Alvis and Dawn had been volunteers at Colorado Bend State Park with the cave project before the park was ever open. After they discovered mountain biking, they got to thinking that Colorado Bend would be a great place for mountain bike trails! They knew that if they could get their mountain biking/trail building friend, Rusty, hooked on Colorado Bend, then they could build some really great multi-use trails there for hiking, biking and running. They first checked with Cory Evans, then superintendent of the park, and got his blessing to pursue the project. The day they planned to ‘hook’ Rusty was Memorial Day 2007. It had rained to the point of flooding during that time and the low water crossing was flooded when they arrived, so they went back into Lampasas, ate lunch, and returned to see the water level lower and trucks making it across. (Click on the pictures to make them bigger.)
Gorman Falls was absolutely amazing! In all the years Alvis and Dawn had been volunteering at the park, they’d never seen the falls like this before!
The three looked at the lay of the land, checked out different areas of the park to put trail, took a lot of notes, and having hooked Rusty, made plans. The flowers were gorgeous! The whole park was gorgeous! There were interesting ‘creatures’ to behold. Rusty still likes to tell the story of how he saw Alvis levitate when he almost stepped on the snake pictured below!
One of the places they noted to build trail was this tree. Eventually riders would have a choice to ride through or around what became known as the V-Tree.
From Memorial Day 2007 to March 2008 a lot of work was put into laying out and flagging trail by Rusty, Alvis and Dawn. Finally the trail was ready to build. There were 7 people on the first trail building crew (L to R) for Tie Slide Trail on March 29, 2008: Alvis, Bob (front), Rusty (back), Jorge, Dora and Sam. Dawn took the picture.
Group working. Picture taken by Rusty.
Ranger Kevin Ferguson came out for a visit with the volunteers as they worked. Kevin was over the trail building project the first several years.
Before and After Pictures
The project works on Saturday and plays on Sunday. The work crew all mounted mountain bikes on Sunday.
They did some riding…
and even put wheels on the new trail!
April 2008 was a trail building weekend as well as an Earth Day event so the volunteer crew was split. Those who worked on trails also got in on some of the caving trips as well as Gorman Falls.
On May 2-3, 2008 four of the original crew from March 2008 went out and did some trail work, some maintenance work, and some mountain biking. Below are pictures of Sam taking out a dead tree, Rusty fixing a table at the conference center, and Rusty, Alvis and Dawn mountain biking.
The project always takes a break in the summer, partially due to the heat and mostly due to the snakes! The weekend of September 19-21, 2008 saw the start-up of the project again and there was a snake sighting. It was found out later that this snake with the black tail was rather rare and special. We didn’t mess with him except to get his picture, and he was happy to leave us alone as well.
The hike to Gorman Falls was needing a trail to get hikers off of the road. The volunteers chainsawed, raked, snipped, chopped, moved brush, weedeated and did whatever was necessary to make this trail.
A river cleanup was planned for this particular weekend as well and several of the volunteers loaded their kayaks with trash from the river.
There is almost always a mountain bike ride on Sundays on these weekends and this month was no exception.
A small group of volunteers went to the park the weekend of October 10-12, 2008 to manicure trails and get ready for the Friends Fall Festival weekend in two weeks. They also got a bit of trail building in. In preparation for the festival, the volunteers mowed the grassier trails…
…cleared fallen trees off the trails
and did some much needed manicuring.
While they were there, having finished the manicuring necessary for the event, they move on to trail building. Here are a couple of nice before and after shots.
The weekend of October 24-25, 2008 was a double-purpose weekend: Trail Building and the Friends Fall Festival put on by the Friends of Colorado Bend State Park. The trail crew continued working on the trail to Gorman Falls, cutting into the woods, snipping, raking, hoeing, and removing roots. A family of 6 joined the crew and those kids worked as hard as the adults!
Of course everyone who wanted to got to go caving. This was when Gorman Cave was gated much farther in than it is now and the gate made a great place for a family portrait!
The group mountain biking trip was a lot of fun as well. We even picked up an extra rider! This is a must-see view on Dogleg Canyon Trail.
The trail building crew continued work on Tie Slide Trail the weekend of November 21-23, 2008 with 7 volunteers who cut limbs, shagged brush, removed rocks, and manicured the trail. (photographer not shown.)
One of the cool things about building trail is that interesting things seem to pop up. This snake and scorpion were found when a rock was removed.
One before and after shot.
Another group of 7 came to work on Tie Slide Trail on December 12-14, 2008.
Remember the V-Tree that Alvis, Dawn, and Rusty found the first weekend out when Alvis and Dawn were hooking Rusty on the park? Here it is groomed and ready for hikers and mountain bikers. The ‘before’ picture is above, under Memorial Day 2007.
The sky put on quite a show this weekend with a big moon at sunrise and a beautiful sunset!
Rather than riding the trails, this group decided to hike Spicewood Springs Trail. This is one of the must-see hikes and it now can be made into a 3 mile loop by adding Spicewood Canyon Trail which wasn’t yet built at this time.
A huge crew came on January 23-25, 2009, everyone from young children old enough to help to grandparents! There were 20 volunteers in all! Everyone grabbed the tool of their choice and got to work on Dogleg Canyon Trail. This was by far one of the rockiest and labor intensive areas of trail we’d worked on.
It took a lot of rock moving and strong backs to get this part of the trail built!
Here’s a 4 picture sequence to show an area of trail from start to finish.
On February 20-22, 2009 the trail crew re-worked The River Trail. Up until this point, bikes weren’t permitted past a drainage area that had been washed out. The trail crew went about fixing the washout and then continued on down the trail, clearing brush and making the trail usable for bikes as well as feet. By the end of the weekend, the “No” (bikes) part of the sign had been temporarily covered with an arrow until a new sign could be made and bikes were allowed to ride the River Trail.
The DR (super mower) and chainsaw made a good path for the groomers to follow.
March 20-22, 2009 was a day trip and the crew was small, only 5. The part of Lemon’s Ridge Pass that existed at the time had become grown up and eroded. They rerouted several areas of the trail and groomed the rest. Pictured are the volunteers who came and two sets of before-and-after shots of the trail that was worked.
April 17-19,2009 the numbers were back up. The crew started to “rough cut” the extension of Lemon’s Ridge Pass. Part of the goal was to get ready for the next weekend’s Earth Day activities that the park was holding.
A great deal of work went into opening up this rock slot. The 4 before-during-after shots are looking down the rock slot. The ‘group’ shot is looking up the rock slot.
Saturday, April 25, 2009 was Earth Day at Colorado Bend State Park. Various activities were offered for park guests for this annual fundraiser/event. New this year was a bluegrass jam at the conference center. ‘Pickers’ from all around brought their acoustic instrument(s) and joined in. Those who didn’t play enjoyed listening.
Gorman Falls is always a draw.
One of the caver volunteers hung a rope from a tree at the conference center and gave people a chance to try out climbing a rope like cavers do.
Mountain Biking is great exercise and a lot of fun. A group of mountain bikers enjoyed the trails and the views that came with them!
It was a fun and tiring day. Thanks to all of our volunteers, some of whom are pictured below.
September 18-20, 2009 was the beginning of another trail building season. After taking the summer off, work was continued on Lemons Ridge Pass.
One group cut and removed brush while the next group groomed the trail.
Gorman Falls was flowing and beautiful.
There were two groups of mountain bikers this time, a group that took the easier trails and a group that took the harder trails. There was beauty on both rides such as the rocks along the River Trail and the Dogleg Canyon Overlook.
October 9-11, 2009 brought out another group of trail builders. Ranger Kevin (2nd from right) came out to greet everyone before the work started.
The Friends Fall Festival at the park was on October 17, 2009. This was a small group of our volunteers that day. There were many more.
Gorman Cave was still open at that time and tours were given all day long. These were some of the groups that went caving with our guides.
Opportunities for bike rides were also available. Some folks took the bike riding seriously and brought a trailer full of bikes!
November 21-22, 2009 brought another trail building weekend, this time with a lot of rain and the low water crossing flooded like on that Memorial Day weekend in 2007.
After the water receded and our group made it across, we were ready to continue building Lemons Ridge Pass Trail!
Of course with all the rain, Gorman Falls was amazing!
December 11-13, 2009 finished our the calendar year, though the trail building season runs from September/October through April/May. More time was spent building Lemon’s Ridge Pass.
Looking toward the future, several of the volunteers went to scope out the area that would some day hold Spicewood Canyon Trail. This was probably the first time the group saw this view of the Colorado River that now can be seen any time from the trail.
Of course mountain biking is a great choice during free time!
January 22-24, 2010 brought out a bigger-than-normal group of volunteers. Some very nice before/after pictures were captured.
February 19-21, 2010 brought out a large group who arrived in two shifts, so we got a large group shot and two extra trail pics that included the four who arrived a little later.
This time out had some great before/after pics. This group of 4 pictures (before/during/after) shows the process of trail building pretty well.
Another group of 4 pictures before/during/after shots. Many times the trail sections are built one day and ridden the next!
Two more sets of before/after pictures.
While building trails, there are always interesting diversions. This perfectly round hole in a rock grabbed everyone’s attention, as did the buzzard eggs in a cave!
Gorman Falls was flowing beautifully!
Of course there were bike rides to try out the new trail!
March 19-21, 2010 was cold and wet, but that didn’t stop people from coming out and continuing to build Lemons Ridge Pass Trail. Some got there early enough on Friday to do a little work. Rusty had transformed a leaf blower into a stump grinder and after Alvis moved dirt and rocks away from the stumps, Rusty’s new machine made them go away.
Saturday more people joined in on building the trail. One of the girls found a very pretty green snake and many pictures were taken.
Before and After Shots
Gorman Falls was beautiful!
April 16-18, 2010 brought out more volunteers to work on Lemons Ridge Pass. This month we welcomed some of the Austin Ridge Riders as well as others. The trail builders first got with Ranger Kevin, the park ranger over our project, and then got to work.
Below are 2 sets of Before/After shots.
Of course, along with the work comes the play! This bike ride included Dogleg Canyon and the nice views that come with it.
This trip into Gorman Cave (now closed) was a lot of fun!
Usually the trail building season is September through April, but occasionally that changes. This season the crew was so close to finishing one section of Lemons Ridge Pass that they decided make one more trip in order to complete it. This was done the weekend of May 21-23, 2010. Three of the crew got there early on Friday to get some maintenance done on the River Trail.
The rest of the crew was there early Saturday morning. Their goal to finish the current portion of trail was reached.
The crew found a tree growing in a tree!
Of course, there was time to enjoy the park after the work day. Part of the group went caving.
Some went mountain biking.
This is where the FINISHED Lemons Ridge Pass met the Lively area after the work day.
Some of the group finished the weekend with a swim in the river.
September 10-12, 2010 was our first time back after the hot and snakey summer break. It was still remarkably hot and the decision was made not to go until the END of September from now on! Work was started on the connector trail between the Lively area of the park and Gorman Falls parking lot after visiting with Ranger Kevin.
During this trip, a really cool moth was spotted!
The hike along Gorman Creek to Gorman Spring was beautiful. The group could see where a beaver had been.
Parting Shot: There is no telling what these folks are looking at, but it’s obviously interesting!
On September 28, 2010, Rusty, Alvis and Dawn made a special trip to CBSP to film the official video, Mountain Biking at Colorado Bend State Park. It took from just after noon until dark to film the minute and a half segment, but Abe, the videographer, was very thorough and the video came out great! One of the park hosts aided in the filming as well. Here you see the setup for the interviews with Dawn getting the mic clipped to her jersey and Alvis and the park host making the lighting right for Rusty’s interview.
After the interviews, Abe set the camcorder on Rusty’s bike. Each rider had the camcorder set on their bike at one time or another.
The same shot was taken over and over, sometimes catching the riders, sometimes just catching the wheels or other specific shots.
You can view the final version of the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLcItBMvqT8
October 23, 2010 was a double duty day. The Friends of Colorado Bend State Park put on the Friends Fall Festival and Bluegrass Jam to introduce people to the park and raise a bit of money to buy some necessities for the park that weren’t covered in the budget. It was also a trail building weekend. The group of volunteers divided into a group to help with the FFF and a group to continue building trail.
The Friends group had just bought a brush hog for the park that was displayed for all to see. The signs tell the story.
Visitors paid their entrance fees, signed in, and enjoyed the park and the bluegrass music. The bluegrass band, Dueling Hearts, performed in the afternoon.
Park Superintendent Cory Even’s family enjoyed the day along with everyone else.
This family oriented day was fun for all ages.
This group of seniors, ranging in age from 60 to 90 years old, enjoyed hiking the Gorman Springs Trail with the help of one of the volunteers.
A group of cyclists, posing around the new brush hog, decided to ride the new trails that had been built.
While the Friends Fall Festival and Bluegrass Jam was going on, the rest of the volunteers were busy building trail.
Here’s a nice before/after shot of some of their work that day.
November 19-21, 2010 brought out a small, but hearty group of trail builders.
Impressive Before/After Pics
The group also did a mountain bike ride, hiked Spicewood Springs Trail and flagged Spicewood Canyon Trail to be built at a later date. Gorman Falls was low, but nice, and one armadillo didn’t mind being photographed!
December 3-5, 2010 continued the work on the connector trail from the Gorman Falls parking lot to the Lively area. The sunrise on Saturday morning was striking!
The trail builders were ready and got a lot done!
For some reason, January tends to bring out large groups of volunteers, and January 22-24, 2011 was no exception.
People are always finding a cactus that looks like a heart here and there, but this guy found two growing from the same place!
This before/after shot is actually a during/after shot since the chainsaw has obviously taken care of a few branches already!
February 18-20, 2011 brought out another good group of volunteers.
This man and his best friend found the trail we were building from the road to the top of Spicewood Springs where the Spicewood Canyon Trail would eventually intersect. He got in on the ‘after’ part of the before/after pictures.
This sequence of pictures shows the trail building process.
Along with the trail building, this group also did some more trail recon for Spicewood Canyon Trail and also enjoyed the park on foot and on two wheels.
March 18-20, 2011 brought out a small and hearty group of volunteers. They continued building trail from the road to Spicewood Springs Trail.
Usually it’s easy to choose which before/after pictures to post, but there were so many good ones this time that three is the least that could be posted!
This group of trail builders had a lot of bike riders, so they divided into two groups. The Easy Ride Group rode the River Trail and were the first to ride the new trail while the experienced group put up signage.
The more experienced group took a longer ride and saw an area of the park that was once mined for gold, the Dogleg Canyon Overlook, and took turns attempting the difficult climb after the overlook.
April 23, 2011 was a special Earth Day event. Volunteers and park staff all came out to make sure park visitors had a great time. With this being Easter weekend, an Easter Egg Hunt was even planned!
This dog wore shoes!
Hunting Easter Eggs
Sitting on the bridge enjoying the day
Special Beginner and Advanced Mountain Bike Rides with experienced leaders were offered, complete with pictures taken at scenic spots.
There was a morning and an afternoon cave tour led by volunteers.
Gorman Falls was very…. green!
Gorman Spring was nice and clear.
And a great time was had by all!
Ranger Kevin Ferguson held a Cave Guide Training on September 10, 2011 (9-10-11!). Michael, one of the trainees, provided us with these great pictures! (Remember you can click on the pictures to make them larger!)
Ranger Kevin watching one of the trainees ascend a ladder in one of the caves.
Like October 23, 2010, October 15, 2011 was a double duty day by the Friends of Colorado Bend SP when they again sponsored the Friends Fall Festival and Bluegrass Jam. The volunteers divided into two groups, one to help with the festival/jam and one to build trails. These sisters, shown here with park office manager, Peggy, are regular volunteers and helped out with the festival.
A variety of singers and instrumentalists came including this group from Taylor, Texas.
And there were a variety of ways for the Friends of the park to make money through donations including candy, t-shirts, and tours.
Experienced and Beginner Mountain Bike Tours with nice views
Dueling Hearts Bluegrass Band gave a concert that afternoon for the visitors.
The group who built trail that day saw some nice views and interesting critters.
The weekend of November 18-20, 2011 began the rough cut on the Gorman Falls Bypass for bikes that would create a trail that was ridable as an alternative to the hiking trail. Here are a few Before-and-After shots of the work on Gorman Falls Bypass. This work was done by the early arrivers on Friday afternoon.
Saturday brought 11 volunteers out to start building Spicewood Canyon Trail. (Two are missing in this picture.)
Here are Before-and-After shots.
After the trail work it was time to enjoy the park. Three volunteers chose to Hike Tie Slide Trail.
While one group hiked, the other group biked.
Sights to see: perfectly formed hole in rock; two types of cacti growing out of tree.
December 16-18, 2011 the work on Spicewood Canyon Trail continued, stopping at one point to view a nice overlook of Spicewood Spring.
The next day a small group went ridgewalking to do recon for a future trail – the Tinaja Trail. Here is the tinaja that the trail is named for.
January 27-29, 2012 brought out one of the biggest trail building crews ever, 20 people of all ages!
Work was continued on the Gorman Bypass Trail as well as the Spicewood Canyon Trail which runs above the Spicewood Springs Trail and makes about a 3 mile loop when the two trails are combined. With this many people working, a lot was accomplished!
As always, the group brought lunches and ate on the trail before getting back to work.
Before-and-After pics on Spicewood Canyon Trail
Before, During, and After on the Gorman Bike Bypass Trail from the November and December trips.
Of course there were the usual “see the park” hiking and biking adventures that weekend as well.
The River Trail was needing some reroutes, grooming, and other work so the 12 volunteers who came out the weekend of February 24-26, 2012 focused on upgrading the River Trail. They cut fallen trees and brush, weedeated high grass, and made a slope to cross a ravine that ran into the river.
Before, During, and After – Crossing the ravine
Before and After – An amazing improvement!
The stars at night were big and bright (deep in the heart of Texas)!
The mornings were cold enough to have frost, but that didn’t stop the group from enjoying the park! Some hiked, some biked, and some went caving!
Getting on rope and then looking up out the entrance.
On March 11, 2012 a small group of volunteers made a day trip to the park to prepare the River Trail for the work to be done the next weekend. A lot of big trees had fallen across the trail and they needed to be removed before anything else could be done.
A good distance was going to have to be hiked on the River Trail to get to the work areas, so backpacks and a cart were used to carry supplies.
It was quite muddy from the rains and a rope was used to get the cart down and up the ravine path that had been created the month before.
Cutting and removing the trees was a challenge and the chainsaw had to be worked on from time to time.
March 16-18, 2012 was a weekend of flagging future trail (Friday and Sunday) and continuing the reroute and improvement on the River Trail (Saturday). Four volunteers began flagging what would eventually become the Tinaja Trail.
The views in this area are amazing!
Saturday morning the trail crew met to take on the River Trail improvements.
The first order of business was to put a bridge where the ravine had been dug out in February. Rusty had planned the bridge and already had it partially assembled by the time he got to the park. All the crew had to do was put it together. They hauled the generator and parts of the bridge to the ravine, passing a tree that a beaver had obviously gotten hold of!
We had to get a picture of Rusty standing on his finished bridge at the bottom of the ravine!
A family of mountain bikers were the first to cross the bridge. The mom chose to walk her bike across, but the father and child had a great time as they crossed the new addition to the River Trail!
Moving really big rocks out of the trail was part of the work for the day.
Here’s a Before-and-After shot of an area of trail.
Here is the crew rerouting a part of the trail near Gorman Cave.
Gorman Falls was beautiful as usual, and for whatever reason, there were a lot of plants, flowers, and mushrooms out this March weekend, as well as the usual interesting tree on the River Trail!
April 20-22, 2012 a small, but hearty group came out for work and play. First the work on Friday and Saturday. The River Trail needed significant mowing and cleaning up. One tough mower (the DR) and one tough weedeater and a trailer that included a variety of work tools used by competent workers took care of the job!
Another project for the weekend was to plan a handline to go above Gorman Cave. They measured, wrote the measurements down, drilled holes for a load test and for the supports, and visited with hikers who were hiking the River Trail. In the first picture you can see the upper part of the cave below the path for the handline where Rusty and Kelby are measuring.
Here Rusty writes down the measurements and drills a hole.
Here Scott cleans out the drill hole and studies the site of the load test.
The workers take a break to visit with some hikers.
Those who flagged trail that weekend walked among some very nice flowers
This weekend was also the bi-yearly meeting of the board. Then it was time to play! On Sunday a large group of mountain bikers came out to ride the trails with some of the volunteers. The variety of double track, single track, technical, and easy trails had something for everyone.
Spicewood Canyon Trail overlooking Spicewood Springs
The group made a stop outside of the office.
Dogleg Canyon Overlook with and without riders.
There normally isn’t a trail building weekend in the hotter months (May through August) partially due to the heat and especially due to the snakes(!), but there were several boy scout troups that wanted to do some volunteer work at the park so they won the honor of starting to build what became the Tinaja Trail! A few of the ‘regulars’ of the trail building project were on site to help out, led by Rusty, otherwise known as Chainsaw. Here are 6 of the 7 regulars. The 7th one started weedeating early and wasn’t there.
There were quite a few scouts and their leaders that came!
Rusty gave a quick orientation and then they were off to work. Note the tools leaned against the car on the left.
Rusty started out with his chainsaw, followed first by the Brush Shaggers…
Then came the groomers which included 1) Those who removed cacti…
2) Those who raked…
3) Those who used loppers…
and 4) Those who used hand saws.
The scouts at Gorman Falls
National Trails Day fell on June 2, 2012 and this was CBSP’s first year to participate. The park did so by having guided beginner and experienced bike rides on the trails. The beginner riders were taught techniques of riding a mountain bike on the River Trail. The experienced riders enjoyed a guided tour of all the trails including the connector trail from the Gorman Falls parking lot to Lemons Ridge Pass to Spicewood Canyon Trail to the River Trail and eventually ending on Heller Brakes Trail. The experienced group even got to look into a cave and see a baby buzzard!
Connector Trail from Gorman Falls parking lot to Lively area.
Lemons Ridge Pass
On June 30, 2012, Ranger Kevin led a Spicewood Canyon Adventure Tour. In the parking lot, a strange grasshopper-type creature made friends with one of the participants.
Ranger Kevin led the group up Spicewood Canyon Trail and stopped at 3 beautiful overlook sites.