Last fall S&S Trails completed Phase I at the Senna Hills neighborhood in west Austin, giving the community their first natural-surface trails allowing homeowners to walk, run, and ride bikes in the woods behind their homes. Community response was overwhelmingly positive, and residents frequently said that they enjoyed the trails and wanted more of them throughout the property to allow more opportunities for nature exploration and exercise. This led to plans for Phase II that commenced in the spring.
We were only too happy to oblige, as it was a very positive experience to work with the Senna Hills Home Owners Association (HOA) and we particularly enjoy being able to work from our own home at the same time. We marked out a proposed route involving three different sections to extend the current loop and also made connector trails between different parts of the existing trail system. We called Bruce from Bastrop to come work with us and hired a local Austin friend David (aka Gallows) who was in need of work, and we also hired Chuck again, who drove in from Houston to stay with us while working on this project.
Overall things went quite well, the weather was beautiful and we only dealt with significant rain on one day. Susan happened to be running the chainsaw at the time which made it a rather unnerving experience, but fortunately things worked out okay. The weather didn’t cause too much of a delay and we were able to finish the project within the expected timeline, all of which led to it being a positive experience. We had one bridge over a creek crossing to construct, and also did some trail reclamation on a section of jeep road that we converted from doubletrack to singletrack.
Just like last fall, we had community members coming out to use the new trail before we were even finished building it, and they all spoke about how excited they were to see the new construction under way. Our Bradco tilt-attachment for the dozer bucket got a real workout due to the steep sideslopes in some areas. A lot of dirt got moved, and it was nice to be able to concentrate the spoils in certain areas instead of having to disperse it all along the downhill edge for the entire length of the trail. It definitely leads to less finish work for our crew to do with hand tools, so overall we’re able to be more productive in a shorter amount of time than we were before we had the new equipment.
It was nice to get feedback from Dave Parsons, the HOA representative, that the Phase I trails had worn in nicely and looked more narrow and natural after getting some rain on them and lots of use by the homeowners. We had reassured him that’s how things would work out after we left, and now that he’s seen the evidence we’re all confident that the same process will occur with the Phase II trails. We look forward to continuing our work with the Senna Hills community on Phase III of the trail system, tentatively scheduled to start next year in 2011.