Trail to recovery

Christina O'Haver, The Union Democrat

The West Side Railroad Trail in Tuolumne will soon undergo grant-funded improvements including grooming and signage.

In spring 2011, the Tuolumne County Resource Advisory Committee awarded the Tuolumne County Transportation Council a $7,000 grant for trail maintenance, sustainability and signage.

The improvements begin March 11, when a crew from Baseline Conservation Camp will clear overgrown brush along a 2-mile stretch of the trail, according to James Wood of the Tuolumne Parks and Recreation District. The grooming is expected to be completed within three days.

The clearance will begin 2.3 miles east of the trailhead where the trail has been rerouted due to a landslide that occurred about two years ago.

The Mi-Wok Ranger District of the Stanislaus National Forest rerouted the trail with an approximately 450-foot detour to bypass the 250-foot section that was undercut during a storm in March 2011.

The reroute was proposed in January 2012 and completed the following June, according to the Forest Service.

Before reaching the matted portion of the trail, visitors can make a four-mile round-trip trek.

"I think it quenches most people's daily exercise desire," said Tyler Summersett, trails coordinator for the Tuolumne County Transportation Council.

But removing the overgrown brush will appease bicyclists and long-distance runners who regularly use the trail beyond the rerouted area.

The trail, characterized as "easy", is also popular for hiking, dog-walking and enjoying scenery, he said. The trail overlooks the Tuolumne River Canyon, which flourishes with wildflowers in the spring.

"Pretty much any given time you drive by the trailhead … there's two, three or four cars parked there," Wood said.

Also funded by the grant will be an information kiosk at the trailhead at Buchanan Mine and Mira Monte roads and interpretive signage along the nearly eight-mile trail, Summersett said.

The Transportation Council is working with the Tuolumne Parks and Recreation District, Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians and U.S. Forest Service to implement the improvements.

The Union Democrat
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