Long winter, rain impact Hixon trails

Saturday’s weather may have been gorgeous, but the long winter and constant rain we’ve had this spring may be holding people back from enjoying the great outdoors. It’s also caused some issues for the miles of local hiking paths.

The Hixon Forest trails are maintained by the Outdoor Recreation Alliance, and they say it takes quite a bit of time and effort to get the trails ready for people to come and enjoy.

This year cleanup began a little later than usual because of the weather, but crews can now begin cleaning up the mess.

Less than a month after hip surgery Fred Skemp is back out in Hixon Forest.

“So as you can see I’m still walking a little tenderly,” Skemp said.

He and fellow Outdoor Recreation Alliance member George Arimond were out Friday doing some spring cleaning.

“We’re trying to clear up some of the (trees) that are down, looking at the trails to see what needs to be done,” Skemp said.

But a few fallen trees aren’t the biggest battle they typically face.

“The problems with erosion are the major problems that we have, water runoff in the spring,” Skemp said. Specifically water runoff from Bliss Road. “Because of the way the water is coming off of Bliss Road it goes under a culvert and it gets speed, velocity and quantity, and it comes down off of the side of the hill and the whole side of (the) hill is starting to gully out.”

The trails are open, despite the mess the cleanup crew is facing.

After they’ve assessed the damage and cut up a few more trees, they’ll know where to start next week when the real work begins.

“We’ll be getting the work crews ready within the next week or so and then we’ll be switching from work down on the lower forest and working on the upper part of the forest as well where the bike trails are,” Skemp said.

Skemp and Arimond said besides the continued erosion near Bliss Road, maintenance is required each spring.

If you would like to help clean up the trails the Outdoor Recreation Alliance is out every Monday at 5:30 p.m. beginning May 5.