Rock Patrol to the Rescue

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The massive rock we had to remove.

The Sonoma Overlook Trail is coming up on its 20-year anniversary. In twenty years of heavy use, the trail bed can become quite eroded, thereby exposing rocks that can become tripping hazards. Recently the trail stewards in charge of trail maintenance have begun a concerted effort to transform particularly rocky sections of the trail into smooth paths by removing rocks and filling the resulting holes with packed aggregate and soil. We call this activity “Rock Patrol.”

The last two standing monthly work days were dedicated to performing this work on two sections of trail under the Upper Meadow. Today, the section we worked on included a rather massive boulder (see picture) that we dug out and rolled off the trail. Now, instead of that tripping hazard there is smooth trail.

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The final result (note the big rock on the left that we removed).

We recently set a goal to create 18-24″ of smooth path for the entire length of the trail, realizing that there may be some sections where this is not possible. Of course those of you who are familiar with the trail will understand the enormity of this undertaking, and therefore will likely also understand that this work will take years to accomplish. We won’t just do this work in group work days. Rock Patrol can also be a solitary activity, as sometimes all that is required to make a section of the trail safe is to remove a solitary “trip rock” from the middle of the trail. That can be accomplished by a single volunteer.

Sonoma Raceway Hike

The Sonoma Raceway Hike this past Saturday was a big success. Fifty hikers came to enjoy the beautiful vista view and companionship of other hikers.  $2,600 was raised for trail maintenance and rehab. (You may have noticed that the trail was recently repaired. It now has better footing and easier grades for all age groups.) A huge thank you to Sonoma Raceway for opening up the back acreage for hiking and morning coffee and refreshments. Also, thanks to the volunteers that came early in the morning to set up the hike and take registrations… and lead the hike. Mother Nature played along with a gorgeous day!

Sonoma Raceway
“Night Watchman” watching over the sheep
Bay view hike
Hikers enjoying the Bay view
Sonoma County Hills
Boxes of bees

SOT Maintenance Team in Action

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Maintenance Team members Kurt Teuber, Priscilla Miles, and John Donnelly with the refurbished section of trail.

Every month on the first Monday, the Sonoma Overlook Trail (SOT) Maintenance Team has a standing workday. Sometimes we do “rock patrol” where we remove rocks sticking up in the trail and fill in the holes, sometimes we pull invasive thistle and cut back poison oak, and other times we engage in more traditional trail maintenance activities, like we did today.

Today a team of four stewards on the Maintenance Team worked to shore up a section of trail that was in danger of falling away, and spread gravel to create an outslope that encourages “sheet flow” of water directly off the trail when it rains. This project was assisted by the remnants of rock and gravel left behind by the American Conservation Experience (ACE) crew who recently worked on three sections of trail to make them easier to traverse and more sustainable.

After the ACE work had been completed, volunteer stewards Bill Wilson, Fred Allebach (both of whom were instrumental in getting the ACE work completed) and I walked the renovated sections of trail and identified the portion of trail we worked on today as needing work. With four of us working, and the materials we needed close at hand, it only took us an hour and a half to complete the job.

The Recent Trail Work

Yesterday the partial trail closure on the Sonoma Overlook Trail was removed, as the work that we had contracted with American Conservation Experience (ACE) to accomplish was completed. They ably reworked three sections of trail that have been problematic. These stretches were rocky, hard to traverse, and presented drainage issues.

Volunteer Bill Wilson competently and thoroughly planned the work, coordinated with ACE and the City of Sonoma (also a participant in this work), and managed it in association with the ACE Team Leader. Volunteer Fred Allebach was the on-site supervisor for the SOT Stewards and the City, and also helped out crushing rock and other trail construction tasks.

We hope you enjoy the improved sections on your next hike!