.
I headed down a ways so that I could better recall the time I took south leaf to Virginia mill and then up timberview to the southern end of GS. This climb as I recall required some significant effort but makes a great loop.
The other way to get to the southern end of GS is to descend Timberview from the bottom of Manzanita or crossscut trails. MROSD moved this end of GS further down the timberview fireroad making it a glad mile descent from the terminus of crosscut. This descent is known to be popular with rangers with radar guns.
At this point I tried the new Giant salamander in the longer, south to north direction. It starts with a meander through the redwoods, followed by some nice float descent, and a hair raising switchback into the bridge section. After the first couple bridges the trail descends rapidly over the big grade reversals reminiscent of parts of the mid- mountain trail in Park City. This is a challenging section in both directions.
Overwall, I think the new GS is a great example of world class singletrack in a challenging corridor. I appreciate the time and effort and big bucks the District sunk into this trail to keep it open. I am no expert but I’d guess easily 250,000 of our taxpayer dollars if not double that.
Is the new GS better than the old? Well, it is different. I have fond memories of careening down the old GS over the rock gardens within sight and smell the creek that produced cool moist air even on the hottest days. The new GS continues to provide an important connector with good flow and rideable in both directions. My preference might be north to south though.