Where is that Fire Road?

The entrance to the fire road from Bear Trap Road.

Trail Report: Bear Trap Access Point

December 18, 2011 

I went to Bear Trap this weekend with the intention of trying the Ridge Top Trail in the other direction.  Which I did and Ill comment on that in the next post (so above this post).  While I was there I again admired how many side trails there are off of this fire road.  And I decided that next time I need to bring a marker with me so I can add all these smaller trails to my map.

While I was pondering my map, and trying to triangulate exactly where certain trails are, I noticed, not for the first time, that the first two fire roads that come off of the main one, 536, which are 536C and 536F are simply not there.  Previously when I mentioned this to a trail riding friend while driving home from a ride, she responded that they are there, I just missed them.  I knew this was not correct.  I am a bit obsessive about side trails and fire roads that turn off of the main route, so I know I wouldn’t miss these two main roads that should, according to the map, even have gates on them, but I stored it away for future thinking.  Which I promptly forgot about.

When I was riding this weekend, it popped back to me and I kept thinking about it, although I didn’t really focus on it totally while I was out there riding.  And now that I am back to my work week, and won’t be able to get back out to the trails for a bit, I can’t stop thinking about it.  I have pulled my map out more than once and stared at those two roads, trying to be sure that I *know* where they are suppose to be, but until I am back at Bear Trap, pulling the map out is not going to answer any of my questions.

Were these roads intended to be built and put on the map to plan ahead?  Were they started and not finished?  Were they built and then left to become over grown for years and years?  Its driving me nuts.  I tried calling the local National Forest office and left a message.  I am hoping someone there can give me some insight.

I suspect I know where the first one 536C is intended to be/or was, but that it is still a foot trail or has become severely over grown.  I will explore this area soon and see what I can figure out.

The second one is a little more tricky.    I need to have my map out with me and make sure I acknowledge each curve in the road and its correspond on the map as I ride.  I am not sure, but it’s possible that the trail I ride up to the ridge top is actually the second fire road turn 536F.  It is certainly wide enough, minus all the small trees and brush growth, and is very clearly cut in several places.  Meaning there was most likely machinery used to create this trail and it was meant to be much wider, more like fire road width.  It also comes to a circle that has several trails that come out at that point, straight ahead (which goes to the Ridge Top Trail and is very steep), to the left, which is very over grown and looks like a very old trail that is not really pony passable, and a third to the right.  This one to the right is a bit of a pain to get started on  because there is a large mound at its start combined with some low branches over it.  I did follow it a ways one time and it is a clearly cut trail the width of a fire road and has young growth on it.  Although I am sure this trail was intentionally cut out at one time and wide enough for vehicles, I am not sure if it is the FR 536F marked on the map.

over grown fire road?

If it is that FR536F, then I am way off on where I speculate the trail shoots off of the road.  Which is totally possible and will be easy to figure out next time I am there.  Although looking at my map, I am rather uncertain it’s at that point.  The main fire road has a few squiggles in it before reaching the trail on the left and the distance feels longer than the map shows it being if it is FR536F.  I just need to have my map out for each turn, like I already said.

There are quite a few trails that lead off on that side of the fire road that are cut in and pretty flat, but I have thought of them as more appropriate for 4wheeler access vs. dilapidated fire roads.  And the other side of the road actually has some vehicle entrance points that are in current use that probably make good camping points for hunters staying out for the night, none of which are on the map.

My other thought, and I am not sure how much this could help, is to drive to the trail head and up the fire road.  The gate is still open, but probably won’t be for much longer with the main hunting season ending in two weeks.  But my thought is that, in a vehicle it might be more obvious since I’ll be at the right height.  I am not sure if the second gate is open on the fire road thought.  It wasn’t last time I went through there, but that was about two months ago and I do not remember if the main gate was open at that time either.

I think I know where my next ride will be at.

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