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New xc loop by the Activity Barn adds value to your trail experience

Here’s Drew as we’re about to climb to the top of the Activity Barn hill.

My son Drew and I checked out the new groomed xc loop trail by the Activity Barn recently on snowshoes, and I thought it was a cool addition that adds value to the whole xc ski,  snowshoe or snow-bike experience at the Activity Barn and North Valley Trail.

The trail vectors off to the left as you’re going south on the North Valley Trail from the Activity Barn trailhead. It climbs a steep hill next to the Activity Barn tubing hill, and then you cruise by the top of the tubing hill and drop into a beautiful meadow just to the east of the Activity Barn. We circumnavigated the meadow on the groomed trail, and then we returned to the North Valley Trail for a little more adventure.

Lots of people were enjoying the tubing hill on a Saturday.

It took us about 30-45 minutes to snowshoe the new Activity Barn loop trail, so with the addition of a little more time on the North Valley Trail, an hour-long snowshoe walk was just the perfect length for Drew. We probably walked 2.5-3 miles.

Anyway, I recommend the new loop trail for all uses. For snowshoers, it seems like a reasonable climb to the top of the Activity Barn tubing hill, but for xc skiers, it will seem steeper and harder. That pitch is  rated black diamond on our trail map. But don’t let that scare you. Once you’re on top of that hill, it’s easy-going from there, downhill to the meadow, and then a tour around the flat meadow.

Try it, and I think you’ll really enjoy it!

For xc skiers, skate skiers, snow-bikers and snow-shoers, the Activity Barn loop can be combined with the 2.5-mile out, and 2.5-mile back North Valley Trail, which runs out south of town along the old railroad right of way. There is a rest room at the southern trailhead on Heinrich Lane.

Starting the descent into the meadow off in the distance.

The North Valley Trail is mostly flat, with a short uphill and downhill around an old embankment. It’s very scenic, with trees lining the pathway for much of its course, a wildlife area in the middle, and some open vistas of pasturelands and rural homes at the southern end.

Our modified Winter Trails map showing the new loop location.

There is no charge to use the xc trails by the Activity Barn or on the North Valley Trail, but Valley County Pathways appreciates donations to help with grooming costs.

For more information about the Activity Barn, go to the Brundage Mountain web site.

Enjoy!

– Steve Stuebner

Meet Jim Zokan – VCP Board Member

A number of great people have stepped up to join the Valley County Pathways Board of Directors in the last year or so. In a series of profiles on our web site, we’ll introduce all of our board members in the coming weeks.

Introduction

Jim Zokan first moved to Grangeville, Idaho in 1993 to take a job with the Nez Perce National Forest. It was his first job after graduating from the University of Wisconsin in Stevens Point, WI. He visited the McCall area to ski and enjoy Payette Lake. He then moved to New Mexico and Oregon for about 5 years and came back to Boise to work for the EPA. He bought a house in McCall in 2000.

“I plan to retire in McCall so I can enjoy all the outdoor activities that Valley County has to offer.”

Q: What attracted you to get involved with Valley County Pathways?

A: I love to bike and hike and I like what Pathways is doing for Valley County citizens and their visitors. By giving people the opportunity to have paths that connect us to the outdoors and have a safe place to hike and bike while connecting us to all parts of the County. I want to be able to help establish more pathways by providing some of the resource planning experience I have aquired by working in the Natural Resource/Environmental Field over the past 30 years.

Q: Do you think the vision of creating a valley-wide trail network that connects our communities is feasible?

A: Yes. There are a lot of dedicated board members and general members of Valley County Pathways who want to see this dream realized.

Q: What is your favorite trail in the Valley County area?

A: That is a hard question. There are so many beautiful areas within the Valley that have great trails. If I have to pick one I would say the Loon Lake Loop trail is a place I like to take friends visiting from other places that are not as spectacular as what we have in Valley County. The trail has a great variety of scenery and trail that can challenge folks of all biking skill levels.

Q: What do you like about biking or hiking in Valley County?

A:  Variety of scenery, skill levels and usually you feel like you are the only one on the trail.

Q: Tell us about your day job?

A: I have a degree in Watershed Management and a Soil Science Minor and have worked for the federal government for most of my career in Natural Resources/Environmental Management. I presently work for the EPA as an Environmental Specialist working with the Tribes in the Bristol Bay Region of AK, helping them develop Environmental Programs to protect their homelands.

Q: Tell us about your family? Children, etc.

A: My girlfriend Krista and I both love to take hikes with our dog Reya.

Q: What would be your ultimate dream for trails in Valley County?

A: The ability to bike from McCall to Cascade on a trail that is off of the road system.

Thanks Jim!

Do you have questions or feedback? You can reach Jim at jrkmllc@gmail.com.

Contacts for all VCP board members can be found here.

First Full Moon Tour on North Valley Trail set for Dec. 29

We are canceling the event tonight … not many people expressed interest probably because of covid concerns. We understand, and we’ll try again in January. Please go enjoy the full moon, if you wish.

McCall Parks and Recreation is teaming up Valley County Pathways to host a series of Full Moon snow hikes on the North Valley Trail (next to the Activity Barn).  Join us each full moon from 6:00-8:00pm for fun under the bright skies at night!

Mark your calendar for the following dates:

  • January 28
  • February 27 
  • March 28

 

For more information, contact McCall Parks & Rec at 208-634-8968 or email Steve at sstuebner@cableone.net or call 208-484-0295.

North Valley Trail is open, ready for xc skiing, snowshoeing, or snow biking

Steve checked out the North Valley Trail on his snow bike. The trail is really nice and firm for snow-biking.

The North Valley Trail has been rolled, and it’s got a solid 6- to 10-inch base (sometimes less) from the snow we received in November. The trail is firm — good for everything from xc skiing, snowshoeing or snow biking. Even boot hikers have been using the trail, and that’s fine, but please try to walk on the far right or left side of the trail, so the xc skiers and skate skiers have a consistent surface in the middle. Early season conditions!

The trailhead for the North Valley Rail Trail is located south of McCall by the Activity Barn tubing hill. Take Mission north from Deinhard, then Moonridge Drive to the Activity Barn. There’s ample parking at the trailhead.  There will be about 3 miles of trail groomed (6 miles out and back) this winter.

The trail is open for everyone to enjoy in the area at no charge. The North Valley Trail is rated easy for all abilities. We really appreciate donations to help with upkeep. Valley County Pathways also has been the recipient of McCall Local Option Tax funds to help pay for grooming. Thank you to the McCall LOT Committee and the McCall City Council!

Please see the latest grooming report on the North Valley Trail and Activity Barn Nordic trails via McCall Nordic.

We want to thank our partners for improving your experience on the North Valley Trail and Activity Barn Nordic trails. The McCall Rotary Club gave us a grant to make the trail kiosk possible at the Activity Barn trailhead. Our groomer Todd Clouser built the kiosk for us, donating his professional workmanship. And the Idaho Power Company allowed the development of the trailhead parking area out by Heinrich Lane, about 3 miles from the Activity Barn. That way, people can park on the north or the south end of the North Valley Trail, and ski 3 miles out and 3 miles back.

One new feature this year … a permanent rest room at the south end of the North Valley Trail by our trailhead next to Heinrich Lane (near Nisula). How about that! One of our generous board members covered the cost of the porty-potty for the next year. It will be serviced by our neighbors who run the Honey Dipper business on Nisula.

New Heinrich Demonstration Trail is 90% complete

Alex Ray with Payette Environmental makes the initial rough cut for the Heinrich Demo Trail.

Alex Ray with Payette Environmental in McCall created the new Heinrich Demonstration Trail over the last two weeks, and then we capped it off with a successful volunteer work day on Saturday, Nov. 7 in partnership with the Central Idaho Mountain Biking Association.

We’d like to thank all of our 25+ volunteers for coming out for the productive work day~! We were blessed with cool and foggy weather in the morning and early afternoon for the work day, and then it started to rain and snow in the afternoon, leaving about 3 inches on the ground Sunday morning. The timing couldn’t have been better!

CIMBA president Wayne Ruemmelle, left, and VCP Donnelly board member Brett Shepherd bring rock to the turnpike with wheelbarrows to raise the level of the trail over a bog.

We’re going to let the trail compact under the snow this winter and put the finishing touches on it next spring, likely in May or after the valley melts out.

Alex did a super job on cutting in the trail with a mini-excavator, creating a smooth and firm trail surface that’s about three feet wide at the moment. Our volunteers raked the upslope and the downslope of the trail, so water and runoff will drain into the ditch below. Some seeding will be needed to prevent weeds from moving in next year.

Volunteers put finishing touches on the turnpike structure.

Alex also led a group of about 10 volunteers to build a “turnpike” on the trail, a raised trail surface with base rock,  beefy 12-inch diameter timbers, fill dirt and fabric to provide a place for the trail to cross over a boggy spot. That was a big job for that team of volunteers!

Many thanks to our friends with CIMBA  for coming out to help with the work day and provide trail tools for our volunteers. Wyatt Albright with In-Motion Performance Bike Service brought out the CIMBA trailer and a pop-up shelter for the day. He provided a much-needed safety and orientation talk for everyone before we got started, including being safe about covid. People wore masks if there were in close proximity.

Volunteers do upslope and downslope finishing work on the trail

Steve Stuebner with VCP talked about our long-range plan to build 70 miles of singletrack sidewalks valley-wide to connect our communities, enhance health and fitness, provide pedestrian commuting corridors, and improve our economy.

Speaking of which, we want to thank our board member Andrew Mentzer and the West Central Mountains Economic Development Council for funding a portion of the trail-construction cost for the Heinrich Demo Trail.

We are quite excited about seeing the first of many singletrack sidewalk projects come to fruition with the Heinrich Demo Trail. It’s nearly a mile long, running from the south end of the North Valley Rail Trail to Norwood on the north side of Heinrich Lane. It will provide a safe place for people to walk, run, bike or ride horseback in a country setting.

Please stay tuned for our grand opening next spring! We may be auctioning off the chance to be the first person to ride the trail!

If you’d like to donate to VCP, go here.

Thank you!

Lunch break! Thanks to the Albertson’s store in McCall for making sack lunches for our volunteers and providing a $50 discount!

Volunteer Work Day set for Saturday Nov. 7

The event flier pretty captures the information about our volunteer work day scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 7. We are looking for 35 volunteers to help buff out the trail.

If you’d like to help, you can sign up for a morning or afternoon shift! Please RSVP for the event at this link: https://www.cimbarides.org/calendar/singletrack-sidewalks-work-day

Many thanks to our partners in putting together this event! Alex Ray of Payette Environmental will be supervising volunteers. The Central Idaho Mountain Biking Association (CIMBA) is providing their tools and helping with outreach, and the Idaho Interscholastic Cycling League and McCall Area Composite Mountain Bike team will be providing volunteers.

We’re planning on doing the trail work no matter what the weather brings that day. Dress warm!

Please contact Steve Stuebner with VCP if you have questions, sstuebner@cableone.net, 208-484-0295.

See you there!

VCP volunteers building the Boulder Creek boardwalk in Donnelly.

 

Heinrich Demo trail approved by Valley County Commissioners

All of our trails are being built with our children and future generations in mind.

Many thanks to our trail supporters for sending in letters of support for the Heinrich Demonstration Trail. On Monday, we presented the trail proposal to the Valley County Commission, and following a one-hour public hearing, the Demo trail was passed by a 3-0 vote. Yay!

Commissioner Dave Bingamin made the motion to approve the trail, Commissioner Sherry Maupin seconded the motion, and Commission Chairman Elt Hasbrouck voted in favor to make it unanimous.

We are making a few tweaks to the draft MOU between Valley County and VCP required for the project to finalize the approval next week. We hope to start construction on the Demo trail this fall.

We’d also like to thank Andrew Mentzer and the West Central Mountains Economic Development Council (WCMEDC) for their key supporting role in the whole pathways effort. The WCMEDC worked to raise $40,000 for the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) feasibility study on our singletrack sidewalks plan, and WCMEDC was a key supporter of the VCP Master Plan major update in 2017. Andrew worked directly with Valley County on developing the Singletrack Sidewalks ordinance, approved in February 2020. It takes a team effort!

Here’s an editorial from the McCall Star-News, endorsing our approach to building a series of singletrack sidewalks throughout the valley to connect our communities, provide a safe place for our children and people to walk, run or bike to school, promote health and fitness, and economic development.

Editorial: Singletracks blaze the way to more paths
(From the Star-News, Oct. 1)

Singletrack pathways are the future of recreation in Valley County, and county officials should be praised for allowing them to happen.

This week, Valley County commissioners approved a demonstration project that will see a 4,000-foot trail developed along the north side of Heinrich Lane between the southern trailhead of the North Valley Trail and Norwood Road.

The project is unique because of its simplicity. Previously, the vision of recreational planners was to build paved, eight-foot-wide, separated pathways to accommodate walkers, joggers and bicyclists. But the costs of such pathways have become staggering, at $100,000 to $250,000 per mile. Singletrack paths are the low-tech version of separated pathways and they work as well or better than their more sophisticated cousins and only cost $25,000 to $53,000 per mile.

The singletracks are two to three feet wide and are carved out of the available public rights-of-way running along county roads. These are basic dirt trails that make productive use out of rights-of-way that do little more than grow weeds. They provide a safe and inviting amenity to the growing numbers of mountain bike riders who live in or visit the area. The Heinrich Lane project will show singletrack pathways are compatible with the adjacent land uses and set the stage for more paths.

The concept is the brainchild of Valley County Pathways, the nonprofit group that developed the North Valley Trail, which runs 3.5 miles south of McCall from River Ranch to Heinrich Lane and which is growing each year in popularity. The group envisions building about 70 miles of singletrack pathways throughout the valley to connect McCall, Donnelly and Cascade, even linking as far as New Meadows and the Weiser River Trail.

Singletrack trails are a cheap and easy way to expand an important segment of the local resort economy. They may not be fancy, but they get the job done, and should be encouraged wherever Valley County Pathways wants to put them.

(end)

 

VCP proposes 4,000 singletrack sidewalk DEMO trail

Hi all,

Valley County Pathways is proposing to build a 4,000-foot demonstration trail along the north side of Heinrich Lane in the county right of way corridor, from the southern trailhead of the North Valley Trail to the junction of Norwood Road and Heinrich Lane.

Under the guidelines set forth in the Valley County Singletrack Sidewalks ordinance, approved earlier this year, we have submitted a written proposal to Valley County Planning & Zoning for the demonstration trail, several maps, and a construction plan.

Valley County P&Z has scheduled a public hearing on our proposal at 2 p.m., Monday, Sept. 28.

Purpose and Need: The purpose of the Heinrich demonstration trail would be to create a singletrack sidewalk demonstration trail at the southern end of the existing North Valley Trail to give trail users a chance to experience a singletrack sidewalk trail on foot or on a bike. We also are open to trying out the trail for horseback riding in this section.

At a bigger-picture level, Valley County Pathways envisions building about 70 miles of singletrack sidewalks throughout Long Valley to connect our communities, from Cascade to McCall, with a link to New Meadows so trail users could connect to the Weiser River Trail. The trails will have recreation, health and fitness, transportation (commuting) and economic benefits to the community.

The demo trail would be a natural surface trail with a width of 24-36 inches. If approved, VCP would work with trail professionals to build a sustainable trail.

Please send a letter of support to Valley Count Planning and Zoning if you’d like to support VCP with this proposal. Thank you!

Steve Stuebner, Board Vice President
Valley County Pathways
sstuebner@cableone.net

 

Many thanks for investing in our trails during Idaho Gives!

Thanks for your support! Our kids and future generations will benefit from our hard work in building, expanding and maintaining our trail systems.

We are so thankful to our community for supporting Valley County Pathways during the 2020 Idaho Gives campaign!

We exceeded our $5,000 goal by raising about $11,010 during Idaho Gives with 85 donors investing in new trails on the basis of $5/foot. These are new records for Valley County Pathways!

Thank you!!!!

We would like to recognize our donors for their support and generosity:

Contributions of more than $1,000:

Ron Nahas, the Schwab Charitable Fund

Contributions of more than $100: 

Augusta Laidlaw, Robert and Kitty Looper, Sherry Maupin, Gail and Bruce Rankin, Alan Hamilton and Mary Nielsen, Brent and Jacque Simmons, and Jim and Jole Voulelis.

$100 contributions: 

James and Tiffany Dobbs, Steve Stuebner, Andrew Mentzer, Joe and Linda Sirani, Scott and Patty Hall, Joyce and Scott Hayley, Marjorie Chase, William Gehrke, Judy and Jim Balkins, Caroline Valle, Fred Novy, Cary Hattabaugh and Sam Sandmire, Brett Shepherd, Steve and Ruth Schneider, Jim and Jean Giuffre, Lida and Todd Clouser, Dean and Kim Martin, Joanne and Chris Sours, Michael McEntee, Carolyn Wood, Maggie Rosenthal, Jennifer Waskow, Shirley Olen, Ian Atkinson, Barbara Waldo, Cahill and Susan Jones, Charles Pegan and Michael van Altena.

$10-$99 contributions:

Sharon Hudson, Jentry Hull, Maggie and Bob Gamble, Wendy Wilson, Kim Binder, Denise DeCoster, Paul Bomber, John Wheaton, Cynthia Gibson, Deanna Warner, Jayme Gamble, Ken Rider, Robyn Mick, Marc and Carole de Jong, Rebecca Hurd, Chris and Adele Caputo, Maura Goldstein, Andrea Lingle, Don and Pam Sanda, Ted Klinkenberg, Kimberly Tidwell, Lee Gilbert, Robert Ginkel, Amy Pugsley, Elizabeth Thomas, Jeff Cross, John Watkins, Leslie Freeman, Sherry Scheline, Pat Blanchard, Katherine Farmer, Karen Byrne, Steve Jones, Cindy Jones, Karen Anglea, Gregg Lawley, Amanda and Gary Thompson, Mary Tracey, Douglas Wood, Michelle and Scott Reagan, Jeri and Glenda Newman, Richard Cogan, Stephanie Day, Denise Thompson, Jim Fitzgerald, Karl Johnson, Cindy Bastian, Earl Dodds, Mary and Rocky Bogert, and Elise Giddings.

We will keep you informed as we work on the next steps on our trail projects in the valley to connect our communities from Cascade to New Meadows.

Again, thank you for contributing to Valley County Pathways!  

 

Invest in singletrack sidewalks for Idaho Gives!

For Idaho Gives in 2020, we’re asking you to invest in the future of our trails/pathways in Valley County by buying several feet of singletrack sidewalks for $5/foot.

You can buy two feet for $10, 5 feet for $25, 10 feet for $50 and 20 feet for $100. Or give any amount you’re comfortable with.

Our trail projects will include:

1. Carefree Subdivision to McCall Middle School – 5 miles
2. End of North Valley Trail on Heinrich Lane to Norwood, and Norwood to Donnelly – 10+ miles
3. Town to Beach Flyway in Donnelly – 1.3 miles
4. Extending the Strand in Cascade to the north bridge and paving the dirt section – .5 miles

Overall, the trail mileage adds up to about 20 miles (105,600 feet) of new paths that will connect our communities – that’s only about 10 feet per resident! At $5 per foot to build, we could complete this construction phase with an average donation of $50 per person! Will you join us in bringing this vision to life?

Valley County Pathways has a county-approved master plan to build more than 70 miles of trails around the valley to connect Cascade, Donnelly, Lake Fork, McCall and New Meadows. We also want to connect to popular tourism destinations like Brundage Mountain, Jug Mountain Ranch, Tamarack Resort and Gold Fork Hot Springs. Thank you for supporting Valley County Pathways!