Tuesday, June 21, 2011 • Hot Shots complete new Susan Ranch Park trail construction

Publisher’s note: This story originally appeared in the Tuesday, June 21, 2011, edition of the Lassen County Times.

Although they spend most of their time fighting wildfires, the Lassen County Hot Shots built nearly four miles of new trail on Bureau of Land Management land near Susanville Ranch Park.
Photo by Jeff Fontana

Hikers, mountain bike riders and equestrians have another new section of trail to enjoy at Susan Ranch Park.

Stan Bales, outdoor recreation planner for the Bureau of Land Management, reported to the Lassen County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, June 14, on a recently completed a three-mile section of non-motorized trail on BLM land adjacent to Susanville Ranch Park.

Bales said members of the Lassen County Hot Shots built the trail, an experienced fire crew that did the trail work during a lull between their firefighting duties.

“I’ve walked the new trails and ridden my bike on them, and what an awesome addition to the park,” Jim Chapman, Lassen County District 2 supervisor and board chairman told Bales.

According to Bales, the project was a partnership between Lassen County and BLM.

“We’ve worked together for at least 10 years now through a cooperative agreement,” Bales said. “The county contributes two-thirds of the funds and BLM contributes one-third to support the Lassen County Trails Coordinator position.”

This map shows the new trail, which offers outstanding views from it highest points.

Over the years, the county and BLM have created 14 miles of trail at Susanville Ranch Park.

Bales said the Hot Shots, a 20-man crew, worked like a human road-building machine knocking out about half a mile of trail a day.

“They’re like a paving machine that tears up old road and spits out new road behind it,” Bales said. “These guys just went up a piece of hillside where we planned the trail, and out of the back end of these 20 guys came a smooth, walkable, rideable trail. It’s just impressive.”

Much of the trail is designed for mountain bikers, so it features banked turns rather than tight switchbacks. The trail also avoids long straightaways to minimize erosion and keep mountain bikers from picking up speed and endangering other trail users.

“There’s a lot of meandering, a lot of dips so it sheds the water beautifully,” Bales said. “Through the rains we’ve had, we haven’t seen any erosion problems, and you have a lot of curves so you don’t see a downhill rider blasting down the trail to blow off a hiker or spook a horseback rider.

Bales said the trail will be open to equestrians, but right now it’s marked as closed until the trail firms up a little more. He said hikers and bikers are welcome right now because they’re packing in the trail.

The trail even includes what Bales called “features” — rocks alongside the trail that may make it more interesting for “20-something bikers.”

The upper portions of the trails showcase some spectacular views, Bales said.

Dan Brown, owner of Bicycle Bananas, bike shops in Susanville and Reno, said the trails at Susanville Ranch Park are excellent and out-of-the area are coming to check out the recreational opportunities in Lassen County.

“We’ve got a group coming on Sunday to ride the trails and kind of recon them for some of the clubs and groups in Reno,” Brown said. “I see the trails as a huge asset for tourism and for local recreation. I think they’ve done a super job. We’re excited about it.”